Hippocrates’ Role in the Shift From Irrational to Rational Medicine in Ancient Greece
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Although populations in ancient societies suffered attacks, invasions, starvation, and persecution, there was a more efficient killer that exterminated countless people. The most dreaded killers in the ancient world were disease, infections and epidemics. In many major wars the main peril was not gunfire, nor assault, but the easily communicable diseases that rapidly wiped out whole divisions of closely quartered soldiers. Until the time of Hippocrates, in the struggle between life and death, it was, more often than not, death that prevailed when a malady was involved. In the modern world, although illness is still a concern, advances in thought and technique have led to the highest birth rates in recorded history. No longer is a fever a…show more content… It was Hippocrates’ teachings and revolutionary techniques that were the driving force behind the shift from irrational to rational medicine in ancient Greece.
Before logical thought was regularly applied to functions of the human body, people made sense of daily misfortunes by attributing them to the moods and wills of the gods. In the minds of the Greek, afflictions were the result of disobedience and to live in good health was a blessing that only divine intervention could provide (History of Medicine 1). Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing, was often the one called upon in times of need. Asclepian temples were constructed in Greece and in the surrounding areas, and these sites of worship also became the centers of healing; Ill Grecians undertook lengthy pilgrimages to the temples in hopes that the God’s supposed restorative powers could ameliorate their tribulations (Greek Medicine 1). An orator at that time, Aeschines reported his encounter with godly healing by praising Asclepius: “No longer counting upon mortal skill, I placed all my hope in divinity. I came, Asclepius, into your sacred wood and I was cured in three of a wound I had in my head for a year” (Palatine Anthology 13). When cures were not left up to the divine, the rituals to rid a body of disease were primitive and mainly consisted of attempts to expel demons (Longrigg 14-16). Although the idea that sickness and religion are intertwined is