Galen

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Galen

Galen (gā´lən), c.130–c.200, physician and writer, b. Pergamum, of Greek parents. After study in Greece and Asia Minor and at Alexandria, he returned to Pergamum, where he served as physician to the gladiatorial school. He resided chiefly in Rome from c.162. Noted for his lectures and writings, he established a large practice and became court physician to Marcus Aurelius. He is credited with some 500 treatises, most of them on medicine and philosophy; at least 83 of his medical works are extant. He correlated earlier medical knowledge in all fields with his own discoveries (based in part on experimentation and on dissection of animals) and systematized medicine in accordance with his theories, which emphasized purposive creation. His work in anatomy and physiology is especially notable. He demonstrated that arteries carry blood instead of air and added greatly to knowledge of the brain, nerves, spinal cord, and pulse. Until the 16th cent. his authority was virtually undisputed, thus discouraging original investigation and hampering medical progress.

See study by O. Temkin (1973).

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