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Jessica Cottrill
Gerald Chouinard

There are two gods in Greek mythology that stand out from a medical standpoint, in particular. Those being Hippocrates and Asclepius. Hippocrates has become known to many historians and physicians as the founding father of medicine due to his taking it and making it a rational practice, free from magic and superstition. (Osborn, 2010.) The influences of Hippocrates are vast and still provide a basis for physicians today. He was the first to document medical histories and use patient histories to study their illnesses. He factored in all aspects of their lives including past medical problems, the climate in which they live, diet and their line of work. The Hippocratic collection is composed of Hippocrates writings from his research and practice of medicine. It is composed of sixty books documenting information on every part of the human body including the brain, skin and eyes. It is unclear as to whether Hippocrates wrote all of the collection, but it is thought to have been written by himself and his students. (Truman, 2013.) The myth of Asclepius and his contributions to modern medicine are surrounded by more fantastical stories of healing than, Hippocrates. According to ancient Greek history, Asclepius was so skilled in his surgical and healing capabilities, it appeared as though he could rise the dead to living again. According to myth, Asclepius was struck down by the gods who were angered that a mortal had this capability with a bolt of lightning. (Magiorkinis, Diamantis, Androutsos, 2008.) In modern terms, Asclepius' methods of healing take a holistic approach, bringing together the mind, body and the power of dreams. Patients would travel to Aesculapius temples for treatment of their ailments, spending a few days where they would undergo not only healing with herbs and tonics but with mental excercises as well. In the mythological sense, it is said that Asclepius would reveal the cures for ailments in a patients dreams. Religion and mental states were Aesclupius' premise in curing patients just as

many holistic practices that are currently used in our modern society. (Pettis, 2006.)

The Hippocratic Oath is one of the most valuable things modern society has inherited from ancient Greece. The oath, which was developed by Hippocrates, is a statement that over 60% of colleges to this day require for graduating medical students to take. (Jhala, Jhala, 2012.) It is an ethical code for physicians to follow in regards to their practice of medicine. While the oath has been modernized and changed over time, evolving with the medical world, it still adheres to a general idea of how physicians should compose themselves ethically in their work. It states that a physician shall practice medicine with the patient's best possible well-being in mind and adhere to the best ethical standards possible. There have been many versions due to religion being a large aspect of the oath to stay within politically correct standards of our modern society. Though it has been changed and adapted, the symbol of Caduceus is of close relation to the symbol for physicians, hospitals, nurses and the U.S. Army medical corps. The symbol began as the staff of Hermes, showing a rod with two snakes intertwined around it, with decorative garlands to represent his speed. It bared a striking resemblance to the staff of Aesclupius. The only difference was the number of serpents with his only baring one. (Encyclopedia Brittannica, 2013.) The symbol was first adopted by the U.S. Army in 1902 after a popular medical publishing company used the symbol as their emblem. Since then, it is the most prominent symbol for medicine we have in modern society.

When we use or hear the words pathology, anatomy, homepathy, biology and many more medical terms we are using words that stem from Greek mythology and ancient Greek language. The Greeks are said to have given us more words, other than Latin language, than any other culture. In the

popular comedy movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the father of the main character constantly states through the entire movie that for every English word, there is a Greek background. While that is a broad statement, there is some truth to it, especially in a medical aspect. The huge list of words derived from many different gods, goddesses, mythical stories, as well as the ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle is too many to name. There are over 400,000 names of chemical substances derived from Greek myth alone. (Reinmuth, 1934.) Besides the many medical and psychology terms derived from Greek mythology, the ancient Greeks discovered many herbal treatments and named them. Many of these are located in health food stores and grocers in our modern society. While some of these plants and herbs may not have originated in ancient Greece, their true recognition stemmed from their discovery of their nutritional benefits and healing powers. Thanks to ancient Greek society, we know that the herb fennel is a natural pain relieving alternative, echinacea has natural antibiotic attributes, and rosemary has anti-fungal, antibiotic and cough relieving benefits. (Wang, 2010.) While many people still do not acknowledge herbal treatment as a remedy, the ancient Greeks have proven that it is possible to treat ailments in a holistic manner. With these discoveries, the language of herbal supplements was developed and inherited into our modern society. (Falsetto, 2009.)

The healing philosophy of the ancient Greeks was complex, but held a strong conviction of mixing elements of traditional treatments with overall physical health and mental well-being. They took the stance that if a patient was comfortable in all areas of their personal health, their ailment could be better cured. With the birth of the Hippocratic age came a strong philosophy of these types of practices. Hippocrates, himself and his students developed strong bonds with their patients and learned

every aspect of their physical and mental lives. Diagnosis, just as in our modern society consisted of a extensive look into the patients medical histories and those of their families, as well as full physical exams including every detail such as skin appearance, symptoms, and heart rate. (Osborn, 2010.) The ancient Greeks considered the human body to be made up of four basic elements, blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. These were referred to as the four humors. Diseases stemmed from the imbalance or deficiency in one or more of these humors. (Duchan, 2011.) This was where physicians would begin in their diagnosis of a patient's ailment, by determining which of the four humors was producing the problem. Among treatments of the ancient Greeks, though they were based in roots, herbs, and animal derivatives, were highly complex concoctions consisting of mixtures of many of these items, at times. The pharmacists of ancient times were called herbalists. The herbalists would create the medicines and the doctors would consult herbalist writings to figure out the cure for their patients ailments, just as physicians now consult pharmacology references. Specific jobs were assigned in the medical industry just as in modern society. Root cutters made their living retrieving the herbs and natural supplies needed by the herbalists to make medicines, which were than made available to the physicians to prescribe patients. They followed a medical process that we have adopted over time, changing, of course due to modern medicines. (Dargie, Hook, 2007.) The ancient Greeks had a simple philosophy that we hope we are getting from modern day physicians. We hope to be examined, diagnosed and treated with respect and complexity until the medical problem is resolved.

