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Article

Mendosa methodica: египетские врачи как наследники методистов в сочинениях Просперо Альпини

Средние века. 2017. № 78 (1-2). С. 276-299.

This study analyzes the conceptions carried out in the two most important works by an Italian physician, traveler and specialist on the history of medicine and natural history Prospero Alpini (1553 – 1616): De medicina Aegyptiorum (1591) and De medicina methodica (1611). Alpini's humanistic erudition in Ancient literature and his professional interest for the history of medicine enable him to reconstruct the doctrine of one of the Ancient Roman medical schools – the so-called school of the Methodists only scarcely known in his lifetime, and simultaneously to systematize the various accounts concerning the medical art in the Ottoman Egypt, provided by his trips to this country. The investigations on the Egyptian medicine make Alpini conclude that this version of the medical art can be traced back to the Roman Methodic school, while the history of the latter can be viewed as a gradual oblivion of its own foundations and degeneration into a set of purely practical skills, united on the basis of one statement — contraria contrariis curari, that itself springs from the fundamental principle of the Methodic sect. Alpini sets forth the political reasons of the degradation of the medical art, as well as other liberal arts and sciences in Egypt: first the bellicose and ignorant Mamlūk sultans usurped the power, than came the century-long Ottoman rule. The tyrannical government destroys the scientific institutions and depraves the morals of the subjects. The authority of the physician as well as of any other scientist (except for the faqīh) decreases, and the need for the serious, rational healing disappears. The 16th century Turk prefer the simple removal of symptoms without charging their patients with numerous prohibitions and painful procedures. Alpini detects in this approach the traces of the Methodic doctrine, striped of its philosophical foundations, stated that the Egyptians had neither possibility nor intention to embrace them. Thus, the historical-geographical treatise by Alpini can be set against the background of the Counter-Reformation political literature, presupposing as something taken for granted the inability of the Muslim nations to conduct a fully fledged political life and create an authentic respublica.