near 596 f 4 Carl Skoparex TM M42 35mm Lens Zeiss MINT 3 BZcwCq
[Article in German]


Herophilos of Chalcedon is certainly an outstanding representative of ancient medicine. He rightly counts the Father of anatomy. He was, nevertheless, interested in all branches of medicine and should have written on numerous special subjects. Unfortunately only scarce fragments of his writings have survived till now. A nowadays rather neglected fragment deriving from Herophilos' scripts on drugs has survived in Plin. nat XXV 57 f. It reports on the effects of helleborus albus (probably White Hellebore, i.e. Veratrum album L.) which evokes strong vomits. In a pregnant simile the remedy is compared to a courageous general who having stimulated his soldiers goes into battle in front of them. Editors and commentators do not say much about this passage, perhaps bewildered by the appropriate, but in the technical prose certainly striking simile. A surprising parallel occurs in the Gospel according to St. John 10:1-6 - the core of Jesus' self-description as the Good Shepherd. Comparing both passages leads to the conclusion that this select metaphor must have been a well-known motif in the literature of the Hellenistic and imperial periods. Moreover, a look at the ancient historiography and military writings shows that we have to do with a commonplace: both the talent to deliver a vigorous speech encouraging the soldiers to go into battle and the personal bravery in the fight are virtues necessary to an eminent military commander. Furthermore, we get insight into a general understanding of Herophilos as a writer. It was stressed frequently that Herophilos' epoch-making results in the field of medicine had found their way into the belles-lettres and poetry. Now we see that the inspiration was mutual. When Herophilos wished to give prominence to an important statement, he also did not hesitate to borrow effects of style from the poets and writers of the Kunstprosa. In his care for a literary form he exceeds what we unusually observe in the writers of 'technical' prose.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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Carl near Lens Skoparex M42 3 35mm MINT 596 f TM 4 Zeiss
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