diseases, death, teaching

The Chameleon in the Classroom

This is a story of illness and magic from the fourth century CE. Even though Constantine had converted the Roman Empire to Christianity, paganism didn’t just lie down and die. One of the most famous pagan intellectuals was Libanius, a distinguished orator who taught rhetoric to famous Christian figures such as Basil the Great and… Continue reading The Chameleon in the Classroom

death, food, Galen, remedies

Death in Vienna and the City of Salt

I've mentioned in a previous post my time working in Vienna. When I was there, I became fascinated by the cemeteries: in particular, the Zentralfriedhof, which is so big that there are three tram stops along its perimeter and a special shuttle bus to get around inside, as it takes so long to walk from one end… Continue reading Death in Vienna and the City of Salt

death, diseases, love, museums and collections, remedies

The ‘Rapunzel syndrome’

Who’s your favourite Disney princess? How about the lovely Rapunzel, whose long golden hair – according to ‘Tangled’ (2010) – has healing properties? Every now and then I come across a disorder or a remedy I had not only never heard about, but had never imagined… Such is ‘Rapunzel syndrome’. To backtrack a little, and… Continue reading The ‘Rapunzel syndrome’

death, dissection, Galen, Hippocrates, museums and collections

Theatres of Anatomy

Every other year, I lead a tour group which visits two historic anatomy theatres: the oldest permanent structure, the Padua anatomy theatre of 1594, and the 1638-39 one in Bologna. Before 1594, anatomy theatres were temporary structures, in some cases erected at the expense of the professor performing the dissection. On the tour, we usually… Continue reading Theatres of Anatomy

death, dissection, museums and collections

Bodies at breakfast, and a grand day out

While we're on the theme of dissection... I was recently talking to a breakfast group about ‘Bodies, ancient and modern’. No, I don’t know why they wanted to hear about bodies at breakfast, either – I prefer to focus on my muesli. In the section in which I talked about the history of gaining knowledge… Continue reading Bodies at breakfast, and a grand day out