Asclepiades of Bithynia

124 or 129 to 140 BC

Asclepiades was a Greek physician who was born at Prusa of Bithynia in Asia Minor. He worked as a physician in Rome at the end of the 2nd century BC. He did not fully embrace the theory of humors forwarded by Hippocrates, and many others of that period. Rather, he developed and subscribed to a corpuscular theory that portrayed disease as resulting from an irregular or inharmonious motion of the corpuscles of the body.

For therapies, Asclepiades recommended that the harmonies of the corpuscles be restored. He did this through natural cures, rather than medicines, including fresh air, diet, massage, bathing and exercise. He also used emetics and bleeding. He tried to do away with medicines.

Humane treatment of those with mental disorders was a hallmark of Asclepiades’s philosophy. He freed those imprisoned because of insanity and treated them with natural therapies, such as diet and massages.

Others credit Asclepiades of Bithynia with being the first individual to perform an elective (non-emergency) tracheotomy.

Asclepiades studied at the University of Alexandria, a center of the Hippocrates tradition that introduced Greek medical theory to Rome.


Vallance, J.T. (1990). The lost theory of Asclepiades of Bithynia. Oxford University Press.