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Arch Hellen Med, 25(5), September-October 2008, 673-684


Real and imaginative medical students in Athenian literature (1850-1910)

History of Medicine, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

In the Greek urban literature (Atheneography) of 19th century, the city of Athens dominates all over the other smaller centers of the country and its unique educational foundation for almost a century offers to the new capital the necessary spiritual glamour, inspires the official historiography, journalists and novelists, especially those dealing with Athenian themes. The University enters in every narration about the everyday life of the students in those times. Its presence is permanent in every reference of the juvenile microcosm of the steadily increasing number of students, like the increasing population of the capital. The transformation of the real events and the official history to the art of writing illuminates and maximizes them according to feelings and impressions. This paper focuses on medical students, either existing and known (A. Goudas, C. Louros, Angeliki Panayotatou, G. Papanicolaou) who enter in the action of four books written by themselves or other authors, or medical students invented by the imagination of their creators. In the latter case, seven novels are examined referring to the period 1850-1910, where the heroes or some of the presented characters are indeed students of the Athens Medical School. There are descriptions of the scientific studies (many scenes are taking place inside the University), the habitudes, the day walks, the places of meeting and entertainment. In parallel there is a general view of the city, the social environment, the political situation (most students are involved in politic affairs), the eternal organizing problems of the medical school affecting the quality of knowledge and obtained skillfulness as well as matters of post-graduation and career.

Key words: Athenian literature, Athens University Medical School, Medical education.

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