Front Page Titles (by Subject) CLASS V.: OF PHARMACY. - The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen
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CLASS V.: OF PHARMACY. - Hippocrates, The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen 
The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen. Epitomised from the Original Latin translations, by John Redman Coxe (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1846).
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Galeni Librorum quinta Classis eam medicinæ partem, quæ ad Pharmaciam spectat, exponens; simplicium medicamentorum, substitutorum, purgantium, antidotorum, componendorum tam per locos quam per genera medicamentorum, ponderum denique, ac mensurarum doctrinam comprehendit.—Venice Ed. 1609.
These books, or fifth class, are of interest sufficient to engage the attention of all who are desirous to investigate the theoretic opinions of Galen and others, as to the asserted faculties or powers of simple medicines. It is impossible to abridge them; yet they are full of facts and practical matter; and, to the teacher, they open a wide field of information as to the Materia Medica of the day; and thus enable him to compare its present, with its past extent; and to find not a little, that in later days has been given to the world as altogether novel!
GALENI, DE SIMPL. MEDICAMENT. FACULTATIBUS, LIBRI UNDECIM.
of the powers of simple remedies.
in eleven books.
Bas. Ed., p. 5.
Among the many subjects of this book we find water pretty fully noticed; and in the course of its consideration, reference is made to mineral waters; and even artificial mineral waters seem to have been known. After mentioning saline, nitrous, sulphurous and bituminous waters, Galen adds, “Imitari autem potes sicut marinam, sic aliarum quamlibet,” &c. Connected with the subject, we find a speculation as to the cause of thirst, and of tastes, &c. Vinegar also is considered.
In this book, he attacks the opinions of the Sophists who refused to confide in the senses, and confutes their demonstrations. Here the subject of oil is largely considered, in the course of his arguments against Archidamus. Other practical remarks occur throughout, of a pharmaceutic character.
Repeating the outlines of the preceding books, the subject is discussed of hot, cold, moist and dry; and something is said respecting the necessity of experience, in order to know and properly estimate the powers of medicines; and this is made to diverge in a variety of particulars, much of which is speculative, and arising out of the hypothesis adopted by Galen.
The consideration of some individual articles and preparations is here further pursued. Astringents, bitters, and other divisions of the Materia Medica are elucidated; and the various tastes, &c., are considered as to their essence and existence.
The uses of medicines are pointed to; such as refrigerate or moisten, and heat or dry the system;—in connexion with some of which the production of pus, of scirrhus and some other affections, &c., is explained; likewise purgation, diuresis, &c., and some other discharges.
BOOKS VI. TO IX.
These books embrace the consideration of all the individual articles, chiefly in alphabetical order, of the vegetable kingdom.
The powers of medicines as derived from the animal kingdom are here treated of; chiefly, however, of the excrementitious parts, beginning with the blood of various animals; then follow, milk and its preparations, bile, sweat, urine, saliva, &c.—excrements of man, of the dog, and many other animals, with their differences; and the sordes of the ears and skin!
The animals themselves, and their different parts, are herein mentioned. Thus, we have the viper, fox, hyena, weasel, frog, grasshopper, earthworm, bugs, cantharides, and many more. Notice is paid to the fat, lard, marrow, heads, bones, horns, liver, nails, skin, and other parts. Cobweb is also mentioned;—oysters, eggs, snails, crabs, swallows, sponge, and so forth. Several hundred articles are thus treated of in these eleven books, derived from the different kingdoms of nature, that appear to have been employed in the practice of medicine. Some few of these have reached us, and continue, under different indications, to augment the list of the present day.
GALENI DE SUBSTITUTIS MEDICINIS LIBER.
of medicinal substitutes.
Bas. Ed., p. 322.
Galen tells us that as Dioscorides and others, had written somewhat on this subject of succedania, or a quid pro quo; he also deemed it right to state what, in case of need, might be substituted for an article intended, and informs us by what means he was induced to follow it up. Alphabetically arranged, we have a list of two hundred and fifty articles and more, whose place may be supplied by others; and from those enumerated, it would seem of little importance which of them were employed; as for the most part they might be adopted at random.
GALENI, DE PURGANTIUM MEDICAMENTORUM FACULTATE.
of the faculty or power of purgative remedies.
Bas. Ed., p. 328.
In this treatise, Galen attempts to show, in opposition to Erasistratus and Asclepiades, that every purgative possesses the power of attracting and discharging an appropriate humour; and that by this means the blood is purified. Not that the humours are capable of transmuting the medicine into themselves, nor is any humour indiscriminately discharged by any purgative. Bloodletting, inasmuch as all the humours are conjoined together in the vessels, promotes the discharge of all alike; and such is the case also, when by the operation of a violent remedy, blood is evacuated by stool; otherwise the remedy given, first purges off the humour to which its affinity is greatest, and then one of the others may follow. Some useful facts are dispersed throughout the treatise, which, founded on what are now regarded as erroneous data, is, nevertheless not unskilfully managed in the superstructure.
