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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…

Antidotarium

(264 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] The term originally designated treatises about antidotes, for instance Gal. de antidotis, 14,1-209 (trans. and comment. by [1, cf. 6]) and Philomenus (ed. by [2]), but, in medieval Latin, it referred to all writings about composite medications. It is unclear when exactly the shift in meaning occurred, since most collections of medications in late antiquity show neither titles not authors. The earliest documentation of the title is found in a MS from the 11th cent., which, however,…

Hospital

(590 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[English version] In Late Antiquity, a hospital was a place within an environment of religious character, where one cared for people in need including old and sick ones. In the early MA, along the great routes of pilgrimage, chains of small inns developed. Many Benedictine monasteries had their own hospital wards, which may also have catered for the needs of a large part of the public. As of the 11th cent., hospitals were constructed in cities, again under the influence of eastern Mediterranean cu…

Epidemic diseases

(1,056 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] I. Prehistory and early history Epidemic diseases (ED), or in the broadest sense, diseases that attack a large number of living beings simultaneously have been documented archaeologically since the middle of the Bronze Age, that is, since c. 2800 BC. Their appearance has been linked to population growth and the resulting ease with which disease can spread from animals to humans and from person to person [9. 251]. In Egypt, smallpox appears to have been known since c. 1250 BC, although papyri with medicinal content do not refer to this or any other compara…

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…

Pleistonicus

(351 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Πλειστόνικος; Pleistónikos). Doctor fl. c. 270 BC; he was a pupil of Praxagoras of Cos (Celsus, De medicina, proem. 20) and one of the 'classics' of Greek medicine in the so-called Dogmatic tradition (Dogmatists [2]; Gal. Methodus medendi 2,5; Gal. De examinando medico 5,2). It is difficult to assess his individuality, as, according to tradition- i.e. fundamentally in Galen - his views are transmitted as being in agreement with those of Praxagoras or other Dogmatists. Like his master…

Iatrosophistes

(216 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Originally meaning a teacher of medicine (esp. in Alexandria), iatrosophistes could later refer to any experienced practitioner ( medicus sapientissimus, Corpus Glossatorum Latinorum 3,600,32 Goetz), either in orthodox medicine (e.g.  Agnellus, In Galeni De sectis commentarium 33) or in the magical arts of healing (Ps.-Callisthenes, Vita Alexandri 1,3) [1]. Contrary to the emendation by von Arnim in Dion. Chrys. 33,6, the term was probably not coined before the late 4th cent. AD (Epiphanius, Adversu…

Phanostrate

(79 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Φανοστράτη; Phanostrátē). Greek-Athenian midwife and doctor, depicted on Attic grave stelae from the end of the 4th cent. BC (IG II/III2 6873; Clairmont, 2. 890). The inclusion of the professional title midwife suggests a certain degree of specialisation in medicine and shows at the same time that women were able to work as doctors and earn a considerable income, as is suggested by the quality and individual designs of the stone mason’s craftsmanship. Nutton, Vivian (London)

Melancholy

(534 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (μέλαινα χολή/ mélaina cholḗ, ‘black bile’). The fourth humour in the tradition of Hippocratic medicine represented by De natura hominis, ch. 4, and later by Rufus of Ephesus and Galen. It was predominant in autumn, associated with the element earth, and cold and dry. It was viewed as the antithesis of blood, having many deadly properties [1]. According to Galen (De atra bile 5,104-148 K.) in its purest form it was highly destructive to everything it touched, and had its origin in the spleen. Not ev…

Phlebotomy

(371 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] In Babylonian, Egyptian and also Greek medicine, blood-letting was part of standard medical practice. This procedure was carried out either by directly opening a vein, by scarification or by using a cupping vessel. Considering how often the latter are depicted on monuments connected with physicians, cupping may have been the most common method [1]. Two notions seem to have favoured phlebotomy: on the one hand, it supposedly prevented the stagnating of the blood and its transformat…

Acesidas

(59 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Ἀκεσίδας; Akesídas). According to Paus. 5,14, A. was considered a hero in Olympia and was elsewhere known under the name Idas. His name offers the assumption that he was worshipped as a healing god, who possibly shared a healing cult, which was very common on the Peloponnese, with  Paeonius,  Iason and  Heracles. Nutton, Vivian (London)

