This guide is mostly aimed at researchers that already possess a basic familiarity with antiquity. The goal is to provide a bibliographical starting point for various research endeavors in Greek and Latin medicine, including several related topics (e.g. botany, dietetics, athletics, gynecology). Please send any suggestions or corrections to barehart20 at gmail.com.
Nutton 2013 is the best single survey of ancient medicine, but undergraduates and general readers may find it helpful to read Conrad 1995, King 2001, and/or Cruse 2004 first. Zucconi 2019 provides a broad overview of various medical traditions around the Mediterranean and Near East. Jouanna 1999 and Mattern 2013 are accessible introductions to ‘Hippocrates’ and Galen. Rihll 1999 provides a succinct introduction to Greek science and contains a section on medicine.
Conrad, N. et al. 1995. The Western Medical Tradition: 800 BC to AD 1800. Cambridge.
Cruse, A. 2004. Roman Medicine. Stroud.
Jackson, R. 1988. Doctors and Diseases in the Roman Empire.
Jouanna, J. 1999. Hippocrates, trans. by M. DeBevoise. Baltimore.
King, H. 2001. Greek and Roman Medicine. London.
Lindberg, D. 2007. The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450. 2nd ed. Chicago.
Lloyd, G., ed. 1984. Hippocratic Writings. New York.
Mattern, S. 2013. The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire. Oxford.
Nutton, V. 2013. Ancient Medicine, 2nd ed. London.
Savage-Smith, E. and Pormann, P. 2007. Medieval Islamic Medicine. Washington, D.C.
Rihll, T. 1999. Greek Science. Oxford.
Zucconi, L. 2019. Ancient Medicine: From Mesopotamia to Rome. Grand Rapids.
General Reference and Companions
Increased attention to ancient medicine has led to a number of useful reference works over the last few decades. Keyser and Irby-Massie 2008 is the best single resource for finding information on a variety of medical writers, though the entries are of varying quality and often lack consistency in coverage. Irby-Massie 2016 features a section on “Healing and the Human Body.” Keyser and Scarborough 2018 devotes several chapters to Greek and Roman medicine from Hippocrates to Late Antiquity. Craik 2015 summarizes works in the Hippocratic Corpus and provides useful information on dating, structure, etc.
Craik, E. 2015. The ‘Hippocratic’ Corpus: Content and Context. London.
Hankinson, R., ed. 2008. The Cambridge Companion to Galen. Cambridge.
Irby-Massie, G., ed. 2016. A Companion to Science, Technology, and Medicine in Ancient Greece and Rome, 2 vols. Chichester.
Jones, A. and Taub, L. 2018. The Cambridge History of Science, Volume I: Ancient Science. Cambridge.
Keyser, P. and Irby-Massie, G., eds. 2008. The Encyclopedia of Ancient Natural Scientists: The Greek Tradition and its Many Heirs. London.
Keyser, P. and Scarborough, J., eds. 2018. Oxford Handbook of Science and Medicine in the Classical World. Oxford.
Lazaris, S., ed. 2020. A Companion to Byzantine Science. Leiden.
Miller, T. 2017. “Medical Thought and Practice,” in A. Kaldellis (ed.) The Cambridge Intellectual History of Byzantium (Cambridge), 252-268.
Pormann, P., ed. 2018. The Cambridge Companion to Hippocrates. Cambridge.
Texts and Translations
Formerly, the standard reference work for critical editions and translations of medical texts was Leitner 1973, which was expanded incrementally by the “Supplements to Leitner” in volumes of the Newsletter of the Society of Ancient Medicine (no longer in print). Latin texts were later covered by Sabbah et al. 1987 and supplemented by Fischer 2000. Currently, ReMeDHe member Brent Arehart is working on a cumulative list at WordDoctors.org to update and expand Leitner. For the Galenic and Hippocratic Corpuses, current bibliographies are maintained on the Corpus Medicorum Graecorum / Latinorum website. Latin translations of Galen were compiled in Durling 1961 (see also Durling 1967; Durling 1981; Fortuna and Raia 2006), and coverage has been continued on GalenoLatino.com. Touwaide 2016 provides a new census of Greek manuscripts.
Durling, R. 1961. ” A Chronological Census of Renaissance Editions and Translations of Galen,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 24.3/4: 230-305.
