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Training Showmanship. Rhetoric In Greek Medical Education Of The Fifth And Fourth Centuries BC

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Chapter Summary

In the fifth and fourth centuries BC, ancient Greek medical practitioners began to use persuasive rhetoric in their practice of medicine. This chapter explores two areas related to rhetoric and medical instruction in ancient Greece - first, the nature of rhetorical instruction given to - or at least expected of - aspiring physicians and second, the effect of rhetoric on the public authority of the physician, as illuminated by the contrasting image of the physician in the Platonic corpus. The chapter examines the Hippocratic Corpus for basic elements of rhetoric with a view to the question: Did the increasing recognition of these techniques by the public actually harm the doctor's public image by creating 'the rhetoric of anti-rhetoric?' It then focuses on Plato, which will serve as a contrast to the Hippocratic physician, since Plato purposefully avoids criticizing the medical use of rhetoric while strongly criticizing other uses of rhetoric.

Keywords: Greek medical education; Hippocratic Corpus; instruction; medicine; physicians; Platonic corpus; public authority; rhetoric



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