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The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization
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The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  10 reviews
“The last wild frontier of classical studies.” ---The Times (UK)
The Chemical Muse
uncovers decades of misdirection and obfuscation to revealthe history of widespread drug use in Ancient Rome and Greece. In the city-states that gave birth to Western civilization, drugs were an everydayelementof a free society. Often they were not just available, but vitally necessary for us
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Thomas Dunne Books
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JJ W
May 08, 2013 JJ W rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: psych
This book states what should have been stated long ago and seems obvious in retrospect about how widespread the use of "recreational drugs" were in Hellenistic and Roman times. The books is written comprehensively enough and is somewhat entertaining. But the author gets bogged down in his arguments, for example saying that ancients had little concept of "recreational drugs" and then proceeding to use that term to describe ancient "drug" use, much of which was opiate pain relief. So he's using mo ...more
Kate
Hillman presents a very well-reasoned argument and is apparently breaking with centuries of Classical scholarship in doing so. While he does admonish fellow scholars for purposefully ignoring this aspect of ancient culture, he mostly focuses on proving his point. His basic reasoning is that medicinal and recreational drug use were inseparable in ancient times, mostly due to the extremely harsh living conditions that forced them to seek relief through plant toxins/medicines. In my opinion, his ar ...more
Ethan
While sympathetic to Hillman's general argument, I was disappointed with how bland and repetitive The Chemical Muse was.
Christy
I'm leaving Goodreads. This review is now available on LibraryThing, user name CSRodgers.
Kerry
While the premise of this book already intrigued me...Hillman's intro made it irresistible. While finishing his doctorate degree & dissertation he was essentially told he had to cut out the section about the common use of recreational drugs in ancient Greece. Because the world is too stuffy to admit that Aristotle, Socrates & Plato may have been geniuses because they were a bit hiiiiiiiiigh all the time.

While ancient Greece to some may seem like one big stoner orgy... it was actually a s
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Gnostic Media
The Chemical Muse: Drug use and the Roots of Western Civilization, by D.C.A. Hillman, Ph.D., 2008.

Ancient Romans and Greeks high on drugs? Most definitely.

This book is a fascinating look into a seldom discussed topic - the Roman and Greek use of drugs. And not just drugs for medicinal use, but recreationally too. From psychedelic drugs like mandrake, wormwood, henbane and mushrooms, to fumigating cannabis or marijuana, the ancient texts, when translated precisely, show a deep and culturally ingr
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Michael
Great topic; a bit redundant; reasonably well-written. Well worth a look.
Matt
Mind-blowing. Will prove to be very challenging to any student of government, law, history, or science. The author makes a compelling case about how to improve society through increased personal liberties. Also makes a careful depiction of how scholarship in American universities is subject to censorship through a form of mob mentality created by a distorted sense of aesthetics... that somehow free inquiry and healthy, open debate does not really exist, at least in some areas of scholarship.
Sunyoung
A book about how drugs influenced the Greek philosophers, e.g. Plato and Aristotle. The author goes on and on about how obvious the fact is and how/why the Acacemics would not accept the fact. Made me to view the Greek mythology from a different and interesting angle.

Read right after "Beautiful boy".
Amanda Gaze
I was able to go to his reading at Borders in Madison. He is a hometown boy and has a very interesting story of being censored during his thesis because they didnt like the truth of Galen et al self-medicating. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Sara Octenjak
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Jan 12, 2015
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Recommend? 1 8 Aug 17, 2008 07:36AM  

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