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INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY ON ALTRUISM AND THE HEALING ART.


Essenes--Cabalists and Gnostics--Object of Christ's
Mission--Stoics--Constantine and Justinian--Gladiatorial
Games--Orphanages--Support of the Poor--Hospitals--Their
Foundation--Christianity and Hospitals--Fabiola--Christian
Philanthropy--Demon Theories of Disease receive the Church's
Sanction--Monastic Medicine--Miracles of Healing--St. Paul--St.
Luke--Proclus--Practice of Anatomy denounced--Christianity the
prime factor in promoting Altruism.



The sect of the Essenes embraced part of the teaching of Christianity among their other beliefs. They conceived that the Almighty had to be propitiated by signs and symbols. Words, they considered, were the direct gift of God to man, and, therefore, signs representing words were of great avail. Hence arose the use of amulets and cabalistic signs, or, rather, the common use, for they had been in evidence long prior to the foundation of this sect. Amulets were worn on the person. The Jews had phylacteries or bits of parchment on which were written passages from the Scriptures. In the first century after Christ, Jews, Pythagoreans, Essenes, and various sects of mystics combined and formed the Cabalists and Gnostics. Their creed embraced the magic of the Persians, the dreams of the Asclepiads, the numbers of Pythagoras, and the theory of atoms of Democritus. The Sophists of Alexandria actually regarded magic as a science. A section of the early Christians were Gnostics, and were imbued with the philosophy of the Orientals. According to the beliefs of the Cabalists and Gnostics, demons were the cause of disease. These sects interrogated evil spirits to find out where they lurked, and exorcised them with the help of charms and talismans. Various geometric figures and devices were held to have power against evil spirits. One of these figures was the device of two triangles interlaced thus [Symbol: David's Star]. This was used as a symbol of God, not only by Cabalists and Gnostics, but also by Jews. The great majority of the early Christians opposed the Gnostics, and repudiated and abhorred their strange mixture of the Christian religion with Eastern philosophy.

Christ came into the world at a time when the evils of slavery were probably at their worst. He did not directly condemn slavery, and the reason of this is to be found in the study of the nature of His mission. He came to regenerate the individual, and not, primarily, society. "His language in innumerable similes showed that He believed that those principles He taught would only be successful after long periods of time and gradual development. Most of His figures and analogies in regard to 'the Kingdom of God' rest upon the idea of slow and progressive growth or change. He undoubtedly saw that the only true renovation of the world would come, not through reforms of institutions or governments, but through individual change of character, effected by the same power to which Plato appealed--the love-power--but a love exercised towards Himself as a perfect and Divine model. It was the 'Kingdom of God' in the soul which should bring on the kingdom of God in human society.... And yet ultimately this Christian system will be found at the basis of all these great movements of progress in human history. But it began by aiming at the individual, and not at society; and aiming alone at an entire change of the affectional and moral tendencies."[33]

The moral teaching of the Stoics, second only to that of the Christian religion, had an effect in preparing the way for the introduction of humane principles of treatment for the bond and the oppressed. But the Stoics, like many of the Christians, did not always make their actions accord with their principles. Seneca tells of a Stoic who amused himself by feeding his fish with pieces of his mutilated slaves. Juvenal, who wrote when Stoicism was at the height of its influence, asks "how a slave could be a man," and Gaius, the Stoical jurist, in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, classes slaves with animals.

Constantine, in his own character, did not display the beauties of the Christian religion, though his advisers who framed his laws acted under the influence of Christian teaching. This emperor passed laws in reference to slavery. He wrote to an archbishop: "It has pleased me for a long time to establish that, in the Christian Church, masters can give liberty to their slaves, provided they do it in presence of all the assembled people with the assistance of Christian priests, and provided that, in order to preserve the memory of the fact, some written document informs where they sign as parties or as witnesses." In pagan times there was a somewhat similar system of a master being able to redeem a slave and register the redemption in one of the temples.

