Universiteit Leiden

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Manfred Horstmanshoff

Professor Emeritus History of medicine

Prof.dr. H.F.J. Horstmanshoff
+31 71 527 2166


My research is centred on the history of ancient medicine in all its aspects, and at all times in its social and cultural context. Attention to the patient’s history belongs in this context. What did it mean to be ill in Graeco-Roman Antiquity? How did patients and doctors communicate? How can we grasp the different rationalities that were active in ancient medicine? I am also interested in the history of ideas. Medical concepts, ideas and terminology play an important role as they ‘dripped down’ into literature and society, A third area of interest is ancient physiology, especially of the senses and the reception of ancient physiological concepts up to the Early Modern Era.


Curriculum Vitae

Manfred (H. F. J.) Horstmanshoff was born in Arnhem, the Netherlands, in 1944. He studied Classical Philology at Leiden University, where he specialised in Ancient History under the guidance of Prof. W. den Boer. After some years as a teacher of Greek and Latin at grammar schools in Haarlem and Vlaardingen, he became Assistant Professor of Ancient History at Leiden University. In 1989, he obtained his PhD from Leiden University (supervisor Prof. H.S. Versnel) with a thesis about the social and religious reactions to plague and pestilence in the early Greek world: De pijlen van de pest. Pestilenties in de Griekse wereld (800-400 v.C.). [with a summary in English]. From 1984 to 1988, he was Dean of Studies in the Department of History. Since 1988 he has been Associate Professor of Ancient History at Leiden University. From 1997 until 2000, he was President of the Nederlands Klassiek Verbond [the Dutch Classical Association] in the Netherlands and Belgium. He is one of the two Dutch representatives in AMFIKTUONIA, a European Initiative for the Promotion of Ancient Greek at Delphi.
He is a member of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde and of the Committee of Recommendation of the Louis Couperus Association.

He is one of the editors of the journal Geschiedenis der Geneeskunde and correspondent for Ancient Medicine of the journal Gewina. Twice a year he organises meetings of the Werkgezelschap Antieke Geneeskunde [Society for Ancient Medicine] at Leiden University.

During the 2000-2001 academic year, he was Fellow-in-Residence of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies at Wassenaar, where he participated in the the nucleus “Rethinking the History of Medicine: ‘Rationality’ and ‘magic’ in Babylonia and the Graeco-Roman World”.



(2004) “'Did the god learn medicine?' Asclepius and Temple Medicine in Aelius Aristides' Sacred Tales”, Magic and Rationality in Ancient Near Eastern and Graeco-Roman Medicine, Horstmanshoff, H.F.J. & Stol, M. (eds.), Leiden/Boston: Brill, pp. 325-342.

(2002) The Four Seasons of Human Life. Four Anonymous Engravings from the Trent Collection with translation and full commentary, Horstmanshoff, H.F.J. e.a. (eds.), Trent Collection, Duke University, Durham, N.C. Erasmus Publishing, Rotterdam, ISBN 90 52535 136 8, 108 pp., folio, incl. CD-ROM.

(2000) “Who is the true eunuch? Medical and religious ideas about eunuchs and castration in the works of Clement of Alexandria”, From Athens to Jerusalem. Medicine in Hellenized Jewish Lore and in Early Christian Literature. Papers of the Symposium in Jerusalem, 9-11 September 1996, S. Kottek, M. Horstmanshoff (eds.), Erasmus Publishing, Rotterdam, 101-118.

(1995) “Galen and his patients”, Ancient medicine in its socio-cultural context vol. I, Ph. J. van der Eijk, H.F.J. Horstmanshoff, P.H. Schrijvers (eds.), Amsterdam, Rodopi, pp. 83-99.

(1990) “The ancient physician: craftsman or scientist?”, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 45, pp. 176-197.

Professor Emeritus History of medicine

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Griekse T&C



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