(circa 129 – 216 AD)

Claudius Galen was the most capable physician of ancient Europe. His theories not only trounced those of Hippocrates, they dominated the European school of thought for more than a millennium. He researched mostly on anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology. And his successes helped entice numerous scholars into studying and advancing medical science. His extensive publications on anatomy (which used primates and swine as specimens) remained in vogue for more than 1000 years: until Andreas Vesalius revolutionized anatomy with human specimens. But in spite of all his revolutionary advances, Vesalius still considered his predecessor’s works too important to be discarded. Hence, he revived them via translations from Greek to Latin. It is generally assumed that the reason why Galen’s anatomical investigations excluded human dissections was because the Roman laws (of those days) forbade any dismemberment of human cadavers. Galen also ventured into other scientific areas: as embodied in the Natural Philosophy of his era. In terms of clinical expertise and accomplishments, he is widely acknowledged as Europe’s foremost clinician. He purportedly published over 500 treatises in various fields. However, less than half of them survived. And as depicted by the surviving ones, his philosophies improved upon the ideas of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Claudius Galen was so endorsed that Emperor Marcus Aurelius of Rome, Sage Athenaeus of Naucratis, and Sage Alexander of Aphrodisias all considered him to be not just the first among physicians, but the most outstanding philosopher of his era. Among others, the Galenic formulation is named after him.


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