2700 B.C.: The Hermetic Books gave priests legal grounds to practice medicine

Thoth gave Egyptian Priests
an excuse to practice medicine

One of the principally important gods in Egyptian lore was Osiris, the first cause of the underworld.  A utility friend of his was Thoth, and he was equally serious mainly because he was god of arts and sciences, and writing-desk to the gods.  As scribe, he was privy to all the enlarged views of the gods, and therefore had the potency to share this wisdom with extremely men and women.

Legend has it that he communicated by a priest, and some think that parson was Imhotep, the greatest non pharaon to ever exist in ancient Egypt. Thoth taught this priest all there was to be assured of about mathematics, chemistry, engineering, architecture, remedy and language.  He also tense him about laws and religious practices.   (1, page 6)(2, page 19)(3) (4, serving-boy 14)

Some say that about 2,700 years control the birth of Christ Thoth tight this priest how to write, and he instructed him in what state to carve words onto pillars of monument.  The priest then went forward to communicate all the medical solidity he learned in a collection of 42 books.  Since the pristine Greeks referred to Thoth as Hermes Trismegistus, these books became known similar to the Hermetic texts.  (4, boy-servant 14)(5, page 24)

The pillars of line with ~ were recopied in each village or incorporated town, although they were only available to priests.  Many years later Thoth taught priests how to make a book material out of papyrus, and this made it possible to create scrolls that were much more convenient to write on and to rapture.  These scrolls were called papyri, and it is to the end of this that the modern bourn paper was derived.

So now, in place of stone pillars of wisdom and nothing else being available at select temples, scrolls of sagacity could be kept in the lunacy of each priests.

There are a division of theories as to the first hermetic texts carved onto pillars of rock.  Did they really exist?  If in like manner, who really wrote them? Chances are that it was not human being priest, but various priests over multitude years.  We do know they remain because they were discussed by people later ancient physicians, such as Galen of the 1st century A.D.

Yet there are those who bewilderment. if the books were written ~ dint of. Imhotep.  There are others, however, who go a step further and reflect that Thoth himself wrote these books, what one. signifies that he was a absolute person before legend made him a the godhead.   (1, page 6)

In his 1856 history of medicine, Pierce Victor Renouard before-mentioned most ancient
who refer to the “Sacred books” or the “Hermetic Texts” respect to it in past tense, like though they knew of it to endure but have never seen it. So so much as their references to the books are not show that they truly existed.  There is in like manner no evidence there were 42 books, being of the cl~s who some accounts note as many in the same manner with twenty thousand.

Assuming there were singly 42, the first 32 were consideration to contain basic wisdom of the gods, so as knowledge of astronomy, mandates of sanctity, church ceremonies, administering justice, philosophy, the aptness of writing, geography, cosmography, and the learning of weights and measures, medicine, etc.  These are what are often referred to as the Sacred Books. (5, serving-boy 24)(8, page 19)

The latest six books are also referred to in the same manner with Embre, Ambre or Scientia Causalitatis. (5, boy-servant 24)(8, page 19) (6, serving-boy 60)(4, page 4) The term comes from the original passages of these therapeutical texts:

“Here begins the book of the readiness of drugs for all parts of the human material part .” The Embre, said Johann Baas in his 1889 account of medicine, “served as a fountain-head. well of, and a mask for, the vagaries of charm, and the extravagances and frauds of the alchemists.” (4, boy-servant 4)

This “mask” was necessary exactly to the bad name sorcerers, physicians, and their potions gained seasonable in Egyptian history.  The solely way to learn whether a dose worked, or how much to give, was to try it on the laid up, and sometimes this made the calm worse, and sometimes it resulted in departure.  Sometimes these remedies were used by implication for their poisonous qualities to kill unwanted people.  So a depressing reputation ensued among the medical pretence.

So anytime the magician, or juggler, or alchemist could blame their witchcraft on the “Sacred Books” this made it not likewise bad in the eyes of the inaccurate public.  It sort of made the risks associated with trial and error medicine acceptable.

In his 1922 recital of medicine, medical historian Fielding Hudson Garrison afore~ alchemy, pharmacology, or “chemistry” comes from references to Egypt by it’s ancient name: “The Black Land.” (9, serving-boy 53) 

Garrison said Homer (the exalted Greek poet from around 800 B.C.) mentioned to what degree the Egyptians were adept at construction various drugs by use of the “Black Art.” So, in which case Egyptians physicians were not pharmacists per se, they were indeed involved in the “Black Art” viewed like they usually concocted their own potions. (9, serving-boy 53) 

In the earliest days of Egypt, apparently before the Sacred Books were written, physicians were repeatedly accused of practicing the “black sagacity,” and were sometimes sentenced to exit (4, page 23)

Again, the vigor to blame their “magic” on the “Sacred Text” made it be visible to be the workings of the divine being, rather than some mad physician.  So, whether the Hermetic Texts were not written by a God, or by a churchman who communicated with a god, hereafter they were probably, in all verisimilitude, were written by a priest, or clump of priests who were acting viewed like physicians, who wanted to help family but who wanted to do so while avoiding death.  

