“As Trainers for the Healthy”: Massage Therapists, Anointers, and Healing in the Late Latin West


This article asserts that cultural distinctions in the use of oil and the esteem of athletics initially allowed for a higher status for massage therapists, athletic trainers, and anointers in Greek as opposed to Roman culture. Over the course of the Empire, however, these dissimilarities waned due to cultural, medical, and—ultimately—religious shifts. These professionals are, in a sense, trace elements that allow us to track transformation in attitudes towards the body and the power of touch to heal from the high Empire into Late Antiquity. They also allow us to discern the implications of the Church’s claim to arbitrate healing of both the soul and the body.