Popular Medicine in Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Explorations


The history of healthcare in the classical world suffers from notable neglect in one crucial area. While scholars have intensively studied both the rationalistic medicine that is conveyed in the canonical texts and also the ‘temple medicine’ of Asclepius and other gods, they have largely neglected to study popular medicine in a systematic fashion. This volume, which for the most part is the fruit of a conference held at Columbia University in 2014, aims to help correct this imbalance. Using the full range of available evidence - archaeological, epigraphical and papyrological, as well as the literary texts - the international cast of contributors hopes to show what real people in Antiquity actually did when they tried to avert illness or cure it.

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W. V. Harris (D.Phil. Oxford) is Shepherd Professor of History at Columbia University. He is the editor of Mental Disorders in the Classical World (Brill, 2013); his new book, Roman Power, will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016.

Contributors are Isabella Andorlini, Rebecca Flemming, Danielle Gourevitch, W. V. Harris, Catherine Hezser, Ido Israelowich, Julie Laskaris, David Leith, Vivian Nutton, Olympia Panagiotidou, Chiara Thumiger, Laurence Totelin and Caroline Wazer.
"The editor as well as Caroline Wazer are to be congratulated on making an important point regarding the evidence, and models, for studying ancient medicine. (...) In sum the volume makes a cogent case for further explorations in the emerging field of popular medicine in the classical world, and for entrusting such studies not only to professional historians of “learned” medicine, but also to experts in other bodies of evidence, and other methods, including especially social historians like W. V. Harris himself."
Kai Brodersen, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.09.25

List of Figures
Notes on the Contributors

1 Popular Medicine in the Classical World
W.V. Harris
2 Pharmakopōlai: A Re-Evaluation of the Sources
Laurence M.V. Totelin
3 Asclepius: A Divine Doctor, A Popular Healer
Olympia Panagiotidou
4 Anatomical Votives: Popular Medicine in Republican Italy?
Rebecca Flemming
5 Between Public Health and Popular Medicine: Senatorial and Popular Responses to Epidemic Disease in the Roman Republic
Caroline Wazer
6 Metals in Medicine: From Telephus to Galen
Julia Laskaris
7 Crossing the Borders Between Egyptian and Greek Medical Practice
Isabella Andorlini
8 Representations of the Physician in Jewish Literature from Hellenistic and Roman Times
Catherine Hezser
9 Fear, Hope and the Definition of Hippocratic Medicine
Chiara Thumiger
10 Medical Care in the Roman Army during the High Empire
Ido Israelowich
11 How Popular Were the Medical Sects?
David Leith
12 Popular Medicines and Practices in Galen
Danielle Gourevitch
13 Folk Medicine in the Galenic Corpus
Vivian Nutton

Teachers and graduate students of Classical cultures, especially those interested in Social History, plus historians of medicine, pharmacology and religion; academic libraries.