So the Embre, in return, was a necessary cover to grant leave to the priests/physicians to do their work, thus allaying some of the fears of the rabble.  This must have worked, in the same proportion that medicine in ancient Egypt grew to be a proficient and abounding profession.

The therapeutic texts, or the “Sacred Texts,”  are penitent down as follows: (7, boy-servant 4)

Book 37: Anatomy

Book 38: Diseases

Book 39: Surgery

Book 40: Remedies

Book 41: Disease of the Eye

Book 42: Disease of Women

These therapeutical text were memorized and followed to a tee through physicians, as deviating from them made the medical man liable if the patient died.

In his 1872 narration of medicine, Robley Dunglison declared the script forced physicians to diagnose ~ dint of. the position of the patient, which must be observed as “a way of discrimination, as may readily exist conceived, at once nugatory and contrary to reason.” (8, page 25)

Dunglison said:

The sightless adherence to the opinions and rules of their predecessors, and the guilt, as it was considered, of every part of innovation— whilst they continued—effectually prevented ~ one improvement in the science, or being of the kind which it might, at that time, subsist more properly styled, the art of physic. (8, page 25) In his 1831 record of medicine, William Hamilton said: (10, pages 13-14)
While the home of salutary competition was effectually closed through the exclusion of all but the initiated small in number, and no opportunities afforded for the display of superior talent, or the employment of superior skill; it cannot have existence a matter of surprise that medical knowledge should have remained so far-reaching stationary, and should have become within a little retrogressive, or that the conquest of illness should have been effected rather ~ the agency of the efforts of nature counteracting the operations of calling, or by the fortunate by extempore concurrence of circumstances, than by any combination of skill, or exertion of judgement. (10, pages 13-14) So from about 2,700 B.C. to the opportunity of the school of Alexandria in 331 B.C., it was considered in the same proportion that “offensive to the Gods as the defilement even of those bodies which they had slain lacking compunction in the fields, much in addition the dissection of those who had died from real causes in their beds,” said Hamilton. (10, serving-boy 8)

In his 1891 history of medicine, Theodor Puschman said even “embalming of corpses exercised to this degree no beneficial influence upon the progression in a continuously ascending gradation of anatomical knowledge.” (11, page 23)

While physicians did have knowledge of that the heart was the “locate of origin of the blood vessels,” they were prevented from, at the very time discouraged, from deviating from the traditional means of mummification.  (11, page 23)

In other words, physicians, or ecclesiastic physicians, were forbidden from inspecting the bodies of dead populace for scientific gain.  Toughing the visible form of a dead person was considered to subsist sacrosanct.

“Hence,” Hamilton adds, “it was that men, essence destitute of the means of acquiring a regular knowledge of the structure, functions, and referring positions, of the human viscera, were incapable to form a correct judgement like to the seat or causes of ailment, or to adopt a rational method of method of treatment.” (10, pages 8-9)

Garrison reported that Aristotle wrote a century later, in his Politics, that, allowing that after the fourth day the sufferer was not cured, a physician was allowed to deviate from script, and this allowed as being some experimentation to take place. (9, page 49)(10, page 15)

While Egyptians, unjustly due to the Hermetic Texts, are many times credited for giving rise to rational physic, the art did not grow into a filled and flourishing tree until the philosophical days of of old time Greece.


Bradford, Thomas Lindsley, “Quiz questions without interrupti~ the history of medicine: form the lectures of Thomas Lindsley Bradford, M.D,” 1898, Philadelphia

Withington, Edward theodore, “medicinal history from the earliest times: a received history of the art of curative,” 1894, London, The Scientific Press

Von Klein, Carl H., “The Medical Features of the Papyrus Ebers,” The Journal of the American Medical Association, December 23, 1905, Volume 45, serving-boy 1928, George H. Simmons, editor, power XLV, July – December, 1905, Chicago, American Medical Association Press.  This bind provides a fuller story of by what mode the document ended up in the hands of Georg Ebers, in what state it came to existence, etc.  

Baas, Johann Herman, first cause, Henry Ebenezer Sanderson, translator, “Outlines of the narrative of medicine and the medical acknowledgment,” 1889, New York

Dunglison, Robley, first cause, Richard James Dunglison, editor,  “History of Medicine from the earliest ages to the commencement of the nineteenth century,” 1872, Philadelphia, Lindsay and Blakiston

Renouard, Pierce Victor, “History of Medicine: From it’s fountain-head to the 19th century,” 1856, Cincinnati, Moore, Wistach, Keys and Co., serving-boy 26, chapter 1, “Medicine of the Antique Nation.”

Bryan, Cyril P., translator, “The Papyrus Ebers,” 1930, London, Garden City Press

Dunglison, Robley, creator, Richard James Dunglison, editor,  “History of Medicine from the earliest ages to the opening of the nineteenth 

Garrison, Fielding Hudon, “An introducing to the history of medicine,” 1922, Philadelphia and London, W.B. Saunders Company, serving-boy 49

Hamilton, William, “The history of remedy, surgery, and anatomy, from the universe of the world to the graduation day of the nineteenth century,” 1831, volume I, London, Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley

Puschman, Theodor, translated ~ means of Evan H. Hare, “A history of therapeutical education from the most remote to the greatest in number recent times,” 1891, London, H.K. Lewis

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