Roman medicine

(129 - approx. 200):

"On diseased parts of the body"


According to Galen there are three forms of epilepsy:

"In all forms it is the brain which is diseased; either the sickness originates in the brain itself, or it rises in sympathy into the brain from the cardiac orifice of the stomach. Seldom, however, it can have its origin in any part of the body and then rises to the head in a way which the patient can feel.

Case description: I heard the boy say that his condition began in his lower leg and then moved up through the thigh, the groin and side of the chest above the affected thigh up to the neck and then to the head. As soon as [the condition] reached this part, he said that he was no longer aware of himself. When the doctors asked what the movement into the head was like, [another] boy said the movement upwards was like a cold breeze (aura)."

  • Correct statements:
  • The brain is diseased.
  • There are signs of the onset of a seizure which only the patient is aware of: the aura. (This is the first time this term is used in medical literature.)
  • Incorrect statement:
  • Epileptic activity can (primarily) originate in one part of the body and then (secondarily) affect the brain.
    (Correct: Every seizure begins primarily in the brain!)
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Museo alemán de epilepsia en Kork