ISSN 2409-5834

The social and legal status of physicians in the late Roman Empire

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Mikhail A. Vedeshkin


An analysis of the social and political status of physicians in the late Roman Empire is presented. The article examines the evolution of perceptions of the social standing of physicians from the late Republic to the Late Antiquity. The work sheds light on the financial and legal status of physicians and their families, the peculiarities of the professional training of medical personnel (special attention is paid to the Alexandrian School), the organisation of the health system in provincial and capital cities of the Roman Empire, the ties between members of the medical community and the capital and provincial elite in the empire. Close attention is paid to the work of the corporations of municipal and court archiaters, their social status, professional and personal ties with emperors, participation in governance and diplomatic activities. Using the example of a wide range of sources, including late Roman legislation, epigraphic monuments, oral tradition and epistolary evidence, based on modern ideas about bioethics as a science, the author makes an argument for the theory of considerable consolidation of the status of late Roman physicians compared to the status of their counterparts in the late Republic and the Principate.

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