The Best Doctor Is Also a Historian
The Rootcutter's inaugural essay series aims at exploring connections between ancient and modern medicines—and not only the connections we make, but also why we make those connections and what impact they have on how we think about and conduct modern medical practices, both as healthcare experts and as service users. This series has been generously funded by the Society for Classical Studies Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities grant.
Image: Small-scale replica of the cult statue of Artemis at Ephesus, unknown maker, 2nd century C.E. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California, Gift of the Milton and Pat Gottlieb Trust, 81.AA.134.
Piety amid Pandemics: What an Ancient Inscription against the Plague Can Teach Us about Religion and Medicine today
by Travis Proctor
November 24, 2022
A second-century inscription describes how an oracle of Apollo has instructed the citizens of Sardis to "borrow" the cult statue of Artemis from the nearby city of Ephesus in their efforts to escape the effects of the Antonine Plague. Travis Proctor focuses our attention on this moment as representative of the enmeshment of medicine and religion in the ancient world.
Dr Travis Proctor is Assistant Professor of Religion at Wittenberg University. His research focuses on religions in the ancient Mediterranean, especially early Christianity.