The best books on Galen and Galenism

Vivian Nutton Author Of Galen: A Thinking Doctor in Imperial Rome
By Vivian Nutton

Who am I?

Vivian Nutton is an emeritus professor of the History of Medicine at UCL and has written extensively on the pre-modern history of medicine. He has lectured around the world and held posts in Cambridge and Moscow as well as the USA. His many books include editions and translations of Galen as well as a major survey of Greek and Roman Medicine, and he is currently writing a history of medicine in the Late Renaissance.


Galen: A Thinking Doctor in Imperial Rome

By Vivian Nutton,

Book cover of Galen: A Thinking Doctor in Imperial Rome

Galen of Pergamum, a Greek doctor in ancient Rome, is a fascinating figure, doctor to several Roman Emperors, a prolific writer, an overbearing egotist, a medical genius, an acute observer, and intelligent thinker, whose influence lasted for a millennium and a half. I have tried to explain the complexities of a man whose writings still provoke admiration or dissent, but rarely allow neutrality.

The books I picked & why

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"On Second Thought" and Other Essays in the History of Medicine and Science

By Owsei Temkin,

Book cover of "On Second Thought" and Other Essays in the History of Medicine and Science

Why this book?

This series of essays by a humane physician-historian who first attracted me to medical history examines basic ideas in medicine across centuries and cultures. Published when the author was almost a hundred, it raises important questions about medical ethics and the place of medicine in society from the Greeks onwards.

"On Second Thought" and Other Essays in the History of Medicine and Science

By Owsei Temkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked "On Second Thought" and Other Essays in the History of Medicine and Science as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over the course of a career spanning most of the twentieth century, distinguished historian Owsei Temkin has argued passionately for the necessity of chronicling and analyzing the history of medicine. The essays presented in "On Second Thought" and Other Essays in the History of Medicine and Science span Dr. Temkin's career, bringing together new pieces and many previously unavailable outside the journals in which they were originally published. Here the reader will find new thoughts and ideas that deviate from Dr. Temkin's earlier beliefs and reflect a lifetime of research into the historical and ethical foundations of modern medicine. Dr.…


Galen: Psychological Writings: Avoiding Distress, Character Traits, the Diagnosis and Treatment of the Affections and Errors Peculiar to Each Person'

By P.N. Singer,

Book cover of Galen: Psychological Writings: Avoiding Distress, Character Traits, the Diagnosis and Treatment of the Affections and Errors Peculiar to Each Person'

Why this book?

Galen is his own best advocate and his own worst enemy. This volume includes translations of five works, including one discovered only in 2005 and another preserved largely in Arabic. It tells us much of his life in Rome, his book collecting, and his views on education and ethics.

Galen: Psychological Writings: Avoiding Distress, Character Traits, the Diagnosis and Treatment of the Affections and Errors Peculiar to Each Person'

By P.N. Singer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Galen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All Galen's surviving shorter works on psychology and ethics - including the recently discovered Avoiding Distress, and the neglected Character Traits, extant only in Arabic - are here presented in one volume in a new English translation, with substantial introductions and notes and extensive glossaries. Original and penetrating analyses are provided of the psychological and philosophical thought, both of the above and of two absolutely central works of Galenic philosophy, Affections and Errors and The Capacities of the Soul, by some of the foremost experts in the field. Each treatise has also been subjected to fresh textual study, taking account…


Hippocrates

By Jacques Jouanna,

Book cover of Hippocrates

Why this book?

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, was Galen’s hero. This study by the leading expert in ancient Greek medicine sets his life and ideas in the wider context of life in the Aegean world of the fifth and fourth centuries BC.

Hippocrates

By Jacques Jouanna,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hippocrates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hippocrates, considered for more than two thousand years the father of medicine, came over time to be credited with a life of mythic proportions and an enormous body of work. Hippocrates' pronouncements on health, disease, and prognosis went unchallenged in the Western world until scientific advances in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries made many of his ideas obsolete. And yet medical students in the United States and Europe still recite the Hippocratic oath upon completion of their studies. In view of Hippocrates' exceptional importance in the history of medicine, it may seem surprising that our knowledge of this fifth century…


The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found

By Violet Moller,

Book cover of The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found

Why this book?

A lively account of the ways in which the philosophical and medical ideas of the Greeks were transmitted to Rome, the Arab world, and medieval Italy. What Plato, Aristotle and Galen had said was often changed and even lost on the way, and only partially recovered in Renaissance Italy. A vivid reminder of the influence of the Greeks over many centuries.

The Map of Knowledge: A Thousand-Year History of How Classical Ideas Were Lost and Found

By Violet Moller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Map of Knowledge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A lovely debut from a gifted young author. Violet Moller brings to life the ways in which knowledge reached us from antiquity to the present day in a book that is as delightful as it is readable.' Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

In The Map of Knowledge Violet Moller traces the journey taken by the ideas of three of the greatest scientists of antiquity - Euclid, Galen and Ptolemy - through seven cities and over a thousand years. In it, we follow them from sixth-century Alexandria to ninth-century Baghdad, from Muslim Cordoba to Catholic Toledo, from Salerno's medieval…


Pagans and Christians

By Robin Lane Fox,

Book cover of Pagans and Christians

Why this book?

A wonderful evocation of the Roman world that emphasises the vibrant life of the Eastern half of the Mediterranean where Galen himself lived, studied, and travelled. It shows how the Roman Empire was more than just Rome.

Pagans and Christians

By Robin Lane Fox,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pagans and Christians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explores the character of early Christianity, with details on religious life, secular daily life, and the condition of paganism at the time of its defeat


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Galen, medicine, and the Middle Ages?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Galen, medicine, and the Middle Ages.

Galen Explore 7 books about Galen
Medicine Explore 70 books about medicine
The Middle Ages Explore 297 books about the Middle Ages

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Religions of Rome, The First Man in Rome, and Roman Blood if you like this list.