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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Language, Literature and Humanities - Alexander von Humboldt Professorship

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Language, Literature and Humanities | Department of Classics | Alexander von Humboldt Professorship | News and Events | Archiv | From Words to Acts? The principle of practical applicability in ancient texts | Abstracts | From Words to Acts and Vice Versa: On the Applicability of Hippocratic Therapy and on How the Hippocratics systematized Medical Knowledge

From Words to Acts and Vice Versa: On the Applicability of Hippocratic Therapy and on How the Hippocratics systematized Medical Knowledge

Pilar Pérez Cañizares

My paper will have two different but complementary parts. In the first one I will focus on the transition from words to acts in the domain of medical therapeutics by examining the relationship between text and extra-textual applicability in therapeutic instructions. Concretely I will try to establish to which extent the therapeutic instructions included in some of the Hippocratic texts “speak for themselves”, that is, whether they could be interpreted and followed by readers and whether there is evidence that hints to specialized knowledge shared by writers and targeted readers. To this purpose I will use examples of texts including thorough therapeutic instructions (e.g. Diseases II and Internal Affections among others)

The second part of the paper, entitled “from acts to words”, will deal with how the medical material included in Hippocratic case histories – considering these as literary representations which are closest to medical acts - was used as a source for further medical texts, such as compendia. Particular attention will be paid to how the information that some Hippocratic authors had collected through experience (case histories, personal notes, etc.) was reused afterwards to create a systematized body of medical knowledge. In this part the texts used as evidence will be taken above all from the books of Epidemics and the treatise Aphorisms.