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How to Be Healthy

An Ancient Guide to Wellness

Katherine D. Van Schaik Galen



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Princeton University Press
09 January 2024
The second-century Greek physician Galen — the most famous doctor in antiquity after Hippocrates — is a central figure in Western medicine. A talented doctor, surgeon, writer, philosopher, teacher, pharmacologist, and inventor, Galen attended the court of Marcus Aurelius, living through outbreaks of plague (likely smallpox) that devastated the Roman Empire. He also served as physician for professional gladiators, boasting that only two fighters died during his first year (his predecessor had lost sixteen). In writings that provided the foundation of Western medicine up to the nineteenth century, Galen created a unified account of health and disease. In How to Be Healthy, practicing physician and classical historian Katherine Van Schaik presents a collection of Galen’s enduring insights about how we can take care of our bodies and minds, prevent disease, and reach a healthy old age.

Although we now know that many of Galen’s ideas about physiology are wrong, How to Be Healthy shows that much of his advice remains sound. In these selections from his writings, presented in fresh translations, Galen discusses the art of medicine, exercise and diet, the mind-body connection, the difficulty of applying general medical principles to individuals, and much more. Featuring an introduction, brief commentaries that connect ancient medical practices to modern ones, and the original Greek on facing pages, How to Be Healthy offers an entertaining and enlightening new perspective on the age-old pursuit of wellness, from the importance of 'the exercise with a small ball' to the benefits of 'avoiding distress'.

Translated by:  
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 171mm,  Width: 114mm, 
ISBN:   9780691206271
ISBN 10:   0691206279
Series:   Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers
Pages:   272
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Katherine D. Van Schaik completed a PhD in ancient history at Harvard University while earning an MD with honors at Harvard Medical School. She is a practicing physician and a member of the faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and in the Department of Classical and Mediterranean Studies at Vanderbilt University.

Reviews for How to Be Healthy: An Ancient Guide to Wellness

"""This book excels in revealing how very modern the ancient world was in some respects, and yet how delightfully different in many other ways. . . .[A] most enjoyable book.""---David Smith, Classics For All ""Dr Van Schaik’s book is a valuable contribution. The introduction is very well written and informative, especially for those unfamiliar with Galen and ancient Greek Medicine. It details Galen’s early life and medical training, including a graphic description of his appointment, by the chief priest, as physician to the gladiators in Pergamum. It will be particularly useful to medical students and is highly recommended.""---Spyros Retsas, British Society for the History of Medicine ""[A] fascinating book.""---Paul Kane, Jildy Sauce"

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