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Greco-Roman Medicine and What It Can Teach Us Today (ePub)

Ancient History Rome Archaeology Photographic eBooks Colour eBooks

By Nick Summerton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Archaeology
File Size: 47.2 MB (.epub)
ISBN: 9781526752888
eBook Released: 10th November 2021

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There can be little doubt that the Romans experienced many of the illnesses that are still encountered today, and individuals have always had to decide how best to deal with their health-related concerns.

The Roman Empire was an amalgam of many cultures, often with dissimilar ideas and beliefs. The Greek impact on health was particularly dominant and, therefore, this book focuses on Greco-Roman medicine as it was practised during the Pax Romana, the period between the accession of Augustus and the death of Marcus Aurelius.

Drawing on ancient literature supplemented with evidence from archaeology, paleopathology, epigraphy and numismatics the Greco-Roman medical context is carefully examined. A particular focus is on the effectiveness of approaches to both preventing and treating a range of physical and psychological problems. Detailed consideration is also given to the ancient technical and hygienic achievements in addition to the place of healers within Roman society.

Uniquely, within each chapter, the author draws on his own clinical and public health experience, combined with modern research findings, in assessing the continuing relevance of Greco-Roman medicine. For example, Galen`s focus on access to fresh air, movement, sensible eating and getting sufficient sleep matter as much today as they did in the past. Our classical forebears can also assist us in determining the best balances between prevention and treatment, centralised control and individual responsibility, as well as the most appropriate uses of technology, drugs and surgery.

Some ancient pharmaceutical compounds are already showing promise in treating infections. In addition, practising Stoicism and getting some locotherapy should be considered by anyone struggling to cope with the stresses and strains of modern life.

I love anything to do with Roman history & this book was an informative read. The author is arguing that we can still learn things from the Greco-Romans on the subject of holistic medicine, looking after the whole body & not just the physical. I particularly liked the chapters on the Roman bathhouses & the temples of healing- fascinating stuff. Apparently the very upmarket temples & bathhouses contained not just the basics but libraries, shops, & theatres, with music, dancing, & entertainment - our modern hospitals make do with a newsagent & a coffee shop.

There have also been some modern recreations of ancient antibiotic medicines which have apparently worked on MRSA - perhaps something which will prove to be of vital importance in the near future. If you enjoy Greco-Roman history, this is written in an accessible style.

NetGalley, Gayle Noble

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This title is absolutely packed with detail; some is technical and there’s a huge amount of historical fact. The research into written records, archaeological data, literature and more is extensive and appears meticulous. Despite the density if factual information, the book is accessible and I approached the subject but by bit. As a lay reader with broad interests, I wanted to learn and understand more and I dipped in to it chapter by chapter over a couple of weeks.

It’s an engrossing subject. We now live in a world of medicine dominated by Big Pharma and, in my view, much of the basic principles around health care and well being have been lost. Doctors tick boxes on computer screens, nurses no longer ‘nurse’ and people are becoming increasingly unwell. This book shows how much credence was placed on balance between lifestyle and well being. Fresh air, rest, exercise were often basics for improving a condition. And better use was made of more natural remedies found in plants. It wasn’t all good, but reading this is a salutary reminder of how much society has lost as well as gained. Really interesting and my thanks to the publisher for a review copy via Netgalley.

NetGalley, Anita Wallas

Fascinating. I’ve always had an interest is the history of medicine and indeed did a GCSE in the subject many years ago. This book is absolutely packed with facts and a fantastic level of detail and I learned a great deal from it. It is pitched perfectly so that it is very enjoyable and accessible whether you have background knowledge or not and I was astounded and thrilled that there were some many specifics and detailed accounts seeing as the eras were quite so long ago. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our medical knowledge and pharmaceuticals are much more advanced in current times but this book challenges your assumptions on this and shows clearly that some of the treatments they knew of and used were actually more effective and had excellent success rates. A thoroughly enjoyable read and one that I will definitely come back to more than once for a re read.

NetGalley, Helen Frost

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely found this book fascinating!
Drawing on ancient literature supplemented with evidence from archaeology, paleopathology, epigraphy and numismatics the Greco-Roman medical context is carefully examined. A particular focus is on the effectiveness of approaches to both preventing and treating a range of physical and psychological problems. Detailed consideration is also given to the ancient technical and hygienic achievements in addition to the place of healers within Roman society.

Uniquely, within each chapter, the author draws on his own clinical and public health experience, combined with modern research findings, in assessing the continuing relevance of Greco-Roman medicine. For example, Galen`s focus on access to fresh air, movement, sensible eating and getting sufficient sleep matter as much today as they did in the past. Our classical forebears can also assist us in determining the best balances between prevention and treatment, centralised control and individual responsibility, as well as the most appropriate uses of technology, drugs and surgery.

Some ancient pharmaceutical compounds are already showing promise in treating infections. In addition, practising Stoicism and getting some locotherapy should be considered by anyone struggling to cope with the stresses and strains of modern life.
Definitely worth a read and I’m sure I’ll come back to this book soon.

NetGalley, Michelle Coates

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

The great value of this book, in my opinion, is that it carefully shows what is abiding in maintaining health, and treating ill health. And that certain parts of the Roman tradition are worth re-evaluation. Human nature remains the same throughout time, and wise people have come up with similar views on how to deal with the upsets life deals us. I was surprised at how similar the stoic traditions were to Buddhist views, and that the Romans believed that doctors were a last resort, Very old people could maintain perfect health in the same way that people in the so-called blue zone still do. Really absorbing evaluation of Greco-Roman medicine, and he wears his knowledge lightly, so reading is never tedious.

NetGalley, Fran Anderson

As featured in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.

Yorkshire Archaeological Journal

About Nick Summerton

Dr Nicholas Summerton qualified as a medical doctor in 1984, and has worked in hospital medicine, general practice, public health and clinical research. He has written three books on diagnosis and screening plus a short booklet entitled Medicine and Health Care in Roman Britain. He also has longstanding interests in the Roman world and a specific focus on Ancient Medicine.

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