Medicine: From Galen to Saturday Night Live

In an article for the website Inside Higher Ed, Scott McLemee looks at the contributions of Roman physician Galen, upon whose work most medieval medicine was based. The writer begins his story with a look at Steve Martin's portrayal of medieval doctor Theodoric of York on Saturday Night Live. (video)

The article reviews the new book The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire (Oxford University Press), by Susan P. Mattern.

From the review:

An earned authority, just to be clear about it. Galen had an ego the size of the Empire itself. He never tired of pointing out the abject ignorance of other physicians, and was prone to quoting tributes by illustrious people to his own erudition and skill. It is not charming. But Mattern shows Galen to have been tireless as both a practitioner and a scholar -- and his output of treatises, case histories, popular textbooks, and editions of Hippocrates and other medical authors was astounding. “The most modern edition of his corpus runs to 22 volumes, including about 150 titles,” writes Mattern, “and is one-eighth of all the classical Greek literature that survives.”