The Ancient Library
 

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GREEK BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE

faculty of investigation failed, the greater ancient sources were no longer used in the fullness of their contents and living spirit.

In the East, the energies aroused by Islam stemmed the decline of medicine. Among the early " Arabian " physicians (the best of them were Persians) were good practitioners and clinical observers. There was enough active intelligence to demand and support the use of the best sources of medical science, which were of course the Greek. One of these good physicians, the princely Persian, Avicenna (980-1037), was an acquisitive and systema­tizing genius of the first order. His great " Canon of the healing art," drawn chiefly from Galen and Aristotle, presents the contents of Greek medicine as a closed and serried system. This book was of enormous influence upon medieval Europe, and is said still to rule in the Moslem world.

Nevertheless in Avicenna's " Canon " and in the treatises current in medieval Europe, Greek medicine was embalmed, rather than alive and quick in its creative spirit of investigation. Moreover, medieval physicians and compilers tended to select and use what was on the level of their own appreciation or understanding. So [126]

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