Greek and Roman medicine -- Historiography, Galen, Human anatomy -- Study and teaching -- Rome, Animal experimentation -- History, Vivisection -- History


Galen of Pergamum (129 – ca. 216 C.E.) is truly one of the most pivotal characters in the history of medicine, and particularly the field of anatomy. A physician in the ancient Roman Empire, he did not allow his work to be constrained by contemporary boundaries, instead delving further into the field of anatomy and physiology than any doctor had yet done. He built upon the existing work of his predecessors as well as making new discoveries through which he would shape contemporary and future understandings of anatomy, and of medicine as a whole. Although a luminary in his field, Galen’s work is not without need of serious consideration. His study of anatomy centered largely on the dissection of animals, and thus relied on the perceived physical similarities between animals and humans to apply his discoveries to the practical treatment of human patients. Doubtless this comparative method would have been less necessary had he been able to work with human bodies, but Galen never dissected a human corpse in his lifetime.83 His anatomical knowledge was gained through other methods.



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