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Medicine In Ancient Rome Essay

609 words - 3 pages

Period 2
December 16, 2008

Medicine in Ancient Rome

The Ancient Rome made a huge input into medicine and health. Their input was mainly concerned with public health schemes. Though the Roman ‘discoveries’ may not have been in the field of pure medicine, poor hygiene by people was a constant source of disease, so any improvement in public health was to have a major impact on society. The Romans learned a great deal from the Ancient Greeks. They first came into contact with the Greeks in about 500 BC By 146 B.C. part of Greece had become a province of the Roman Empire and by 27 B.C. The Romans were in control not only of Greece but of Greek-speaking lands around the Mediterranean. They used the ideas of the Greeks but they did not simply copy them. Greek ideas they found impractical they ignored and it seems that ...view middle of the document...

Many of these doctors became valuable additions to a household. It is known that a number of these men bought their freedom and set up their own practices in Rome itself. After 200 BC, more Greek doctors came to Rome but their success at the expense of Romans did generate some mistrust. Many Greek physicians had the support of the emperors and the best known doctors were highly popular with the Roman public.
The Romans were great believers in a healthy mind equalling a healthy body. There was a belief that if you kept fit, you would be more able to combat an illness. Rather than spend money on a doctor, many Romans spent money on keeping fit. The Romans did believe that illnesses had a natural cause and that bad health could be caused by bad water and sewage. Hence their desire to improve the public health system in the Roman Empire so that everyone in their empire benefited – not just the rich. Those who worked for the Romans needed good health as did their soldiers. In this sense, the Romans were the first civilisation to introduce a program of public health for everyone regardless of wealth. Roman cities, villas and forts were built in what were considered healthy places.
The Romans became practised at draining marshes to rid areas of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Julius Caesar drained the Codetan Swamp and planted a forest in its place. The Romans paid especial attention to the health of their soldiers as without these soldiers, the Roman Empire could collapse. Great emphasis was placed on soldiers having access to clean water and being able to keep fit. Commanders ordered their junior officers not to set up a camp too near a swamp and the drinking of swamp water was especially discouraged. Soldiers were moved around as it was believed that if they stayed too long in one place, they would start to suffer from the illnesses that might have existed in that area. Clean water was very important to the Romans.

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