Pain and Pleasure in Classical Times


Pain and Pleasure in Classical Times attempts to blaze a trail for the cross-disciplinary humanistic study of pain and pleasure, with literature scholars, historians and philosophers all setting out to understand how the Greeks and Romans experienced, managed and reasoned about the sensations and experiences they felt as painful or pleasurable. The book is intended to provoke discussion of a wide range of problems in the cultural history of antiquity. It addresses both the physicality of erôs and illness, and physiological and philosophical doctrines, especially hedonism and anti-hedonism in their various forms. Fine points of terminology (Greek is predictably rich in this area) receive careful attention. Authors in question run from Homer to (among others) the Hippocratics, Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Seneca, Plutarch, Galen and the Aristotle-commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias.

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W. V. Harris is the Shepherd Professor of History at Columbia University. His most recent books have been Roman Power: a Thousand Years of Empire (Cambridge U.P., 2016) and the edited volume Popular Medicine in Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Explorations (Brill, 2016). Contributors are: Elizabeth Asmis, Véronique Boudon-Millot, Wei Cheng, James Davidson, Vanessa de Harven, Marcus Folch, W. V. Harris, David Konstan, Wolfgang Mann, Sam McVane, Katja Maria Vogt, Caroline Wazer.
“Harris discounts ancient medical success rates, and asks interesting questions about whether patients in the ancient world were as sensitive to or intolerant of pain as contemporaries now are given our cornucopia of pain-killers and -alleviators. (...) This volume will offer most enlightenment and pleasure to students of ancient Greek and Roman philosophies.” Donald Lateiner, CJ-Online, 2020.01.03
Pain and Pleasure in Graeco-Roman Antiquity is addressed to practically anyone who is interested in classical antiquity, including art-historians. It has particular resonance for cultural historians, and historians of philosophy and medicine.
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