Medicine and Healing in the Premodern West: A History in Documents
(From the Broadview Sources Series)
  • Publication Date: September 30, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554813902 / 1554813905
  • 200 pages; 7" x 9"

Ebook will also be available for purchase upon publication.

Exam Copy

Availability: Worldwide

Medicine and Healing in the Premodern West: A History in Documents

(From the Broadview Sources Series)

  • Publication Date: September 30, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554813902 / 1554813905
  • 200 pages; 7" x 9"

Medicine and Healing in the Premodern West traces the history of medicine and medical practice from Ancient Egypt through to the end of the Middle Ages. Featuring nearly one hundred primary documents and images, this book introduces students and scholars to the words and ideas of prominent physicians and humble healers, men and women, from across Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Each of the ten chronological and thematic chapters is given a significant historical introduction, in which each primary source is described in its original context. Many of the included source texts are newly translated by the editor, some of them appearing in English for the first time.

Questions to Consider


1. The Earliest Medical Writings of the Near East and Mediterranean (ca.2000-700 BCE)

  • 1. The Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus
  • 2. Diagnosis in Ancient Egypt: The Ebers Papyrus
  • 3. A Babylonian Spell against Fever
  • 4. Plague as Divine Punishment in Homer’s Iliad
  • 5. Gods as the Source of Disease: Hesiod, Works and Days
  • 6. Violence and Healing in Homeric Greece

2. Medicine and Healing among the Ancient Greeks (ca.500 BCE – 200 CE)

  • Rational Medicine in the Age of Hippocrates
    • 7. Hippocratic Corpus, Nature of Man
    • 8. Plato on the Nature of Disease: Timaeus
    • 9. Thucydides and the Plague of Athens, 430 BCE
    • 10. Hippocratic Corpus, Aphorisms
    • 11. Hippocratic Corpus, Airs, Waters, and Places
    • 12. Case Histories the Hippocratic Epidemics
  • Asclepius, the God of Physicians
    • 13. The Hippocratic Oath
    • 14. Pindar: Apollo leaves Asclepius with Chiron the Centaur
    • 15. Celsus celebrates Asclepius as a Man
    • 16. A Greek anatomical votive plaque
    • 17. Aelius Aristides dreams of Asclepius
    • 18. An Egyptian God in Greek Dress in a Hellenistic Papyrus

3. Professional Medicine in the Roman Mediterranean (ca.1-300 CE)

  • 19. Galen, On the Medical Sects
  • 20. Aretaeus the Cappadocian on the Difficult Case of Tetanus
  • 21. Rufus of Ephesus, Medical Questions: Interrogation of the Patient
  • 22. Celsus: A Healthy Regimen without Doctors
  • 23. Dioscorides and the Science of Pharmacology
  • 24. Galen, the Boastful Practitioner: On the Affected Places
  • 25. Galen, On Black Bile: Praising and Rewriting Hippocrates
  • 26. Herodian on a plague in the Roman Empire

4. Practical Medicine for the Roman Family and Home (ca.100-500 CE)

  • 27. Varro, De re rustica: An early germ theory?
  • 28. Vegetius, De re militari: Preserving the Health of Imperial Troops
  • 29. The Legend of Agnodike, a Greek midwife and physician
  • 30. Soranus of Ephesus: Instructions for Midwives
  • 31. Cato the Elder’s Roman remedies: Cabbage, Wine, and Magic
  • 32. Pliny the Elder’s homespun medicine: Remedies derived from Wool
  • 33. Popular medicine in verse: Liber medicinalis

5. Distilling Classical Medicine in Late Antiquity (ca.300-700 CE)

  • 34. Oribasius: A Galenic Diet in the Later Roman Empire
  • 35. Anthimus to King Theoderic, On the Observance of Diet
  • 36. A Medieval Primer in Ancient Medicine by St. Isidore of Seville
  • 37. Medicine of Pliny for the Informed Traveler
  • 38. The Herbarius of Apuleius Platonicus
  • 39. Marcellus and His Empirical Handbook of Medicines
  • 40. The Drug Theory of Paul of Aegina

