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Withdrawn Module: Ancient Medicine (HI975)

Please note that this module was available
until 2011, but has since been
withdrawn and is no longer available.

Context of Module
Module Aims
Intended Learning Outcomes
Outline Syllabus
Illustrative Bibliography
Context of Module

This module, taught in the Spring term, may be taken by students on the MA in History, the MA in Modern History, the MA in the History of Medicine, or any taught Master's student outside the History Department.


Module Aims
  • To expose students to the widest possible rangeof historiographical responses to issues ofmedicine and society in Graeco-Roman culture(ca. 1000 BC–AD 700).
  • To cover a range of case studies from classicalGreek, Hellenistic Greek, imperial Roman, andlate Antique culture.
  • To explore issues of health and medicine indifferent contexts.
  • To analyse the development of medical theory and practice.
Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Confidently discuss a range of case studies from a comparative perspective, paying due attention to changes over time and regionality

  • Explore digital resources and databases to uncover primary sources in translation

  • Further develop written, verbal communication skills

  • Further developing critical analytical skills, particularly through explorations of the methods of historical criticism and the application of critical theory to a set of disparate sources
  • Further develop research skills


Outline Syllabus
  1. Introduction: what is ancient medicine? Problems and prospects.
  2. From mŷthos to lógos: the emergence of the Hippocratic tradition
  3. Hippocrates and the Hippocratic corpus: between myth and history
  4. Anatomy at Alexandria: is there an ethical case for human vivisection?
  5. Medical epistemology: the sects for beginners
  6. Reading week
  7. The great Galen: between showmanship and charlatanism
  8. Pharmacology: Dioscorides and his followers
  9. Medicine in Late Antique Alexandria: in the amphitheatres of the iatrosophists
  10. Afterlife: receptions of ancient medicine, East and West 


Illustrative Bibliography

P. A. Baker, Medical care for the Roman army on the Rhine, Danube

and British frontiers in the first, second and early third centuries AD

(Oxford : John and Erica Hedges Ltd., 2004)

A. Cruse, Roman Medicine (2nd ed., Stroud: Tempus, 2006)

L. A. Dean-Jones, Women’s Bodies in Classical Greek Science (Oxford:

Clarendon Press, 1994)

E. J. and L. Edelstein, Asclepius. Collection and Interpretation of the

Testimonies, 2 vols. (repr.: Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press,

1998); vol. 2, ch. 3 ‘Temple medicine’ available here.

L. Edelstein, Ancient Medicine. Selected Papers of Ludwig Edelstein

(Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967)

Ph. J. van der Eijk, Medicine and Philosophy in Classical Antiquity:

Doctors and Philosophers on Nature, Soul, Health and Disease

(Cambridge: CUP, 2005)

R. Flemming, Medicine and the Making of Roman Women (Oxford:

OUP, 2000)

M. Frede, R. Walzer, Galen. Three Treatises on the Nature of Science

(Indianapolis: Hackett, 1985)

M. D. Grmek, Diseases in the Ancient Greek World (Baltimore: Johns

Hopkins University Press, 1989)

id. (ed.), Western Medical Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

(Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1998)

R. J. Hankinson, The Cambridge Companion to Galen (Cambridge: CUP.


R. Jackson, Doctors and Diseases in the Roman Empire ([London]:

British Museum Publications, 1988) and numerous reprints

J. Jouanna, Hippocrates (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,


H. King, Greek and Roman Medicine (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press,

2001) and reprints

ead., Hippocrates’ Woman: Reading the Female Body in Ancient Greece

(London: Routledge, 1998)

G. E. R. Lloyd, Hippocratic Writings (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978)

J. Longrigg, Greek Rational Medicine: Philosophy and Medicine from

Alcmaeon to the Alexandrians (London: Routledge, 1993)

id., Greek Medicine: from the Heroic to the Hellenistic Age: a Source

Book (London : Duckworth, 1998)

V. Nutton,, Ancient Medicine (London: Routledge, 2004)

P. E. Pormann, Rufus of Ephesus: On Melancholy (Tübingen 2008)

id. and E. Savage-Smith, Medieval Islamic Medicine (Edinburgh:

Edinburgh University Press, 2007)

M J Schiefsky, Hippocrates On Ancient Medicine, Studies in Ancient

Medicine 28 (Leiden: Brill, 2005)

P. N. Singer, Galen. Selected Works (Oxford: OUP, 1997)

O. Temkin, Hippocrates in a World of Pagans and Christians (Baltimore:

Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991)


1 assessed essay of 5,000 words; the course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars.