Blum, R. and E. Blum (1965). Health and Healing in Rural Greece: A Study of Three Communities. Stanford, Stanford University Press.
This study of rural healing traditions in 1960s Greece is an excellent starting point for those historians who wish to read into the anthropological field. The aim of the book is to provide an understanding health beliefs in the rural societies of Greece by looking at two peasant communities called Dhadhi and Panorio, and a shepherd encampment in the region of Doxario called Saracatzani.
Blum and Blum provide an interesting and complete study of each community based on personal experience in the areas, interviews, statistics and histories. In doing so we are presented with comparison of ancient and modern methods and traditions concerning healing practices. Comparisons are drawn from the ancient literary evidence in relation to homeopathic forms of medicine and beliefs concerning modern technological and rational medicine. Blum and Blum highlight the mutual obligations seen within the traditions and the communities’ cooperation.
Unlike many modern scholars dealing with medical traditions in the modern world, Blum and Blum move beyond the herbal and scientific aspects and into discussions of magic and ritual, superstition and midwifery. The study is filled with illuminating figures concerning health practices including issues with water supply, cleanliness and focus on ancient herbal methods over modern medicine. The examples of cures in these communities are particularly interesting and illustrate the uniqueness of the environment and their beliefs. My favourite being the use of mouse oil to cure basically anything. (One takes a mouse, drowns it oil in a jar, leaves the mouse in the jar of oil in the sun for one year, take and apply to affected areas. My only issue is that if you haven’t got any handy you will be waiting a very long time for your cure to mature. And I’m also against the drowning of the innocent mouse!!! Poor thing.)
Blum and Blum focus on a range of folk healers and practices specific to both the male and female sexes. The information that they find draws certain conclusions that ancient traditions have been maintained and transferred into the modern rural healing traditions.
For someone who has not read widely on anthropology it was an enlightening introduction to modern scholarship and the links between traditions. Additionally it allows one to clearly see the types of studies undertaken by anthropologists in different environments and how those techniques relate to other disciplines; including archaeology, history, psychology and sociology.
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Betz, H.D., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation(Chicago, 1986)
Betz (1986) is surprisingly one of the more recent studies of the magical papyri. . Betz, at the time was considered “a fresh and precise English translation of texts already known to scholars.”
And I believe this statement to be true. Betz’s collection is unique still with a huge amount of work having gone into it by numerous contributors, most of which are not even cited in the book itself. Betz’s study begins with a discussion on methodology and the difficulties that arose. This is particularly useful to one starting on their own study of the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM), as it outlines problems and reasoning faced by other scholars and the decisions they made to best combat them.
Betz adds a note on the editions before setting out a useful introduction to the Greek Magical Papyri. He discusses the history of discovery and suppression due to modern negative connotations of magic and describes the Greek Magical Papyri as the original primary sources which were discovered by sheer luck. Betz pays particular attention to the Demotic papyri and how their inclusion changed the picture presented by the Greek Magical Papyri.
This provides, even for the modern reader, a positive appreciation of the corpus. Despite debate concerning Betz’ linkage of religion and magic, Betz allows us to see the individual spells in their context as part of the Greek Magical Papyri.  The main character and discussion in Betz’s work remain relevant to the introduction of the magical papyri, though apparently revealing an underlying ambivalence. He provides suitable parallels to be drawn between papyri because his work is substantial, concise and of high quality, referring to both parallels in ancient literature and contemporary scholarship.
The fact that this work has remained at the forefront of sources for its topic speaks for itself. Having spoken to one of the contributors I am even more impressed by the time and the content of this work. Granted there are downsides; the lack of Greek text alongside the translations does not allow one to judge the translations for themselves. Though this would not be a problem for the general public, the academic reader who is far more likely to pick up this work for research purposes would have benefited significantly from this addition. But we can’t have everything.
Certainly worth a read for anyone interested in magic, papyri, Greek and Demotic and historiography.
 Stroumsa, G.G., Review: The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Including the Demotic Spells by Hans Dieter Betz, in History of Religions, Vol.28, No.2 (Nov., 1988), p.182
 Betz, H.D., (1986), op.cit., p.xli
 Gager, J.G., Review: A New Translation of Ancient Greek and Demotic Papyri, Sometimes Called Magical – The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Including the Demotic Spells, Vol.1, Texts by H.D.Betz, in The Journal of Religion, Vol.67, No.1 (Jan., 1987), p.81
 Stroumsa, G.G., (1988), op.cit., p.182