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Pulse

(548 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (σφυγμός/ sphygmós, Latin pulsus). Although a pounding pulse was long recognized as an indication of illness, it seems to have been Aristotle [6] (Hist. an. 521a; De respiratione 479b) who was the first to connect the phenomenon with the heart [1]. His assertion that the pulse was a normal, constant presence in all blood vessels was disproved by Praxagoras, who was able to show that only arteries had a pulse. His view that arteries contained only pneûma and functioned independent of the heart was in turn questioned by his pupil Herophil…

Ionicus

(90 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] of Sardis. Teacher and physician, who worked around AD 390. The son of a physician and a pupil of Zeno of Cyprus, he was well respected, particularly regarding his services to practical therapy, pharmacology, the art of bandaging, and surgery. In addition, he was a philosopher with particular gifts in medical prognostication as well as in fortunetelling (Eunapius, Vitae Philosophorum 499). Furthermore, he is reported to have distinguished himself as a well-known orator and poet, even though none of his works have survived. Nutton, Vivian (London)

Acron [of Acragas]

(131 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Ἄκρων; Ákrōn) [of Acragas] Son of a doctor of the same name (Diog. Laert. 8,65), older contemporary of Hippocrates. He was supposed to have rid Athens of the pest by lighting big fires in 430 BC (Plut. De Is. et Os. 80 [cf. 1]). The  Empiricists (Ps.-Gal. 14,638) considered A. as founder of their school and as such he entered the doxographic tradition [2]. It is possible that he participated in the debates regarding the epistemological value of sensory perception (he was familiar …

Largius Designatianus

(98 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Medical writer, 4th cent. AD, author of a Latin paraphrase of a Greek letter to (an undefined) king Antigonus that is passed down under the name of Hippocrates [6] and that contained a dietetic plan and advice on treating diseases of the head, chest, belly and kidneys. This paraphrase is extant in the introduction to a medical treatise of Marcellus Empiricus, where it is preceded by a letter of L. to his sons. Both texts probably belonged to the introduction to a medical work by L. that is lost today. Nutton, Vivian (London)

Phlebotomy

(371 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] In Babylonian, Egyptian and also Greek medicine, blood-letting was part of standard medical practice. This procedure was carried out either by directly opening a vein, by scarification or by using a cupping vessel. Considering how often the latter are depicted on monuments connected with physicians, cupping may have been the most common method [1]. Two notions seem to have favoured phlebotomy: on the one hand, it supposedly prevented the stagnating of the blood and its transformat…

Alexipharmaka

(207 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (ἀλεξιφάρμακα; alexiphármaka). ‘Medications that protect from poisons’. The search for effective antidotes is as old as the poisons themselves.  Theophrastus ( c. 380-288/5 BC) already presented discussions of a few antidotes (fr. 360, 361 Fortenbaugh), but a more serious investigation into poisons seems to have begun in Alexandria with  Herophilus and  Erasistratus (around 280 BC) and was continued by Apollodorus and Nicander of Colophon (2nd cent. BC), whose Theriaka and Alexipharmaka are the oldest surviving treatises on the topic. Alexipharmaka can be us…

Dietetics

(1,163 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] I. Greece Greek medicine is fundamentally different from Egyptian and Babylonian medicine because it allots dietetics in the broader sense of a regime of eating, drinking, exercise and bathing, a key role within therapeutics [2. 395-402; 3]. Originally, dietetics referred to the administering of balanced foods in liquid, pasty or solid form, depending on the degree of illness (Hippocr. De medicina vetere 5 [4. 241-257]). However, about the mid 5th cent. BC it expanded well beyond a …

Aretaeus

(401 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Ἀρεταῖος; Aretaîos) of Cappadocia. Greek Hippocratic physician who was influenced by Pneumatic theory. [13] therefore assigned him to the middle of the 1st cent. AD. A.'s name was first mentioned in the late 2nd. cent as the author of a text about prophylactics in Ps.-Alex. Aphr. De febribus 1, 92, 97, 105. However, Galen repeats A.'s story of a leper that appeared in Morb. chron. 4,13,20 without any reference to the source in Subfig. emp. 10 = Deichgräber 75-9. Thirty years later…

Mental illness

(976 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A. Near Eastern Mental illnesses (MI) are described in both Jewish and Babylonian texts. Sometimes physical signs are indicated, as in epilepsy, sometimes behaviours are described as in 1 Sam 16:14-16; 21:13-15, but all MI are ascribed to the intervention of God, or, in texts from 500 BC onwards, of a variety of demons [1]. Treatment might be limited to confinement (Jer 29:26-8) or exorcism, including music, but the Jewish ‘Therapeutae’ took an approach that involved the entire lifes…

Mnesitheus

(118 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Μνησίθεος; Mnēsítheos). Athenian doctor, fl. 350 BC. His tomb was seen by Paus. (1,37,4). He was wealthy enough to erect statues and was one of the dedicators of the beautiful ex-voto inscription to Asclepius IG II2 1449. He is frequently associated with Dieuches [1]; he wrote extensively about dietetics including diets for children, and is counted amongst the more important Dogmatic physicians (Dogmatists) [1]. Galen ascribes to him a logical classification of illnesses that follows Plato's method (fr. 10,11 Bert…

