Alexander von Tralleis – Physician and Magician

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Alexander von Tralleis – Physician and Magician
Alexander von Tralleis – Physician and Magician

Healing with Amulet and Astrology

Alexandria was not only a stronghold of learning, but also a contact zone of cultures. Inspired by the secret rituals of the Orient, the Byzantine physician Alexandros von Tralleis developed an early form of holistic medicine.

"It is the absolute duty of a responsible physician to consider every therapeutic aid," admonished the Byzantine physician Alexandros of Tralleis (6th century) in his "Therapeutika". To continue regretfully: "However, since the prevailing zeitgeist of the moment censures the use of remedies that work through an immanent force of nature out of ignorance, I have avoided prescribing such on a continuous basis." (Shortened quote) In fact, Alexandros described a wide range of magical therapy methods in addition to "conventional" ones. He often recommended them as a supplement, but sometimes also as an alternative, then often at the request of the patients - Alexandros responded to their psychological sensitivities.

The quote is reminiscent of today's discussions "conventional medicine versus alternative healing methods". In general, Byzantine doctors, following the great ancient models, were critical of magic. The great role model Galen (AD 129–210/216) admitted that some precious stones had healing powers, but not an engraving of a deity on such a cameo. It is true that physicians in Alexandria put ancient and late ancient sources to the test in their own clinical experiences, and included patient observations and case studies. But despite all their willingness to innovate and in contrast to scholars from other disciplines, they hardly opened themselves to the religious and cultural currents that came together in Alexandria …

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