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A cabinet of ancient medical curiosities : strange tales and surprising facts from the healing arts of Greece and Rome
McKeown, J. C.

Personal Author:
Physical Description:
pages cm
Bibliography Note:
Includes bibliographical references.
Pub Date:
Oxford University Press, [2017]


Home Location
Material Type
Shelf Number
Central - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 610.938 M157
Moody - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 610.938 M157
Freed-Montrose -- Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 610.938 M157
Jungman - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 610.938 M157

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There are few disciplines as exciting and forward-looking as medicine. Unfortunately, however, many modern practitioners have lost sight of the origins of their discipline. A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities aspires to cure this lapse by taking readers back to the early days of Westernmedicine in ancient Greece and Rome. Quoting the actual words of ancient authors, often from texts which have never before been translated into English, J. C. McKeown offers a fascinating glimpse at the origins of surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, pharmacology, diet and nutrition, and many otherfields of medicine. This book features hundreds of passages from Greek and Roman authors, with gentle guidance from McKeown, giving a vividly direct picture of the ancient medical world, a world in which, for example, a surgeon had to be strong-minded enough to ignore the screams of his patient, diseases were assumedto be sent by the gods, medicine and magic were often indistinguishable, and no qualifications were required before setting oneself up as a doctor. On the other hand, McKeown reveals that some ancient medical attitudes were also surprisingly similar to our own. Beyond the practice of medicine,McKeown highlights ancient views on familiar topics, such as medical ethics and the role of the doctor in society. A fascinating exploration of the bizarre - and sometimes grotesque - medical beliefs of the past, A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities will delight anyone with an interest in thehistory of medicine or the ancient world.

Author Notes

J.C. McKeown is Professor of Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, coeditor of the Oxford Anthology of Roman Literature, and author of Classical Latin: An Introductory Course, A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities, and A Cabinet of Greek Curiosities.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

McKeown, professor of classics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and compiler of A Cabinet of Roman Curiosities and A Cabinet of Greek Curiosities, goes for a weird-but-true trifecta with this compilation of medical oddities from ancient Western civilizations, delivering a frightening, puzzling, thoughtful, and surprisingly engrossing survey. As well organized as it is erudite, the compendium tilts toward classics enthusiasts, but there's still plenty of material to amaze an audience outside the ivory tower. McKeown writes that his "chief aspiration is to provide glimpses into the world of medicine in the distant past that offer entertainment rather than enlightenment." That isn't quite true, of course. There is plenty of medical knowledge from antiquity recorded here that remains relevant in modernity. But those nuggets are far outnumbered by data that boggles the mind, or at least phenomena that seems ridiculous in the world of 21st-century medicine: a prescription for donkey's milk; the birth defect of a "hairy heart"; a disturbing catalogue of diseases outlined by Plutarch; and an astounding array of animal-based medicine touted in Dioscorides's Medical Material, including goat dung plasters and boiled viper meat. McKeown's well-organized and erudite survey is fascinating and enlightening, though best consumed in small doses. Illus. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Chapter I Medicine, Religion, and Magicp. 1
Chapter II The Doctor in Societyp. 19
Chapter III Attitudes to Doctorsp. 37
Chapter IV Some Famous Doctorsp. 57
Chapter V Anatomyp. 71
Chapter VI Sex Mattersp. 83
Chapter VII Women and Childrenp. 93
Chapter VIII Preventive Medicinep. 113
Chapter IX Prognosis and Diagnosisp. 133
Chapter X Particular Ailments and Conditionsp. 143
Chapter XI Treatment and Cures Ip. 175
Chapter XII Treatment and Cures IIp. 197
Chapter XIII General Medicinep. 229
Chapter XIV Respice Finemp. 249
Glossaryp. 253
Coin Imagesp. 265
Illustration Creditsp. 267

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