The laws of Justinian, influenced largely by the teaching of Christianity, did a great deal to relieve the burdens of slavery. "We do not transfer persons from a free condition into a servile--we have so much at heart to raise slaves to liberty." In the words of one of the Early Fathers of the Church, "No Christian is a slave; those born again are all brothers."

Gladiatorial Games were condemned by the Stoics, but these philosophers did not influence the common people. Constantine, in the year before his acceptance of Christianity, gave a multitude of prisoners as prey to the wild beasts of the arena. In A.D. 325 he promulgated this law: "Bloody spectacles, in our present state of tranquillity and domestic peace, do not please us; wherefore we order that all gladiators be prohibited from carrying on their profession." Human sacrifices, which at one time took place in Rome, even in the time of Pliny and Seneca, were abolished under the same influence as checked gladiatorial sports.

Constantine passed laws against the licentious plays and spectacles which flourished in Greece and Rome in pagan times.

Seneca wrote: "Monstrous offspring we destroy; children too, if weak and unnaturally formed from birth, we drown. It is not anger, but reason, thus to separate the useless from the sound."[34] Julius Paulus, a Stoic, in the time of the Emperor Severus (A.D. 222), held that the mother who procured abortion, starved her child, or exposed it to die, was, in each case, equally guilty of murder. The Christian Fathers, in opposing these evils, were acting in accordance with the teaching of their founder, and they incessantly condemned these evil practices, and with greater and more far-reaching power than the Stoics. Although the Stoics anticipated many of the reforms of the Christians, Stoicism never had any penetrating effect on the masses of the people, and differed in this respect from Christianity. The chief obstacle to the prevention of the exposure of children was the great amount of pauperism which prevailed in the Roman Empire, and Christian emperors and councils had no choice but to allow many of these unfortunate children to be taken as slaves, rather than that they should perish from cold and hunger, or be torn by ravenous beasts. The pagan emperors, it is true, had done something to found orphanages, but these institutions were not common until the Middle Ages. Trajan in A.D. 100 supported 5,000 children at the expense of the State, and endowments were created by him for this purpose. Hadrian, Antoninus, and Marcus Aurelius made similar benefactions, and Pliny endowed a charity for poor children.

In the pre-Christian period, social clubs existed for the purpose of people having meals together, helping one another, and providing burial funds. The Emperor Julian condemned the Christians for supporting not only their own poor, but also poor strangers outside their faith. For ages the Church took charge of the poor. Her enemies said that as much pauperism was created as was relieved, and, no doubt, as is usual in the distribution of charity, the good done was not unmixed with evil.


Table of Contents


  OUTLINES OF
  GREEK AND ROMAN
  PREFACE.
  EARLY ROMAN MEDICINE.
  EARLY GREEK MEDICINE.
  MACHAON (SON OF ASKLEPIOS),
  HIPPOCRATES.
  "THE LAW.
  "THE OATH.
  PLATO, ARISTOTLE, THE SCHOOL OF ALEXANDRIA AND EMPIRICISM.
  THE ALEXANDRIAN SCHOOL.
  ROMAN MEDICINE AT THE END OF THE REPUBLIC AND THE BEGINNING OF THE
  IN THE REIGN OF THE
  PHYSICIANS FROM THE TIME OF AUGUSTUS TO THE DEATH OF NERO.
  THE FIRST AND SECOND CENTURIES OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA.
  GALEN.
  I.--WORKS ON ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY.
  II.--WORKS ON DIETETICS AND HYGIENE.
  III.--ON PATHOLOGY.
  IV.--ON DIAGNOSIS.
  V.--ON PHARMACY, MATERIA MEDICA, AND THERAPEUTICS.
  VI.--SURGERY.
  THE LATER ROMAN AND BYZANTINE PERIOD.
  INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY ON ALTRUISM AND THE HEALING ART.
  ROMAN HOSPITALS.
  GYMNASIA AND BATHS.
  GYMNASTICS.
  GREEK AND BATHS
  SANITATION.
  THE WATER-SUPPLY.
  DRAINAGE.
  DISPOSAL OF THE DEAD.
  APPENDIX.
  FEES IN ANCIENT TIMES.
  INDEX.


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