———. 1967. “Corrigenda and Addenda to Diels’ Galenica. I. Codices vaticani,” Traditio 23: 461-476.
———. 1981. “Corrigenda and Addenda to Diels’ Galenica. II. Codices miscellanei,” Traditio 37: 373-381
Fortuna, S. and Raia, A. 2006. “Corrigenda and Addenda to Diels’ Galenica by Richard J. Durling. III. Manuscripts and editions,” Traditio 61: 1-30.
Leitner, H. 1973. Bibliography to the Ancient Medical Authors. Bern.
Quiroga Puertas, A. and García Sola, M. 2013. Galen: Selected Bibliography (1965-2012). Berlin.
Sabbah, G. et al. 1987. Bibliographie des textes médicaux latins: antiquité et haut moyen âge. Saint-Étienne.
Touwaide, A. 2016. A Census of Greek Medical Manuscripts. From Byzantine to the Renaissance. London.
Lexicons and Lexical Work
There is no specialized lexicon for Greek or Latin medicine currently. The LSJ must be used with caution in the case of animals and plants (see the research guide at WordDoctors for more detail). Aside from the LSJ, other standard dictionaries include: Danker 2000, Montanari 2015, Lampe 1968, the Diccionario Griego-Español (digitized and in progress), and the Lexikon zur byzantinischen Gräzität (digitized). Several articles by the late Richard Durling cover aspects of Galen’s language, culminating ultimately in a dictionary (Durling 1993), though it must still be used in tandem with other resources. Aside from the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (in progress)¸ the two standard lexicons for Latin are Lewis and Short’s Latin-English Lexicon (digitized) and Glare 2012, the latter of which has less coverage of later Latin. Souter 1957 covers later Latin but the entries are rather condensed. Langslow 2000 remains an important study of Latin medical terminology. Montero Cartelle and González Manjarrés 2018 covers andrology, gynecology and embryology in Latin sources from Antiquity through the Middle Ages.
Bain, D. 1999. “Some Addenda and Corrigenda to the Revised Supplement to Liddell and Scott,” Glotta 75.3/4:121–133.
Danker, F., ed. 2000. A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. Chicago.
Durling, R. 1979. “Lexicographical Notes on Galen’s Pharmacological Writings,” Glotta 57.3/4:218-224.
———. 1980. “Lexicographical Notes on Galen’s Writings (Part II),” Glotta 58.3/4: 260-265.
———. 1981. “Lexicographical Notes on Galen’s Writings (Part II),” Glotta 59.1/2: 108-116.
———. 1982. ” Lexicographical Notes on Galen’s Writings (Part III),” Glotta 60.3/4: 236-244.
———. 1986. “Prepositional Idiom in Galen,” Glotta 64.1/2: 24-30.
———. 1986. “Addenda Lexicis, primarily from Aëtius of Amida and Paul of Aegina,” Glotta 64.1/2: 30-36.
———. 1988. “Some Particles and Particle Clusters in Galen,” Glotta 66.3/4: 183-189.
———. 1992. “The Language of Galenic Pharmacy,” Glotta 70.1/2: 62-70.
———. 1993. A Dictionary of Medical Terms in Galen. Leiden.
Glare, P. 2012. Oxford Latin Dictionary, 2nd ed. Oxford.
Montero Cartelle, E. and González Manjarrés, M. 2018. Diccionario Latino de Andrología, Ginecología y Embriología: Desde la Antigüedad hasta el siglo XVI. Turnhout.
Lampe, G. 1968. A Patristic Greek Lexicon. Oxford. [originally published in 6 fascicules from 1961-1968].
Langslow, D. 2000. Medical Latin in the Roman Empire. Oxford.
Montanari, F., ed. 2015. The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek. Leiden.
Souter, A. 1957. A Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D. Oxford.
Wenzel, S. 1963. “Αχηδια. Additions to Lampe’s Patristic Greek Lexicon,” Vigiliae Christianae 17.3: 173-176.
Botany and Pharmacology
For problems of plant identification, see Reveal 1996 and the research guide at WordDoctors.org. See Hardy and Totelin 2016 for an accessible introduction to botany. Totelin 2009 is an excellent study of Hippocratic pharmacology, and Totelin 2016 provides an online introduction to pharmacology and botany. Scarborough 2010 collects several influential articles. Riddle 1985 studies the organization of Dioscorides’ De materia medica, one of the most influential works in the history of pharmacy. Beck 2017 provides a translation of Dioscorides’ seminal De materia medica.
