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Book and Media Reviews
May 20, 2009

Galen and the Rhetoric of Healing

JAMA. 2009;301(19):2050-2051. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.721

It is difficult to make a highly scholarly analysis an enjoyable and entertaining tale. Susan P. Mattern, however, skillfully dissects the rhetorical structure of Galen's case histories of his patients to offer a delightfully intriguing view not just of the great physician's medical practice but of his character and his social world.

In second-century Rome, the well-traveled physician from Pergamum rapidly gained prominence through his successful treatment of important friends and contacts among his father's patrician class and ultimately was requested by co-Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus to serve in the Germanic wars. He declined but remained in Rome to treat Aurelius' son, Commodus, and, after Verus' death, the Emperor Septimius Severus.

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