Surprising Facts from the Healing Arts of Greece and Rome

Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities
A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities

There are few disciplines as exciting and forward-looking as medicine. But many modern practitioners have lost sight of the origins of their discipline.

A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities aspires to cure this lapse by taking readers back to the early days of Western medicine in ancient Greece and Rome. Quoting the actual words of ancient authors, often from texts which have never before been translated into English, J. C. McKeown offers a fascinating glimpse at the origins of surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, pharmacology, diet and nutrition, and many other fields of medicine.

This book features hundreds of passages from Greek and Roman authors, with gentle guidance from McKeown, giving a vividly direct picture of the ancient medical world, a world in which, for example, a surgeon had to be strong-minded enough to ignore the screams of his patient, diseases were assumed to be sent by the gods, medicine and magic were often indistinguishable, and no qualifications were required before setting oneself up as a doctor.

On the other hand, McKeown reveals that some ancient medical attitudes were also surprisingly similar to our own. Beyond the practice of medicine, McKeown highlights ancient views on familiar topics, such as medical ethics and the role of the doctor in society. A fascinating exploration of the bizarre – and sometimes grotesque – medical beliefs of the past, A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities will delight anyone with an interest in the history of medicine or the ancient world.