6. Medical Diversity in the Early Middle Ages (ca.600-1000 CE)

  • Monotheism and Medicine
    • 41. The Oath of Asaph, a Jewish Physician’s Oath
    • 42. A Christianized Hippocratic Oath
    • 43. Medicine and Diet in the Rule of St. Benedict
    • 44. Roman Doctors as Christian Saints: Cosmas and Damian
    • 45. Islamic Medicine of the Prophet: Sunan Abu Duwud
  • Early Medieval Responses to Plague and Pestilence
    • 46. Evagrius Scholasticus on the Plague of Justinian
    • 47. Gregory of Tours on Epidemic Disease and the Sickness of Kings
    • 48. A Votive Mass against Pestilence
  • Old English Medicine: Superstition or Empiricism?
    • 49. The Nine Herbs Charm, from the Old English Lacnunga
    • 50. Bald’s Leechbook: Herbal remedies for eye problems
    • 51. Medical Prognostics in Anglo-Saxon England

7. The Arabic Tradition of Learned Medicine (ca.900-1400 CE)

  • 52. An Introduction to Rational Medicine: Hunayn ibn Ishaq’s Isagoge
  • 53. Avicenna, The Canon of Medicine
  • 54. Avicenna on Prognosis through Urine
  • 55. Maimonides and Galen on the Meaning of the Pulse
  • 56. Al-Razi, Case Studies in the Spirit of Hippocrates
  • 57. Usamah ibn Munqidh: A Muslim view of Frankish Medicine
  • 58. Al-Razi on Diagnosis and Treatment for Smallpox and Measles
  • 59. Pilgrim Medicine: Qustā ibn Lūqā on “The Little Dragon of Medina”
  • 60. Ancient Greeks in Later Medieval Prophetic Medicine: al-Tibb al-nabawi

8. Learned Medicine in High Medieval Europe (ca.1000-1400 CE)

  • Humours, Complexion, and Uroscopy
    • 61. A Clever Duke and a Cleverer Physician in the Tenth Century
    • 62. Constantine the African, Pantegni: Understanding Complexion
    • 63. Humoural Medicine in Verse: The Salernitan Regimen of Health
    • 64. A Medieval Urine Wheel
    • 65. Constantine the African with a Urine Glass
  • Explaining Diseases
    • 66. Diagnosing Lovesickness: Constantine the African’s Medicalized Emotions
    • 67. Platearius on Leprosy in Theory and Practice
    • 68. Guy de Chauliac’s personal experience with the Black Death
  • Observation and Authority
    • 69. Trota of Salerno as a Medical Master
    • 70. Medical Education in High Medieval Europe (Three Accounts)
    • 71. Licenses for Male and Female Surgeons in Medieval Naples
    • 72. A Woman Physician on Trial in Medieval Paris, 1322

9. Medical Practice in the High Middle Ages (ca.1000-1400 CE)

  • Herbalism and Pharmacology
    • 73. Macer Floridus, On the Virtues of Herbs
    • 74. Henry of Huntingdon, Herbalism in The English Garden
    • 75. Matthaeus Platearius: Rationalizing Simple and Compound Medicines
  • Arabic and Latin Surgery
    • 76. Learned Surgery: Albucasis on the Treatment of Cataracts
    • 77. Applying Medical Theory to Wound Treatment: Guy de Chauliac
    • 78. Training and Decorum for the Learned Surgeon
  • Medieval Obstetrics and Gynecology
    • 79. Copho: Anatomy of the uterus, learned from a pig
    • 80. A Brief Guide to Uroscopy of Women
    • 81. Contraceptives in the Canon of Avicenna
    • 82. St. Hildegard of Bingen: A Moralized Explanation of Menstruation
    • 83. Trotula: Treating Retention of the Period in Medieval Italy
    • 84. A Medieval Hebrew Treatise on Difficult Births

10. Medicine and the Supernatural: Competitors or Partners? (ca.1000-1400 CE)

  • 85. A Doctor and a Saint in Early Salerno
  • 86. The Life of Saint Milburga: Physicians and Saints, Healing Together?
  • 87. Doctors and Miracles in the Canonization of Lady Delphine
  • 88. Medieval Jewish Magical Medicine
  • 89. Medieval Christian Healing Charms
  • 90. John Arderne, Astrological Instructions for the Surgeon
  • 91. Image: Astrological Bloodletting Man

Winston Black is an author and historian of medieval science, medicine, and culture.

  • — The first history of medicine reader to cover both Antiquity and the Middle Ages in a single volume.
  • — Nearly one hundred primary sources, including several images.
  • — Each topic and reading is accompanied by an introduction from the editor, and explanatory annotations are included throughout to clarify unfamiliar concepts.
  • — Significant coverage of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures in the Middle Ages.
  • — Many of the primary sources are newly translated, some of them available in English for the first time.