Academy research project

Galen of Pergamum. The Transmission, Interpretation and Completion of Ancient Medicine

Galen of Pergamum, who served in the Rome of the second century AD as a medical advisor to the emperor Marcus Aurelius, remained, with his vast oeuvre, the definitive authority on medicine from antiquity to the European and Islamic middle ages until well into the modern era. In addition to representing and completing Hippocratic medicine he also assimilated and enlarged upon the body of medical knowledge existing in his day through independent study. His works were translated into Latin, Syriac, Arabic and Hebrew, and formed the foundation of medical knowledge in both the Orient and Occident, while also serving as a source of inspiration for new developments. From the 6th century to the early 19th, without major interruptions, the analysis of Galenic texts served as an integral part of the study of medicine in the East and West. Galen was of particular importance in the formation of medical terminology, but also, and more generally, in defining the roles of medical practitioners and medicine, and in formulating all of the questions that arose regarding the health, composition and function of the human body, and concerning the philosophical and epistemological fundamental principles of medical theory and practice.

At the centre of the newly proposed project stands research on Galen’s works and their role as a decisive case of the transmission of medical knowledge from antiquity to the Middle Ages and the modern era, as well as between Europe and the Orient. The work to be performed by the proposed project will focus on several core issues for which the publication of critical editions of comprehensive key texts together with content-based analysis is envisaged. More ...

The project is part of the Academies Programme funded by the federal and state governments, which serves to preserve, safeguard and bring our cultural heritage to life. The programme is coordinated by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities.