In the ancient world, the Greeks and Romans were brothers. There was the obvious close proximity of the two countries. However, their relationship was deeper than that. In fact, their cultures were so closely linked that the Greeks and Romans shared gods with different names, but similar backgrounds! However, both groups maintained a unique history and culture. For instances, here are some of the highlights about ancient Roman medicine:
1. Doctors were vital to the Roman Empire
The Roman’s Empire’s public health system was actually quite broad. While doctors in ancient Rome could receive formal training, here are some other interesting facts about them:
- Anyone in ancient Rome could refer to himself or herself as a “doctor.”
- Doctors would often serve as surgeons in the Roman Empire’s army.
- Several female doctors existed.
- Women typically served the healthcare needs of other women.
- Doctors provided free healthcare services, to those living in impoverished towns.
2. Much of Roman medicine was Greek medicine
The Roman defeated the Greeks, in the former’s formation of the Roman Empire. Afterwards, Roman doctors then accepted many of the ideas that the Greeks had, concerning medicine. In fact, most of the doctors who were practicing in the Roman Empire–were Greek! Furthermore, the works of Hippocrates, the Greek “Father of Medicine,” served as the basis for numerous Roman doctors’ training.
3. The Romans focused on public health
Obviously, the Romans were unaware of bacteria, and the use of cheap urbane scrubs to reduce their transmission. However, the Romans placed an emphasis on public health. Improvement in personal hygiene would ultimately improve public health and reduce diseases’ occurrence.
4. Rome further developed the Greek’s theories about medicines
The Romans adhered to many of the beliefs of the Greeks, about maintaining the health of humans. For instance, they focused on the importance of cleanliness and exercise. This was due to the Romans’ borrowing theories from the Greek, Hippocrates. A second century AD Greek doctor, Galen, was instrumental in developing these theories. Galen further developed Hippocrates’ notion that human bodies contained four “humours.”
5. Galen influenced both Roman and European medicine
In addition to affecting Roman medicine, Galen also influenced European medicine for more than 15 centuries! His theories and practices focused on obtaining a balance of the four humours, which he believed were inside human bodies.
The Romans would obtain advice from their doctors, while also presenting offers to various Roman gods, such as the Roman goddess of safety–Salus. Interestingly, during the 3rd century BC, this god became linked to Hygieia–the Greek goddess related to healing. Furthermore, the Romans also used Temples of Asclepius, which had originated from the Greeks.
While the Romans were not as innovative as the Greeks were, in the study of medicine, the former certainly contributed to the development of Greek concepts related to medicine. Ultimately, the Romans improved humans’ overall understanding of hygiene and health, which is noteworthy. After conquering the Greeks, the Romans would contribute to humans’ epic war on bacteria!