Hippocratic recipes : oral and written transmission of pharmacological knowledge in fifth- and fourth-century Greece
This thesis examines the earliest extended collections of recipes preserved in Greek, the recipes of the so-called Hippocratic Corpus (late fifth or early century BC). I study the ways and formats in which pharmacological knowledge was transmitted in classical Greece. The compilers of the Hippocratic collections of recipes drew on a variety of sources, written and oral, including small catalogues of recipes comparable to those found on papyri from Hellenistic Egypt. Much pharmacological knowledge may have been transmitted orally from generation to generation before assuming written form in medical treatises. But following the social anthropologist Jack Goody, I distinguish between the medical knowledge the recipes reflect and the written form in which they have been transmitted. I also assess the socio-economic context in which the recipes were produced and used. Some Hippocratic recipes fall into a tradition of home remedies, but many other recipes include exotic and luxury ingredients affordable only to the rich. These luxury ingredients transformed traditional medicine into 'Haute Medecine. The compilers of Hippocratic collections of recipes were biased in their choices of ingredients, and this bias was in line with the orientalizing tendencies discernible in ancient Greek culture. The intended readers of the catalogues of recipes were not pharmacological novices. Knowledge of the ingredients is a prerequisite to the reading of these recipes, quantities are often left to the discretion of the reader, and utensils involved in the preparation of the remedies are rarely mentioned. Finally, I examine the significance of the name 'Hippocrates' for the transmission of the 'Hippocratic' recipes in later antiquity. As 'Hippocratic', they were glossed and quoted in the works of later medical authors. However, their success was not always linked to the name 'Hippocrates' late antique Latin translations of the gynaecological recipes were transmitted anonymously.