n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Mapping madness : two medical responses to insanity in later antiquity

Supplement 3
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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Madness, or the process of becoming mad, is a common subject in ancient literature. Examples and discussions of mad people can be found in tragedy, history and even philosophical works. For the most part, the madness presented in these works is explained as being of divine origin : the gods inflict the madness upon a person either as punishment for some blasphemous action, or as a gift, in the form of philosophical or literary inspiration. We therefore see heroes such as Orestes and Hercules go mad at the hands of an offended goddess, while Socrates tells Phaedrus that 'the greatest of good things come to us through madness, when it is given by divine gift.'

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