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Misery to Mirth

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ISBN: 9780198779025 9780198779025 Year: Pages: 288 DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198779025.001.0001 Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Subject: Medicine (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2018-07-25 11:01:02
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The history of early modern medicine often makes for depressing reading. It implies that people fell ill, took ineffective remedies, and died. This book seeks to rebalance and brighten our overall picture of early modern health by focusing on the neglected subject of recovery from illness in England, c.1580–1720. Drawing on an array of archival and printed materials, Misery to Mirth shows that recovery did exist conceptually at this time, and that it was a widely reported phenomenon. The book takes three main perspectives: the first is physiological or medical, asking what doctors and laypeople meant by recovery, and how they thought it occurred. This includes a discussion of convalescent care, a special branch of medicine designed to restore strength to the patient’s fragile body after illness. Secondly, the book adopts the viewpoint of patients themselves: it investigates how they reacted to the escape from death, the abatement of pain and suffering, and the return to normal life and work. At the heart of getting better was contrast—from ‘paine to ease, sadnesse to mirth, prison to liberty, and death to life’. The third perspective concerns the patient’s loved ones; it shows that family and friends usually shared the feelings of patients, undergoing a dramatic transformation from anguish to elation. This mirroring of experiences, known as ‘fellow-feeling’, reveals the depth of love between many individuals. Through these discussions, the book opens a window onto some of the most profound, as well as the more prosaic, aspects of early modern existence, from attitudes to life and death, to details of what convalescents ate for supper and wore in bed.

Keywords

recovery --- convalescence --- cure --- heal --- patient --- medicine --- disease --- death --- emotions --- joy

Envy, Poison, and Death

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ISBN: 9780199562602 Year: Pages: 436 DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199562602.001.0001 Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press Grant: Leverhulme Trust
Subject: History --- Law --- Religion --- Gender Studies --- Ethnology --- Biology
Added to DOAB on : 2020-06-10 23:58:16
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At the heart of this book are some trials conducted in Athens in the fourth century BCE. In each case, the charges involved a combination of supernatural activities, including potion-brewing and cult activity; the defendants were all women. Because of the brevity of the ancient sources, and their lack of agreement, the precise charges are unclear; the reasons for taking these women to court, even condemning some of them to die, remain mysterious. This book takes the complexity and confusion of the evidence not as a riddle to be solved, but as revealing multiple social dynamics. It explores the changing factors—material, ideological, and psychological—that may have provoked these events. It focuses in particular on the dual role of envy (phthonos) and gossip as processes by which communities identified people and activities that were dangerous, and examines how and why those local, even individual, dynamics may have come to shape official civic decisions during a time of perceived hardship. At first sight so puzzling, these trials come to provide a vivid glimpse of the sociopolitical environment of Athens during the early to mid-fourth century BCE, including responses to changes in women’s status and behaviour, and attitudes to particular supernatural/religious activities within the city. This study reveals some of the characters, events, and local social processes that shaped an emergent concept of magic: it suggests that the legal boundary of acceptable behaviour was shifting, not only within the legal arena, but also with the active involvement of society beyond the courts.

Keywords

Athens --- women --- magic --- religion --- law --- courts --- trial --- fourth century --- emotions --- envy --- phthonos --- gossip

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