When Medicine is Powerless: Illness and Healing Viewed by the Byzantine Hagiographers in the 8th — 12th Centuries
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When Medicine is Powerless: Illness and Healing Viewed by the Byzantine Hagiographers in the 8th — 12th Centuries
Annotation
PII
S207987840002383-0-1
DOI
10.18254/S0002383-0-1
Publication type
Article
Status
Published
Authors
Irina Okhlupina 
Occupation: Associate Professor of Department of Ancient and Middle Ages History
Affiliation: Ural Federal University
Address: Russian Federation, Ekaterinburg
Abstract
The article is dedicated to an analysis of perception of illness and healing in byzantine society based on byzantine hagiography (VIII—XII cen.). Hagiographer ideas about the causes of illnesses, manifestations of mental ailments and obsession, and the ideas about signs of biological death of the body were analyzed on the materials of middle Byzantine hagiography. Also the options and methods of treatment and relief of pain, mentioned in the Lives, and the hagiographers' ideas about their actions have been considered. It was found that, according to the hagiographers, the cause of the disease could be the desecration of the human body by sin, the punishment for disobedience to the will of the saint or the breach of promises. It is also could be a result of the interference of otherworldly, evil forces, as well as the influence on the human body of natural factors including cold , food peculiarities, poisoning. Sometimes diseases were considered as a trial. It has been shown that descriptions of mad and obsessed with demons people excesses provide an adequate basis to identify the generally accepted norms of behavior in Byzantine society and about the forms of behavior that were perceived as taboo and deviant. Perceptions of signs of biological death of the body on the basis of descriptions of the miraculous properties of bodies and relics of saints were analyzed because of the hagiographer usually used stereotypes about the dead corpse of ordinary man. It was established that according to hagiographers there were three competing ways of treating the disease (addressing a sorcerer, a doctor or a saint), and the most effective and reliable method was the latter. The conclusion was made that the descriptions of diseases and methods of healing based on materials of hagiography, that was very popular among Byzantines, allow us to approach the understanding of the deep levels of collective and individual consciousness of Byzantines, which determined the view of the world and the motives of their actions.
Keywords
Byzantium, byzantine hagiography, miraculous healings, byzantine medicine, sorcer
Received
17.02.2018
Publication date
30.11.2018
Number of characters
24026
Number of purchasers
5
Views
1163
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0.0 (0 votes)
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