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date: 27 November 2022



  • Charles Joseph Singer
  •  and V. Nutton


bc In the Homeric poems (see homer) references to surgery are found mainly in the Iliad and concerned with the treatment of wounds. The wound is cleaned; blood squeezed or sucked out; edges united by bandaging; and an analgesic of dried herbs rubbed in and applied as an air-tight pad. Treatments resemble those recorded in early Egyptian medicine, although it is disputed whether this indicates a direct borrowing from Egyptian healers, whose reputation for surgery certainly had reached Asia Minor by 1000 bce. They were also known at the Persian court, where a Greek physician and surgeon, *Democedes of Croton, made a spectacular cure of King *Darius I.Surgery occupies an ambiguous place in the Hippocratic Corpus (see hippocrates(2); medicine, § 4 (c)). Not every medical practitioner wished to perform surgery, and some expressly left it to experts in military medicine, bone-setting, or cutting for the stone. Yet few ancient cities were large enough for such specializations to flourish, and most healers will have had of necessity to practise at least basic surgery. *Galen expected his average practitioner to be able to carry out at least some basic operations, and to know how to reduce the pain and post-operative complications of surgery.


  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

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