The Physicians of Athens
There are salaried public medical officers in Athens, and something like a public dispensary where free treatment is given citizens in simple cases; but the average man seems to prefer his own doctor. We may enter the office of Menon, a "regular private practitioner," and look about us. The office itself is a mere open shop in the front of a house near the Agora; and, like a barber's shop is something of a general lounging place. In the rear one or two young disciples (doctors in embryo) and a couple of slaves are pounding up drugs in mortars. There are numbers of bags of dried herbs and little glass flasks hanging on the walls. Near the entrance is a statue of Asclepius the Healer, and also of the great human founder of the real medical science among the Greeks—Hippocrates.
Menon himself is just preparing to go out on his professional calls. He is a handsome man in the prime of his life, and takes great pains with his personal appearance. His himation is carefully draped. His finger rings have excellent cameos. His beard has been neatly trimmed, and he has just bathed and scented himself with delicate Assyrian nard. He will gladly tell you that he is in no wise a fop, but that it is absolutely necessary to produce a pleasant personal impression upon his fastidious, irritable patients. Menon himself claims to have been a personal pupil of the great Hippocrates, and about every other reputable Greek physician will make the same claim. He has studied more or less in a temple of Asclepius, and perhaps has been a member of the medical staff thereto attached. He has also become a member of the Hippocratic brotherhood, a semi-secret organization, associated with the Asclepius cult, and cheerfully cherishing the dignity of the profession and the secret arts of the guild.
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