Ancient Roman Medicine

Ancient Romans believed that disease was caused when the gods were angered. Despite their superstitious beliefs about disease, ancient Roman doctors had an excellent understanding of trauma, and how to treat it.

Disease was seen as a curse from the gods. In order to prevent disease, the gods must be placated. Through sacrifice and temple building, the ancient Romans saw it to eliminate illness.

As mighty conquerors, the ancient Romans saw more than their share of trauma. Gladiators and warriors from the battlefield were treated by doctors. Because of this, ancient Roman physicians were highly skilled at treating traumatic injuries.

Of course, the ancient Romans were also known for their tremendous ability to organize. Careful records were kept on all administrative tasks. This organization extended to the medical profession. Ancient doctors practice their art, recording what worked and what didn’t. The knowledge they gained was used to educate the next generations of doctors.

Due to their surgical abilities, the ancient Roman physicians used many medical tools that would be recognizable to modern doctors. Scalpels, forceps, catheters, and even vaginal speculum were used to treat patients.

The ancient Romans didn’t just practice surgery. They used a range of medicinal herbs to effect cures on diseases. Fenugreek, for example, was an effective treatment for pneumonia. Other herbs included garlic, rosemary, fennel, and sage. All were used for a variety of ailments.

Perhaps the most impressive feat of the ancient Romans was their hospital. In 295 B.C., a plague struck. The desperate Romans turned to herbs, surgery, and even prayers to the gods. Nothing worked. Desperately, they built a hospital and is dedicated it to the Greek God of healing, Asklepios. Shortly thereafter, the plague receded.

Despite their misunderstanding on the germ theory of disease, the ancient Romans have offered much in the way of understanding medicine. Their ability to cure trauma help them understand the physiology of human beings. This knowledge added greatly to the store of knowledge held by the ancients on medicine.