Medicine and Health in the Graeco-Roman World

Philip van der Eijk

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199546497
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Medicine and Health in the Graeco-Roman World

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)



This article focuses on a number of developments that have made the place of Graeco-Roman medicine in surveys of the history of medicine. A further development discussed is that medical history now also prominently includes the topic of health, both physical and mental health and related topics such as lifestyle, quality of life, well-being, fitness, and ‘flourishing’. It identifies a number of different mental states or conditions on a scale from an optimum to a pessimum, and thus presents a good example of the scalar, gradualist view of health characteristic of Greek medicine. This article shows philosophy competing with medicine for the role of authoritative guide to health, mental as well as physical, and diagnostic as well as therapeutic. The study of Graeco-Roman medicine has profited significantly from connections and comparisons with the study of the history of medicine, science, and culture from other time frames and other parts of the world.

Keywords: Graeco-Roman; medicine; health; gradualist view; therapeutic

Article.  9682 words. 

Subjects: History ; Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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