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Medicine, as experienced in the Roman Empire, was rapidly evolving. Balancing the newly developed theories with the already-established religious belief sparked the beginning of medical secularization. There were separate worlds, that of science and medicine, and that of the every day public, that had to be bridged in a way that honored both traditions, yet kept their integrity. The development of science and medicine pioneered by Galen, a philosopher whose medical knowledge and theory guided practitioners for almost two millennia, hit levels of exploration and understanding in ancient Rome that warranted its basis as common medical theory. However, the world, as experienced by the general public, was still one wrought with religious belief and practices. The public, then as well as now, used literature as a medium through which they projected how they viewed their reality, including views of medicine and disease.
Both science and religion offer parts to the whole of reality. By discrediting either by the nature of their subject, it is to ignore an entire section of a people’s everyday reality; it renders an invalid picture of the society. It is both fascinating and necessary to evaluate the balance and relationship between science and religion. This paper examines both sides of the Roman reality: literature and medicine. There are medical documents available for analysis, but it is just as important to look at the literature that reflects fears and public opinion about medicine. The goal of this research is to analyze how the two worlds of science and society co-existed and thrived, and to evaluate how well the representation of reality, as witnessed via the literature, matched the scientific reality.
Clark, Stephanie, "Roman Religion, Medicine, and Disease" (2013). Honors Theses. 2211.
Honors Thesis-Open Access