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The Art of Healing in Byzantium
The famous aphorism of Hippocrates – ‘life is short, art long’ – stands at the heart of this exhibition, which examines the art and practice of healing in Byzantium from Roman times to the late Byzantine period. It traces the concurrent methods of healing – faith, magic, and rational medicine –from the foundations laid by Apollo and Asklepios, healers of antiquity, as well as Hippocrates and Dioscorides, the founders of rational medicine. The fascinating coexistence of a belief in demons as the primary cause of illness and a rational perception of disease, grounded in Hippocratic teachings, come together in the protagonists of the ‘art of healing’ – the physicians, druggists, saints, holy men, and magicians who healed the sick. The daily rituals involved in maintaining and pursuing well-being, protecting against demons, purifying the body and soul offer a glimpse into the daily life of the Byzantines.
The exhibition catalogue illustrates the influence of Byzantium’s ancient cultural heritage on religious and rational thought as well as contemporary scientific developments and innovations from around the Mediterranean. The catalogue is one of the most updated and extensive publication on the history and art of healing in Byzantium with essays written by the acclaimed academics and with various works, some of them being published for the first time.