Challenging the Use of Ancient Greek and Roman Medical Information in Paul of Aegina's 'Epitome of Medicine'

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Katrina Johnston
History of medicine , History of science , Classical archaeology , Ancient history
Paul of Aegina (c. 625-690 CE) was one of the foremost Byzantine medical authorities. His only surviving text, Epitome of Medicine, was written in seven books and instructed physicians on both surgical and non-surgical treatments. The Epitome addressed the remedy of ailments ranging from medical treatments for “persons bitten by a man” to surgical procedures to fix aneurisms. Indeed, Paul identifies nearly 600 plants and 200 animal products as helpful ingredients in recipes for pharmacological interventions. Paul’s medical ideas were extremely influential. His encyclopedia was originally published in Greek before being translated into several different languages. His techniques may be traced in the methodologies of later physicians including Rhazes (864-925 CE ) Albucasis (936-1013 CE) and Avicenna (980-1037 CE). It is also apparent that Paul relied heavily upon the works of ancient medical writers such as Galen (129- 216 CE) and Hippocrates (460-375 BCE) when he was compiling his Epitome. In this study I explore classical influences on the surgical portion of Paul’s encyclopedia. I observe the techniques that remained the same, those that show an evolved medical understanding, and new procedures that appear in the text. This research strategy will elucidate how the growing compendium of medical knowledge effected the evolution of surgical techniques between antiquity and early Byzantium.
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