A groundbreaking reassessment of many aspects of Greek culture and city life. Acclaimed historian Robin Lane Fox puts remarkable classical works in a wider context and upends our understanding of medical history by establishing that they were written much earlier than previously thought.
... in part a very erudite detective story in which the author uses the tools of archeology and philology to shed light on a 'remarkable doctor and thinker' ... these textual investigations are likely of more interest to Lane Fox’s fellow classicists than they are to the general reader, who’ll tend to be far more absorbed in the other major narrative strand that runs through the book: the excavation of the early, groping history of medicine as a craft ... thanks to Lane Fox’s patient scholarship, we feel like we’re visiting dozens of sickbeds and holding the hands of dozens of frightened people ... in addition to its more abstruse arguments, it brings the human dimensions of that world alive. You’ll finish it with the strong urge to send your doctor a bottle of wine and a note of heartfelt thanks.
Lane Fox’s emphasis is less on philosophical wranglings or the fortune of chancers than on detailed observation, the path that takes him to the gold-rush island of Thasos and the controversy over who was the Hippocrates who got the credit for so many doctors’ work ... Scholars will argue over how persuasive is Lane Fox’s long argument for the earlier date, based on vocabulary, on the types of diseases (no war wounds) and on inscriptions and remains (“the most massive erect penis to survive in Greek sculpture”).
Fox, in his characteristic thoughtfully argumentative and practical style, sifts through centuries of epigraphic, numismatic, and archaeological evidence to place the so-called Epidemic texts in a new context ... While some of the material may be dense for non-classicists, there are many readers who will find the sections about how we tell and understand medical stories timely and important.