Galen of Pergamum


Galen, ad 129–216, Greek physician, anatomist and physiologist, was the most influential of ancient doctors. His combination of erudition, logic and practical skills convinced many contemporaries of his supreme merits, and his theories came to dominate learned medicine in medieval Europe and in the Islamic world. He saw himself as continuing the work of Hippocrates of Cos in medicine, and of the physicians of early Alexandria in anatomy, systematising the notion that health and disease depended on an individual balance or imbalance of four fluids, or humours, blood, bile, black bile and phlegm. He was a prolific dissector, almost entirely of animals, and his description of the body, bolstered by an exuberant rhetoric, remained largely unchallenged until the sixteenth century CE.

Keywords: medicine; anatomy; humours; hippocrates; Rome; Greece; Alexandria; renaissance

Further Reading

Hankinson RJ (2008) The Cambridge Companion to Galen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nutton V (2004) Ancient Medicine. London: Routledge.

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Nutton, V(Sep 2010) Galen of Pergamum. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002525.pub2]