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“An acute disease is one that will either finish the man quickly or finish quickly itself.” Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BC—c. 50 AD), author of De Medicina




Asclepius with Serpent-Entwined Staff               

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 Miriam bat Isaac had a thorough knowledge of the medical practices of her time. Like other alchemists, her goal was spiritual, to perfect base metals by transmuting them into gold or silver and likewise, to perfect human health by transforming disease into wellness. Her medical practices were based on the Greek physicians who lived centuries before her time.

The Hippocratic Bench

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   Although the Greeks built temples in honor of Asclepius, their god of healing, their medical tradition was primarily secular. Hippocrates (c. 460–380 BC) proposed that disease resulted from an imbalance in the body’s four humors: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. So headaches, for example, which were seen as being caused by excess blood, were treated by bloodletting. The Romans, on the other hand, distrusted physicians and depended on supernatural interventions to treat disease. In The Deadliest Lie and throughout the series, you’ll see Miriam called upon to heal the sick in ways similar to ours. For example, the Hippocratic Bench is a forerunner of the traction devices used in modern orthopedics.

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