GALENI, QUOS PURGARE CONVENIAT, QUIBUS MEDICAMENTIS, ET QUO TEMPORE, LIBER.
whom, with which, and at what time, purgation is appropriate.
Bas. Ed., p. 340.
This book is by some asserted to be the production of Oribasius, made up from the writings of Galen. It is probably the case, for it is at best, a trifling work, and cannot add to the reputation of Galen. Some good remarks are made as to the occasional difficulty of exciting purgation, from the compact and hardened state of the fæces; under which circumstances enemata should precede the administration of the remedy.
GALENI, DE THERIACA, AD PISONEM, LIBER.
of the theriaca.
Bas. Ed., p. 340.
The subject of this book seems to have been a favourite with Galen, who pursues it in all its bearings; and he explains what led physicians to the formation of so compound a remedy. A long list of the articles entering into the composition of the theriaca forms perhaps the chief value of the book at the present day; and notice is taken as to numerous variations that had been introduced into its formation; its uses, doses, and other particulars find their respective places, both in prose and in verse.
GALENI, DE USU THERIACÆ, AD PAMPHILIANUM, LIBER.
of the use of the theriaca.
Bas. Ed., p. 372.
This is considered a doubtful production. It is of little importance in the present day, when its sixty or eighty ingredients have been cut down to fifteen or twenty. It may be regarded as a continuation of the preceding, and as deserving about the same degree of attention.
GALENI, DE ANTIDOTIS, LIBRI DUO.
two books on antidotes.
Bas. Ed., p. 378.
In this first book, explanation is afforded of what is understood by an antidote, viz., that it is a medicine, which taken internally, cures the evil affections (malas affectiones) of the body. The author proceeds to mention a great variety of such remedies, and particularly notices the Mithridate, and the Theriaca Andromachi, between which a comparison is drawn, and their preparation is unfolded, and the various frauds therein pointed out. The choice of the various articles is explained, and the different instruments and manipulations described. The preparation of the theriaca of the elder Andromachus is given afterwards in verse, its uses, and in what diseases, &c., and also of the theriaca of Damocrates.
The subject is here continued; and a great number of antidotes from different authorities are described, many of them in Latin versification. Among the antidotes are many against the bite of a maddog, most of which have had their ups and down, in perpetual fluctuation of recommendation and contempt, which it is scarcely necessary to copy. I shall only state that amongst them we find the alyssus, trifolium, crabs-claws, and others that are occasionally still made to appear under the sanction of some quack. As giving us some slight acquaintance with the remedies at that time employed, a cursory glance may prove useful; and whilst laughing at the polypharmacy of past ages, let us not omit to consider, whether in our own time, this folly is not still too prevalent both in our prescriptions, and in our drug-stores; and equally so in the schools of medicine.a
GALENI, DE COMPOSITIONE MEDICAMENTORUM LOCALIUM, LIBRI DECEM.
of the composition of local remedies.
in ten books.
Bas. Ed., p. 450.
Ten books on the subject of remedies appropriate for different parts and their respective diseases!! Specifics and panaceas, no doubt! yet amidst all this work of supererogation, there is to be found a good deal of useful matter, in the description of many of the diseases peculiar to the different parts or organs.
In this we are first presented with the indications of cure, and the general preparation of remedies; followed by an account of the various affections of the hair of different parts of the body, and the different prescriptions at different times proposed. Alopecia is largely considered, and the means of prevention; as also for the growth of the hair; in which Cleopatra figures as a candidate, for the honour of preventing the necessity of a wig! Tinging or colouring the hair is largely expounded; and some treatises on this subject and on general ornamenting of the body, as collected by Crito, who appears to have embraced the whole art and manipulation of cosmetics and their congenera; his four books on which, the delight of the female sex, Galen tells us were in every one’s possession. Our present perfumers and venders of arcana, sink into nothing before him; and if his books could be attained, they would indeed prove a treasure! Galen gives the heads of the chapters of each book, but the particulars are unnoticed, probably for the reasons above. One of the chapters is headed “Quæ conservant virginitatem!”—Perfumes, unguents, and other personal and domestic applications are numerous, whether for gratification or the removal of disease. Galen concludes the list, by saying, “In his quatuor libris Crito diligentissimè omnia fermè exornatoria pharmaca scripsit, appositis etiam comptoriis quæ spuriam pulchritudinem non veram inducunt, quapropter etiam ego ea relinquam.” He does, however, notice a few articles “quæ pulchritudinem secundum naturam conservant.” A chapter on Phthiriasis affords numerous articles for its cure.
Headache from numerous causes is treated of in this book, its contusions, ulcers, &c., and the appropriate remedies, including amulets, epithemeta, &c., from various authorities.
The various affections of the ears and nostrils are here considered, and their treatment given.
Here the diseases of the eyes and lids, &c., and remedies are noticed; and the multitude of both, would not disgrace our present authorities!
