Madness in Seneca's Medea and Celsus's De Medicina

Author: Bán, Katalin
Source document: Graeco-Latina Brunensia. 2019, vol. 24, iss. 1, pp. 5-16
Extent
5-16
  • ISSN
    1803-7402 (print)
    2336-4424 (online)
Type
Article
Language
English
Abstract(s)
According to the Hellenistic topos, philosophy is 'medicine' for the soul in order to heal the soul just as medicine is in charge of healing the body. The 'illness' of the soul in need of healing is its passions, that is, its desire, anger, vengeance and fear. The aim of my study is to examine and compare the different forms, manifestations, causes and treatments of insania in Aulus Cornelius Celsus's De Medicina and Seneca's Medea and prose works through a text-based approach. Seneca's tragedies – just as his prose works – display a profound interest in the mental and psychological states of their characters. One of the best examples is Medea, which is a drama of passion, madness, and the destructive forces in the soul. By comparing the tragedy with Celsus's De Medicina, a nearly contemporary encyclopaedic prose text on medical theory and practice, I intend to show that philosophical understandings of madness interact at some level with medical ones. Medea's madness is evidently different from the forms of insania examined by Celsus, as it is not of the medical variety, since it consists of her anger and desire for revenge, but we can observe connection points in some aspects, such as symptoms and therapeutic tools (e.g. personalized therapy, direct conversation, the importance of self-control, self-reinforcement through direct and encouraging relationships and the concentration of the patient's attention).
Document
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