A Notable Greek Physician (130-200)

Early Life and Education

Galen, a renowned Greek physician and teacher, was born in Pergamun. His father, inspired by a dream, carefully educated him and chose the medical profession for him. Galen received education in Pergamun, Smyrna, Corinth, and Alexandria.

Medical Practice and Achievements

After completing his studies, Galen practiced medicine in his hometown and later became the physician to Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Rome. He wrote an impressive 500 works on medical and philosophical topics, and today, 83 of these treatises are still available.

Contributions to Medicine

Galen served as a surgeon to gladiators, conducting vivisections and post mortems on animals like the Barbary ape but not on humans. He followed a mix of medical philosophies, combining the teachings of Hippocrates and Plato while also introducing his own ideas.

Systemizing Greco-Roman Medicine

Galen played a crucial role in compiling and systemizing Greco-Roman knowledge in medicine, physiology, pharmacy, and anatomy. He adhered to theories like Aristotelian teleology Archaeological Discoveries in Ephesus, humoralism, the four qualities, and pneumatism, introducing the concept of the four temperaments Istanbul City Tour.

Galen’s Influence on Antiquity and Middle Ages

Galen’s piety, influenced by both Stoicism and Christianity, resonated strongly with late antiquity and the Middle Ages. He conducted experiments that demonstrated arteries carry blood, not air, and he identified the brain as the seat of intelligence, recognizing the diagnostic value of the pulse.

Legacy and Ongoing Influence

Although Galen’s work was groundbreaking, it was later surpassed by Vesalius in anatomy and Harvey in physiology. He developed pharmaceuticals known as Galenicals by combining various botanical and animal extracts.

Marking the Close of the Ancient Period

Galen’s contributions marked the end of the ancient period in medicine, leaving a lasting impact on the understanding and development of medical science.


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