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ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 46 (2009) 271-273 Marguerite Hirt Raj, Medecins et malades de l',gypte romaine. Etude socio-lgale de la profession medicale et de ses praticiens du ler au IVe siecle ap. J.-C. Studies in Ancient Medicine, Vol. 32. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006. xx + 386 pages + 1 foldout. ISBN 90-04-14846-9. In this ambitious study Hirt Raj (H.R.) attempts to fill a gap left by K. Sudhoff, Arztliches aus griechischen Papyrus-Urkunden. Bausteine zu einer medizinischen Kulturgeschichte des Hellenismus (Leipzig 1909). Hers is the first full-length study of the history of the medical profession in Egypt, even if it covers only the Roman period including the fourth century (no doubt H.R. included the fourth century so as not to lose out on the public doctors' reports that date to this century; otherwise the evidence is mostly earlier). Unlike Sudhoff, whose interests were "catholic" and who regarded his work as preliminary to writing a cultural history (bien avant la lettre) of Greek medicine in the Hellenistic and Roman period, H.R. focuses on the social (and legal) position of doctors in Graeco-Roman Egypt as it appears in Greek documents. H.R. does not make much of the numerous literary papyri of the Roman period with medical texts in Greek, nor does she take Roman-period papyri in Egyptian into account. Even so there are some odd omissions. On pp. 47-48, e.g., H.R. notes the absence of oculistes in Greek documents from Roman Egypt, but this ignores POxy. 42.3078 (listed on p. 344), an oracle about consulting a particular eye doctor in Hermopolis. (The text is additionally interesting for the fame of certain doctors beyond the borders of their own nome.) Greek documents are more useful as a source of information on the social (and legal) position of doctors in the first four centuries of Roman rule than on anything having to do with medical science per se (but there is lots of relevance to a cultural history in Sudhoff's sense). In the first chapter H.R. grapples with the eternal issue: is Egypt perhaps a special case that can be ignored, or is it worthwhile studying the Egyptian evidence even when one is really more interested in the rest of the Graeco-Roman world? (Studying Egyptian evidence for its own sake is not an option, after all.) H.R. cuts this Gordian knot by filling in the missing details in the picture as it emerges from the Egyptian evidence by drawing on... what we know from elsewhere in the Graeco-Roman world. This explains why we get long sections in the book that draw almost exclusively on such evidence (mostly literary) from elsewhere. In that way the relevance of H.R's study is assured by a kind of petitio principii. Still, there is a lot of interesting material presented in the book. Thus, in the second chapter H.R. first discusses the status of the medical profession in the Greek world. More papyrological and more interesting is the
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