Friday, 3 April 2015

Heidi Marx-Wolf: The Social Location of Late Ancient Doctors

By making use of recent work by art historians and archaeologists, this presentation explores the possibility that a statue to the doctor Alexandros at Ephesus may be commemorating him as the court physician to the Emperor Theodosius.  It will further discuss the relationship between court physicians and emperors by considering parallels between other important doctors, such as Galen and Oribasius, from earlier epochs.  It will suggest that elite doctors in late antiquity had the opportunity to play important roles in imperial politics and religious policy beyond their expertise as medical professionals.  For instance, Galen often claims to be able to deal with psychological and philosophical crises of different sorts.  This presentation will therefore consider the possibility that the significant overlap between medicine and philosophy in the ancient world, and the increasing participation of philosophers from the second century CE on in discussions of theology, ritual, and salvation allowed for some elite doctors to also expand the scope of their expertise and involvement in political and religious affairs.

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