1902 Encyclopedia > Galen

Greek physician
(c. 130-201)

GALEN, or GALENUS, CLAUDIUS, called Gallien by Chaucer and other writers of the Middle Ages, the most celebrated of ancient medical writers, was born at Pergamus, in Mysia, about 130 A.D. His father Nicon, from whom he received his early education, is described as remarkable both for excellence of natural disposition, and for mental culture; his mother, on the other hand, appears to have beea a second Xanthippe. In 146 Galen commenced the study of medicine, and in about his twentieth year he left Pergamus for Smyrna, in order to place himself under the instruction of the anatomist and physician Pelops, and of the peripatetic philosopher Albinus. He subsequently visited other cities, and in 158 returned from Alexandria to Pergamus. In 164 he went for the first time to Rome. There he healed Eudemus, a celebrated peripatetic philo-sopher, and other persons of distinction; and ere long, by his learning and unparalleled success as a physician, earned for himself the titles of " Paradoxologus," the wonder-speaker, and " Paradoxopceus," the wonder-worker, thereby incurring the jealousy and envy of his fellow-practitioners. Leaving Rome in 168, he repaired to his native city, whence he was soon sent for to Aquileia, in Venetia, by the emperors Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius. In 170 he returned to Rome with the latter, who, on departing thence to conduct the war on the Danube, having with difficulty been persuaded to dispense with his personal attendance, appointed him medical guardian of his son Commodus. In Rome Galen remained for some years, greatly extending his reputation as a physician, and writing some of his most important treatises. It would appear that he eventually betook himself to Pergamus, after spending some time at the island of Lemnos, where he learned the method of preparing a certain popular medicine, the " terra lemnia " or "sigillata." Whether he ever revisited Rome is un-certain, as also are the time and place of his death. According to Suidas, he died at the age of seventy, or in the year 200, in the reign of Septimius Severus. If, however, we are to trust the testimony of Abul-faraj, one of his Arabian biographers, his decease took place in Sicily, when he was in his eightieth year. Galen was one of the most versatile and accomplished writers of his age. He com-posed, it is said, nearly 500 treatises on various subjects, including logic, ethics, and grammar. Of the published works attributed to him 83 are recognized as genuine, 19 are of doubtful authenticity, 45 are confessedly spurious, 19 are fragments, and 15 are notes on the writings of Hippocrates.

Galen, who in his youth was carefully trained in the Stoic philosophy, was an unusually prolific writer on logic. Of the numerous commentaries and original treatises, a catalogue of which is given in his work De Propriis Libris, one only has come down to us, the treatise on Fallacies in dictione (Peri ton kata ten lexin sophistmaton [Gk.]). Many points of logical theory, however, are discussed in his medical and scientific writings. His name is perhaps best known in the history of logic in connexion with the fourth syllogistic figure, the first distinct statement of which was ascribed to him by Averroes. There is no evidence from Galen's own works that he did make this addition to the doctrines of syllogism, and the remarkable passage quoted by M. Minas from a Greek commentator on the Analytics, referring the fourth figure to Galen, clearly shows that the addition did not, as generally supposed, rest on a new principle, but was merely an amplification or, alteration of the indirect moods of the first figure already noted by Theophrastus and the earlier Peripatetics.

In 1844 M. Minoides Minas published a work, avowedly from a MS. with the superscription Galenus, entitled Galenou Eisagoge Dialektike [Gk.]. Of this work, which contains no direct intimation of a fourth figure, and which in general exhibits an astonishing mixture of the Aristotelian and Stoic logic, Prantl speaks with the bitterest contempt. He shows demonstratively that it cannot be regarded as a writing of Galen's, and ascribes it to some one or other of the later Greek logicians. A full summary of its contents will be found in the 1st vol. of the Geschichte der Logik (591-610), and a notice of the logical theories of the true Galen in the same work, pp. 559-577.

There have been numerous issues of the whole or parts of Galen's works, among the editors or illustrators of which may be mentioned Jo. Bapt. Opizo, N. Leonicenus, L. Fuchs, A. Lacuna, Ant. Musa Brassavolus, Aug. Gadaldinus, Conrad Gesner, Sylvius, Cornarius, Joannes Montanus, Joannes Caius, Thomas Linacre, Theodore Goulston, Caspar Hoffman, René Chartier, Haller, and Kühn. Of Latin translations Choulant mentions one in the 15th and twenty-two in the following century. The Greek text was edited at Venice, in 1525, 5 vols. fol. ; at Basel, in 1538, 5 vols. fol. ; at Paris, with Latin version by René Chartier, in 1639, and in 1679, 13 vols. fol. ; and at Leipsic, in 1821-33, by C. G. Kühn, considered to be the best, 20 vols. 8vo. An epitome in English of the works of Hippocrates and Galen, by J. R. Coxe, was published at Philadelphia in 1846.

Further details as to the life and an account of the anatomical knowledge of Galen will be found in the art. ANATOMY, vol. i. pp. 802-804. See also René Chartier's Life, in his edition of Galen's works; N. F. J. Eloy, Dictionnaire Historique de la Médecine, s. v. " Galien," tom. i.,1778; F. Adams's "Commentary" in his Medical Works of Paulus Aegineta, London and Aberdeen, 1834; J. Kidd, "A Cursory Analysis of the Works of Galen, so far as they relate to Anatomy and Physiology," Trans. Provincial Med. and Surg. Assoc., vi., 1837, pp. 299-336; C. V. Daremberg, Exposition des Connaissances de Galien sur l'Anatomie, la Physiologie, et la Pathologie du Système Nerveux (Thèse pour le Doctorat en Médecine), Paris, 1841 ; and J. R. Gasquet, " The Practical Medicine of Galen and his Time," The British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Rev., vol. xi., 1867, pp. 472-488.

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