The Horrors of Ancient Roman Surgery

Any surgical operation these days can be bearable because of the availability of modern anesthetics which numb us from the pain of the procedure. Depending on the dosage, we can just sleep through the whole thing, hopefully without waking up in the middle of it. Surgery today is leagues better than in ancient Rome, and it's not just because there were no anesthetics back then.

Perhaps the most horrifying thing in getting surgery in ancient Rome was the surgeons themselves. Generally, to become a surgeon in ancient Rome, one undergoes an apprenticeship, gaining practical training and experience as they observe the masters at their work. However, since there were no regulatory bodies that certify whether a person was good enough to be a surgeon, practically anybody can claim to be one, despite having absolutely no knowledge of anatomy or physiology.

This led to procedures which often resulted in fatalities. Just from the photo above we can see how these procedures had gone. It supposedly depicts the birth of Julius Caesar who Suetonius has said to have been born through a C-section. Perhaps, that's why it's called a Caesarean. This and other disturbing facts about ancient Roman surgery at Strange Ago.

(Image credit: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)

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