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date: 19 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter treats the three chief medical sects that began in the first through third centuries ce of the Roman period, the Asclepiadeans, the Methodists, and the Pneumatists, based primarily on the hostile witness of Galen (we have few or no other sources). Physicians’ participation in debates suggests how sectarian membership may have advanced the careers of the physicians who offered their services in an unregulated and rather chaotic market and hoped to attract the patronage of aristocrats. Individual teachers, not formal institutions, served as guardians of the doctrines of the sects. The rise and spread of intellectual ideas and debate in the Roman Empire depended on teacher-student relationships and personal connections. Although social bonds did not necessarily stand in the way of debate and study, Galen suggested that the system’s reliance on individuals could impede the advancement of ideas by prioritizing personal loyalties over intellectual rigor.

Keywords: Asclepiades of Bithynia, Athenaeus of Attalia, Galen, Methodism, pneuma, Pneumatism, Themison

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