For the last few years, Orly Lewis and I have been working on a project on the Pneumatist school of medicine. ‘School’ translates hairesis—the word from which we get ‘heresy’ in English. The root meaning of hairesis is ‘choice.’ It later came to mean the group who chooses to follow the same teacher or leader, or, more abstractly, people who choose to follow the same set of philosophical or moral principles.
The Pneumatists are a hairesis, we are told, because its members chose to believe that pneuma is the cause of life, health and disease (instead of, or in addition to, other things like humours, blocked pores, etc.). It is generally thought to have been founded by Athenaeus of Attalia in the late first century BCE or early first century CE. What is interesting, however, is that only three sources name this school—Galen, the author of Introduction or the Doctor (Introductio seu Medicus), and John of Alexandria—and the earliest of these sources is from the mid- to late 2nd century. That leaves about 150 years where no one mentions the Pneumatist hairesis. Furthermore, apart from Athenaeus, the doctors whom Galen and the author of the Introduction associate with the Pneumatist hairesis are said either to belong to other schools or to have founded other schools by other (and sometimes earlier) sources. Soranus / Caelius Aurelianus associates Agathinus and Magnus with the Methodists, the author of the Medical Definitions says Agathinus founded a hairesis the some people called “episynthetic”, others “eclectic”, and the author of the Introduction in one place says Archigenes was “eclectic,” in another place a Pneumatist. How many schools can one person belong to? How exclusive are they? Is membership in a school an act of self-identification, or is it applied from outside? —it’s far from clear.
The semester is starting in Berlin, so here are some passages about haireseis which we’ve been collecting, passages which we think emphasize why it’s time for historians of science to come up with new ways of understanding self- and other-presentation among ancient professionals (good work has been done by Heinrich von Staden, Philip van der Eijk, David Leith, and others, but there’s more to do). Part one of three.
I. What school do you go to?
A. Galenus, De causis contentiuis 2.1 (CMG Suppl. Or. II, 134,3-4 Schöne; Lyons tr., modified)
Athineum igitur Attaleum, quit spiritualem nominatam heresim in medicatiua primo cepit [...]
As for Athenaeus of Attalia, he founded the medical school known as that of the Pneumatists [...]
B. Anonymus Bambergensis, Codex Bambergensis L.iii.8 med. i (411 Sudhoff)
subsequente autem tempore facti sunt rationabiles potentes medici Diocles, Praxagoras, Herophilus, Erasistratus, Asclepiades, Athenaeus, Agathinus, Ariston, Archigenes, Herodotus, Philumenus, Antyllus.
Dicoles : Deoclex codd. | Praxagoras : Praxacoras codd. | Herophilus : Herophilos codd. | Athenaeus : Atheneus codd. | Agathinus : Agatheneus codd. | Philumenus : Philominus codd. | Antyllus : Antillus codd.
In the subsequent period, however, the Rationalist physicians became powerful: Diocles, Praxagoras, Herophilus, Erasistratus, Asclepiades, Athenaeus, Agathinus, Ariston, Archigenes, Herodotus, Philumenus, Antyllus.
C. Anonymus, Initia Medicinae (52 Firpo)
subsequenti autem tempore facti sunt rationabiles [et] potentes medici, idest Diocles, Praxagoras, Herophilus, Erasistratus, Asclepiades, Athenaeus, Agathinus, Ariston, Archigenes, Herodotus, Philumenus, Antyllus.
et] delevi | Herophilus : Erophilus codd. | Athenaeus : Atheneus codd. | Agathinus : Agathenus codd. | Philumenus : Philomenus codd. | Antyllus : Antillus codd.
In the subsequent period, however, the rationalist physicians became powerful, i.e., Diocles, Praxagoras, Herophilus, Erasistratus, Asclepiades, Athenaeus, Agathinus, Ariston, Archigenes, Herodotus, Philumenus, Antyllus.
D. Galenus, De differentia pulsuum 3.6 (VIII 673-674 Kühn)
τὸ γὰρ δὴ τρίτον τῶν σημαινομένων (sc. τοῦ κενοῦ) οὔτε Ἀρχιγένης οὔτε Ἀγαθῖνος οὔτε Μάγνος οὔτ' Ἀθήναιος οὔτε ἄλλος οὐδεὶς τῶν πνευματικῶν ἰατρῶν ἀληθὲς ὁμολογήσει.
The third meaning (sc. of 'empty'), neither Archigenes, Agathinus, Magnus, Athenaeus, nor any other of the Pneumatist doctors will agree to its truth.
E. [Galenus], Definitiones medicae 14 (IX 352-353K)
πόσον κατὰ ἰατρικῆς αἱρέσεις; ἰατρικῆς αἱρέσεις αἱ πρῶται δύο ἐμπειρικὴ καὶ λογικὴ καὶ τρίτη μεθοδική. δοκεῖ δὲ καὶ τετάρτην αἵρεσιν ἐξευρεῖν Ἀγαθῖνος ὁ Λακεδαιμόνιος, ἣν ὠνόμασεν ἐπισυνθετικὴν, ἔνιοι δὲ ἐκλεκτικήν, ἕτεροι τὴν ἑκτικήν.
How many schools of medicine are there? The main medical schools are two: the Empiricist and the Logical, and a third is the Methodist. Agathinus of Lacedaemon seems to have invented a fourth school, which is called episynthetic, but some call eclectic, others hectic.
F. [Galenus], Introductio seu Medicus 4 (XIV 684 K)
ἐγένοντο δέ τινες καὶ ἐπισυνθετικοὶ, ὡς Λεωνίδης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς. καὶ ἐκλεκτοὶ, ὡς Ἀρχιγένης ὁ Ἀπαμεὺς τῆς Συρίας.
Some were also episynthetic, like Leonides of Alexandria, and some eclectic, like Archigenes of Apamea in Syria.