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October 1973

The Medical Aphorisms of Moses Maimonides.

Arch Intern Med. 1973;132(4):624. doi:10.1001/archinte.1973.03650100132030

This book offers a marvelously detailed account of medicine as it existed in the thirteenth century in the most civilized regions in the West, those held by the Arabs.

Maimonides, like his Arab precursors and contemporaries, considered himself one of the inheritors of classical Greek learning. Like some of them, eg, al Farabi and Razi among the Arabs, and Rabbi Schem Tov among the Jews, Maimonides did not accept this inheritance uncritically, and much space is given to showing the inconsistencies in Galen's writings and in making a plea for rational observation. (These preceded the similar plea by Roger Bacon by half a century. Both were ignored.)

Medicine in that era was a mass of superstition, false science, and assorted bits of folklore. As regards the last, it is interesting that both Galen and Maimonides mentioned the suicide via snake bite of a "Queen of Egypt" without giving her name;

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