The Byzantine physicians on epilepsy

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by Economou NT, Lascaratos J.


The aim of this study is to present epilepsy according to the most famous and representative Byzantine physicians throughout the whole period of the Byzantine empire. Mainly Byzantine medical texts were used as sources. The Byzantine physicians considered epilepsy to be a serious medical problem and followed the Hippocratic tradition as far as the etiology of this disease is concerned. Their pathophysiological theories of epilepsy identified the brain as the site of the problem, but, based on the Hippocratic humoral theory, emphasized causes such as an excess of humors or insufficient circulation of phlegm in the brain. It is surprising to note the accuracy of the details they provide regarding the clinical description of the disease, especially the seizures; many of these are still accepted today. It is also surprising that there was a concurrent opinion during all this medieval period that epilepsy was strictly an organic disease of the brain and the demonic origin of it a prejudice of uneducated people.



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