Healing Manuals from Ottoman and Modern Greece

The Notebook of Gymnasios and other Iatrosophia

This book is a study of three iatrosophia (the notebooks of traditional healers) from the Ottoman and modern periods of Greece. The main text is a collection of the medical recipes of the monk Gimnasios Lavriotis (b. Les mer
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This book is a study of three iatrosophia (the notebooks of traditional healers) from the Ottoman and modern periods of Greece. The main text is a collection of the medical recipes of the monk Gimnasios Lavriotis (b. 1858). Gimnasios was born on the island of Thasos and had a working knowledge of over 2,000 plants and their use in medical treatments; his hundreds of cures draw heavily on local flora and foodstuffs found in local markets. Two earlier iatrosophia are used for parallels for Gimnasios's recipes. One was written c. 1800 by a practical doctor near Khania, Crete, and illustrated by a second hand. The second iatrosophion dates to the sixteenth century; ascribed to a Meletios, the text survives in the Codex Vindobonensis gr. med. 53. The contents of these and other iatrosophia are predominantly medical, with many of the remedies taken from folk medicine, classical and Hellenistic pharmacological writers, and Galen. Iatrosophia, however, also contain nonmedical advice on matters that were of concern to people in the healer's community: magical spells and curses, exorcisms, love and marriage, veterinarian healing, prediction of the future, fertility of crops. The book opens with a discussion of iatrosophia and their role in Greek medical history, followed by a biography of the monk Gimnasios and his recipes and then a description of the Cretan and Meletios iatrosophia. It then prints the Greek text of Gimnasios's recipes, with a facing English translation. The subsequent commentary offers for each of Gimnasios's recipes passages (translated into English) from the two other iatrosophia to serve as parallels, as well as an analysis of the pharmacopoeia in the medical texts in order to demonstrate the continuity of classical, Hellenistic, and Byzantine praxis into early modern Greece. The book concludes with Greek and English indices of the material medica (plants, mineral, and animal substances) and the diseases, and then a general index.

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