RUFUS OF EPHESUS AND HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANATOMICAL NOMENCLATURE

  • Mária Bujalková

Abstract

Rufus of Ephesus, a famous ancient physician, lived about the years 80 - 150 CE. His theories stressed the importance of anatomy and he preferred pragmatic approach to diagnosis and treatment. In his work “On the Names of the Parts of the Human Body”, he put in pragmatic effort to make a lexicon of anatomy for his pupils. In the introduction, he described it as a manual for the students of medical art which relied on demonstration in teaching; visible (outer) parts of the body were shown on a demonstrator and invisible (inner) parts were shown on a dissected monkey. The brief explanation of the anatomical terms includes position, shape, and functions of organs, and this is what makes his work a pioneering effort to explain the anatomy clearly, systematically, and using consistent terminology. Rufus stressed the importance of exact nomenclature to prevent misunderstandings in medical practice. This anatomy manual had a major influence on the development of anatomical terminology. It is an important contribution to the history of teaching. The other essential contribution of Rufus’ lexicon (also known for its briefer title Onomastikon) is that the author recognised and critically reviewed the knowledge and views of his predecessors, physicians of the pre-Galenic period. No less important was his teaching to anatomists and physicians who followed, as they often cited or paraphrased Rufus in their own works (Galen, Oribasius). Many fragments of Rufus’ work have been preserved by medieval Arabic medical writers, especially by Rhazes.

Keywords: history of medicine, anatomical nomenclature, antiquity, Rufus of Ephesus belongs

Published
2018-05-07