Vesalius And Dissection

Ten years ago my daughter went to medical school. In her first week, they introduced her to a corpse, and asked her to start cutting it up. As it happens, she is a vegetarian, and if they had asked her to cut up a raw leg of lamb I am not sure she could have coped. There were six on her dissecting table, one of whom dropped out. My daughter is now a psychiatrist raw flesh is not for her. Since the nineteenth century, dissection has been a rite of passage, the beginning of a medical education....

Ancient Anatomy

Hippocrates and his contemporaries knew remarkably little about human anatomy, the structure of the bones aside. They made no systematic distinction between arteries and veins. They could not distinguish nerves and tendons. They did not understand that muscles contract, and they very rarely used the word for 'muscles', normally speaking of 'flesh'. This may seem surprising, as the sculptors of the fifth century bc portray heavily muscled bodies, and Greek athletes must have worked endlessly to...

Hippocrates And Galen

As we have seen, medicine begins with Hippocrates. For more than two thousand years doctors have revered his memory, yet we know so little about him that some have dismissed him as a mythical figure. The truth is that we are not absolutely sure whether Hippocrates existed or whether later doctors invented him. Hippocrates of Cos (a tiny island in the Mediterranean) apparently lived from around 460 to around 375 bc. Later generations believed some sixty works by him survived, but modern scholars...