Iatrosophia and an Eighteenth-Century Oneirokrites in the National Library of Greece

Steven M. Oberhelman

Abstract


Medical dreams were not discussed by Greek popular dream interpreters, but were the domain of physicians like Hippocrates, Galen, and Rufus of Ephesus, or the followers of the healing god Asclepius. An exception is an oneirokrits (dreambook) in Codex 1350 of the National Library of Greece in Athens. This eighteenth-century text reflects Ottoman Greek iatrosophia.
An iatrosophion, widely used in Byzantine and Ottoman Greece, was a physicians notebook of recipes and treatments or was the collective compendium of classical and Byzantine medical and pharmacological texts consulted in hospital settings. Some iatrosophia included medical cures and drugs, but also spells, exorcisms, magic, astrology, and practical advice.
The writer of our oneirokrits used such a magico-medical iatrosophion. After interpreting a dream symbol, he often advises a prophylactic (usually dietary) cure or treatment for restoring or maintaining health, or recommends religious prayers and spells, or apotropaic magic.


Key words: Dreams - Iatrosophia - magic


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