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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…

Agnellus [of Ravenna]

(294 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Iatrosophist and commentator of medical texts around AD 600, Milan. Ambr. G 108 f. contains his commentaries on Galen's De sectis, Ars medica, De pulsibus ad Teuthram and Ad Glauconem, just as they were recorded by Simplicius (not the famous Aristotle commentator!). The first mentioned is in many places in agreement with a commentary which is ascribed to Iohannes Alexandrinus or Gesius, as well as Greek passages of text, which are associated with Iohannes and Archonides (?). As controversial as the question …

Erasistratus

(1,039 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
(Ερασίστρατος; Erasístratos) [German version] A. Life Physician, born in the 4th-3rd cent. BC at Iulis on Ceos; the son of Cleombrotus, physician to Seleucus I, and Cretoxene; brother and nephew to other physicians (fr. 1-8 Garofalo). Information on his education is contradictory, but, if we ignore Eusebius when he tells us that E. attained the zenith of his career in 258 BC, a link with Theophrastus and the Peripatos appears possible [7]. The professional practice of his father and E.'s own associati…

Galen of Pergamum

(3,449 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
(Γαλήνος; Galḗnos) [German version] A. Life AD 129 to c. 216, Greek doctor and philosopher. As the son of a prosperous architect named Aelius or Iulius Nicon (not Claudius, as older accounts have it), G. enjoyed a wide education, especially in philosophy. When he was 17, Asclepius appeared to Nicon in a dream which turned G. towards a medical career. After studying with Satyrus, Aiphicianus and Stratonicus in Pergamum, G. went to Smyrna c. 149 to learn from Pelops, a pupil of the Hippocratic Quintus. From there he journeyed to Corinth to find Numisianus, another pupi…

Geneva Declaration

(155 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[English version] One of the first official acts of the World Medical Association, founded in 1947, was drafting the Geneva Declaration (GD), a contemporary reformulation of the Hippocratic Oath; further improvements were made in 1968. The so-called abortion paragraph and the ban on surgery made way for more modern general provisions to respect human life from the moment of conception and always to use medical knowledge in harmony with the laws of humanity. It retained mention of a doctor's obliga…

Artorius, M.

(136 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Doctor, and follower of Asclepiades of Bithynia (Caelius Aurelianus Morb. acut. 3,113), was in Philippi with Octavian where a dream saved the life of the future emperor (Plut. Antonius 22; Brutus 47; Val. Max. 1,7,2; Vell. Pat. 2,70,1). He was honoured by the Athenians (IG II/III2 4116), probably on the occasion of a journey to Delos (IDélos 4116), and died around 27 BC in a shipwreck (Hieron. Chron. Olymp. 127). A. believed that rabies first attacked the brain and that it spread to the stomach and caused hiccups, unquenchab…

Anonymus Londiniensis

(480 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] The papyrus inventory no. 137 of the British Library in London is the most important surviving medical papyrus. It was written towards the turn of the 1st to the 2nd cent. and is divided into three parts: columns 1-4,17 contain a list of definitions that concern the páthē of body and soul (cf. the discussion in Gal. Meth. med. 1); columns 4,21-20,50, present different views about the causes of diseases; columns 21,1-39,32 deal with physiology. The text as well as many internal characteristics indicate that these chapters, thou…

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…

Anatomy

(1,960 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A. Egypt and ancient Orient Anatomy in the sense of a systematically gained body of knowledge on the basis of dissections appears to have been a Greek invention. We do know that Babylonian (and later also Etruscan) hepatoscopy entailed the removal of an animal liver, but aside from the relatively differentiated terminology for this organ and the assignment of certain emotions to the main organs, Babylonian texts are silent about the topic of anatomy [17]. The beginnings of anatomical r…

Summaria Alexandrinorum

(296 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] In Late Antiquity in Alexandria [1] writings by Galenus and to a lesser extent by Hippocrates [6] were assembled into a medical compendium. Known as the '16 Books of Galen', it covers the basic areas of medicine  (including anatomy, physiology and therapeutics). According to Arab sources [1], a number of teachers ( Iatrosophistḗs ) in Alexandria are supposed to have written a series of summaries or abridgements of the books contained in this compendium, which were then collected under the title SA and translated into Arabic and perhaps also into Hebrew [2]. In…

