Page:EB1911 - Volume 01.djvu/976

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HISTORY]
923
ANATOMY

(στενὠτερον καὶ εἰλιγμἑνον). The modern epithet of rectum is the literal translation of his description of the straight progress (εύθύ) of the bowel to the anus (πρωκτός). He knew the nasal cavities and the passage from the tympanal cavity of the ear to the palate, afterwards described by B. Eustachius. He distinguishes as “partes similares” those structures, such as bone, cartilage, vessels, sinews, blood, lymph, fat, flesh, which, not confined to one locality, but distributed throughout the body generally, we now term the tissues or textures, whilst he applies the term “partes dissimilares” to the regions of the head, neck, trunk and extremities.

Next to Aristotle occur the names of Diocles of Carystus and Praxagoras of Cos, the last of the family of the Asclepiadae. The latter is remarkable for being the first who distinguished the arteries from the veins, and the author of the opinion that the former were air-vessels.

Hitherto anatomical inquiry was confined to the examination of the bodies of brute animals. We have, indeed, no testimony of the Alexandrian school. human body being submitted to examination previous to the time of Erasistratus and Herophilus; and it is vain to look for authentic facts on this point before the foundation of the Ptolemaic dynasty of sovereigns in Egypt. This event, which, as is generally known, succeeded the death of Alexander, 320 years before the Christian era, collected into one spot the scattered embers of literature and science, which were beginning to languish in Greece under a weak and distracted government and an unsettled state of society. The children of her divided states, whom domestic discord and the uncertainties of war rendered unhappy at home, wandered into Egypt, and found, under the fostering hand of the Alexandrian monarchs, the means of cultivating the sciences, and repaying with interest to the country of Thoth and Osiris the benefits which had been conferred on the infancy of Greece by Thales and Pythagoras. Alexandria became in this manner the repository of all the learning and knowledge of the civilized world; and while other nations were sinking under the effects of internal animosities and mutual dissensions, or ravaging the earth with the evils of war, the Egyptian Greeks kept alive the sacred flame of science, and preserved mankind from relapsing into their original barbarism. These happy effects are to be ascribed in an eminent degree to the enlightened government and liberal opinions of Ptolemy Soter, and his immediate successors Philadelphus and Euergetes. The two latter princes, whose authority was equalled only by the zeal with which they patronized science and its professors, were the first who enabled physicians to dissect the human body, and prevented the prejudices of ignorance and superstition from compromising the welfare of the human race. To this happy circumstance Herophilus and Erasistratus are indebted for the distinction of being known to posterity as the first anatomists who dissected and described the parts of the human body. Both these physicians flourished under Ptolemy Soter, and probably Ptolemy Philadelphus, and were indeed the principal supports of what has been named in medical history the Alexandrian School, to which their reputation seems to have attracted numerous pupils. But though the concurrent testimony of antiquity assigns to these physicians the merit of dissecting the human body, time, which wages endless war with the vanity and ambition of man, has dealt hardly with the monuments of their labours. As the works of neither have been preserved, great uncertainty prevails as to the respective merits of these ancient anatomists; and all that is now known of their anatomical researches is obtained from the occasional notices of Galen, Oribasius and some other writers. From these it appears Erasistratus. that Erasistratus recognized the valves of the heart, and distinguished them by the names of tricuspid and sigmoid; that he studied particularly the shape and structure of the brain, and its divisions, and cavities, and membranes, and likened the convolutions to the folds of the jejunum; that he first formed a distinct idea of the nature of the nerves, which he made issue from the brain; and that he discovered lymphatic vessels in the mesentery, first in brute animals, and afterwards, it is said, in man. He appears also to have distinguished the nerves into those of sensation and those of motion.

Of Herophilus it is said that he had extensive anatomical knowledge, acquired by dissecting not only brutes but human bodies. Of these he probably dissected more than any of his predecessors or contemporaries. Devoted Herophilus. to the assiduous cultivation of anatomy, he appears to have studied with particular attention those parts which were least understood. He recognized the nature of the pulmonary artery, which he denominates arterious vein; he knew the vessels of the mesentery, and showed that they did not go to the vena portae, but to certain glandular bodies; and he first applied the name of twelve-inch or duodenum (δωδεκαδἀκτυλος) to that part of the alimentary canal which is next to the stomach. Like Erasistratus, he appears to have studied carefully the configuration of the brain; and though, like him, he distinguishes the nerves into those of sensation and those of voluntary motion, he adds to them the ligaments and tendons. A tolerable description of the liver by this anatomist is preserved in the writings of Galen. He first applied the name of choroid or vascular membrane to that which is found in the cerebral ventricles; he knew the straight venous sinus which still bears his name; and to him the linear furrow at the bottom of the fourth ventricle is indebted for its name of calamus scriptorius.

The celebrity of these two great anatomists appears to have thrown into the shade for a long period the names of all other inquirers; for, among their numerous and rather celebrated successors in the Alexandrian school, it is impossible to recognize a name which is entitled to distinction in the history of anatomy. In a chasm so wide it is not uninteresting to find, in one who combined the characters of the greatest orator and philosopher of Rome, the most distinct traces of attention to anatomical knowledge. Cicero, in his treatise De Natura Deorum, in a short sketch of physiology, such as it was taught by Aristotle and his disciples, introduces various anatomical notices, from which the classical reader may form some idea of the state of anatomy at that time. The Roman orator appears to have formed a pretty distinct idea of the shape and connexions of the windpipe and lungs; and though he informs his readers that he knows the alimentary canal, he omits the details through motives of delicacy. In imitation of Aristotle, he talks of the blood being conveyed by the veins (venae), that is, blood-vessels, through the body at large; and, like Praxagoras, of the air inhaled by the lungs being conveyed through the arteries.

Aretaeus, though chiefly known as a medical author, makes some observations on th e lung and the pleura, maintains the glandular structure of the kidney, and describes the anastomoses or communications of the capillary extremities of the vena cava with those of the portal vein.

The most valuable depository of the anatomical knowledge of these times is the work of Celsus, one of the most judicious medical authors of antiquity. He left, indeed, no Celsus. express anatomical treatise; but from the introductions to the 4th and 8th books of his work, De Medicina, with incidental remarks in the 7th, the modern reader may form very just ideas of his anatomical attainments. From these it appears that Celsus was well acquainted with the windpipe and lungs and the heart; with the difference between the windpipe and oesophagus (stomachus), which leads to the stomach (ventriculus); and with the shape, situation and relations of the diaphragm. He enumerates also the principal facts relating to the situation of the liver, the spleen, the kidneys and the stomach. He appears, however, to have been unaware of the distinction of duodenum or twelve-inch bowel, already admitted by Herophilus, and represents the stomach as directly connected by means of the pylorus with the jejunum or upper part of the small intestine.

The 7th and 8th books, which are devoted to the consideration of those diseases which are treated by manual operation, contain sundry anatomical notices necessary to explain the nature of the diseases or mode of treatment. Of these, indeed, the merit is unequal; and it is not wonderful that the ignorance of the day prevented Celsus from understanding rightly the mechanism of