Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we shall die

~ Imhotep (Physician in Heliopolis, ancient Egypt some 4650-4600 years back)

#3. The story of Imuthes, world’s first cult physician

Over time many physicians have become cult figures. From Edward Jenner to Bidhan Chandra Roy the list goes on. Legendary physicians and healers who are remembered for their contribution to he goodness of the society.

But the world’s first cult physician perhaps was Imuthes. He lived in Egypt’s Old Kingdom and his fame spread far and wide. His coffin was found in 1913. And the papyrus that is today used as a source of reference for him was probably found by his coffin,

Lovingly rechristened Imhotep (He who comes in peace) by the society at large. So legendary was his fame that he attained the status of a demigod in his lifetime, generally unheard of a living citizen in those times in Egypt for a commoner (a man not of Royal descent). And over time in the late New Kingdom, Imhotep became a full deity. Regarded as a son of Ptah, the Creator God and fashioner of the Universe and his partner Sekhmet, the lion-headed Goddess of warfare and healing.

Historian’s attribute Imhotep’s fame to his “hands on healing”. And his brilliant advice. (Read the quote above again). He was a master at producing soothing potions to treat painful conditions as gout and arthritis.

But then there are other records. As there is always. That he was a great manipulator. He who led a team of healers and craftily took the credit of their successes and disowned their failures.

And Imhotep’s book “Book of the Dead” is believed to be a book that was written to help Imhotep transcend from mortal life to divinity.

For men have come and men have gone but the art to fame has remained the same.

Reference: A Short History of Medicine by Steve Parker; National Geography

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