Functional neuroanatomy in the pre-Hippocratic era: observations from the Iliad of Homer

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper Sahlas DJ.



To describe observations of neurological significance made in the Iliad of Homer and to interpret these relative to pre-Hippocratic concepts of health and disease in Ancient Greece.


English translations of the Iliad were analyzed for references of neurological significance, and the Homeric Greek was subsequently reviewed for accuracy. Findings are discussed in the context of ancient Greek ideas regarding anatomy and physiology, early descriptions and conceptualizations of the nervous system, ancient Greek theories concerning illness and disease, and the practice of medicine in the pre-Hippocratic era.


Descriptions of injuries sustained by soldiers fighting in the Trojan War represent some of the earliest case histories of neurotrauma. Passages in the Iliad describe immediate death after penetrating head trauma with injury to the brain or the brainstem, make reference to clinical signs of brain injury, and mention neurological signs and symptoms after damage to the spinal cord, brachial plexus, and peripheral nerves.


The Iliad of Homer contains many descriptions of traumatic injury to the nervous system and provides us with 3,000-year-old references to some of the basic principles of functional neuroanatomy.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: