Lekarze i medycyna u Strabona


  • Alicja Szastyńska-Siemion
  • Małgorzata Wróbel


Doctors and medicine in the works of Strabo

In Politics III 6,8, 1282a, Aristotle mentioned 3 groups of specialists, who were allowed to give their opinions on medical matters. They are: δημιουργÒς, ¢ρχιτeκονικÒς and πεπαιδευμšνος. According to G.E.R. Lloyd and his Polish translator it means: “an ordinary doctor practising medicine, a master of medicine, and someone who studied medicine within the confines of his general education”. L. Piotrowicz translates it as follows: “someone who practises to a limited extent and someone who possesses the medical knowledge entirely, and also one who is only acquainted with medicine”. On the basis of this statement the researchers conclude that the doctor profession was significantly specialized, however, working as a doctor did not demand any specific studies. Probably only a period of practice under an experienced specialist’s supervision was essential. Strabo 63/64 B.C. – 23/4 AD does not belong to any doctors’ group mentioned by Aristotle. If so, what right does he have to express his opinion on medical issues? His only right to do so is the one that is possessed by an ordinary man. In defence of him, it should be stressed that his statements are usually laconic and appear quite rarely. It is certainly worth considering the information included in his work, because the history of ancient medicine has too many gaps. Therefore even the smallest source must not be passed over. The kind of information given by Strabo is strongly connected with the character of his works. His monumental Geographica includes numbered pieces of information which are not connected with medicine, e.g.: historical, those connected with art history and mythology. He also mentions outstanding inhabitants of described cities: poets, rhetors, politicians and scientists – including doctors. Strabo quotes anecdotes and proverbs. He also deals with literary and linguistic issues. In such wide and diverse material obviously some information on medicine had to appear, since this subject was as important for ancient Greeks as it is for us today. Including medical information was nothing unusual, as we find such information in Herodotus I 197; II 84; III 99 ff and Diodorus I 82. However, we have to remember that they served to embroider the work, as well as to arouse the interest of the reader. Therefore Strabo omitted those problems that would be obvious to his contemporaries, but are of the highest importance for us.






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