Articles

Doctors as Diplomats in the Sixth Century A.D.

Doctors as Diplomats in the Sixth Century A.D.

Doctors as Diplomats in the Sixth Century A.D.

Blockley, R. C.

Florilegium, Volume 2 (1980) 89-100

Abstract

Medicine in the Roman world was a Greek science, and the majority of its practitioners were, and continued to be, men of Greek background and culture, if not of Greek origin. The Greeks themselves held various opinions of doctors and medicine, perhaps adverse more often than not. The Homeric line, “A doctor is a man worth many others” (12. 11.514), is more than balanced by Plato’s scepticism about the social value of much medicine {Rep. Ill.405A-10B) and the continuing chorus of complaints over quackery and exorbitant fees. The Romans, suspicious as often of foreign skills and those who professed them, generally treated Greek physicians with reserve, while making use of them. The majority of doctors amongst the Romans were of comparatively low status, slaves or freedmen attached to the great houses, though some of the famous doctors of the late Repub­lic and early Empire were freeborn.

 


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