Throughout the Roman era medicine advanced in many ways. The Roman empire pushed forward with methods and hygiene. The ideas of Doctors such as Galen were largely correct, such as anatomical recognition. However, some ideas and practices could be said to have held medicine back.
One of the main things that the Romans did was to develop public health dramatically. Every town had access to clean water, thanks to the invention of aqueducts and brick conduits, that carried water, sometimes miles, into towns and cities, where it was used for fountains, cisterns and public baths. This meant that water-borne diseases such as cholera, were less common, as most of the poor got there water from these public fountains and cisterns. In Rome, special Water Commissioners were paid to ensure good supplies of clean water. Even small towns had public baths, who were open to everyone, on the payment of a quadrans (smallest Roman coin). One of the advantages of this was that the baths helped to rid ...view middle of the document...
Most prayed to Salus, the Roman God of Health. When this did not work, the Romans got desperate, and built a temple to Aesculapius, the Greek god of health. After this, the plague slowly ebbed away.
Galen was a Roman doctor who made great progress in the field of medicine. His ideas were so good, they were used for the next 1500 years. He developed Hippocrates idea of the four humours, and their need to be in balance. Galen thought of the idea of opposites. For example, if someone had a fever, then according to the four humours theory they had too much yellow bile, and that was linked to the element of fire. So he thought of the idea of treating them with the opposite. The opposite of fire is water, which is linked to being cold and moist, so the patient should drink lots of water. Galen also tried to develop ideas about the anatomy of the human body. One of the biggest ideas he put forward, was that the brain controlled the body, not the heart. He proved this with his famous pig experiment, when he cut nerves and stopped the pig squealing. He based a lot of his work on anatomy on animals, as it wasnâ€™t possible for him to dissect human bodies. This meant that although he made amazing progress on anatomy, some of his ideas were wrong. For example, he believed that the left kidney was lower than the right, which whilst true with apes, is not so with humans.
Much of the progress made was manly possible due to the Roman army. They gave their army the best of everything, including doctors, in order to have a fit and healthy army, free from disease and the likes. Many of the advancements in surgery and medicine were first done for the benefit of the army. Every legion had a doctor assigned to it, so the soldiers were kept in the best shape. They also invented military hospitals.
In Conclusion, most of the developments on Rome were a good example of progress, as they developed a lot of practical measures that they standardised across the empire to prevent illness and disease. However, it could be said that Galenâ€™s wrong ideas about anatomy and the humours held back medicine for over 1500 years, before he was proved wrong in the 15th century. Taking into account all the developments made by the Romans, I believe that the developments in Rome show a very good example in progress.