Classics Notes – Mar. 15/12
- Galen 129-ca.216 AD. His medicine is based on what went before him. He made it into a coherent
medical system. His father was an architect, his grandfather was a land surveyor. His father had a
dream in which Asclepius appeared to him. Asclepius told his father that Galen should study
medicine. He got his education in Alexandria. He became a surgeon to the gladiators. His duty was to
keep the gladiators healthy and alive. He went to Rome later on. In Rome, in order to gain a clientele,
he started doing public anatomical demonstrations. He got accepted into the circles of high society
and was admitted into the household of the emperor. He left but came back to Rome. In 174AD he
became physician of emperor Marcus Aurelius. He wrote in Greek – he is a Greek physician in Rome.
He wrote on all subjects in medicine. He also wrote on philosophical topics, language, and
psychotherapy. In medicine, he combined different ideas from different medical directions – his three
influences were Hippocratic medicine (humoral pathology), Aristotle, and Alexandrian. He was also
influenced by the empiricists. He believed that you should start with your own observation instead of
starting with theory. He looks at symptoms and asks what is going on inside the body.
- This passage is written by Galen (129-ca.210 AD). This is a case history to show how clever Galen is
and how able he is to diagnose diseases. In this case he treats a stomach complaint of the Emperor.
He is convinced of his own skills. Other physicians thought he had an attack of fever, but Galen says
this isn’t true. These intermittent fevers are a pattern that would be seen in malaria. He took a
medication and an antidote. Emperors took daily antidotes for general ailments because they were
good for stomach disorders. He conducted a medical interview – he asked the emperor himself what
he did on the previous day. He had pain in the lower abdomen. He is also very modest – he tells the
emperor that the other physicians that are always with him have a better knowledge of his health.
But he believes he can come up with a better diagnosis. He has a good knowledge of pulses. He
compared the emperor’s pulse to the norm for each age and constitution. He had too much food, so
coction could not take place and he had trouble with digestion. Galen established some rapport with
his patient. He prescribed wine with pepper, which are warming substances. Only the safest
medication is good for the emperor. The emperor used Galen’s recommendation. The emperor
believes Galen has a philosophical attitude in that he isn’t concerned with money. Galen strives to be
an enlightened physician and wants to study and find out the truth. Galen believes that physicians
must know both what causes health and illness, and what to do to maintain or r