Philip van der Eijk has been awarded £402,706 by the Wellcome Trust for the research project 'Towards a Galen in English'. The project will run for five years and employ two postdoctoral research assistants and one editorial assistant.
The works of Galen of Pergamum (129-210 CE), 'the Prince of Physicians', are one of the most impressive monuments of Classical medicine. They comprise all areas of medicine, ranging from anatomy, physiology, pathology, psychiatry, dietetics, therapeutics and pharmacology to gynaecology, embryology and theory of reproduction. In addition, they cover theoretical, methodological and philosophical aspects fundamental to the acquisition, systematisation and communication of medical knowledge, such as logic, medical terminology, epistemology and theory of causation. And however voluminous and wide-ranging, they are bound together by an intrinsic, systematic and coherent (if eclectic) comprehensive theory of the human body, the human psyche, their place within the natural world, of the nature of medical knowledge and the methodology of its acquisition, validation and systematisation, and of the technical and ethical components of medical expertise. Galen's works were of enormous influence on the subsequent history of medicine, both in the West and in the East (and in Arabic medicine), and Galen's authority remained powerful until well into the 17th century.
More recently, Galen's works have also found strong resonance beyond the domain of medical history. Galen was, after all, not only a brilliant medic and prolific writer but also the court physician of several Roman Emperors, a keen public debater and dissector and an active participant in social and cultural life, first in Pergamum and subsequently in Rome. Hence it is not surprising that Galen's work commands a growing interest from classicists and ancient historians, students of ancient literature, philosophy and society, and his writings are being exploited as a rich source for the social, cultural and intellectual history of the early Imperial period and its reception in later times. Thus Galen's work represents an excellent example of how the study of ancient medical history can have a wider impact on other, related disciplines.
Yet Galen's works are difficult to access. Many of them are still not available in modern critical editions and only accessible in the 19th century edition by C.G. Kühn (with Latin translation), which is universally held to be unsatisfactory (and incomplete); and although there has recently been significant improvement, it is still the case that not more than 25% of his work is accessible in English translation.
This project aims to address this situation. Its purpose is to provide a co-ordinated series of scholarly English translations of works of Galen in a uniform format, providing elaborate Introductions, Notes, Bibliographies, Glossaries and Indices, thus making Galen's work accessible also to a non-specialist readership.
published on: 9th January 2009