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Doctors' Literacy And Papyri Of Medical Content

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Chapter Summary

The Hippocratic Corpus testifies to the existence of literate doctors, as well as to literate laymen interested in medicine, by the close of the fifth century BC. This chapter surveys texts on papyrus and other materials that bear witness to medical literacy: first, private letters that discuss medical matters; second, didactic texts that played a role in doctors' education, such as the catechisms (erotapokriseis) and medical definitions; and third, collections of recipes, some of which receptaria were once rolls of many columns, while others are but a single sheet with one or two recipes. The some four hundred recipes written down in Roman and Byzantine Egypt emphasize the degree to which the same or similar therapeutic medicaments are shared with medical authors of the manuscript traditions from Dioscorides and Galen to Oribasius, Aetius, and Paul of Aegina.

Keywords: catechisms (erōtapokriseis); doctors; Galen; Hippocratic Corpus; medical content; medical literacy; medicine; papyrus; recipes; therapeutic medicaments



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