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date: 03 March 2021


, of Prusias ad Mare in Bithynia, Greek physician and author, 1st cent. bce
  • J. T. Vallance


Asclepiades of Prusias ad Mare in Bithynia, physician. He spent at least some of his career in Rome, and died sometime in the 1st cent. bce. He is best known for his theory that the body is made out of fragile corpuscles (ἄναρμοι ὄγκοι). (Although these corpuscles were not what a modern biologist might mean by the term, the word ὄγκος (‘lump’) did have medical connotations in antiquity.) The corpuscles were envisaged as moving through ducts (πόροι) distributed throughout the body; when their movement is hindered or altered, morbid effects ensue. The origins of Asclepiades' theory have been traced variously to *Epicurus, the Platonist *Heraclides (1) Ponticus, the Peripatetic *Straton (1) of Lampsacus, or to a combination of them all. There are strong indications, however, that the theory arose out of a reaction to the physiological system of *Erasistratus. Asclepiades was attacked fiercely by *Galen for the consequences of his theory, especially for denying the role of teleological activity in nature.

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