Beck, L. 2017. De materia medica. 3rd ed. Hildesheim.
Hardy, G. and Totelin, L. 2016. Ancient Botany. London.
Reveal, J. 1996. “What’s in a name: identifying plants in prelinnaean botanical literature,” in B. Holland (ed.), Prospecting for Drugs in Ancient and Medieval European Texts: A Scientific Approach (Australia), 57-90.
Riddle, J. 1985. Dioscorides on Pharmacy and Medicine. Austin.
Scarborough, J. 1984. “Early Byzantine Pharmacology,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 38: 213-232.
———. 2010. Pharmacy and Drug Lore in Antiquity: Greece, Rome, Byzantium. Farnham.
Totelin, L. 2009. Hippocratic Recipes: Oral and Written Transmission of Pharmacological Knowledge in Fifth- and Fourth-Century Greece. Leiden.
———. 2016. “Technologies of Knowledge: Pharmacology, Botany, and Medical Recipes,” Oxford Handbooks Online [open access]
Vogt, S. 2008. “Drugs and Pharmacology,” in R. Hankinson (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Galen (Cambridge), 304-322.
Food, Dietetics, and Athletics
Wilkins and Nadeau 2015 & Erdkamp and Holleran 2019 are two recent companions that cover a wide variety of topics, including not only literary and visual approaches but also archaeobotanical and skeletal remains. Dalby 2003 is an excellent place to start for information on individual foodstuffs.
Bartoš, H. 2015. Philosophy and Dietetics in the Hippocratic On Regimen: A Delicate Balance of Health. Leiden.
Dalby, A. 2000. Empire of Pleasures: Luxury and Indulgence in the Roman World. London.
———. 2003. Food in the Ancient World from A to Z. London.
Erdkamp, P. and Holleran, C., eds. 2019. The Routledge Handbook of Diet and Nutrition in the Roman World. Abingdon.
Grant, M. 2018. “Dietetics: Regimen for Life and Health,” in P. Keyser and J. Scarborough (eds.) Oxford Handbook of Science and Medicine in the Classical World (Oxford), 543-554
Jouanna, J. 2016. “Regimen in the Hippocratic Corpus: Diaita and its Problems,” in L. Dean-Jones and R. Rosen (eds.) Ancient Concepts of the Hippocratic (Leiden), 209-241.
König, J. 2005. Athletics and Literature in the Roman Empire. Cambridge.
———. 2016. “Regimen and Athletic Training,” in G. Irby-Massie (ed.) A Companion to Science, Technology, and Medicine in Ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford), vol. 1., 450-464.
Wilkins, J. and Hill, S., eds. 2006. Food in the Ancient World (London), “Medical Approaches to Food,” 213-244.
Wilkins, J. and Nadeau, R., eds. 2015. A Companion to Food in the Ancient World. Oxford.
Dean-Jones 1994, Flemming 2000, and King 1998 are milestone studies. Cilliers 2006 is a convenient summary of previous scholarship and a useful starting point. All of the Hippocratic gynecological treatises are now translated in the Loeb Hippocrates (Potter 2012-2019). Temkin 1956 has remained a standard translation of Soranus, but readers of French can consult Burguière et al. 1988-2000, with many useful notes. On the life and works of Soranus, see Hanson and Green 1994. Bolton 2015 provides a recent edition and translation of Mustio’s Gynaecia with a concise overview of Latin gynecological literature after Soranus. López Pérez 2010 explores gynecology in the works of Oribasius. Romano 2006 provides an Italian translation of Aetius of Amida Book 16.
Bolton, L. 2015. “An Edition, Translation and Commentary of Mustio’s Gynaecia,” Ph.D diss., University of Calgary. [online]
Burguière, P. et al. 1988-2000. Soranos d’Ephèse. Maladies des femmes, 4 vols. Paris.
Cilliers, L. 2006. “Facts and fancies about male and female in Graeco-Roman medical theories,” Scholia: Studies in Classical Antiquity 15.1: 53-77.
Dean-Jones, L. 1992. “The Politics of Pleasure: Female Sexual Appetite in the Hippocratic Corpus,” Helios 19: 72-91.
