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This article attempts to characterize a secular tradition of medicine, and focuses on approaches to the body and theories of causation. It seems that, just like the street philosophers, magicians were more individualistic and charismatic than the writers of systematic treatises, and yet they too sometimes relied on texts. It is important to remain open to possible connections between magic and medicine. For example, in the course of medical history, dissection and investigation of the interior of the body gradually became more prominent; similarly, ancient curses, spells, and binds became increasingly specific about the body parts and internal organs they targeted. The wider context of society is relevant here: magical and medical texts are affected by the history of torture, and of vivisection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743726
ISBN (Print)9780199286140
StatePublished - Sep 18 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Ancient curses
  • Causation theories
  • Dissection
  • Medical history
  • Medicine
  • Torture
  • Vivisection


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