Header image for the course page


Galen's On Prognosis: A Social History of Medicine in Second Century Rome

Greek 471 - Spring 2021

Galen of Pergamum was a Greek physician, philosopher, and intellectual active throughout most of the second-century CE. He was also a voracious reader and writer of Greek literature; his surviving work far exceeds the extant output of any other Greek author before the third century CE. In this course we will be reading Galen's treatise On Prognosis, in which he recounts his career in the city of Rome, from his arrival in the early 160s through his tenure as an imperial physician to at least the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. While ostensibly a medical account, On Prognosis has little to say on technical medical issues. Rather, Galen's story is a carefully constructed professional autobiography that pivots from searing denouncements of Roman life, to tense public performances of medical expertise, and finally to intimate case histories of Rome's rich and powerful. The text presents us a fascinating window through which to examine not only the social practice of elite medicine in Rome of the second century, but also the complicated experience of a Greek intellectual navigating the corridors of the Imperial court. Course goals include: improving accuracy and speed in reading Greek prose, acquiring greater familiarity with intellectual discourse of the Imperial Period, and training in methods of research and writing. PREREQUISITES: GREEK 318C OR PERMISSION OF THE INSTRUCTOR AND SOPHOMORE STANDING OR ABOVE.

Section 01

Galen's On Prognosis: A Social History of Medicine in Second Century Rome
View Course Listing