The Comparable Body - Analogy and Metaphor in Ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greco-Roman Medicine


The Comparable Body - Analogy and Metaphor in Ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greco-Roman Medicine explores how analogy and metaphor illuminate and shape conceptions about the human body and disease, through 11 case studies from ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greco-Roman medicine. Topics address the role of analogy and metaphor as features of medical culture and theory, while questioning their naturalness and inevitability, their limits, their situation between the descriptive and the prescriptive, and complexities in their portrayal as a mutually intelligible medium for communication and consensus among users.

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John Z. Wee, Ph.D. (2012), Yale University, is Assistant Professor of Assyriology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of books and articles on medicine and astronomy in Mesopotamian and Greco-Roman antiquity, including Knowledge and Rhetoric in Medical Commentary (Brill, 2018).

Contributors are: M. Erica Couto-Ferreira, Lesley Dean-Jones, Janet Downie, Brooke Holmes, J. Cale Johnson, Paul T. Keyser, Rune Nyord, Strahil Valentinov Panayotov, Courtney Ann Roby, Ulrike Steinert, John Z. Wee
"This book provides wide-ranging, thought-provoking material from across a spectrum of ancient sources. It includes extensive chapter bibliographies and an index locorum of referenced ancient texts. Aimed primarily at the specialist reader, the book clearly demonstrates the contribution that metaphorical theory can make to this field and provides a valuable addition to the literature." Rosalie David, Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society, Vol. 110 No. 3, Sept 2019.
"The Comparable Body is an important book, which maps a burgeoning area of research, offers insightful theoretical comments and fulfills the goal of letting in-depth case-studies bring into focus related issues which would have gone unnoticed otherwise. (...) Moreover, many contributions analyze how ancient interpreters – the authors of compendia and commentaries – dealt with the issue of interpreting (what we consider as) metaphors: this opens up an interesting perspective on how the ancient literate milieus have dealt with the very same phenomena analyzed in this book. Lastly, the question of the universality as opposed to the culturally situated nature of bodily metaphors not only receives sustained theoretical attention (see mainly Chapters 1, 3 and 9), but is also substantiated by the wealth of examples showing both the cross-cultural recurrence and the local variations of some metaphorical patterns, such as those recruiting botanical phenomena (Chapters 7, 8, 10, 11), landscape features (Chapters 3, 5, 9) or social interactions (Chapters 3, 7, 11)."
Alessandro Buccheri in CJ-online 2021.04.05
Acknowledgements List of Figures and Tables Abbreviations Transliteration Notes Periodization of Ancient Mesopotamia Contributors Introduction: To What May I Liken Metaphor?John Z. Wee 1 Analogy and Metaphor in Ancient Medicine and the Ancient Egyptian Conceptualisation of Heat in the BodyRune Nyord 2 From Head to Toe: Listing the Body in Cuneiform TextsM. Erica Couto-Ferreira 3 The Stuff of Causation: Etiological Metaphor and Pathogenic Channeling in Babylonian MedicineJ. Cale Johnson 4 Aristotle’s Heart and the Heartless ManLesley Dean-Jones 5 Earthquake and Epilepsy: The Body Geologic in the Hippocratic Treatise on the Sacred DiseaseJohn Z. Wee 6 The Lineage of “Bloodlines”: Synecdoche, Metonymy, Medicine and MorePaul T. Keyser 7 Eye Metaphors, Analogies and Similes within Mesopotamian Magico-Medical Texts Strahil V. Panayotov 8 The Experience and Description of Pain in Aelius Aristides’ Hieroi LogoiJanet Downie 9 Concepts of the Female Body in Mesopotamian Gynecological TextsUlrike Steinert 10 Pure Life: The Limits of the Vegetal Analogy in the Hippocratics and Galen Brooke Holmes 11 Animal, Vegetable, Metaphor: Plotinus’s Liver and the Roots of Biological IdentityCourtney Ann Roby Index Locorum
All interested in ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greco-Roman medicine, as well as broader questions of scientific language and metaphor theory.
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