Medea and Medicine

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Medicine is the field of applied science related to the art of healing through diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, prolongation of life. It encompasses a variety of health care practices, including folk medicine evolved throughout centuries to maintain and restore   health by the prevention and   treatment of illness in human beings. You will read this definition in Wikipedia, however you may not have the complete information about the origin of this word. The word medicine is related to the daughter of   king Aeëtes  of    Colchis.   Colchis was established on the eastern coast of the   Black Sea, in XIII-XII BC. According to the archeological evidence Colchis had highly developed animal rearing and agricultural practices. The art of healing, with its material-technical basis, tools etc. existed as an independent field and had its special professional symbol – the image of a snake.

Medea’s Aunt and older sister Circe were also competent in art of healing, however Medea’s knowledge was far more absolute. Fast and effective treatment of wounds was among the therapeutic manipulations Medea had mastered. Medea treated Argonauts wounded in the battle with Colchians with roots and grasses in several days (DiodorusSiculus). Medea had knowledge of infertility treatment as evidenced by her dialog with Aegeus the king of Athens.

She was also quite skilled in cosmetology. First hairdying practices is attributed to her.  She had knowledge in skin care using different oils and other means. Medea also practiced some forms of blood transfusion using lamb as a donor. She carried out this manipulation with Jason’s uncle Pelias.  Academician I. Kasirski starts his work on the history of blood transfusion with this manipulation executed by Medea

According to the mythical storyline Medea traveled to Greece with Jason. Despite the high level of Hellenistic art of healing, the processing technology of healing plants was limited and took place in rare and primitive form. Therefore, venom production and its subsequent conversion into medicine as practiced by Medea was poorly developed in Greece. While they were familiar with venoms they didn’t turn them into medicine.
Thesis that the word medicine derives from Medea (as well as hygiene from Hygia,  Panacea – Panacea, etc.) is seriosly challenged by the fact that the Greek didn’t even use the term “medicine”. It took many centuries before the Romans established this term.

It is known that oncePompey betrayed and defeated Mithridates, he enquired about the library which preserved numerous medical folio. According to the order of the Emperor the literature was taken to Rome and secretly studied there.  Mithridates himself was the author of many books. There is no doubt that the receipt of antidote Mithridatium, perceived almost as panacea, was taken and spread throughout 2000 years from there. Notion of poison is introduced in Europe and takes function of the main weapon of nobility and throne seekers. At the same time these poisons become the basis for development of pharmacyworldwide. The term Medicine emerges in Rome. Medea becomes a history, beautiful myth and godlike figure. Medea appears not only in the origins of cosmetics, hematology, surgery, toxicology and other fields, but is also considered as the originator of the main principles of modern medicine and the base of the term medicine. Later, the meaning of this term was generalized and turned into the synonym of healing art.

 

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