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September 2019

Clio Med. 1995 ; 28(): 377-92.

Tatian's 'rejection' of medicine in the second century.

Amundsen DW.

The question why Tatian, often misrepresented as an opponent of medicine per se, chose to condemn only pharmacology, has never been directly raised. His conviction that pharmakeia was a demonic lure can only be explained in the context of both popular and medical attitudes toward drugs. The basic meaning of pharmaka ranges from sorcery to poison to medicinal drugs. Some people regarded them as categorically similar to substances used by brute beasts to cure themselves, a minority of physicians refused to administer them at all, whereas many revered them as virtually divine, 'hands of the gods'. Hence, in Tatian's view, they were spiritually dangerous for Christians.

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