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Identifying Medical Practitioners

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Chapter Summary

Iatrikon does indicate that medicine could be a subsidiary part of the performance and identity of Hellenism, its disappearance after little more than a century suggests that this function became irrelevant to those dwelling in Egypt. Certainly Egyptian defensive magic and its medical applications became authoritative elements in those strands of Greco-Roman thought associated with Hermeticism and nonnaturalistic medicine. Medicine, among both practitioners and laymen, was potentially a means by which Hellenism could be displayed and preferred. The invention of the iatrikon and the absence of any demonstrable impact of Egyptian ideas upon the intellectual elite of Alexandrian medicine, is evidence that this was partially the case. This encouraged a fluidity in the creation of social identity and an adaptive, interactive cultural synthesis: the hybrid and alternative forms that medicine took in Greco-Roman Egypt reflect this process as well, and suggest that it was, over time, the dominant trend.

Keywords:Alexandrian medicine; Greco-Roman Egypt; Hellenism; Hermeticism; iatrikon; medical practitioners



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