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Ancient Egypt: Diodorus Siculus on Egyptian Medicine
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Diodorus Siculus on Egyptian Medicine

Their remedies by which they prevent diseases are enemas, fasting and vomitting. These are at times applied daily, at others they are suspended for three or four days. They claim that of every food the main part is superfluous after digestion and that the diseases are born from this; therefore they served the preservation of health best.
On a military campaign or a journey inside the country everybody must be healed without special remuneration, as the physicians receive their wages from the state.
They have to follow a written law when healing which was composed by many of the most famous physicians. When following the laws which are read out from the holy book they are beyond guilt and safe from any accusation, even when they cannot save the patient. But if they act counter to the regulations they are liable to mortal accusation, as the law giver was of the opinion that few would know more appropriate remedies than the procedures based on observations during many years and prescribed by the first masters of the art.
- Diodorus Siculus lived from ca 90 to ca 30 BCE. He was born in Sicily and composed the Historical Library which described the world known at his time. The first volume dealt with Egypt.
 
Caution is advised when reading Diodorus Siculus. His accounts are only as reliable as his sources were, i.e. at times not very. Cf. On Mourning and Burial.
 
-physicians: see Ancient Egyptian medicine
-written law: The Egyptians had a number of ancient collections of treatments, most famously the Smith Surgical Papyrus, the Ebers Papyrus, and others.

Historical Library, Vol.1 chapter 82
After a German translation by Julius Friedrich Wurm, 1827

 


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