Galen, magic, museums and collections

Catch! Attacking your enemy with words as well as weapons

A few years ago, I saw images of an object that was new to me twice, in as many days. It was this pictured lead sling-shot from the fourth century BC, found in Athens and now in the collections of the British Museum (object reference no. 1851,0507.11). The first time the image was circulated on… Continue reading Catch! Attacking your enemy with words as well as weapons

death, diseases

The Plague of Athens: dying like sheep?

I like sheep. When I was staying in the Netherlands some years ago, I was very excited because we were invited on a trip to what I heard as the ‘Sheep Museum’. Puzzled as to how there could be enough material to fill such a place, I went along enthusiastically, but was a little disappointed… Continue reading The Plague of Athens: dying like sheep?

doctors, drugs, food, love, remedies, sex

Poisons and love potions

Everybody knows that the ancient Greek word pharmakon means both healing drug and poison. So how could you tell the (rather important!) difference? In Latin, the equivalent term venenum was similarly used in both senses, and Roman law codes tried to tie down that ambiguity by making it clear whether a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’… Continue reading Poisons and love potions