Academic, when preparing to refute the dogmas of the Stoics, went through a course of purgatives by hellebore. Melampus, son of Amythaon, is said to have cured the daughters of Proetus, King of Argos, of melancholy, by purging them with hellebore. According to tradition Melampus had observed that the goats who fed on this plant were purged, and having administered it to the king's daughters, who were wandering in the woods under the delusion that they were cows, he cured them and received the hand of one of them in marriage and a part of the kingdom of Argos as his reward. So celebrated was this medicinal agent as a mental remedy that the poets of antiquity sang its praises. Horace, in allusion to the 'happy madman,' says:
He, when his friends at much expense and pains,
Had amply purged with hellebore his brains.
Came to himself—"Ah, cruel friends!" he cried,
"Is this to save me? Better far had died
Than thus be robbed of pleasure so refined,
The dear delusion of a raptured mind."
Persius thus addresses Nero in his fourth satire, telling him to relinquish the arduous duties of government:
"Thou hast not strength, such labors to sustain.
Drink hellebore, my boy—drink deep and purge thy brain."
Hippocrates had his patients collect this medicine themselves at Anticyra, in Thessaly, and thus made its use an incident of a very hygienic course of treatment. In cases of suicidal melancholia he employed mandragora, first spoken of by him in the treatment of this disease.
The attitude of the state toward the care of the insane at the period soon after the death of Hippocrates is thus expressed by Plato (375 B. C.) in 'Laws of the Republic': "If any one is insane, let him not be seen, openly in the city, but let the relatives of such a person watch over him at home in the best manner they know and if they are negligent let them pay a fine."
The teachings of Hippocrates and his followers were probably the guide for those who had to do with the insane during the next two centuries, and nothing further appears in medical literature until the careful study of insanity made by Asclepiades of Bythinia (100 B. C). He distinguished between illusions and hallucinations, noted the changing mental states of individual cases and made some innovations in the treatment. He recommended his patients to be placed in the light rather than confined in dark rooms or cells, disapproved of venesection, and of the fomentations of poppy, mandragora or hyoscyamus. He prescribed abstinence from food, drink and sleep in the early part of the day; the drinking of water in the evening; that gentle friction