Myth-Centered Medicine in Ancient Greece and the Cognitive Effect Relationship between Medical Notions and Treatment Methods

Document Type: Original Article


1 Assistant professor, Department of History and Iranology, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

2 M.A. in History of Science, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Department of History and Iranology, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


Medicine is a manifestation of social life and intellectual infrastructure in every society at any time in history. As a technic focusing on needs, its existential roots can be found in any place in different eras. Although in pre-historic period medicine was at myths’ service which was enriched by imaginary necessities, partial and iconographic approach, it is not possible to strip off the aspects accordant with reality. In fact, the myths gave meaning to minor instances of mythology in human life in order to bring an answer worthy of human understanding to needs and proportions of the mysterious life in this world. This answer, certainly has roots in reality and affects one’s individual and social life. In ancient Greece, the mythical thoughts gave meaning to people’s lives. In fact, understanding life was in the same direction with existential understanding of myths. Continual needs of mortal human linked to solid thoughts, which resulted in deep beliefs inclined to reality. In Greek mythology, healing God, Asclepius, had a great role in medicine. Disease and health depended on the interaction between people, and the temple and the priests, and of course, the most prominent of all, on deep beliefs. Although the therapy factors were more spiritual and supernatural, gradually experimental behavior continued and, as a result, it was a beginning for the emergence of scientific experimental medicine. The idea that visualized tangible factors for each occurrence finally resulted in a mental synchronization. Eventually, the whole concept became generalizable and paved the way for empiricism and experimental medicine.


Andulusi S. [Tarikh al-Hokama]. Translated by Seyyed Muhammad Kazem Imam. Tehran: University of Tehran Press, 1970. [in Persian]
Azkayi P. Medicine in Ancient Iran. Tehran: Moala publisher, 2012.
Bultmann RK. Jesus Christ and mythology. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1977.
Capasso L. [La Médecine dans l’antiquité]. Paris: Edition Atlas, 1986. [in French]
Cassirer E. The philosophy of symbolic farms. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953.
Diodore de Sicile. [Bibliothèque Historique, traduit et annoté en persan par E. Sangari & H. Bikas Shourkaei]. Vol. 15. Translated by E. Sangari and H. Bikas Shourkaei. Tehran: Jami Publisher, 2005. [in Persian]
Elgood CL. A Medical History of Persia and the Eastern Caliphate: from the earliest times until the year A.D 1932. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Fatemi S. Greek and Roman myths or the myth of gods. Vol. 1. Tehran: Tehran University Press, 2008.
Finley MI. [Les anciens Grecs]. Paris : Edition Points, 1993. [in French]
Flacelière R. [La vie quotidienne en Grèce au siècle de Périclès]. Paris : Edition Hachette, 1959. [in French]
Glotz G. [La Cité Grecque]. Paris: Edition Albin Michel, 1998. [in French]
Golchin P. The battle between reason and myths in the ancient Greece. Tehran: Negah-e Moaser, 2014.
Hamilton E. [La mythologie, ses dieux, ses héros, ses légendes]. Paris: Editions Marabout & Verviers, 1978. [in French]
Hull LWH. History and philosophy of science, an introduction. London: Longman Green et al London publisher, 1965.
Leclant J. [Dictionnaire de l’Antiquité, sous la direction de J. Leclant]. Paris : Presses Universitaires de France, 2005. [in French]
Lindberg DC. The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. to A.D. 1450. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Mossé Cl. [Politique et société en Grèce ancienne, Le «modèle athénien»]. Paris: Edition Aubier, 1995. [in French]
Plutarque. [Sur les oracles de la Pythie, Texte établi et traduit par Robert Flacelière]. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2007. [in French]
Robin L. [La pensée grecque et les origines de l’esprit scientifique]. Paris: Edition Albin Michel: 1973. [in French]
Ronan CA. Cambridge history world’s science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Roux G. [Delphes ses oracles et ses dieux]. Paris: Les belles lettres, 1976. [in French]
Sarton G. A History of Science. Ancient science through the Golden Age of Greece. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1952.
Sauneron S. [Les prêtres de l’ancienne Egypte]. Paris: Edition Points, 1998. [in French]
Schmidt J. Larousse Greek and Roman mythology. New York: Mcgraw-Hill publisher, 1983.
Vernant JP. [Mythe et religion en Grèce ancienne]. Paris: Edition Points, 1990. [in French]
Yount L. The History of medicine. Delhi: Lucent Publisher, 2001.
Zeymaran M. A transition from mythology to philosophy. Tehran: Hermes Publication, 2013.