Ancient Greek Medicine
Medicine was very important in Ancient Greece. Ancient Greek Culture was such that a high priority was placed upon healthy lifestyles. Utilising ideas from Egypt and developing new ideas, the Greeks are in many ways the founders of medicine as we know it. Philosophers wrote theories, doctors developed ideas and these were written, taught and distributed. Alongside the emergence of a science or philosophy based approach to medicine was the continuation of superstition and religion in medical practice.
Medical practice in Ancient Greece, like Egypt, was based largely upon religious beliefs. The Cult of Asclepius grew in popularity and was a major provider of medical care. This cult developed old theories and introduced several treatments not too dissimilar from modern ‘alternative medicines’.
The Ancient Greeks made major strides in medical knowledge. The works of Hippocrates and his followers led to several scientific facts being recorded for the first time: and perhaps more significantly the work of these philosophers began a tradition of studying the cause of disease rather than looking solely at the symptoms when prescribing a cure.
The significance of Ancient greek medicine is great. Hippocrates theory of the Four Humours was, for a long time, the basis upon which to develop medical reasoning. Likewise the methodology employed by the Greeks has, to a large extent, been retained and modified to form what we now consider to be conventional medicine.
Medicine in Ancient Greece
Remember to compare medicine in Ancient Greece with Egyptian Medicine. This will help you to understand continuity and change. Also look at Roman Medicine and Medicine in the Middle Ages to see the lasting impact of Greek ideas about medicine.
You can find a range of activities about medicine in Ancient Greece on our teachers resource page.
Medicine through time – Prehistoric Medicine – Egyptian Medicine – Greek Medicine – Roman Medicine – Medieval Medicine – Medicine in the Renaissance – Fight against Infectious Disease – Public Health in the Industrial Revolution – Modern Medicine – Revise for Medicine through time GCSE – GCSE History of Medicine resources