The Image of Disease in Religious, Medical-Astrological and Social Discourses: Old Polish Literature as an Example of Early Modern European Mentality

J Relig Health. 2020 Jun 24;1-10. doi: 10.1007/s10943-020-01056-x. Online ahead of print.


Today, the world is struggling with a coronavirus epidemic. People explain differently the causes and sense of this disease. Old Polish literature about diseases is representative for European thought in the modern era. The problem of the disease appears in old Polish literature in various discourses. The three most important are religious, medical-astrological and social discourse. In this article, I discuss basic paradigms of thinking connected with these discourses and the relationship between them. In the religious discourse, it is God who decides about health and illness. The pathological state of the organism can be both a trial and a punishment for the sinner. The medical and astrological discourse is based on ancient medicine, medieval medicine and astrology. It assumes a close dependence of human health on the balance of the fluids in the body and on the planetary system. The social discourse is dominated by epidemics of infectious diseases. It is a collection of advices for organizing a society during a pandemic.

Keywords: Aetiology of the disease; Astrology; Medical history; Religious discourse; Social discourse.