Erotianus

(328 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Greek grammarian, middle or end of the 1st cent. AD, author of a glossary of Hippocratic words, which he dedicated to  Andromachus [4 or 5], a doctor at the imperial court in Rome [2; 3]. The alphabetic structure of the glossary, in its surviving form, does not go back to E. since, in his preface (9), he expressly emphasizes that he had explained the words in the sequence of their appearance in c. 37 Hippocratic texts which in turn could be classified into 1) semiotic, 2) physiological-aetiological, 3) therapeutic texts, 4) miscellaneous, 5) texts on…

Surgery

(1,412 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A. Egyptian The high prestige widely accorded to Egyptian medical practitioners for their surgical skills (Hdt. 3,129), was well-earned. Skeletal finds show the successful treatment of bone fractures, esp. in the arms, and rare cases of trepanation. However, there is no reliable indication of surgical intervention in body cavities [1; 2]. The great diversity of knives, spoons, saws and needles reflects a highly-developed specialism, rooted in wide-ranging medical practice. Early pap…

Iatraleiptes

(106 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Masseur, a profession that seems to have become fashionable in the 1st cent. AD (e.g. CIL 6,9476) but the linking of medicine and gymnastics extends as far back as Herodicus [1] of Selymbria (5th cent. BC). Trimalchio was treated by three aliptae (Petron. Sat. 28). Pliny considers this entire branch of medicine a form of quackery (HN 29,4-5). Vespasian however guaranteed all who practiced this art various privileges (FIRA 1,77) and Pliny the Younger managed to persuade Trajan to confer Roman (and Alexandrian) citizenship to his Egyptian iatraleiptes Harpocrates, w…

Melancholy

(534 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (μέλαινα χολή/ mélaina cholḗ, ‘black bile’). The fourth humour in the tradition of Hippocratic medicine represented by De natura hominis, ch. 4, and later by Rufus of Ephesus and Galen. It was predominant in autumn, associated with the element earth, and cold and dry. It was viewed as the antithesis of blood, having many deadly properties [1]. According to Galen (De atra bile 5,104-148 K.) in its purest form it was highly destructive to everything it touched, and had its origin in the spleen. Not ev…

Euryphon of Cnidus

(339 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Greek physician, mid 5th cent. BC. The story recounted in Sor. Vita Hipp. 5, that E. cured Perdiccas II of Macedonia of an illness caused by unrequited love, arose comparatively late and is rather fantastical. According to Galen (17a,886), he provided the most important contributions to the so-called ‘Cnidian Sentences’, which have survived only in fragments [1. 65-66; 2. 14-26]. In the opinion of some ancient scholars some of his works, especially those dealing with dietetics, were taken up into the Hippocratic Corpus (Gal. 6,473; 7,960; 16,3). E. regarded disea…

Iatrosophistes

(216 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Originally meaning a teacher of medicine (esp. in Alexandria), iatrosophistes could later refer to any experienced practitioner ( medicus sapientissimus, Corpus Glossatorum Latinorum 3,600,32 Goetz), either in orthodox medicine (e.g.  Agnellus, In Galeni De sectis commentarium 33) or in the magical arts of healing (Ps.-Callisthenes, Vita Alexandri 1,3) [1]. Contrary to the emendation by von Arnim in Dion. Chrys. 33,6, the term was probably not coined before the late 4th cent. AD (Epiphanius, Adversu…

Hippocratic Oath

(704 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[English version] Documentary evidence for a use of the HO in Late Antiquity is ambiguous. Gregory of Nazianzus (Greg. Naz. Or. 7,10) reported that his brother Caesarius did not have to swear the oath as a medical student in Alexandria, thus implying that others probably had to. However, there is no record for the Byzantine or Muslim world to confirm any official obligation to swear this oath, even though it was evidently well-known. In practice, it was superseded by the Galenic concept equating e…

Iatromaia

(95 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (‘birth-helper’, ‘midwife’). Midwifery was usually practiced by women but was not exclusively in their hands. A Parian inscription, for example, records two male birth-helpers (IG 12,5,199) and the preserved treatises on midwifery address a male readership. Iatromaia as an occupational name appears in two Roman inscriptions of the 3rd and 4th cents. AD (CIL 6,9477f.); in one, a Valeria Verecunda is named as the ‘first iatromaia in her region’, an epithet that seems to refer to the quality of her work rather than a position in a collegium.  Midwife Nutton, Vivian (Lon…

Empiricists

(726 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A. History The Empiricists are a Greek school of physicians founded in about 250 BC by Philinus of Cos, a pupil of  Herophilus (Ps.-Galen Introductio; Gal. 14,683). According to Celsus (De med. pr. 10) it was founded somewhat later by Serapion of Alexandria. According to some doxographers the founder was Acron of Acragas (about 430 BC; fr. 5-7 Deichgräber). It is mentioned in the medical doxographies as one of the leading movements in Greek medicine even in the time of Isidorus of S…

Philagrius

(127 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Φιλάγριος; Philágrios). Doctor from Epirus, fl. 3rd-4th cents. AD; he practised in Thessalonica and was the author of more than 70 books: treatises on dietetics, gout, dropsy and rabies as well as a commentary on Hippocrates [1]. He is often cited by later authors, especially in Arabic, for his treatment of diseases of the liver and spleen. Doctrinally, he often follows Galen, but pays particular attention to pneuma (Pneumatists) as the co-ordinating force in organisms. His name appears often in garbled form as Filaretus (e.g. frr. 131-133: Rhazes, Continens, V…
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