Accepted paper:

Galen and Aetius of Amida on the medical uses of earths and minerals - reception and transformation


Matteo Martelli (Humboldt Universit├Ąt zu Berlin)
Christine Salazar (Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will compare selected passages about earths and minerals from Galen's On Simple Remedies, book IX, with similar ones in Aetius of Amida (6th century). Through a close reading of these chapters, we will explore some aspects both of Galen's approach to the topic and of its later reception.

Paper long abstract:

The 6th-century medical writer Aetius of Amida is one of the late antique/early Byzantine medical encyclopaedists, and one of the main sources for his sixteen-book medical compendium is Galen (129-c. 210 CE), the most prolific medical writer of antiquity. Aetius' first two books cover pharmacology, for which he draws heavily on book IX of Galen's work On Simple Remedies. In this book, Galen collected, selected and reorganized an overwhelming mass of information about the natural properties of minerals, their classification, their availability in the regions around the Mediterranean Sea, and their main therapeutic uses in medical practice. The passages to be presented in this paper deal with minerals, and in particular earths or soils, different kinds of which are described in great detail, both their characteristics and their therapeutic properties. For this purpose Aetius, whilst to a large extent using Galen's writings, which by then had achieved canonic status for medical knowledge, refashions his source material in a creative way, as well as adding material from other authors (some of them otherwise lost). By comparing both texts, we will stress some important and specific elements of Galen's discourse about minerals as well as some aspects of the later reception of the book.

panel P23
Medical knowledge in motion: exchange, transformation and iteration in the medical traditions of the Late Antique Mediterranean world