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From an Art to a Science – A Talk by Hendrika Foster

Thursday 27 November 2014, 12:51
By Nigel Fox

AsclepiusArt historian Hendrika Foster was our lecturer on the 31st October when her subject was The Art of Medicine.

This was again a very well attended and fascinating talk outlining the history of medicine and how it has shifted from being seen as an art to a science. She began by going right back to the Greek Gods, with Asclepius, a god of medicine and son of Apollo, who is usually seen with his famous “rod” which was a serpent-entwined staff. This particular symbol is still used today in various medical organisations (e.g the Royal Army Medical Corps).

Hendrika then explained how Hippocrates, in around 430 BC, introduced different and more enlightened methods of medical practice which later resulted in the use of the Hippocratic Oath which is still used today.

The next important figure in medicine was Galen, who improved medical knowledge as a result of his dissection of animals, mainly monkeys and pigs, but it was not until Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) started to undertake human dissection (on executed criminals) that medicine really progressed in terms of accurate knowledge of the human body, something also worked on by such artists as Leonardo di Vinci.

This was a most intriguing and informative lecture accompanied by numerous arresting illustrations and photographs.


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