Vicious circles

Dalrymple’s May 25th BMJ column is a testament to the impressive literary output of Dr Jamieson Boyd Hurry (1857-1930):
In 1926 Dr Hurry published a study of Imhotep, the ancient Egyptian architect and doctor, who was also the chief minister of the pharaoh, Zoser. Imhotep was later deified, and in the Hellenic period his cult was amalgamated with that of Aesculapius. Dr Hurry, who knew hieroglyphics and was acquainted with the most famous British Egyptologist of his day, Sir Wallis Budge, was such an admirer of Imhotep that he dedicated his book to his memory.
From the purely medical point of view, it is not easy to see upon what Dr Hurry based his admiration for Imhotep. He was known to have been the architect of the first pyramid, and Dr Hurry writes that Imhotep was “a fine type of scholar-physician,” who “rendered service both to the bodies and spirits of the sick and afflicted to whom it was his privilege to minister.” On the other hand he admits, “Unhappily, nothing is known of his work as a physician.” I am reminded of what a Peruvian peasant said when asked why he had voted for Alberto Fujimori: “Because I know nothing about him.”

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