What did Father Paul the Aegini do with medicine?

In a time like the dark ages when you didn’t know who or what would be able to eliminate you first i.e. plague, leprosy, typhus, influenza or a family doctor, an individual on a mysterious Greek island decided to take a nap. with the system.

Paul EginitaPhoto: Profimedia Images

Not only did man refuse to die of old age or diseases associated with it (we are talking about the dark Middle Ages, so aging began easily about 25-30 years), he did not let others follow the natural course of life. The ephemeris from that time.

The man wrote a medical encyclopedia in about seven volumes (Epitomoe Medicoe Libri Septem) with everything he learned and discovered.

About Paul Aegina (or Aegina), that this is the name of the individual in question, we can say that he was lucky to have been born in one of the darkest periods of human history, so black that we do not even know when he inhabited. If we look at the Arab historians who not only took up his knowledge, but also considered him a kind of guide and father of medicine, he would have lived during the seventh century AD. But it is not 100% certain. All we know about him is that he was born on the island of Aegina, about 16 nautical miles from Piraeus, studied in Alexandria, and then traveled around practicing medicine.

And he not only practiced it, but also wrote a medical encyclopedia in about seven volumes (Epitomoe Medicoe Libri Septem) with everything he learned and discovered. In fact, that’s all we know about Paulus Aegineta, if we give him his Latin name. Ah, in case I haven’t told you yet, the man was a Byzantine. I also promised you about two weeks ago that we would occasionally promote the great Byzantine thinkers. Prefer another one!

Now, in order to have a clear idea of ​​what we are talking about today, we will say that with the disappearance of the Western Roman Empire, most of the knowledge of the ancients was taken and preserved through Byzantium. Some of these were related to medicine. Basically, the Byzantines were the successors of ancient medicine, they even influenced the Arabs in their golden age, and not the other way around, and the Byzantine writings remained a legal character in the profile science for about 1000 years. When it came Constantinople’s turn to fall, medical treatises, along with many other treatises, returned to the West, and so the Renaissance got a kick in the back, to change the face of the world. As you know!

The rhinoplasty procedures used today, nearly 2,700 years ago, were invented by Indians

Well, a lot of nonsense has been said about Paul Aegina. Some have said that he was the last great Byzantine physician. forged! It was not him, but John Actuarius, who lived at least seven hundred years after him. Others said he called it cancer. Wrong again! The Roman physician Galen did this almost three centuries before Paul, although they came close to the topic. He is also said to be the father of plastic surgery. Honestly, if you think that the Egyptians did this about 5,000 years ago, and that the Indians invented the rhinoplasty procedures used today, nearly 2,700 years ago, then I’d say not exaggerating such statements.

Let us stick, better, to what the concrete man did, respectively, what he wrote in his encyclopedia, which was a master’s manual of medicine for about 800 years! Unless we say that Paul washes the wounds of the sick with boiling water, and throws it straight into the scientific progress of the nineteenth century. You must also say that he invented an anesthetic based on mandrake leaves, ivy, and berries, so that he would no longer have to escape from his patients who jumped off the operating table when your world was dear to you, and you sent it to him. Going back thousands of light years from all that was being done at the time. But we will not talk about this, because it will be very simple.

Paul was a surgeon and a half, and if you look at what he knows how to do, it makes you dizzy

If you give him a scalpel, he will be able to cut you from head to toe, put you back together, and look prettier than before. The man describes surgery from a tonsillectomy to a cataract. Operations of the lymph nodes, larynx, brain and spine, it all means abdominal cavity, treatment of hemorrhoids, anal fistulas, varicose veins, suturing, cautery, circumcision and amputation including breast reduction surgery all.

He was the first author to describe the tracheal incision in detail. He identified three types of hernias and wrote how to operate on them all, not vice versa but to get rid of the patient. He also described the cervical lymph nodes and how to intervene surgically in case of infection. He was the first to describe a patella fracture and how to treat it. He first wrote about gynecomastia and the necessary surgery. Yet I did not mention a quarter of what Father Paul knew. It makes no sense to tell you now – I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Basically, you say you’re browsing a modern medicine textbook when you see what he was capable of, not that you’re looking at a dissertation written in the middle of the dark ages.

He was so good at obstetrics/gynecology that the Arabs called him al-Qawabili (the term obstetrician would be as close as possible to the original meaning). I don’t comment anymore. If the population of the Byzantine Empire experienced a boom in that period of the seventh century, we know that Paul was the cause. The man was really a genius. One of the ones we keep getting out of mothballs to show you regularly.

In the end, we can say that man did everything in his power not to go down in history as a simple man. He took from the ancient scholars everything that could be taken. When he had nothing to take, he learned from his own experience. Then he wrote everything so that he would not lose his bitter offspring of knowledge. We do not know exactly when the right took the road, but we can check the periods of decline of the Byzantine population. Wherever you see any of that negative fluctuation, don’t multiply by wars, that’s where it needs to be.


Papapostolou D., Karandreas A., Mavrommatis E., Laios K., Troupis T., 2020, Paul of Aegina (ca. 625-690 AD): acts on all, from the lymph nodes of the head and neck to the visceral organs in the abdomen, Corios , 12 (3): e7287

Gurunluoglu R., Gurunluoglu A., 2003, Paul of Aegina: Landmark in Surgical Progress, World Journal of Surgery, vol 27 (1), pp. 18–25.

Gurunluoglu R., Gurunluoglu A., 2001, Paulus Aegineta, Encyclopedic and Surgeon of the Seventh Century: His Role in the History of Plastic Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Volume 108 (7), Pages 2072-2079

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