Continues the subject; and to it succeed the affections of the chin and face, and those of the teeth and gums;—dentistry seems nearly at as high a state as at present; Archigenes, Appollonius, Asclepiades and others have forestalled us in preventing the loosening and fœtor of the teeth; or removing them without pain; and dentifrices were abundant. Crito is equally at home here, as in the first book. Galen’s own prescriptions, which he mentions as “experimento comprobata” if we could readily verify all the articles mentioned, are here found.
Affections of the mouth follow. Many remedies are stated, and their preparation; and many authorities noticed. In this book is also noticed the removal of the uvula by incision, and as recommended by Hippocrates; an operation supposed by some of our confraternity to be of recent origin, and ignorantly ascribed to a late celebrated Professor; although it is mentioned by almost every writer from Hippocrates down; and by some of whom even a picture is given of the instruments by which it was to be executed!
Affections of the respiratory organs are here given. Dyspnœa, and other difficulties of breathing; hæmoptysis, phthisis, &c.,—remedies, &c.!
This book is occupied with the remedies adapted to affections of the stomach and liver. The various modes of preparing the Hiera are again given; volvulus, singultus, &c. Liver and its affections.
The liver and its affections continued; icterus. The spleen and its complaints, and remedies from various sources. Dropsy, colic, dysentery, affections of the rectum and anus, hæmorrhoids, prolapsus, affections of the pudenda, and of the uterus, especially hysteria.
Here the remedies adapted to affections of the kidneys, bladder, and joints are noticed; nephritis, sciatica, gout, &c., as described by different authors.
These books have some interest, as containing the remedial measures of many physicians, whose names are not unknown to us; and some amusement may be found in the descriptions given of them, partly in prose and partly poetical.a
GALENI, DE COMPOSITIONE MEDICAMENTORUM PER GENERA, LIBRI SEPTEM.
of the compounding of remedies in relation with their genera.
in seven books.
Bas. Ed., p. 788.
Galen, in a kind of preface to these books, informs us that he had previously completed the two first, but that they were unfortunately destroyed in a fire, which burned down the Temple of Peace,b and the vast libraries (ingentes bibliothecæ) belonging to the palace. Several other of his writings shared their fate, and he was compelled, from the want of another copy, to renew his labour at the solicitation of his friends. He points out the previous attainments necessary for those who desire faithfully to compound medicines, and reproves those who maintain that in such compounds, the powers of the simple medicines are preserved; telling them they do not distinguish between proper, and acquired powers. He then states what is the use of compound remedies; and treats of a great variety of plasters, and of the principles that enter into their formation, and uses.
Here, remedies are classed together that are employed in the affections of the nerves, from wounds, punctures, contusions; and he prides himself on being the first to pursue the plan, which differed greatly from that before adopted, and which was generally fatal. Many useful practical preliminary remarks occur, relating to the subject; and the history is given of the first invention by him of his mode of cure. Several other histories of cases are interspersed, pointing out the difference of, and danger of mistaking nerves, tendons, and ligaments for each other; and the equal folly of supposing that all kinds of wounds, ulcers, &c., were curable by one and the same remedy. The remedies of different physicians in such cases are enumerated by him from time to time.
BOOK IV., V.
Remedies useful in putrid, malignant and other ulcers, are here treated of; many plasters of the elder physicians described. And such is the case in the fifth book, derived from every source, and certainly, in number, sufficient for every emergency.
This book, consists chiefly of plasters and the like; dignified with the adjunct of many virtues, (De emplastris polychrestis), which they certainly possessed, if only of half the amount attributed to them.
Emollient, relaxing, discutient, and other like remedies are here treated of, still closely united with plasters; but differing a little in name, viz., malagmata, acopa, et alia.
GALENI, DE PONDERIBUS ET MENSURIS LIBELLUS,—SPURIUS.
of weights and measures.
Bas. Ed., p. 1046.
This book is of importance in determining the value of the weights and measures employed in medicine, in the time of Galen. It is obvious, however, that it cannot be abbreviated; and that it requires close attention in all who may be interested in the consideration of the subject. If not the production of Galen, it may be esteemed as correct, until at least the contrary is proved.
With this ends the fifth class of Galen’s works.
[a ]A principal advantage of homœopathic practice consists in their “infinitesimal” doses;—for assuredly, if they do no good, they at least can do no harm; which is more than can be said of the large and repeated doses of the most powerful remedies in the allopathic practice. Nature being, after all, the real practitioner in the human system, she is less liable to be disturbed in her operations by homœopathy; whilst she is too often entirely put out of her way, by the ill-judged, and ill-timed practice of those who view her in the light of a servant, whose province it is implicitly to obey the extravagances of theoretic practice, in which they have been indoctrinated.
[a ]Perhaps but little use can be made of these books, or of those that succeed, amid the infinite changes of pharmacy and chemistry. They will at any rate serve to point out the groundwork of several of our present preparations, and to present to the Profession, proof of the indefatigable industry of their illustrious author.
[b ]Vide “de Anatom. Administ. Lib. 1.”