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Greek doctors


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Revision tip and answer preparation

Revision tip

'Greek doctors developed the first rational system of medicine' ['rational' means: based on logic and common sense].

Explain this sentence by making a list of all the advances made by Greek doctors. As you read, note down when you can confirm one of the following possible comments about Greek doctors:

  • they knew about the inner workings of the body
  • they developed clinical observation
  • they studied the natural history of diseases
  • they realised that diseases had natural causes and cures
  • they developed the theory of the Four Humours and the 'use of opposites'
  • they wrote and used medical textbooks
  • they were professional and took the Hippocratic Oath
  • they were skilled at setting broken bones and slipped discs
  • they knew hundreds of herbal remedies
  • they had a reassuring 'bedside manner'
  • they developed a Programme for Health for personal health and hygiene.

Answer preparation

As part of your revision, think about the arguments and facts you would use to explain:

  1. How Greek medicine reflected the ideas and practices of Greek civilisation.
  2. What caused people to be healthy or unhealthy in Greek times.
  3. What ideas the Greeks had about the causes and treatment of illness and injuries.
  4. Who provided medical care in Greek times.
  5. How much (or whether) medicine changed in Greek times, and what the main turning points were.
  6. Why some diagnoses and treatments changed while others remained the same.
  7. How (or whether) the process of change was influenced by:
    • individuals
    • the government
    • science and technology
    • war
    • attitudes and beliefs in society
    • trade
  8. To what extent developments in medical understanding and practice in Greek times affected people's lives.


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