Marcellinus' de pulsibus: A neglected treatise on the ancient "art of the pulse

Orly Lewis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper is to bring to light the neglected treatise On the Pulse of the otherwise unknown physician Marcellinus (second century C.E.?) and the unique and revealing evidence it contains. The paper demonstrates the importance of this treatise for our understanding not only of the theory and practice of the ancient "art of the pulse", but also of the interaction between physicians and patients in antiquity and of ancient medical deontology. It focuses on two parts of the work; first, Marcellinus' introduction on the interdependency of practical and theoretical training in this art, which testifies, for example, to the interest of lay people in this diagnostic method, to the attention given by ancient physicians to the need to put the patients at ease before examining their pulse and to the physicians' sensitivity to their patients' fears and expectations in face of disease and the medical examination; second, Marcellinus' lucid and rare explanation of the actual method of examining patients' pulse, from which we learn about both the ideal manner of palpation, as well as the common errors performed by physicians in this respect.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)195-214
Number of pages20
JournalScripta Classica Israelica
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Marcellinus' de pulsibus: A neglected treatise on the ancient "art of the pulse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this