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The Chinese, the Egyptians, and Indian Ayurvedic Medicine
The Greeks
The East and the West
The Physiomedicalists and the Eclectics
The Lore
Astrological Botany

The Greeks
By the time Hippocrates came on the scene (486-377 B.C.), European herbal tradition had absorbed ideas from Egypt, India, and China. Hippocrates categorized food and herbs as hot, cold, dry, and damp. To maintain good health, one needed to keep these in balance, and get some exercise and fresh air.

Dioscorides, another Greek, wrote his De Materia Medica about 60 A.D., and it remained a standard text for 1,500 years. It is not known for sure whether he was physician to Antony and Cleopatra or surgeon during the reign of Nero, but many of the actions he describes such as parsley as a diuretic, fennel to promote the flow of mother's milk, and white horehound with honey as an expectorant, are familiar today.

The Romans and the Four Humors
Greek medicinal practices reached Rome in about 100 B.C. As time went by, the body was looked upon as a machine to repair, rather than following Hippocrates dictum of allowing it to cure itself. Medicine became a lucrative business. Galen (131-199 A.D.) opposed these practices and reworked Hippocrates' ideas, formulating the theory of humors. This theory stated that the body was made up of four "humors"-blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, and these influenced a person's temperament. The person with more blood was said to be sanguine. The person with more phlegm was phlegmatic. If black bile predominated, one was melancholic. If yellow bile predominated, one was choleric, bilious. This idea of humors is found throughout Shakespeare's plays. Galen's books soon became standard medical texts, not only for the Romans, but also later for the Arabic world and for medieval physicians. His theories still survive in Unani medicine, practiced in the Muslim world and India today.

Garden Design in the Ancient World
Until the secret of the wind system over the Indian Ocean was unlocked in 40 A.D. by Hippalus, a Greek merchant, western spice-consuming countries were forced to cross Arab lands to reach the eastern, spice-producing countries. It may have been at that time that Westerners became acquainted with Persian gardens like those of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which were laid out symmetrically. Records show that the Babylonians had thyme, coriander, saffron, poppy, mandrake, rosemary, and hemp as well as ornamentals. The Greek historian, Xenophon, described the paradise gardens of Darius the Great (d. 486 B.C.) and Cyrus (d. 401 B.C.) of straight rows and angles with geometric water courses and pools. When Alexander the Great conquered Persia, the well-ordered pleasure garden design spread to all the Greek world. From the Greeks it made its way to the Romans, and from there, it found its way to the medieval castle and cloister. This garden design is still seen throughout Europe today.

Building on the symmetry and water features of the Persian garden, the Romans expressed their genius for garden design in the villa. The villa was geometrically precise with colonnades, statuary, topiary, and fountains. There were raised beds in which they grew flowers and herbs. As the empire expanded, it carried the idea of the villa across Europe. Archaeologists have uncovered "classic" Roman villas in Herculaneum, Pompeii, England, and Portugal. And where they brought their villas, they brought their herbs, flowers, vegetables, trees, and their knowledge of herbal medicine.