Transmission of disease

(307 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Latin contagio, ‘infection’, refers to the transmission of disease (TD) from person to person, directly or through an intermediary. TD is associated with the idea of pollution: Judaism, for instance, holds that people suffering from certain diseases (such as leprosy) or menstruating women must be avoided (Purification). The stated reasons were either hygienic or religious. Similar precepts are known from ancient Babylon and Greece as well. The observation that those in close contac…

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)

Medical ethics

(1,348 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A. Introduction Medical ethics can be defined as the attitude of those schooled in the art of healing towards those whom they want to heal. How this appears in detail, depends on the healer's social group and standing and also the society in which he or she works. Furthermore, healers and those seeking healing may well have completely divergent views on medical ethics. It is possible to regulate for any desired attitude in the sense of the earlier definition by laws or professional …

Fever

(438 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (πυρετός/ pyretós, Lat. febris) strictly refers to a symptom only, i.e. a raise in body temperature, but all ancient medical authors frequently use this term to refer to a specific illness or class of illness. In modern diagnostic usage, the term covers a variety of conditions; thus the identification of any ancient ‘fever’ without any further sub-classification or other description of symptoms is bound to fail. Such aids to identification could consist of observations regarding the periodicity of fever attacks, as in the febris tertiana or febris quartana, when epi…

Iacobus Psychrestus

(108 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Physician, the son of Hesychius of Damascus, changed his residence in the early 6th cent. AD in order to join his father's medical practice in Constantinople. He treated emperor Leo, whereupon he became a   comes and   archiatros (Chron. pasch. 8254a; Malalas, Chronographia 370 Dindorf; Photius, Bibliotheca 344A). As a pagan philosopher who was honoured in Athens and Constantinople with statues, he ordered the rich to help the poor. The latter he incidentally treated without charging a fee. His nic…

Venereal diseases

(398 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] In the absence of unambiguous diagnostic evidence it is difficult to reconstruct the ancient history of VD. Less harmful infections such as herpes genitalis (Hippocr. De mulierum affectibus 1,90 = 8,214-8 L.) and chlamydia [2. 220] are well attested, the two major VD of modern times, gonorrhoea and syphilis, can be detected in surviving material only with difficulty. Gonorrhoea, a Greek word coinage presumably from the Hellenistic period, describes any form of excessive production of fluid in a man. It…

Uliadae

(148 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Οὐλιάδαι; Ouliádai). Family connected with medicine and healing cults in Velia [1] in southern Italy. The name derives from lios (Οὔλιος;  Str. 14,1,6-8), one of the numerous epithets of Apollo (B. 4), and refers to his power both to harm and to heal (cf. Asclepius/Asclepiadae). The first verifiable member of this family was Parmenides. Statues and inscriptions in Velia, which were created primarily c. AD 20, represent members of the family, bearing the names Ulis or Uliades, as physicians and as φώλαρχοι/ phṓlarchoi; this probably suggests a cultic communit…

Hospital

(2,037 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A. Definition Hospital in the sense of public institutions for the medical care of exclusively sick people are not encountered before the 4th cent. AD, and even then the majority of terms used (Greek xenṓn, xenodocheîon, ptōcheîon, gerontokomeíon, Latin xenon, xenodochium, ptochium, gerontocomium, valetudinarium; ‘guesthouse’, ‘pilgrims' hostel’, ‘poorhouse’, ‘old people's home’, ‘hospital’) point to a diversity of functions, target groups and services that partly overlap with each other. Private houses for sick members o…

Acumenus [of Athens]

(72 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Ἀκουμενός; Akoumenós) [of Athens] Doctor from the late 5th cent. BC. As father of the doctor  Eryximachus, who was a friend of Socrates and Phaedrus, A. emerges briefly as a fictitious dialogue partner in Pl. Phdr. 268a and 269a, in order to emphasize the thesis that the art of medicine comprises more than merely knowledge, which has been gleaned from books and teachers. Nutton, Vivian (London)

Numisianus

(198 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Νουμισιανός; Noumisianós), anatomist and teacher of medicine in the 2nd cent. AD. A pupil of Quintus, he wrote many works on anatomy in Greek, but these were hoarded by his son Heracleianus and were eventully destroyed by fire (Galen, Administrationes anatomicae 14,1). Although Galen praises his promotion of anatomy, he attributes no discovery to him. Like other Alexandrians, N. commented upon Hippocrates (Galen, In Hippocratis Epidemiarum librum II, commentum 4: CMG V 10,1, 345-3…
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