Most important discoveries; Herophilus' impact on medicine and science

Essay by silvercattHigh School, 11th gradeA+, September 2007

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Herophilus' contributions to medicine were the most important in the history of the field. He banished several Roman taboos and superstitions when it came to the practice of medicine and personal health. After expelling much of the previously set ideas about the inner workings of the body, Herophilus became dedicated to educating the public and other scholars about the importance and maintenance of good health. His commitment to accuracy and offerings to the field gave way-at least indirectly-to improvements in surgery, hygiene, medical practice, physiology and kinesiology, scientific investigation and many more, as well as-directly-to the area of neurosciences.

"Herophilus and Erasistratus proceeded in by far the best way: they cut open living men - criminals they obtained out of prison from the kings and they observed, while their subjects still breathed, parts that nature had previously hidden, their position, color, shape, size, arrangement, hardness, softness, smoothness, points of contact, and finally the processes and recesses of each and whether any part is inserted into another or receives the part of another into itself."-"On

Medicine", I Poem 23Herophilus was the first person in history to attain a highly accurate and detailed knowledge of the human anatomy. He did so through careful dissection of human corpses at a time when other "physicians" had used animal corpses. Herophilus even went a step further and actually vivisected the living-though only condemned criminals-as a means of learning about the human body when it was fully functioning rather than after death. Experimentation was sanctioned on the condemned because according to Aristotelian beliefs, those who had committed heinous, inhuman crimes were without a soul, and thus could feel no pain. Through his studies he discovered the pulse and-although for the wrong reasons-deemed it important to maintaining life and indicating the presence of illness. Herophilus also...