Wow, this has been quite a year – certainly the most bizarre I have ever lived. The pandemic has impacted everyone and everything. But being in an academic position was not the worst possible scenario: economic stability is priceless when so many jobs are in jeopardy. Yes, online teaching and constantly adapting to the ‘new normal’ has been tiring, but that’s about it. I deplore the many cancelled events and missed opportunities, delayed encounters and postponed trips. But finishing this year alive and well is a privilege. I am grateful for it.
A summary of what happened on the Galen side: missing out on so many conferences turned out to be a chance in terms of progress on publications. I was also fortunate enough to start off 2020 on the right foot, with a splendid fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham, which helped me a lot to finalise some long-standing projects. As a result, the book on Pseudo-Galenica (co-edited with Simon Swain and Cloudy Fischer, to appear in the Warburg Colloquia series), although delayed, will appear soon. A special issue of Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences, dedicated to Galen’s treatise On simple drugs (co-edited with Matteo Martelli and Lucia Raggetti), has come out just in time for the New Year (details below). Several papers were completed, revised, or published – a new one appeared just today, in the Journal of Greco-Roman Studies (‘Naming Sexual Perversion: A note on Galen, Simples X, 1’). My students, Manuela Marai and Simone Mucci, have started a very interesting reading group on Theophrastus, where I am learning a lot (hence the pic). The good bits of a bumpy year!
So what will 2021 bring (apart from more uncertainty, more zooming and increased screen time – and the cursed Brexit)? Being awarded a prestigious German prize last November (Bessel-Forschungspreis of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation), means that, from the summer onwards, I will be free to do some peaceful research in Berlin with wonderful colleagues and students. I am so grateful to the Foundation for this recognition of my work and for the opportunity it gives me to continue! On the not-so-medical side (for once), my small book on ancient villains is now finished, and will hopefully appear in 2021 with Les Belles Lettres. That is, all being well – never has health seemed so precious, and medicine such a gift.
Happy 2021 everyone. Let us toast the end of a challenging year, and hope for better times for all very soon. Bring on the vaccine!
Galen’s Treatise On simple drugs: Interpretation and Transmission, is available here: