Galen. 'On the properties of Foodstuffs'. (De alimentorum facultatibus). Introduction, Translation and Commentary. With a foreword by J. Wilkins.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (...), 2003. 1st ed.XXV,206p. Hardbound with dust wrps. Spine gilt titled. 'Galen's important work 'On the Properties of Foodstuffs' (De alimentorum facultatibus) dissects in rigourous but also highly engaging detail the characteristics of the commonest types of human food and their effects on the human body, combining theoretical discussion with anecdotal evidence, and covering grains and pulses, plants, and finally animals in its three seperate books. This is a difficult text to deal with, not least because of the obscurity of many of the food names Galen uses, the complexity of his vision of the workings of human physiology and the confusion which arises from the lack of any standard technical vocabulary in Greek. Owen Powell's translation (and his introductory discussion on Galen's physiological theory) navigates through those difficulties with wonderful clarity. This volume is thus an important resource for the study of ancient science and mdeicine, and also for our understanding of the uses and representations of food within ancient Greek culture. In addition, it shows up the importance of Galen's writing for our understanding of the literature and culture of the Roman Empire more broadly, ofering a vivid glimpse of the riches which lie in store for those who approach Galen even from well outside the field of orthodox medical history. (...) John Wilkins' foreword (...) focuses on Galen's social and cultural background, with excellent discussion (amongst other things) of the geographical assumptions and biases underlying the work, and of the way in which Galen describes diets adopted within times of famine and poverty in order to explore the limits of normal human eating habits. (...) P.'s introduction, by contrast, is from a medical perspective (...) The juxtaposition with W.'s preface is fascinating. P. offers (...) a reconstruction of Galen's views on the working of food within the human body, while also measuring Galen's views against modern medical knowledge. (...) One of the things this volume reveals most strikingly is the way in which translating Galen necessarily involves one in many of the exercises which were central to Galen's own scholarship: not least filtering through a wide range of ancient sources in order to establish the correct meaning of the terms one is using; and interrogating the validity of the arguments one comes across in those sources (...), as an exercise which is inseparable from the difficult process of establishing meaning.' (JASON KÖNIG in The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 2004, p.203). From the library of Prof. Carl Deroux.