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What made Galen famous? Galen was born in AD 129 in Pergamum, Greece.

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Introduction

What made Galen famous? Galen was born in AD 129 in Pergamum, Greece. Pergamum had an important Asclepion at which Galen first began his training, at the age of 16. He then spent twelve years travelling to improve his knowledge and visited famous places like Alexandria and Smyrna. After his travels he returned to Pergamum and became a doctor to the gladiators. He was able to treat stab wounds, broken bones and other injuries and this was ideal for Galen to learn more about the skill of surgery. In AD 161 Galen travelled to Rome. He was very ambitious and worked hard at gaining a reputation. He became doctor to the Emperor's son and wrote over 100 medical texts. Galen supported the theories of Hippocrates on ethics and OBSERVATION and he believed in the four humours. ...read more.

Middle

He also let his ambition take over. He only recorded his successful cases and regularly saw what he wanted to see - such as tiny pore in the septum of the heart, which would let blood pass from the right side to the left side. He also thought that the blood started life in the liver and then travelled around the body picking up spirits and believed at the end it was consumed, rather than recirculated. Nevertheless, Galen was very convincing and his fame and popularity meant that many did not question his judgement. His work continued to be used as the primary source of medical knowledge for some 1400 years. His books survived when the Roman Empire collapsed and were revived by doctors in the Arab World. ...read more.

Conclusion

This taught both men and women and even had women professors. Translations of Galen's work were accepted as absolute fact. In the 13th Century, however, Galen's work was beginning to be questioned. Ilb al-Nafis, an Arab, suggested (correctly) that the blood flowed from one side of the heart to the other via the lungs and did not cross the septum. Nafis's work was unknown to the West until the 20th Century! It was not until 1527, 300 years later, that Galen's work was criticised by Western scholars. Paracelsus, who lectured in Basel, burned one of Galen's books and branded him a liar. He even rejected the idea of four humours. However, he had little proof. In 1543, Vesalius wrote "The Fabric of the Human Body" and this, combined with his practical work, pointed out many errors in Galen's work. He managed to prove that there were no holes in the septum of the heart. ...read more.

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This is a well researched report.
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Marked by teacher Luke Smithen 05/07/2013

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