Physicians as figures of authority in the Roman courts and the attitude towards mental diseases in the roman courts during the high empire

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Abstract

This article examines the attitude of Roman law towards madness during the High Roman Empire through exploring the role of physicians and medicine in Roman courts. It reviews the prominent views which physicians themselves expressed about madness and considers the relevance of medical knowledge in cases involving the mad; violence; and questionable parenthood in order to assess the scope of medical authority. In conclusion it seeks to explain the irrelevance of medicine in diagnosing madness, positing that it was not seen by the general public as a medical matter. Consequently, the legal definition of madness under the Principate was not a medical one, but a social one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-462
Number of pages18
JournalHistoria - Zeitschrift fur Alte Geschichte
Volume63
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014

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