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The Roman physician and the knowledge of the patient

Lauren Caldwell (UMass Amherst)

Lauren Caldwell is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has published on a wide range of topics including Roman medicine, Roman law, and Latin poetry, and her first book, Roman Girlhood and the Fashioning of Femininity (Cambridge University Press 2015) examined representations of female adolescence and the transition to marriage and childbearing evidence from the Roman Empire. She is currently at work on a book on health care in the Roman Empire.

The talk investigates the patient-physician relationship in the Roman Empire in order to advance our understanding of this aspect of health care in antiquity. A focus will be the writings of Rufus of Ephesus, which reveal that while some physicians acknowledged the value of the patient’s perspective for improving diagnosis and treatment, they struggled to make it a priority in practice, particularly for female patients. A closer look at Rufus’ treatises On the Questioning of the Patient and Regimen for Young Girls helps us to get a better sense of the obstacles to patient-physician collaboration in the clinical encounter.

Respondent: Chiara Blanco (University of Oxford)

25 May 2021, 17:00 p.m. (UK time)

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