RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: Antike Medizin (ancient medicine) by Karl-Heinz Leven
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
For anybody vaguely interested in Greek and Roman Medicine (and able to read German, of course) I warmly recommend this encyclopaedia-style book. It covers a multitude of aspects in more than 1000 entries, by more than 80 international scholars. Every entry lists its relevant sources. Besides the highly interesting contents, various indices and an extensive bibliography make this a really valuable book IMHO. the author is a medical PhD and professor for the history of medicine at the university of Freiburg, Germany.

And no, I'm not related to the author ;-) )


bibliographical info:
Leven, Karl-Heinz: Antike Medizin. Ein Lexikon. 2005
ISBN: 3406528910
Price (in Germany): 49.90 euros
What do they say about the Roman knowledge of blood circulation? How much did they knew? I read that Galen was at least aware of the fact that blood, and not air as many others presumed, circulates in the veins, and he also realized the different function of veins and arteries, but the complete theory of blood ciculation he was not able to undertake or was he?
Blood circulation was not known until the 17th century, actually, it was an Englishman how first found out about it, the name escapes me now, I'm afraid. Galen ascertained that the veins are not primarily for the transportation of pneuma but blood. I'll get back on this once I've checked in detail ...
Okay, here we go: the idea of blood circulation through arteries and veins dates to 1628, the name was William Harvey.
Galen could and did differentiate between arteries and veins. He was of the opinion that the arteries were transporting blood and pneuma. Veins dispersed the blood from the liver throughout the body, feeding it this way. Pneuma was seen as the force of life, which was spread through the body from the heart.
Actually over time there were lots of more or less differing theories about the roles of arteries, veins, blood and pneuma as well as the roles of the heart and other inner organs with respect to those.
I found this interesting excerpt about how Galen's findings were instrumental in the later discovery of the blood circulation by Harvey.

http://www.nzasia.org.nz/journal/NZJAS- ... ingbao.pdf

Quote:Neijing in contrast with Galen and Harvey
Even if we assume that the circulation described in Neijing actually refers to
the circulation of the blood, what is accomplished in Neijing is still too
fragmented and speculative in comparison with the discovery of Harvey. As
the historians of Western medicine have pointed out, the real importance of
Harvey’s work for the history of medicine and science is ‘not so much the
discovery of the circulation of the blood as its quantitative or mathematical
demonstration. With this start, physiology became a dynamic science.’20
Harvey ‘not merely put forward’ the circulation of blood as an idea or a
theory; through his efforts, the idea ‘was proved by morphological,
mathematical, and experimental arguments.’21
It has been often mentioned that, although Neijing may not describe the
circulation of the blood in the complete manner that Harvey did, its theory
about the blood’s motion is still better and more correct than that of the great
Roman physician Galen. For Galen, the principal movement of blood was
forward, like the ebb and flow of the tide. Galen’s idea on the movement of
blood dominated the Western medical world for more than fourteen centuries
and was still the standard theory in Harvey’s times. However, it seems to me
that, intellectually speaking, Galen’s conception on this topic in particular, and
his medical system in general, are a better foundation for the discovery of the
circulation of blood than Neijing. The intellectual connections between Galen
and Harvey cannot be explored in details here, but it is important to point out
that Harvey’s discovery started from Galen’s medical achievements.22 First,
Galen discovered some fundamental facts on the movement of blood, such as
that there was blood in arteries and that the blood in arteries and the blood in
veins was different. Second, Galen’s model on the blood’s movement, though
wrong in the general sense, provided an object for later physicians to criticize
and correct. Third, some experiments Galen conducted (e.g. on how the
valves of the heart determined the direction of the blood’s motion) prepared
the path for discovering the circulation of blood. Fourth, and most significant,
Galen established the foundation of the experimental methods of modern
Western medicine, experimental physiology in particular. As George Sarton
summarized, Galen not only ‘understood the need for experiments’ but also
‘justified it in saying that the experimental path is long and arduous but leads
to the truth, which the short and easy way (uncontrollable assertion) leads
away from it.’23 As Charles Singer concluded, ‘Harvey took up his theme
practically where Galen had left it.’24 Without Galen’s heritage, it would have
been difficult, if not impossible, for Harvey to develop his theory on the
movement of blood.