Greek Medical Literature and its Readers: From Hippocrates to Islam and Byzantium, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Greek Medical Literature and its Readers

From Hippocrates to Islam and Byzantium, 1st Edition

Edited by Petros Bouras-Vallianatos, Sophia Xenophontos


240 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

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This volume focuses on the relationship between Greek medical texts and their audience(s), offering insights into how not only the backgrounds and skills of medical authors but also the contemporary environment affected issues of readership, methodology and mode of exposition. One of the volume’s overarching aims is to add to our understanding of the role of the reader in the contextualisation of Greek medical literature in the light of interesting case-studies from various – often radically different – periods and cultures, including the Classical (such as the Hippocratic corpus) and Roman Imperial period (for instance Galen), and the Islamic and Byzantine world. Promoting, as it does, more in-depth research into the intricacies of Greek medical writings and their diverse revival and transformation from the fifth century BC down to the fourteenth century AD, this volume will be of interest to classicists, medical historians and anyone concerned with the reception of the Greek medical tradition.


"the editors have brought together some interesting articles … These new collections of articles on a single topic have the advantage of making it easier for other scholars to locate relevant studies."

- Timothy S. Miller, Salisbury University, USA, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018

Table of Contents


Petros Bouras-Vallianatos and Sophia Xenophontos


The Classical World

1. Alcmaeon and His Addressees: Revisiting the Incipit

Stavros Kouloumentas

2. Gone with the Wind: Laughter and the Audience of the Hippocratic Treatises

Laurence Totelin

3. The Professional Audiences of the Hippocratic Epidemics: Patient Cases in Hippocratic Scientific Communication

Chiara Thumiger


The Imperial World

4. Galen’s Exhortation to the Study of Medicine: An Educational Work for

Prospective Medical Students

Sophia Xenophontos

5. An Interpretation of the Preface to Medical Puzzles and Natural Problems 1

by Ps.-Alexander of Aphrodisias in Light of Medical Education

Michiel Meeusen


The Islamic World

6. The User-Friendly Galen: Ḥunayn Ibn Isḥāq and the Adaptation of Greek

Medicine for a New Audience

Uwe Vagelpohl

7. Medical Knowledge as Proof of the Creator’s Wisdom and the Arabic

Reception of Galen’s On the Usefulness of the Parts

Elvira Wakelnig


The Byzantine World

8. Physician versus Physician: Comparing the Audience of On the Constitution

of Man by Meletios and Epitome on the Nature of Men by Leo the Physician

Erika Gielen

9. Reading Galen in Byzantium: The Fate of Therapeutics to Glaucon

Petros Bouras-Vallianatos

About the Editors

Petros Bouras-Vallianatos is Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Department of History, and Member of the Centre for Hellenic Studies, at King’s College London.

Sophia Xenophontos is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Glasgow.

About the Series

Publications of the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College London

Publications of the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College London

Initiated in 1993 as an extension of the activities of the Centre for Hellenic Studies at King's College London, this series covers all aspects of Greek culture and civilization. The volumes published to date present a broad range of topics from ancient to modern, including the papers of several international symposia held at KCL. Titles deal with the history and image of Alexandria, the image of Socrates across the centuries, the early years of El Greco, the making of Modern Greece, Greek-Turkish relations in modern times, and the history of Greek photography. Volumes recently published or in preparation cover the reign of the 12th-century Byzantine emperor John II Komnenos, the politics behind Lord Byron’s intervention in the Greek Revolution in the 1820s and Greek art music since the early 19th century.

For further information about the series please contact Michael Greenwood at


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Ancient / Greece
HISTORY / Medieval
HISTORY / Europe / Greece (see also Ancient / Greece)
LITERARY CRITICISM / Ancient & Classical