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Historical Background

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes the historical progress by which the ancient Greek medical tradition reached first the Arabic Middle East and Africa, and then Latin Europe. The medieval Arabic and later the Latin medical traditions have their mutual point of origin in ancient Greek medicine, especially in the writings of Galen, Hippocrates and Dioscorides. The chapter concentrates on the learned, literate medical tradition based on Galen. As the medical profession itself was much less structured than it is today, belonging to the profession actually meant just that: being a medical practitioner with a strong adherence to Galenic principles. This demanded a thorough education in the medical classics, on which the level of professionalism of the practitioner depended.

Keywords: Dioscorides; Galen; Galenic medicine; Greek medicine; Hippocrates

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