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Galen (Galenus), Claudius°

GALEN (Galenus), CLAUDIUS° (131–c. 201 C.E.), prominent physician in antiquity and author of important philosophical works. Galen was born in Pergamum (Asia Minor) and died in Rome. Medieval Hebrew authors and translators regarded Galen as "the greatest physician" (gedol ha-rofe'im, rosh ha-rofe'im). A popular legend among the Jews in the Middle Ages identified Galen with the patriarch Gamaliel II, who was said to have written a handbook of medicine for Titus after the destruction of Jerusalem. This did not, however, prevent *Maimonides and other Jewish authors from sharply criticizing Galen for his attacks on the law of Moses (see R. Waltzer, Galen on Jews and Christians, 1949) and denying his authority in any field other than medicine (Pirkei Moshe (1888), 25). *Jedaiah ha-Penini launched a sharp attack on Galen (Iggeret Hitnaẓẓelut, in Iggerot ha-Rashba (1881), 61), and *Immanuel of Rome relegated him to hell (Maḥbarot, vol. 2 (1967), no. 28, p. 515). A derogatory opinion on Galen as a philosopher is also found in a work by Shem-Tov ibn *Falaquera (Ha-Mevakkesh, 33). On the other hand, on the question of the eternity of the world, Maimonides sided with Galen against al-*Fārābī (Guide of the Perplexed, 2:15). As Galen was a physician and author of medical works, his reputation among Jews was beyond dispute. Maimonides wrote Arabic compendia of the 16 "canonical" books and of several other works by Galen, and his Arabic commentary on Hippocrates' Aphorisms is based primarily on Galen. Maimonides' own aphorisms (Pirkei Moshe) are also primarily a selection from Galen's works and the latter's commentary on Hippocrates (as stated by Maimonides in the introduction).

The following works by Galen appeared in Hebrew translation (generally based on the Arabic text of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, but in some instances also on Latin versions) or as Hebrew adaptations: (1) Ars Parva (Melakhah Ketannah), translated by Samuel ibn *Tibbon in 1199 (manuscripts in Leiden and Paris) together with the Arabic commentary by the Egyptian physician Ali ibn Riḍwān. This commentary was translated again under the title of Sefer ha-Tegni (manuscript in Rome and extracts in Paris) by *Hillel b. Samuel, but this time from the Latin translation by Gerard of Cremona. (2) Four books dealing with various diseases, their causes, and symptoms were translated by Zeraḥiah b. Isaac *Gracian under the title of Sefer ha-Ḥola'im ve-ha-Mikrim (manuscript in Munich). (3) Three treatises on compound drugs were also translated by Gracian under the title of Katagenē (manuscript in Hamburg). (4) The "Book of Crises" was translated by Solomon Bonirac of Barcelona under the title Sefer Baḥran, based on the Arabic text by Ḥunayn. (5) The treatise on bloodletting exists in two Hebrew translations: one, based on the Arabic text, was made by Kalonymus b. Kalonymus in Arles (manuscript in Leiden); the other is an anonymous work based on the Latin translation and bears the title Sefer ha-Hakkazah shel Gidim (manuscript in Guenzburg collection). (6) De clysteriis et colica, translated by Kalonymus from the Arabic of Hunayn (manuscript in Leiden). (7) Treatise on the regimen to be followed by epileptic boys, anonymous translation under the title Sefer be-Hanhagat ha-Na'ar ha-Nikhpeh, based on Hunayn's Arabic text (manuscript in Munich). (8) De malitia complexionis diversae, translated by David b. Abraham Caslari in Narbonne under the title Sefer Ro'a Mezeg Mitḥallef, probably on the basis of the Latin text by Gerard of Cremona (Bodleian manuscript). (9) The Alexandrians' compendia of Galen's 16 "canonical" writings were translated from the Arabic version by Samson b. Solomon under the title Sefer ha-Kibbuẓim la-Aleksandriyyim. Several manuscripts are extant, all fairly complete.

Apart from the compendia translated by Samson b. Solomon, there existed several compendia of individual works by Galen. Two of these exist in anonymous Hebrew translations: Kelalei Sefer Galenus ba-Marah ha-Sheḥorah (on melancholy), based on the translation by Stephanus, as revised by Ḥunayn; and Asifat Marot ha-Sheten, on the colors of urine (three manuscripts). A second translation of the latter work bears the title Kibbuẓei Sifrei Galenus be-Minei ha-Sheten (manuscript in Leiden).

Galen's commentary on the Aphorisms by Hippocrates was translated from the Arabic by Nathan b. Eliezer ha-Me'ati in Rome, together with Hippocrates' own work (many manuscripts have been preserved). A second translation from the Arabic of both works was made by Jacob b. Joseph ibn Zabara (manuscript in New York), and a third, based on the Latin version of Constantinus Africanus, is probably the work of Hillel b. Samuel.

A large number of works attributed to Galen were also translated into Hebrew, including Sefer ha-Em, Sefer Issur ha-Kevurah, Panim le-Fanim, Sefer ha-Nefesh, and Likkutei Segulot u-Refu'ot mi-Galeno. Other works by Galen also influenced medieval Jewish literature, even though they were not translated into Hebrew. Thus, for example a work by Galen was quoted in *Saadiah Gaon's commentary on Sefer Yeẓirah (4:5), in *Baḥya ibn Paquda's Ḥovot ha-Levavot (2:5), in *Judah Halevi's Kuzari (5:8), and in a letter by Zerahiah b. Isaac Gracian addressed to Hillel b. Samuel (in Oẓar Nehmad, 2 (1857), 141).


D. Kaufmann, Die Sinne (1884), 6, 192, and passim; M. Steinschneider, Alfarabi (1869), 31, 34, 134, 142; Steinschneider, Uebersetzungen, index; Steinschneider, Arab Lit, 214ff., 217, 232; Steinschneider, Cat Bod, 2 (1931), 997; A. Marx, in: Devir, 2 (1924), 208–12.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.