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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

Medicine                             191
different source from that of the bulk of the medical writings
and belong to a type that has been designated above as Group I.
 v. Pathology and Therapeutics
As already indicated, there cannot be the slightest doubt that
Egyptian medicine had its origin in magic and that magic never
lost its hold on medicine even when rationalism was pervading
it to a greater and greater extent. Many of the drugs in the
pharmacopoeia, even when wholesome and rational, were clearly
adopted in the first instance for purely magical reasons; their very
use was but a development of the manual rites of the magician.
A study of the medical papyri demonstrates quite clearly that
all illness and disease was believed to be due to possession, and
the art of the physician had its beginnings in^the various
attempts that were made to coax, charm, or forcibly expel the
demon from its involuntary host. It was originally only in cases
of illness and injury that had an evident and palpable cause that
purely rational methods of treatment were employed. Thus
wounds, which are inflicted by visible human agency, are dealt
with by more or less rational therapeutic methods, but diseases
and pains (even when they had such obvious external manifesta-
tions as sores, boils, or swellings) were submitted more often to
magical than to medical treatment. In the medical papyri the
prescriptions are each headed by a title, and in these titles
instead of the simple phrase, 'prescription for curing' such and
such a disease, we have 'prescription for driving out', ^banish-
ing?, 'terrifying', or 'killing* such disease, and even in the more
rational surgical treatment of wounds a formula commonly used
by the surgeon is, cit is a condition I will contend with5, or
'wrestle with'. In such phraseology the notion of possession is
manifest. The therapeutic treatment consists always of liquid
or dry medicines for internal consumption, or of .ointments or
lotions for external use.
When we come to the pathology of the papyri we meet with