THE FRAGRANT TREATMENT
HEALING PRACTICES IN ANCIENT GREECEThe Greeks gave us insight into medicine, diagnosis, surgery and botany. The wellbeing of the body and the role of Egyptian wisdom and perfumes were significant to the Greeks
A Natural Way
Aromas played a large role in the lives of the ancient Greeks.
Even our word, ‘Aromatherapy’ is derived from Greek and translates literally to ‘Fragrant Treatment’.
Natural medicine flourished under Hippocrates, for whom the code of conduct of physicians is named (The Hippocratic oath), while botanical comprehension prospered under Theophrastus, later the head of the Aristotle's school, the Peripatetic School.
Having conquered Egypt, Greece adopted many of the spices from the Egyptian trade and knowledge, further pioneering the understanding of their uses.
Classics, Mythology and Healing
Grecian tradition speaks of Asclepius, a physician who practiced circa 1200BC. He treated a wide variety of diseases with not only surgery, but with herbs too.
The story goes that he received his education from the centaur, Chiron, who himself was taught by Apollo and Artemis. Asclepius was credited with being the founder of pharmaceuticals, botany and herbal medicines.
He was also said to have raised the dead, causing conflict with Hades and Zeus, resulting in his own demise by thunderbolt. Zeus placed him in the skies as the constellation Ophiuchus (a man holding a snake).
Such was his impact on the time that Apollo was believed to have coaxed Zeus to raise Asclepius from the dead to be deified into the mythological God of Healing.
For his contribution to mortal medicine, healing temples referred to as Asclepions were built all around Greece in his honour.
Supernatural Forces and Health
Hippocrates, a Greek physician of the Classical Era, otherwise known as “Father of Medicine” is credited with being the first physician who questioned the idea that illness was brought about by supernatural forces.
He believed that there were naturally occuring causes for physical ailments that could be treated by earthly means. This led to his theory of prognosis and observing symptoms in patients, which would culminate in a carefully considered diagnosis and would then be treated accordingly.
He recorded over 200 botanical sources with medicinal properties and their uses. Some of his treatments included oil massages, physical therapies and herbs to ingest such as valerian and fennel.
Hippocrates is renowned as the “Saviour of Athens” for his genius idea of fumigating the city during an outbreak of plague. He instructed the citizens to burn certain plants, take aromatic baths and oiled massages to encourage good health of the body.
These methods successfully beat back the plague!
Plants and Life
After Alexander the Great defeated Egypt in 332BC, the recreational use of plants and their properties soared in Greece.
Bringing the knowledge of Egyptian fragrances and perfumes grew in popularity. Philosopher Theophrastus, student of Aristotle and “Father of Botany '', became fascinated with plants and their scents and investigated their effects on human emotions and environments.
He wrote extensively on botanical science, ultimately culminating in one of the most important citations on the subject, “The Enquiry into Plants'', a ten volume book detailing everything from herbs to seeds to juice.
His work catalogued the methods of soil preparation for planting and growing, tools for gardening, financial uses for plants, wine making and spices.
A headdress in Greek, brought out for special occasion, the Diadem signifies rulership. We see it in context of ruling over the body and revering it as a vehicle for health and wellbeing