The PioneersThe MilitaryReferences


The notable surgical contribution was made during the 2nd century AD; this was from a Greek physician by the name of or Claudius Galenius, as the Romans knew him. Galen, his name means peaceful.

Galen who was unusually a monotheistic although not a Christian, first served as physician to the Gladiators and eventually to the Caesars, Marcus Aurillius 136-161 (Aurillius encouraged the buddy-buddy system where each soldier aided his comrade) and Lucius Verus. 161-180 it was Galen who established that arteries contained blood, not air as was presumed until that time the common perception put forward by Aristotle.

He proved this by tying off two ends of an artery and then incising it. Galen, in his lifetime wrote many books on the study of anatomy. Galen began writing at the age of 13 years and continued to do so until he died at the age of 70 years. His collection of writings overwhelmed the ancient world with its size, scope, and influence. Even if we were to eliminate the writings of the Corpus Hippocraticum, Galen’s prodigious output would still represent more than 80% of all surviving medical writings of antiquity. 68 These books astonishingly remained unchallenged until the critical Renaissance period, this being mainly due to the restrictive influence of religion. Galen was also one of a small number of physicians who gained notoriety as a surgeon (although he did little himself but supervised surgical (“labourers”) it was a sad fact that Surgeons were not in ancient times, educated medical men the result of this was the slow development and understanding of the art. 

These early times Medical practices in general were not held in high esteem as is the case now, it is a fact that medical science progression required extensive anatomical research and the superstitious repugnance of the dissection of human remains to further anatomical knowledge was frowned upon, mainly because of religious beliefs. This however did not mean it did not take place, as in Alexandria it was a regular occurrence. It seems strange to us, to imagine that anaesthetics and analgesics in obstetrics were opposed up to the middle of the last century (20th) in some parts of the world.