The dominating theory of disease was the humoral, which has never since ceased to influence medical thought and practice.
This doctrine, of which the developments need not further be followed, was important chiefly in so far that it was perfectly distinct from, and opposed to, the humoral pathology of Hippocrates.
This doctrine, crudely transferred from philosophical speculation, was intended to reconcile the humoral (or Hippocratic) and solidist (or methodic) schools; but the methodists seem to have claimed Athenaeus as one of themselves.
By his eminent labours in cellular pathology, Virchow, and Metchnikoff later, gave the last blow to the mere humoral pathology which, after an almost unchallenged prevalence for some two thousand years, now finds a resting-place only in our nurseries.
Living at the time he did, when the doctrines of the humoral pathologists were carried to an extreme extent, and witnessing the ravages which disease made on the solid structures of the body, it was not surprising that he should oppose a doctrine which appeared to him to lead to a false practice and to fatal results, and adopt one which attributed more to the agency of the solids and very little to that of the fluids of the body.