Clinical experience in late antiquity: Alexander of Tralles and the therapy of epilepsy

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Abstract

Alexander of Tralles, writing in the late sixth century, combined his wide-ranging practical knowledge with earlier medical theories. This article shows how clinical experience is used in Alexander's works by concentrating on his therapeutic advice on epilepsy and, in particular, on pharmacology and the group of so-called natural remedies. I argue that clinical testing is used not only for the introduction of new medicines but also as an instrument for checking the therapeutic effect of popular healing practices. On another level, this article discusses Alexander's role as the author of a medical compendium; it suggests that by marking the cases of clinical testing with a set of recurrent expressions, Alexander leads his audience to reflect on his medical authority and personal contribution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-353
Number of pages17
JournalMedical History
Volume58
Issue number3
Early online date19 Jun 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Alexander of Tralles
  • clinical experience
  • epilepsy
  • pharmacology
  • natural remedies
  • popular medicine

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