CLA 051: Ancient Medicine

What is a plague? When does it end? What is a disease? What qualifies as a symptom? What constitutes medically relevant information? Pains? Aches? What I ate for breakfast? My mental state? My moral character? The direction my city faces? Attempts to heal and understand the bodily bring basic physical principles into contact with ideas of gender, civic ideologies, religious customs and economic concerns. This course will explore these issues, and, as it tracks the historical development of medicine in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. Students will read primary sources to examine how Hippocratic physicians constructed medicine as a discipline within a marketplace of competing healing practices in the fifth century BCE. They will analyze how ancient physicians thought about women and conceptualized the female body during the same period. They will see how medical knowledge was constructed within the civic spheres of Alexandria and Rome in the third century BCE to the second century CE, and how theories developed in this period depended upon the development of certain tools and technologies. The course will end by examining the texts of Galen, the most influential medical thinker from antiquity, and tracing how his ideas were adopted and adapted by later Islamic physicians. (Same course as STS 051.)