Origin of Germ Theory

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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Sun Jan 04, 2004 6:45 am

Salve Duelli,

I know what it is like; I and most of my family had the flu last week. But take heart, it only seems to last 4-5 days.

I have never seen germ theory or any theory that ascribed disease to natural agents attributed to the ancients. The classic medical writers tended to see disease as the result of imbalances within the body (cf Aristotle's four humours). Perhaps one could see germ theory in the conception that some disease was caused by spiritual invasion. After all, nasty bacteria and viruses are nothing but spiteful little demons, aren't they?

Just because I haven't seen something doesn't mean that it doesn't exist, however. Let's see if anyone else knows something that we don't.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sun Jan 04, 2004 1:24 pm

Salvete Tergeste et Duelli;

I'm no expert on classical medical science but the Greeks and Romans were in some ways rather advanced on this territory.

Although they may not have had a germ theory, many doctors had a lot of practical experience. It's not because their theories were wrong, that they used the wrong means to save their patients. Public health was taken care of by things like baths, and Celsus recommends fresh air and open areas; he thought small rooms or cities were environments detrimental to one's health. So the ancients clearly knew the link between places where many people lived and health. Perhaps, if their medical science had evolved, they would also have come across a germ theory?

Valete!
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