HYGIEIA

TREATMENT

In Homeric, Theurgic and Scientific Medicine

3Α. Homeric Medicine
Evidence of early “medical” action is recorded in Homer’s Iliad, and concerns the simple treatment of battle injuries (cleaning wounds, coating them with medical herbs, and bandage.

Two clay tablets written in Linear B, which were found in the palace archive of Pylos, contain the words i-ja-te (i.e., iητήρ = physician) and pa-ma-ko, (i.e., medicament).

3Β. Theurgic Medicine
The gods and hero-healers were presented, especially the members of Asclepius’ family, such as Hygieia, Podalirius, Machaon, Telesphoros.

The religious or temple medicine was practiced in the numerous sanctuaries of Asclepius all over the Greek world, where patients gathered and, following the priests’ instructions, underwent a series of purgatory rituals; then, they would sleep in the sanctuary (incubation) with the intention of experiencing a divinely inspired dream.

During the night, Asclepius would appear in the patient’s dream and give him advice, which was in the morning interpreted by the priests.
This subunit comprises various terracotta and marble votive offerings, often inscribed, that were found in the Asclepieia and are distinguished into two categories:

a) anatomical votives (legs, hands, eyes, ears, breasts, etc.) and
b) narrative reliefs with healing scenes, which consist of patients’ offerings of gratitude to the god.

All these prominently displayed votives were intended to impress all worshippers entering the sanctuary as well as to strengthen their faith in the healing abilities of the god.

3C. Scientific Medicine
Scientific medicine was practiced by trained professionals travelling from place to place and, in later periods, by public doctors receiving afee pay and special privileges.

In this subsection, various medical tools were presented, which have been mainly found in graves of doctors.

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