Abandonment of terminally ill patients in the Byzantine era. An ancient tradition?
Our research on the texts of the Byzantine historians and chroniclers revealed an apparently curious phenomenon, namely, the abandonment of terminally ill emperors by their physicians when the latter realised that they could not offer any further treatment. This attitude tallies with the mentality of the ancient Greek physicians, who even in Hippocratic times thought the treatment and care of the terminally ill to be a challenge to nature and hubris to the gods. Nevertheless, it is a very curious attitude in the light of the concepts of the Christian Byzantine physicians who, according to the doctrines of the Christian religion, should have been imbued with the spirit of philanthropy and love for their fellowmen. The meticulous analysis of three examples of abandonment of Byzantine emperors, and especially that of Alexius I Comnenus, by their physicians reveals that this custom, following ancient pagan ethics, in those times took on a ritualised form without any significant or real content. (+info)
Surgery on varices in Byzantine times (324-1453 CE).
OBJECTIVES: The purposes of this article are to describe Byzantine varicose vein surgery and to note its influence on the development of these operations after that time. A study and analysis of the original texts of the Byzantine physicians, written in Greek and containing the now mostly lost knowledge of the earlier Hellenistic and Roman periods, was undertaken. RESULTS: The Byzantines paid special attention to varicosis surgery from the early period of the empire. The famous fourth-century (ce) physician Oribasius meticulously described a number of surgical methods of confronting varicosis, some of which were derived from the texts of earlier Greek surgeons, to which he added his own keen observations. Later, eminent Byzantine physicians developed these techniques further and evaluated their usefulness. CONCLUSIONS: The study of Byzantine medical texts proves that several surgical techniques on varicosis were widely practiced in Byzantine times and were derived from the work of ancient Greek and Roman physicians. The techniques described had a great influence on western medieval and later European surgery, thus constituting significant roots of modern angiology. (+info)
Is consent in medicine a concept only of modern times?
Although the issue of consent in medical practice has grown immensely in recent years, and it is generally believed that historical cases are unknown, our research amongst original ancient Greek and Byzantine historical sources reveals that it is a very old subject which ancient philosophers and physicians have addressed. Plato, in ancient Greece, connected consent with the quality of a free person and even before him, Hippocrates had advocated seeking the patient's cooperation in order to combat the disease. In Alexander the Great's era and later on in Byzantine times, not only was the consent of the patient necessary but physicians were asking for even more safeguards before undertaking a difficult operation. Our study has shown that from ancient times physicians have at least on occasion been driven to seek the consent of their patient either because of respect for the patient's autonomy or from fear of the consequences of their failure. (+info)
Goiter depicted in Byzantine artworks.
Pathologies depicted in sacral works of western civilisation are widely known. However, in this regard, the very rich and important Byzantine art, and particularly sacral art, has been largely ignored. Research carried out on 500 artworks has disclosed 119 pictures revealing 36 different physiological conditions (gravidity, labour) or pathological conditions (goiter, joint diseases, palsy etc.). Goiter, most likely as a result of iodine deficiency, is portrayed in 42 individuals (6 females, 14 males, 4 children and 18 angels). However, although the Byzantine sacral artworks give evidence of many pathological conditions, the diagnosed pathologies cannot be considered representative of the general population. (+info)
Late Byzantine mineral soda high alumina glasses from Asia Minor: a new primary glass production group.
Epidemic waves of the Black Death in the Byzantine Empire (1347-1453 AD).
The lack of valid demographic data and the literary ambiguities of the Byzantine chroniclers raise questions about the actual size and mortality rate of the Black Death in the Byzantine Empire. This study presents for the first time a quantitative overview of the Black Death in Byzantium for the period 1347-1453. Our data were obtained from descriptions of the plague, by prominent Byzantine historians and scholars, grouped by time of appearance and geographical spread. During the period 1347-1453, a total of 61 plague reports were noted, which can be distinguished in nine major epidemic waves, 11 local outbreaks and 16 disease-free periods. The capital Constantinople and the Venetian colonies of the Ionian and Aegean Sea were the areas most affected by the plague. The epidemic waves of the Black Death in Byzantium had a total average duration of 3.2 years. Scientific ignorance of the nature of the disease, a turbulent period of warfare and an organized maritime network seem to have contributed to the spread of the disease. Employing quantitative analysis, our multidisciplinary study sheds light from various standpoints on the evolution and dynamic of the plague in the South-eastern Mediterranean during the 14th and 15th centuries, despite the lack of sound morbidity and mortality data. (+info)
Double foramen transversarium variation in ancient Byzantine cervical vertebrae: preliminary report of an anthropological study.
'Arthritis' in Byzantium (AD 324-1453): unknown information from non-medical literary sources.
OBJECTIVE--To compile and analyse information contained in non-medical texts of the Byzantine historians and chroniclers concerning arthritis, and to clarify the first use of Colchicum autumnale in the treatment of gout by the fifth century physician, Jacob Psychristus. CONCLUSIONS--This material gives an indication of the problem of arthritis and, in particular, a disease resembling gout that tyrannised a great number of the population in the Byzantine Empire (AD 324-1453). Contemporary historians and chroniclers maintain that the main causes of gout ('podagra') were the over-consumption of alcoholic drinks and food. Most relevant texts include anxiety and heredity among the aetiological factors of the disease. The incidence of this group of diseases among the Byzantine Emperors (it is certain that 14 of a total of 86 had a form of arthritis) and other officials of the State indicates that these diseases were a possible factor in certain political and military difficulties of the Empire. (+info)