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Where Does it Hurt? Ancient Medicine in Questions and Answers - 30-31/08/2016, Leuven (Belgium)

Asking the right questions and obtaining the right answers is vital to modern medical healthcare. It is essential for efficient doctor-patient communication, forming an important component of medical treatment. This was no different in Antiquity. Already the Hippocratic writings give us an idea of which kinds of questions physicians asked in diagnosing their patients, and which answers they received in return (see, e.g., the case histories in the Epidemics). However, one can imagine that patients or, in case of severe illness, their relatives were often incapable of providing an accurate answer to (some of) the doctor’s questions. Galen, for instance, says that certain types of pain are actually felt by patients, but cannot be described by them when asked to (Loc. Aff. 2, 9 [8, 117 Kühn]). As such, a good doctor had to be able not simply to ask the right questions, but also to look for the right answers himself, if necessary. The use of question-and-answer (Q&A) formulas is widely attested in ancient medical literature. By employing specific interrogative turns in their discourses, medical authors not only sought to provide practical information for proper treatment of patients, but also to amass theoretical insights about the human body and its physiological and pathological processes more generally. They dealt with several types of questions, including questions that sought to locate, define and explain certain illnesses or disorders in the body (“Where does it hurt?”, “What is it that hurts?”, ”Why does it hurt?”). Questions of this kind were common in medical treatises of the Greco-Roman period (they can be found, e.g., in medical manuals, medical papyri and collections of problemata). The popularity of the Q&A format is largely due to the fact that it became well-entrenched in the ancient medical school curriculum. Through its dialogical and interrogative structure, it provided teachers and students with a useful method to question and memorize all types of medical knowledge, both practical and theoretical. Once condensed in a textual form, it was also useful in transferring this knowledge between author and reader. This conference aims to bring together scholars from the field of medical history and related fields (history of science, [natural] philosophy, theology, literary studies, linguistics, ...) with the goal of examining the role of Q&A in medical literature, from the Hippocratic writers to Late Antiquity and its reception in the Middle Ages. The conference is open to various approaches, and aims to address – but is not restricted to – questions of content (e.g., transfer and transformation of medical knowledge in Q&A style), textuality (e.g., development from orality to written text), context (e.g., socio-intellectual relations between doctor/patient, teacher/student, author/reader), and use (e.g., theoretical contemplation vs. practical application of medical knowledge).

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 30-31/08/2016

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Leuven Centre for the Study of the Transmission of Texts and Ideas in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (LECTIO), KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium) ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Erika Gielen (KU Leuven); Michiel Meeusen (KU Leuven)


INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE: gratis / free / grauito. Reserva antes del 22/08/2016 en / reservation before 22/08/2016 in / reservazione prima dal 22/08/2016 in: ;


Tuesday 30 August 2016 | Conference day 1

13.30 Registration

14.00 Introduction

14.10 Session 1 – Chair Gerd Van Riel

14.10-14.30: Melinda Letts (Oxford), “Right Question or Good Question? Rufus of Ephesus and the Patient’s Perspective in Medicine”

14.30-14.50: Alessia Guardasole (CNRS Paris), “Hippocratisme et aristotélisme dans un exemple original de la tradition érotapocritique médicale et religieuse byzantine: les Problèmes hippocratiques”

14.50-15.00: Discussion

15.00 Coffee

15.30 Session 2 – Chair Jan Opsomer

15.30-15.50: Salvatore Di Piazza (Palermo & ULB), “Diagnosis in Corpus Hippocraticum: Trust, Words, Signs”

15.50-16.10: Luca Gili (KU Leuven), “Erotetic Logic and Syllogistic. Galenian and Alexandrian Approaches to Medicine”

16.10-16.30: Michiel Meeusen (KU Leuven), “Ps.-Alexander of Aphrodisias on Unsayable Properties in Medical Puzzles”

16.30-16.45: Discussion

17.30 Keynote lecture in collaboration with LECTIO by

Robert Mayhew (Seton Hall), “Peripatetic and Hippocratic Seeds in Problemata 4: Raising Questions about Aristotle’s Rejection of the Pangenesis Theory of Generation”

19.00 Conference dinner

Wednesday 31 August 2016 | Conference day 2

10.00 Session 3 – Chair Michiel Meeusen

10.00-10.20: Elizabeth Cooper (Newcastle), “Phaedra’s Physician: Medical Questions and Answers in Euripides’ Hippolytus”

10.20-10.40: Andrés Pelavski (Cambridge), “Questioning the Obvious”

10.40-11.00: Ido Israelowich (Tel Aviv), “Diagnosing Madness during the High Roman Empire: Questions and Answers as a Diagnostic Method”

11.00-11.15: Discussion

11.15 Coffee

11.45 Session 4 – Chair Marie-Hélène Marganne

11.45-12.05: Antonio Ricciardetto (Liège & Paris), “La réponse du médecin : les rapports d’inspection médicale écrits en grec sur papyrus (Ier-IVe s. apr. J.-C.)”

12.05-12.25: Isabella Bonati (Parma), “Definitions and Technical Terminology in the Erôtapokriseis on papyrus”

12.25-12.45: Nicola Reggiani (Parma), “Digitizing Medical Papyri in Question-and-Answer Format”

12.45-13.00: Discussion

13.00 Lunch

14.00 Session 5 – Chair Erika Gielen

14.00-14.20: Ioannis Papadogiannakis (London), “Ps. Justin’s Quaestiones et responsiones ad orthodoxos and the Literature of Medical-Philosophical προβλήματα”

14.20-14.40: Serena Buzzi & Fosca Pescia (Turin), “The Questions in Oribasius’s Medical Texts”

14.40-15.00: Laura Mareri (Macerata), “The Use of Q&A Formula in Alexander of Tralles”

15.00-15.15: Discussion

15.15 Concluding Remarks

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