Saturday, March 5, 2011

Appetitive: Ancient Medicine

I was never particularly interested in ancient medicine. I thought it was gory and it was not really my style. However, my childhood best friend ended up deciding to get a history of science degree and she has sparked my interesting in the science of the ancient world. Interestingly enough, one of Herodotus II's major fields of interest is also the Hippocratic Corpus and she has a vast knowledge of ancient medicine.

I realized, usually because my professors or scholarship I read indicated such, that other authors beside the ancient doctors and scientists employed medical terminology. Plato certainly writes his Socrates as spouting medical metaphors and Herodotus and Thucydides both employ some of this terminology [1]. However, I had no idea the amount of medical terminology that Euripides uses in the Μήδεια until I began reading the Μήδεια with Herodotus II. As emotions, and especially the emotions of women, are tied to anatomical parts for the ancient authors, those describing Medea constantly employ this terminology. It's quite fascinating and it is a real pleasure reading the text with someone who is knowledgeable on the subject.

Speaking of ancient medicine, a recent AWOL post on the digitizing and internet access to ancient medial texts. The papyri are beautiful.

  1. Herotodus II's thesis discussed in part medical rhetoric in Plato and Thucydides.

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