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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

186                              Medicine
are found numerous alternative prescriptions for each ailment
and in the magical texts many alternative spells for every kind
of sickness and calamity. Some of the remedies contain drugs
that are really beneficial and appropriate, and such prescrip-
tions, actually accomplishing their purpose, would tend to sur-
vive their more fantastic fellows. By such means more and more
reliance would come to be placed upon the drugs themselves
(i.e. upon the magician's manual rite) and less and less upon the
recited spells (i.e. his oral rite), whence the persons, therefore,
who would be most in request in cases of sickness would be those
who were skilled in the knowledge and preparation of drugs and
in manipulative treatment. Such men were no longer mere
magicians, but were becoming physicians—and thus out of
magic grew medicine.
But it must not be supposed that the evolution of the
physician extinguished magic. It is rare in human experience
for the new completely to supersede the old. The first physicians
kept magic as a stand-by in case of need: magical methods con-
tinued to be employed side by side with the more rational pro-
cedure, as the medical papyri of Pharaonic times plainly show.
Moreover, the existence of many magical papyri, dating from
Ptolemaic times and later, written in demotic Egyptian, in
Coptic, and in Greek, reveal that magical practices for the cure
of disease were in active operation long after the influence of
scientific medicine, which was mainly due to the Greeks, had
made itself felt. Magic maintained powerful sway throughout
the early centuries of the Christian era and throughout the
Middle Ages: it persisted into the sixteenth, seventeenth, and
eighteenth centuries, and is by no means extinct to-day, even
amongst civilized nations. The magician has survived: he has
merely changed his role from time to time, becoming succes-
sively the palmer, the merry-andrew, the quack, and the adver-
tiser of patent medicines. The ancient magician, when, malgre
lui, he had become physician, was loath to part with the mysti-