If you can’t bear to read the following, here is a chance to listen to me instead by podcasting BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time on Galen! This is available here.
I also feature in BBC 4’s miniseries The Beauty of Anatomy (episode 1), presented by Dr. Adam Rutherford. This is available here.
I was educated in France and got my Doctorate in Greek Studies from the University of Paris IV – Sorbonne (2004). After studying Greek, Latin and French at a high level (Agrégation de Lettres classiques, 1999), I specialized in ancient Greek medical texts, more particularly in Galen and the Galenic corpus: my thesis (now published) is the first critical edition, with substantial notes and introduction, of the Pseudo-Galenic Introduction or the Physician, a crucial source for historians of medicine.
Since the completion of my doctorate, the Wellcome Trust has been funding my research on ancient medicine. I started as a research assistant at Exeter (2004-2007), and then decided to move to Manchester (2007-2010) to run my own project on Galen’s Greek. After a two-year spell at the Institute of Classical Studies, London, I am now based at the University of Warwick.
Since April 2013, I run a Wellcome-funded project (Wellcome University Award) on Medical Prognosis in Late Antiquity.
A classicist by training, and having touched on literature, history, philosophy and languages, I am strongly committed to the view that ancient medical texts are to be studied in context. My doctoral work combines the tools of classical philology, literary criticism and history. At the moment, I am particularly interested in the literary, stylistic and linguistic features of those texts in the original language. In this respect, modern scholarship does not do justice to Galen, the most prolific and rhetorical of Greek doctors: assessing his writing skills and rhetorical strategies will help us measure his significance in the Roman society of his time, as well as the significance of his works in the history of medicine. I have thus started writing up the first comprehensive account of Galen’s strategies of persuasion.
For many years now I have been studying the textual history of Galen and the Galenic corpus in general. I have produced editions and translations of Galenic texts, and studies on the transmission of those texts from antiquity to early modern Europe. I am particularly interested in the connections between books (either in manuscript or printed form) and cultural history through the moves of scholars and book collectors and their mutual exchanges across Europe: how were the books produced, who used them and for what purpose, how did they circulate among scholars and at what time? How did they interpret Galen’s texts and ideas? So far, some of my favourite medieval and modern Galen-readers have been Demetrios Angelos (15th c.), Agostino Gadaldini (1515-1575) and Prospero Alpini (1553-1617). I should now add the French physician Guillaume de Baillou (1536-1616), a devoted ‘Hippocratic’ doctor who attempted to revive Hippocrates’ ideas and methods, albeit in a Galenic framework and language.
The continuum between antiquity, the middle ages and early modern times is immediately apparent to anyone studying medical texts. Renaissance scholars drew widely on ancient medicine, engaging with Hippocratic or Galenic arguments as though talking to a fellow physician. Even though the forms of medical discourse changed somewhat, ancient texts remained the standard patterns according to which the moderns designed their own, explicitly or not. In the circumstances, it is legitimate to look into the strategies for the appropriation and transformation of ancient medical texts used by Renaissance scholars at all levels: theoretical, practical, and even rhetorical and linguistic. One particular area drew my attention: the concepts and representations of madness and melancholy.