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Pain and Power the Exploitation of Ill-Health in Antiquity

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dc.contributor.author Parkin, Anneliese Ruth
dc.date.accessioned 2009-04-14T22:05:36Z
dc.date.accessioned 2022-10-17T21:13:18Z
dc.date.available 2009-04-14T22:05:36Z
dc.date.available 2022-10-17T21:13:18Z
dc.date.copyright 1997
dc.date.issued 1997
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.wgtn.ac.nz/handle/123456789/22071
dc.description.abstract This thesis investigates the ways in which the inadequacies of developing rational medicine in antiquity were exploited by individuals and institutions offering alternative systems of healing based in religion or magic. It posits that the acquisition of power in terms of prestige or financial gain was the motive for these attempts at exploitation. The chronological scope of the study embraces over a millennium of Graeco-Roman culture, from the Archaic era of Greece through to the triumph of Christianity and the decline of the Roman Empire. The thesis takes ill-health and the inadequacy of rational medicine as constant factors throughout this period, and attempts to show that a wide variety of phenomena were in fact responses to the same set of problems. Chapter One outlines the social and economic implications of ill-health in antiquity, and argues from them the desirability of treatment. An assessment is made of ongoing difficulties with rational medicine: its expense, its limited availability, its circumscribed capabilities, and its image problems. Religious and magical treatments, it is shown, were sometimes considered more appropriate given ancient conceptions of specific diseases and conditions. Chapter Two opens the discussion of the ways in which a willingness to approach alternative healing sources was taken advantage of. This chapter deals with institutional exploitation: that is, with antique healing cults. The cult of Asklepios is treated as paradigmatic, and its popularity, prestige and wealth is demonstrated to be intrinsically linked to its social function. Chapter Three continues this investigation, but examines the operations of a variety of individuals working independently. Philosophers, magicians, witches, and holy men from a broad range of periods are all shown to be engaging in essentially the same act: they exchange the hope of healing for social power. Chapter Four examines the scattered accounts of Greek and Roman rulers engaging in acts of supernatural healing, and determines that these accounts fit in to the pattern of behaviour posited in the thesis, but that they do not constitute a trend in either culture. On the contrary: the evidence suggests that rulers were not regarded as divine in any practical supernatural sense. The final chapter discusses the traditions of supernatural healing in Judaic and Christian traditions, and their impact on the Graeco-Roman world. It is shown that healing became an important tool in the proselytising of the Church, as well as a weapon in sectarian warfare, and even in individual power struggles as Christianity came to dominate the Empire. en_NZ
dc.format pdf en_NZ
dc.language en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.title Pain and Power the Exploitation of Ill-Health in Antiquity en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Research Masters Thesis en_NZ
thesis.degree.discipline Classical Studies en_NZ
thesis.degree.grantor Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
thesis.degree.level Masters en_NZ

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