Ancient Greek mythology has countless amounts of myths surrounding medical instruments,

high technical medical equipment, trauma situations, and obstetric innovations that we can clearly see relates to today's medical tools. Forceps, of all medical kinds including those for the teeth, gynecological exams, stump forceps and many more are shown evident in ancient Greek studies. (Milne, 1907.) These tools were not made of steel as they are today but of iron, for the most part, but their overall shape and design relate almost identical the ones we see in doctor's offices and hospitals today. On a higher-tech level, there are myths that make reference to everything from the first composition of an incubator system for a newborn baby to stem-cell re-generation. In the Greek myth of Dionysus, the first description of an incubator is noted. In the story, the mortal woman Semeli, Dionysus' mother, requested that Zeus be present at the birth of him. Outraged, Zeus burns her as she is giving birth and takes the baby Dionysus from her body. Dionysus being a prematurely born infant was said to be struggling to live so Zeus sent him to Hyades. Hyades placed the baby Dionysus into a cave-incubator, a moist, warm environment. Pine trees were planted outside of the cave in order to act as an air filter keeping debri and harmful elements in the air from disturbing the baby. (Tsoucalas, Tsoucalas, 2012.) At least six of the forementioned Hippocratic Collection cover surgery and trauma with a heavy emphasis on head trauma. Hippocrates studied deeply the human body's effects from it. He began documenting the effect of injuries to the left and the right sides of the head and the side effects of each. With fractures, Hippocrates would debride the area of the fracture first, which is removing all dead tissue and debri before casting the area, eliminating the risk of further infection. (Pikoulis, 2004.) This practice is done to this day in emergency rooms. The theory of stem-cell research has roots in Greek mythology in the story of Prometheus

and Zeus. Prometheus aimed to outwit Zeus and steal fire for mankind. As punishment, Zeus banished him to Causcasus Mountains chained to a large rock. For the days that followed, an eagle would come to him everyday and feast on his liver, however each day his liver would re-grow to its' full state. (Power, C., Rasko, J. 2008.) It is wondered in the medical community if the ancient Greeks may have witnessed this event of an organ amazingly regenerate itself. While there are doubts among scientific and medical minds on this myth as to whether Prometheus' liver actually regenerated itself not only that quickly but at all. While it seems a far-fetched story, one has to wonder if there wasn't some element of truth, why was it written. It may be overdramatized but at the very least it was a view of the possibility of organ re-generation.

Osborn, D. (2010). Hippocrates: Father of Medicine. Retrieved from

Truman, C. (2013). Hippocrates. Retrieved from

Magiorkinis, E., Diamantis, A., & Androutsos, G. (2008). Gods and Heroes of Medicine in Greek Mythology. Archives: The International Journal of Medicine, 1(3), 144-147

Pettis, J.B., (2006). Earth, Dream, and Healing: The Integration of Materia and Psyche in the Ancient World. (Journal of Religion & Health.) 45(1), 113-129 doi:10.1007/s10943-005-9010-9

Jhala, C., & Jhala, K. (2012). The Hippocratic Oath: a comparative analysis of the ancient texts relevance to American and Indian modern medicine. Indian Journal of Pathology& Microbiology., 55(3), 279-282

Reinmuth, O.W., (1934). Greek Contributions to the terminology of psychology. Psychological Review, 4(5), 412-423

Wang, D. (2010). Greek Healing Herbs. Retrieved from

Falsetto, S. (2009). Medicinal Plants and Herbs Used by Hippocrates. Retrieved from

Osborn, D. (2010). Diagnosis. Retrieved from

Duchan, J.F., (2011). Medicine in Ancient Greece. Retrieved from

Dargie, R., Hook, A. (2007). Ancient Greece Health and Disease. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Print Books.

Milne, J.S., (1907). Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times. Oxford: Clarendon.

Tsoucalas, G., MD, Msc, PhD., Tsoucalas, I., MD, PhD. (2012). The First Mythological Description of an Incubator. Letter to Editor., March. 2012, vol. 22 (No1) p. 142-143

Pikoulis, EA., Petropulous, J., Tsigris, C., Pikoulis, N., Leppaniemi, AK., Pavlakis, E., Gavrielatou, E., Burris, D., Bastouris, E., Rich, NM. (2004). Trauma Management in Ancient Greece: value of surgical principles through the years. World J Surg. Apr., 2004. (4): 425-430

Power, C., Rasko, J. (2008). History of Medicine. Whither Prometheus' liver? Greek myth and the science of regeneration. Annals of Internal Medicine, 149(6), 421-426.

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