———. 1994. Women’s Bodies in Classical Greek Science. Oxford.
———. 2012. “Clinical Gynecology and Aristotle’s Biology: The Composition of HA X,” Apeiron 45.2: 180-200.
Flemming, R. 2000. Medicine and the Making of Roman Women: Gender, Nature, and Authority from Celsus to Galen. Oxford.
Gourevitch, D. 1984. Le mal d’être femme. La femme et la médecine dans la Rome antique. Paris.
Hanson, A. 1990. “The Medical Writers’ Woman,” in D. Halperin et al. (eds.) Before Sexuality: The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World (Princeton), 309-338.
———. 1991. “The restructuring of female physiology at Rome,” in P. Mudry and J. Pigeaud (eds.) Les écoles médicales à Rome : actes du 2ème Colloque international sur les textes médicaux latins antiques, Lausanne, septembre 1986 (Geneva), 255-268.
Hanson, A. and Green, M. 1994. “Soranus of Ephesus: Methodicorum princeps,” in W. Haase (ed.) Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt 2.37.2 (Berlin), 968-1075.
King, H. 1998. Hippocrates’ Woman: Reading the Female Body in Ancient Greece. London.
López Pérez, M. 2010. Ginecología y patología sexual femenina en las Colleciones Médicas de Oribasio. Oxford.
Potter, P. 2012-2018. Hippocrates, vols. 9-11. Loeb Classical Library.
Romano, R. 2006. “Aezio Amideno,” in A. Garzya (ed.) Medici Bizantini (Torino), 254-553.
Temkin, O.1956 [repr. 1994]. Soranus’ Gynecology. Baltimore.
Archaeology and Epigraphy
Baker 2013 is an introduction to the available archaeological evidence and methods of interpretation. Bliquez 2015 covers surgical instruments and medical paraphernalia. Cohn-Haft 1956 is a milestone study of public physicians. Samama 2003 collects most of the epigraphical evidence for doctors. Massar 2005 provides a synthetic study of the epigraphical evidence.
Baker, P. 2013. The Archaeology of Medicine in the Greco-Roman World. Cambridge.
Bliquez, L. 2015. The Tools of Asclepius: Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times. Leiden.
Cohn-Haft, L. 1956. The Public Physicians of Ancient Greece. Northampton
Massar, N. 2005. Soigner et servir: histoire sociale et culturelle de la médecine grecque à l’époque hellénistique. Paris.
Samama, E. 2003. Les médecins dans le monde grec: sources épigraphiques sur la naissance d’un corps médical. Genève.
Androlini, I., ed. 2001-2009. Greek Medical Papyri, 2 vols. Firenze.
Jones, A. 2009. “Mathematics, Science and Medicine in the Papyri,” in R. Bagnall (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology (Oxford), 338-357.
Reggiani, N., ed. 2019. Greek Medical Papyri: Text, Context, Hypertext. Berlin. [open access]
Arabic Sources for the Study of Graeco-Roman Medicine
Graeco-Arabic studies is an exciting field in which new discoveries and innovative contributions are constantly being made. Yet, many scholars trained in Greek and Latin are unfamiliar with the Arabic language, despite the fact that Arabic translations of Greek medical texts are immensely valuable, if not all that survives of a particular text. Gutas 1998 provides an introduction to the translation movement by a celebrated scholar with competence in both languages. Rosenthal 1975 is a sourcebook of various Arabic authors in English translation. Sezgin 1970 is still a crucial reference work for Arabic translations of Greek texts, though translation of Arabic titles is not always provided. Dodge 1970 translates the Fihrist of al-Nadīm, which catalogues translations purchased or inspected by al-Nadīm in the 10th CE (see chapter 7 section 3 for medicine). Brill recently launched an open access critical edition and translation of Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s 13th CE history of physicians (see Savage-Smith et al. 2020).
Dodge, B. 1970. The Fihrist of al-Nadīm: a tenth-century survey of Muslim culture. 2 vols. New York.
Gutas, D. 1998. Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and Early ʻAbbāsid Society (2nd-4th/8th-10th Centuries). London.
Rosenthal, F. 1975 [repr. 1992]. The Classical Heritage in Islam. London.
Savage-Smith et al., eds. 2020. A Literary History of Medicine. Leiden. [open access]
Sezgin, F. 1970. Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, vol. 3. Leiden.