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Most moderate-sized American cities are dominated by two structures: bank buildings and hospitals. The former are often large and new because it’s where we like to put our money. The latter are large because we’re afraid to die and don’t want to be sick. Both are particularly modern structures. You could travel to ancient Pompei, were it to be completely reconstructed. You would find neither bank nor hospital. Of the two, hospitals came first.
Ancient Greece and Rome had doctors. They worked with herbs, and even performed fairly simple surgeries. The “Hippocratic Oath,” sworn by modern doctors as part of their initiation into the field, was first crafted by Hippocrates, in the 4-5th century B.C. Doctors and medicine are part of our ancient heritage.
Practice - Medicine - Matter - Centuries - Clinics
The practice of medicine was largely a private matter for many centuries, with some “clinics” of a sort being associated with particular temples, such as those of Asclepius. However, hospitals had to await the coming of Christianity. A name associated with one of the first such foundations was St. Basil the Great of Caesarea. He gave away his family inheritance for the needs of the poor, building a poorhouse, a hospice and a hospital just outside Caesarea. It was dubbed the “Basiliad.” St. Gregory the Theologian compared it to the “wonders of the world.”
St. Sampson the Hospitable was a doctor. He found favor with the Emperor Justinian and asked for help to build a hospital in Constantinople. It served that city for centuries. His title, the “Hospitable,” as well as our continuing use of the word “hospital” are worth considering. In Greek, his title is “philoxenos,” a word meaning the love of strangers – or kindness to strangers. Our word, “hospitality,” still has this connotation. Its origin is from the Latin, hospes, which also has the meaning of...
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