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ATTIC CULTURE (CONTINUED):-CERTAIN TRADES
I PREFER to turn to the features really peculiar to the Platonic age in contrast to Periclean days. These features are, no doubt, the decay of practical politics, and the rise of theories of state life, on the one hand, and pictures of private society, on the other. Plato is purely a philosophical speculator on education and on statecraft. Xenophon, practical soldier and keen sportsman as he is, cannot avoid the same tendency, and is, in his way, a speculator on politics and society. Yet both of these men clothe their teaching in the dress of social conversation, and paint pictures of private society that they may convey in them their theories. Here, then, they are in contact with the professed dramatists of the Middle Comedy, who, for the most part, ridicule speculation, and makẹ a special butt of Plato and his notions', but agree with him in painting scenes from ordinary life, and representing professions and classes upon their stage. As these sketches of particular professions are highly
1 Allusions of this kind are found in Amphis (Mein. iii. p. 305), Ephippus (p. 332), Epicrates (pp. 370, 378, 381), and all through the fragments of Alexis.
instructive for our purpose, I shall proceed to bring together our evidence on doctors, fishmongers, cooks, and such other classes as may be mentioned, previous to entering upon a general sketch of manners as found in the higher society of Plato's dialogues.
As to Medical Practice, we find, of course, that there were two schools—the old quackery of charms and incantations, and the rational observation and treatment of disease by empirical remedies 1. In Homer the former seems prominent, and so it was even in the days of Pindar and Æschylus, though the latter, in giving an account of Prometheus' gifts to mankind, mentions real surgical and medical treatment (Prom. vv. 476 sqq.). He also makes in the same play an allusion very characteristic of the Greek temper, and one that indicates the coming development of medicine: To those that are sick it is sweet to know clearly beforehand what they have yet to suffer 3.' Such an allusion points to no charms or wonder-working, but to the prognosis of
1 The recovered medical treatises of the ancient Egyptians, and the Coptic medical papyrus show the same duality of attitude in Egyptian medicine. I have collected all the evidence, and discussed the subject fully in my Prolegomena to Ancient History. Herodotus lays stress on the Egyptian doctors being specialists, and only treating one disease. This was not commonly the case among the Greeks, through the scene in the Plutus of Aristophanes seems to imply a speciality in that temple for ophthalmia; Ran. 151 (Schol.) as well as Eccles. 363 corroborate this. But Plato (Charmides, 156 B) notices on the other side, that able physicians had even in his day recognised the importance of general health in special affections, and combated the latter through the former.
Cp. Pyth. iii. 45, Nem. viii. 50.
3 Prom. 698:τοῖς νοσοῦσί τοι γλυκύ
τὸ λοιπὸν ἄλγος προὐξεπίστασθαι τορῶς.
the physician who has learned by experience what to expect from known symptoms.
This rational school had in truth been developed earlier than the age of Eschylus, and strange to say, not in relation to disease, but in relation to high physical training for athletic purposes. Plato, indeed, ascribes the origin of treatment by regimen to Herodicus of Selymbria', 'who being a trainer, and himself of a sickly constitution, by a happy combination of training and doctoring, found out a way of torturing, first himself, and then the rest of the world.' So then Greek medicine rather started from hygiene than from pathology. The trainer found that amulets and spells were of no use against better physical conditions. We find the most celebrated early school of medicine at Croton, which was also the home of the greatest athletes.
The tyrants, and in imitation of them the free cities, began to bid for men of this school, and give them high yearly salaries for residing among them. The case of Democedes (Herod. iii. 131) is well known. He ran away from a cruel father at Croton, and came to Ægina, where he set up in private practice; and, though destitute of the needful appliances, outstripped the best physicians of the place in one year.' Ægina, being at that time the most frequented seaport and emporium in Greece proper, was able to employ him as a state physician the following year, for a talent (£244)2; but the Athenian
1 Not Gorgias' brother, with whom Mr. Jowett confuses him in the Index to his Plato.
lato (Gorg. 514 E) speaks of it as ridiculous that a man should set up to be a state-physician till he had attained eminence in private practice.
tyrants next year bid £406 for him, and the fourth year he was engaged, for two talents (£487), by Polycrates, the most powerful Greek prince then living. Such a salary seems enormous at this epoch among the Greeks.
However, we see here the habit of having statephysicians, to which Aristophanes, Plato, and Xenophon make many allusions in after days. There was a technical term for such practitioners at Athens (onμootEve), and the scholiasts on Aristophanes (Acharn. 1030) say they did not take private fees. I should infer this to have been the case in Democedes' day also, as it would account for the high state-salary. Plato implies plainly enough that the profession was taken up by men of culture and education, like Eryximachus, who forms one of the very aristocratic company in his Symposium; and also that they were publicly elected by the assembly, and that they distinctly based their practice on experience1; it seems certain from Xenophon' that they sent in applications for the post, in which they doubtless stated their claims, and perhaps even got testimonials as to their private practice. That their salary was large is not only implied by Democedes' case, but by Aristophanes (Plut. 403) who states that owing to the poverty of the city there was no doctor (I suppose state-doctor), and that accordingly the craft had greatly declined. It is, on the contrary, noticed among the perfections of Spartan military arrangements, that a safe place was allotted to certain indispensable attendants on the army, and among these are mentioned military 1 Cp. Rep. 405 A, Gorgias, 455 B, and Rep. 408 E. 2 Xen. Mem. iv. 2.
surgeons (Lac. Pol. 13), the only allusion to them, I suppose, in Greek literature.
Though Xenophon (Econ. xiii.) speaks of their visits to patients morning and evening, I fancy that this applies to an inferior class of private practitioners, and that the state-physicians were consulted at their official residence. They had a number of assistants, some of them slaves, who treated simple cases, and more especially the diseases of slaves, going in and ordering the patients to take their remedies, whereas with free men the practice was to persuade the patient, by full explanation of the treatment, that it would succeed. Plato is very interesting on this point. In the case of the free man, 'he will not prescribe till he has persuaded him.' A still more remarkable case, if true, is that mentioned in the Gorgias, where Plato says that the physicians used to take with them Gorgias, who was the most persuasive rhetorician of the day, in order that he might persuade the patients to adopt their prescriptions'. These things are very curious, and show to what a pitch the Greeks had brought the habit of inquiry and argument, regardless in this case, as it seems, of the very bad effect such discussions must have on the nerves of many patients. But I must add, in fairness to them, that this habit of persuading the patient cannot have been universal. Plato himself speaks of enforced treatment, and Aristotle, a generation later, specially notes that the physician's duty was not to compel or to persuade, but simply to prescribe 2.
1 Cp. Laws, iv. p. 720, Gorgias, iii. p. 46 (Jowett).
F2 Cp. Plato, Rep. 293 A, Laws, 646, 660 A; and Aristotle, Pol. iv. 2 (p. 1324).