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Index Hippocraticus. Fasc. IV: Π–Ω. Addenda et corrigenda

Medical History
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
  • Book Reviews
  • Medicine


Book Reviews PAUL POTTER, GILLES MALONEY, and JACQUES DESAUTELS (eds), La maladie et les maladies dans la Collection Hippocratique, Actes du VIe Colloque International Hippocratique (Quebec, 28 Sept.-3 Oct. 1987), Quebec, Editions du Sphinx, 1990, 8vo, pp. 465, Can $30.00 (paperback). This collection of papers presented to the sixth Colloque hippocratique gives an accurate picture of the concerns and methods of Hippocratic studies today. New tools are available for assessment, but old questions remain on the agenda. The ANACOS computer project ofthe Universite Laval is used by Gilles Maloney, who explains its operation by analysing words for "disease" in the vocabulary of the corpus, and by Monique Moisan in a discussion of narcotic drugs. However, Heinrich von Staden's careful treatment of incurability may point to the limitations of this tool; while some treatises present a firm boundary between what is and what is not curable, in others the vocabulary of incurability has "mobile edges", so that we cannot simply rely on looking at passages in which Greek words for "incurable" occur. A disease may be incurable-or less curable-as a result of its nature, because the patient delays in calling the doctor or because the medical assistance received was in some way faulty. Other contributors set Hippocratic medicine firmly within its social and cultural context; Simon Byl shows the importance ofunderstanding the place ofwomen in order to appreciate the aetiology of female sterility, while Jacques Jouanna investigates the parallels between medicine and tragedy, in the imagery ofdisease as a savage and devouring external force. The relationship between external and internal causes ofdisease is the theme ofseveral contributions, while others focus on such specific causative agents as humours or air. Another theme is the relationship between objective description and subjective interpretation; how did the authors of the Hippocratic texts organize their data? How did they classify them? This raises the v

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