Carnificem

doctor

Etenim percensere insignia priscorum in his moribus convenit. Cassius Hemina ex antiquissimis auctor est primum e medicis venisse Romam Peloponneso Archagathum Lysaniae filium L. Aemilio M. Livio cos. anno urbis DXXXV, eique ius Quiritum datum et tabernam in compito Acilio emptam ob id publice. vulnerarium eum fuisse egregium, mireque gratum adventum eius initio, mox a saevitia secandi urendique transisse nomen in carnificem et in taedium artem omnesque medicos, quod clarissime intellegi potest ex M. Catone, cuius auctoritati triumphus atque censura minimum conferunt; tanto plus in ipso est. quam ob rem verba eius ipsa ponemus: ‘dicam de istis Graecis suo loco, M. fili, quid Athenis exquisitum habeam et quod bonum sit illorum litteras inspicere, non perdiscere. vincam nequissimum et indocile genus illorum, et hoc puta vatem dixisse: quandoque ista gens suas litteras dabit, omnia corrumpet, tum etiam magis, si medicos suos hoc mittet. iurarunt inter se barbaros necare omnes medicina, sed hoc ipsum mercede faciunt, ut fides iis sit et facile disperdant. nos quoque dictitant barbaros et spurcius nos quam alios opicon appellatione foedant. interdixi tibi de medicis.’
(Pliny the Elder, Nat. Hist. 29.12-14)

In fact this is the time to review the outstanding features of medical practices in the days of our fathers. Cassius Hemina, one of our earliest authorities, asserts that the first physician to come to Rome was Archagathus, son of Lysanias, who migrated from the Peloponnesus in the year of the city 535, when Lucius Aemilius and Marcus Livius were consuls. He adds that citizen rights were given him, and a surgery at the crossway of Acilius was bought with public money for his own use. They say that he was a wound specialist, and that his arrival at first was wonderfully popular, but presently from his savage use of the knife and cautery he was nicknamed ‘Executioner,’ and his profession, with all physicians, became objects of loathing. The truth of this can be seen most plainly in the opinion of Marcus Cato, whose authority is very little enhanced by his triumph and censorship; so much more comes from his personality. Therefore I will lay before my readers his very words. ‘I shall speak about those Greek fellows in can their proper place, son Marcus, and point out the result of my enquiries at Athens, and convince you what benefit comes from dipping into their literature, and not making a close study of it. They are a quite worthless people, and an intractable one, and you must consider my words prophetic. When that race gives us its literature it will corrupt all things, and even all the more if it sends hither its physicians. They have conspired together to murder all foreigners with their physic, but this very thing they do for a fee, to gain credit and to destroy us easily. They are also always dubbing us foreigners, and to fling more filth on us than on others they give us the foul nickname of Opici. I have forbidden you to have dealings with physicians.’ (tr. William Henry Samuel Jones)

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