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.