National and Capodistrian University of Athens
The article provides an overview of Galen’s works on pharmacology taking into consideration the way of thinking and the general attitude towards medicine in the ancient era. Pharmacology was considered one of the three sectors of the medical science (surgery and dietology were the other two). The ancient people used a great deal of natural substances of vegetable or animal origin in order to produce many kinds of drugs for healing or alleviating the pains of the human body in a natural way. The evidence of the use of this kind of medical material in the ancient literature is presented, from the epic poems, tragedies and comedies to the medical literature, especially the texts of Galen, one of the most significant ancient medical writers, pharmacologists, and researchers. Galen’s scientific way of thinking and a great attention he paid to pharmacological concepts and methods of healing are illustrated by his observations concerning the inefficacy, errors and failure on pharmacological terms of his era. The aim of thе article is to provide the information about the medical material (materia medica) of Cyprus, which are found in many passages of Galen’s works and try to explain the real origin of these substances. It is known that Galen had traveled to many places of the ancient world in order to explore the substances used or provided for the pharmaceutical manufacturing, and one of his destinations was Cyprus. The author represents all these possible cases of the chronological determination of Galen’s journey to Cyprus and the reason of his visit which was to gather information concerning medical substances of vegetarian and animal origin and minerals (especially, copper). The research work and information about the use and utility of many minerals in pharmaceutical manufacturing were of high importance for the development of the ancient Greek pharmacology. The author points out the importance of the references to the names of many ancient Cyprian doctors in Galen’s texts for a researcher of nowadays in order to complete the image of the ancient medicine and pharmacology.
Keywords: Galen, Cyprus, pharmacology, ancient medicine, materia medica