Erotianus

(328 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] Greek grammarian, middle or end of the 1st cent. AD, author of a glossary of Hippocratic words, which he dedicated to  Andromachus [4 or 5], a doctor at the imperial court in Rome [2; 3]. The alphabetic structure of the glossary, in its surviving form, does not go back to E. since, in his preface (9), he expressly emphasizes that he had explained the words in the sequence of their appearance in c. 37 Hippocratic texts which in turn could be classified into 1) semiotic, 2) physiological-aetiological, 3) therapeutic texts, 4) miscellaneous, 5) texts on…

Acesias

(50 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Ἀκεσίας; Akesías). Greek doctor of 3rd cent. BC (?). According to an intentionally ambiguous proverb, he only treated those who suffered the worst (suffering or doctor) (Aristoph. Byz., Zenob. 1,52). It is possible that he also wrote about culinary art (Ath. 12, 516c). Nutton, Vivian (London)

Praxagoras

(541 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] (Πραξαγόρας; Praxagóras) of Cos. Doctor, at the end of the 4th cent. BC, teacher of Herophilus [1], Phylotimus, Pleistonicus and Xenophon. His family claimed its descent from Asclepius; his grandfather who shared the same name and his father, Nicarchus, were likewise doctors. His family continued to be very prominent on Cos for generations [1]. A poem composed by Crinagoras still survives on a statue in his honour (Anth. Plan. 273). Amongst the works of this doctor are a treatise on therapy in at least 4 books, a work about diseases in at least 3 bo…

Dietetics

(386 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[English version] Classical ideas of dietetics, based on the Hippocratic and Galenic notions of a balance between the four humours, continued to play an important role in medicine  into the 20th cent. (Humoral Theory). In Arabic medicine, all substances taken into the body had properties that could affect its health, for good or ill, and hence it was the doctor's duty to prescribe diets for health, as well as for disease, and equally that of his patient  to understand the rules for a healthy lifes…

Ophthalmology

(1,093 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A. Egypt The eye-doctors of Egypt were already famous when in about 540 BC the Persian king Cyrus [1] asked the Pharaoh Amasis for one to cure him (Hdt. 3,1; cf. 2,84). Diseases of the eyes were quite common in Egypt. Three of the seven early medical papyri are devoted to such diseases. P. Ebers alone contains more than 100 recipes for blindness. Some of these prescriptions involve Dreckapotheke, while others, for example, use liver - rich in vitamin A and a valuable remedy for xerophthalmia. Eye surgery seem to have been rarely performed and Egy…

Medicine, Historiography of

(2,043 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
Nutton, Vivian (London) [German version] A. Arabic Medical Historiography (CT) The historiography of ancient medicine goes back at least to Late Antiquity, when a 'History of the Physicians' is said to have been written by John Philoponus (6th cent.). Material from this work was drawn upon by Ishaq ibn Hunayn (d. 910/911), for his own 'History' ( Ta'rikh al-atibba), which is largely concerned with chronology [11]. Ishaq's example was followed by a variety of writers in Arabic, some, like the bookseller Ibn an-Nadim (fl. 987), producing largely lists of…

Mental illness

(976 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A. Near Eastern Mental illnesses (MI) are described in both Jewish and Babylonian texts. Sometimes physical signs are indicated, as in epilepsy, sometimes behaviours are described as in 1 Sam 16:14-16; 21:13-15, but all MI are ascribed to the intervention of God, or, in texts from 500 BC onwards, of a variety of demons [1]. Treatment might be limited to confinement (Jer 29:26-8) or exorcism, including music, but the Jewish ‘Therapeutae’ took an approach that involved the entire lifes…

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…

Aelius Promotus

(91 words)

Author(s): Nutton, Vivian (London)
[German version] A., of Alexandria, worked during the first half of the second cent. as doctor and writer. He wrote about medicines and sympathetic remedies [1; 2]. The manuscripts also count among the writings of A. a treatise about toxicology [3], the core of which originated in A.'s time and which was apparently one of the main sources for  Aetius [3] of Amida, even if it shows signs of revisions in the meantime. Nutton, Vivian (London) Bibliography 1 E. Rohde, KS vol.1, 1901, 380-410 2 M. Wellmann, in: SBAW 1908, 772-777 3 S. Ihm, 1995.
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