Information on Ancient Roman Hospitals, Medicines and Medical Practitioners

Early Romans had a religious, yet fundamental understanding of medicine. Deriving knowledge from the Medical Treatises and Methods of the Greeks, the Etruscans, the Egyptians, the Persians and other conquered peoples, the Romans came up with one of the best and most sophisticated Medical Systems of the Ancient World. The science of medicine and the human body was evolving.

Ancient Roman Hospitals

Ancient Roman medicine was a combination of physical techniques using various tools and holistic medicine using rituals and religious belief systems.

Ancient Roman Hospitals

Ancient Romans often believed that diseases were brought on by the disfavor of the gods. They deeply believed that transcendental practices such as superstition, rituals, and a belief in spells would rid them of disease. Since many diseases soon or later went away, they believed they had managed to please the gods by performing the correct religious and spiritual acts.

Religious cures were rare but magical treatment was commonly applied. This goes into the realms of natural products – herbology – and a primitive form of witchcraft and Wicca.

Ancient Roman medicine Facts

The first Roman Medical Corps was formed by Emperor Augustus, and as he gave land grants, dignified titles, and special retirement gifts to the doctors, the profession lost its shoddy aspect and became respectable.

Ancient Roman Hospitals

It helped too that Medical professionals hereafter were required to train at the new Army Medical School and could not practice unless they passed. This increased the success rates in treatments.

In the Roman Hospitals, medicine was, surprisingly, incredibly similar to that of the late nineteenth century. Like the modern medical practice, Ancient Roman medicine was split among different specialties, such as internists, ophthalmologists, and urologists.

Ancient Roman medical tools

All surgical tasks were only performed by appropriate specialists. Surgeons used practically the same tools as American doctors did only one hundred years ago.

Roman medical tools

An Ancient Roman doctor’s toolkit would include forceps, scalpels, catheters, and even arrow-extractors.

Rome had two different types of physicians:

The aristocrats had physicians as servants or visited the private physicians willing to pay their high prices.

Those who served the general public whose reputation wasn’t as prestigious. Many were illiterate, quacks, charlatans, and usually cheated the poor and needy.

Ancient Roman Hospitals

Unethical practices abounded. Plutarch grumbled that practitioners used all sorts of questionable methods to gain patients, ranging from escorting the prospective patient home from bars to sharing dirty jokes with him. According to Plutarch, “Some Medical Quacks would do just about anything to acquire clients, from accompanying them to alcohol dens to telling them dirty jokes.

Still, others were not above murdering their patients in cold blood for financial gain, for example, they might be paid and told to just ‘put the patient out of his misery’.”

However, taking everything into consideration Roman medicine, for its time was still incredibly advanced and skilled.