A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

Ἀέτιος, (Aetius), a Greek medical writer, whose name is commonly but incorrectly spelt Aetius. Historians are not agreed about his exact date. He is placed by some writers as early as the fourth century after Christ; but it is plain from his own work that he did not write till the very end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth, as he refers (tetrab. iii. serm. 1.24. p. 464) not only to St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, who died A. D. 444, but also (tetrab. ii. serm. 3.110, p. 357) to Petrus Archiater, who was physician to Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, and therefore must have lived still later; he is himself quoted by Alexander Trallianus (12.8, p. 346), who lived probably in the middle of the sixth century. He was a native of Amida, a city of Mesopotamia (Photius, cod. 221) and studied at Alexandria, which was the most famous medical school of the age. He was probably a Christian, which may account perhaps for his being confounded with another person of the same name, a famous Arian of Antioch, who lived in the time of the Emperor Julian. In some manuscripts he has the title of κώμης ὀψικίου, comes obsequii, which means the chief officer in attendance on the emperor (see Du Cange, Gloss. Med. et Inf. Latin.); this title, according to Photius (l.c.), he attained at Constantinople, where he was practising medicine. Aetius seems to be the first Greek medical writer among the Christians who gives any specimen of the spells and charms so much in vogue with the Egyptians, such as that of St. Blaise (tetrab. ii. serm. 4.50, p. 404) in removing a bone which sticks in the throat, and another in relation to a Fistula. (tetrab. iv. serm. 3.14, p. 762.)