The development of medicine in the Roman Army The Roman Army also helped the development of medicine in Roman

times. The Roman Army needed its men to be fit and healthy so public health for them was very important. Secondly, the need to develop medicine to deal with the injuries the soldiers would face from the battlefield also meant medicine developed (war has always developed the face of medicine!). Early Roman Medicine. Remember the head of the household tended to be the ones who had to treat the ill in their families, this was a mixture of common sense and spiritual remedies. There were some doctors (women as well) but until Julius Caesar improved the status of doctors they tended to be lowly in status. Education Some medical students read the Hippocratic Collections. Other travelled to Alexandria to read important texts. One of the main ways to become a doctor was to be an apprentice to an experienced doctor. Links to Greek Medicine Use of Hippocratic texts, following the idea of clinical observation and the use of regimen (physical fitness) were all linked with the Greek ideas of medicine. The major difference between the two empires was their ideas on theories. The Greeks looked at the idea of what caused disease whereas the Romans were not as bothered about that area, the Romans wanted more practical knowledge. Roman Surgery Much like the Greek, the main difficulty was still the issue of dealing with pain and infection. Anatomical had ‘developed’ to some extend by the work of Galen although that is questionable. Operations including amputation, removing cataracts and trephining were all carried out. Galen He was undoubtedly a key figure in medicine from the time of the Romans to the dawn of the Renaissance. His works were based on the ideas of other key individuals such as Hippocrates but he also went further. Born approx. 129AD. He trained as a doctor at the Asclepion in Pergamum and continued his studies at Alexandria. When Galen went to Alexandria he wanted to study the human body in detail. However the religious practices in Alexandria now prohibited human dissection. He could only study the skeleton. Not confined to looking at a mere skeleton, Galen often used to look at the bodies of criminal hanging from gibbets to examine the human body (He even examined bones from a washed out graveyard!) This tells us that Galen was brought up in an environment where healing and medicine were fostered and developed. Perhaps the fact that he travelled to Alexandria highlights the way in which he wanted to learn more about his profession. In around 157 AD when he would have been in his mid to late twenties he went to work in the Gladiator School, but not as a gladiator! Think of the wounds that would be inflicted on gladiators in the course of their training. He would have

the perfect opportunity to practice examining the body and treating wounds and as most gladiators often were injured or killed practice was plentiful! In 161AD he went to Rome and began to build up his reputation there. Galen was apparently viewed as someone who promoted himself quite well and it worked – by 169AD he was the physician to the Emperor of Rome’s son. He used this time to begin to develop medicine as now he had a secure standing in the medical world. He wrote many texts and he encouraged doctors to go and visit Alexandria to see the skeleton of a human. Galen followed Hippocrates’ work in observation of the patient. He also practised treatments based on the four humours – this was often treatments opposite to the illness. Cold – Pepper, weak – exercise! As well as studying at Alexandria and using the bones of criminals Galen also experimented on animals. Pigs and primates were his animals of choice to experiment on the spinal cord (Barbary Apes) Galen did not highlight his failures like Hippocrates did. His experiments on animals made him develop some key mistakes in his studies on the anatomy of humans. Some of his observations on anatomy was speculation, not fact. He had a huge impact in medical teaching in the middle ages through both the Christian and Arab world. This was because he used the term ‘creator’. His teachings reflected a number of beliefs making them religiously acceptable. His texts were very powerful in dealing with possible objections or highlighting any mistakes. The wealth of his texts and size of them made him able to have a huge influence.