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Susan P. Mattern, professor of history at the University of Georgia wrote a meticulous and engaging biography of Claudius Galenus, also called Galen of Pergamon (Pergamum) (129ce to 226ce). Mattern’s rigorous scholarship unveils the rich, vivid layers of Galen’s life and times. Galen, a Greek aristocrat of great ambition and superior intelligence, was already a renowned physician when he arrived in Rome in 162 ce. He treated Emperor Marcus Aurelius, philosopher Eudemus and of course, the Gladiators.
Mattern tells the story of Galen from early life to death. Mattern stresses that Galen was an exemplary products of Hellenistic culture, urbane, deeply familiar with Greek philosophy and literature as well as medical literature. Galen learned the art of oratory and debate practiced by the Sophists. Mattern reports his encounters with other physician were brutal rhetorical showdowns.
Galen was a titan of his time. His many books would be consulted by medics for centuries to come. Where chronology is uncertain Mattern organized material by theme. In a series of chapter Mattern, combines biographical material with emphasis on some aspect of Galen’s doctrine and practice. Over all it is surprisingly an easy readable book considering the complicated material it covers. Professor Mattern managed to create a book anyone can read and understand not just the academic. James Patrick Cronin narrated the book.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
Interesting story, but written a fairly dry, factual manner. The characters were well covered, but did not come alive. I enjoyed the story itself, but it could have been done in a more exciting way