Health, Hygiene, and Healing

Peregrine Horden

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

 Health, Hygiene, and Healing

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Many surviving texts of Byzantine medicine are practical, sophisticated, and responsive to changing needs. They are even innovative and became associated with new loci of healing, such as the hospital. Textual evidence, especially hagiography, offers insights into diseases and remedies used in the Byzantine Empire. There seems to be a preponderance of unspecific fevers and paralyses, gastrointestinal and eye problems during the period, implying that Byzantium was like most other premodern cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East in the variety of diseases that afflicted its inhabitants. Nothing is definite about other determinants of health such as diet, except that emperors, monks, and peasants alike presumably suffered from malnutrition. Hygiene was one example of disease prevention practiced by Byzantines.

Keywords: health; hygiene; healing; medicine; Byzantium; Byzantine Empire; diseases; malnutrition; fevers; paralyses

Article.  2344 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Middle Eastern Languages

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