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Magic And Medicine In The Roman Imperial Period: Two Case Studies

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Chapter Summary

Until fairly recently scholars were accustomed to think, from their post-Enlightenment perspective, that superstition and science, magic and medicine are historically transcendent and absolute categories. Although few would take such a stand nowadays, this assumption still, in the authors view, lurks behind some scholarly treatments of professional magicians, who are sometimes imagined as uneducated. This study treats two case studies, drawing heavily on a series of recently published magical texts. The first involves the diagnosis and treatment of the wandering womb and the second a complicated Greek amulet from the northern coast of the Black Sea that aims at healing various diseases of the head. In both cases, although the magicians include in their texts outlandish symbols and magical names or invoke non-Greek gods, it is clear that they share a number of important ideas, images and formats with the medical writers of the same period.

Keywords: Black Sea; diagnosis; Greek amulet; Magic; Medicine; wandering womb



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