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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index G > Galen Quotes

(c. 0130 - c. 0200)

Greek physician.

Science Quotes by Galen (8 quotes)

Employment is Nature’s physician, and is essential to human happiness.
— Galen
In James Wood, Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern, English and Foreign Sources (1893), 81:44.
Science quotes on:  |  Employment (24)  |  Health (156)

Every animal is sad after coitus except the human female and the rooster.
— Galen
Science quotes on:  |  Happiness (94)  |  Sex (49)

That physician will hardly be thought very careful of the health of others who neglects his own.
— Galen
From Lib. 5, De Sanitate tuenda (Of Protecting the Health). As quoted and cited in François Rabelais translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart and Motteux, The Works of Francis Rabelais (1849), Vol. 2, 191. Stated under 'Galen' in Peter McDonald, Oxford Dictionary of Medical Quotations (2004), 38. (Note by Webmaster: The quote appears in some 19th century quotation collections attributed to Rabelais himself—and this continues to the present (e.g. by Asimov)—but in the first book above, Rabelais clearly cites it to Galen.
Science quotes on:  |  Careful (24)  |  Health (156)  |  Neglect (33)  |  Physician (243)

That which is grows, while that which is not becomes.
— Galen
In Arthur John Brock (trans.) Galen On the Natural Faculties (1916), 139.
Science quotes on:  |  Become (172)  |  Grow (99)

The best physician is also a philosopher.
— Galen
Title of one of Galen’s works.
Science quotes on:  |  Physician (243)

The physician is Nature’s assistant.
— Galen
Science quotes on:  |  Assistant (5)  |  Medicine (344)  |  Nature (1223)  |  Physician (243)

The plexus called rectiform [rete mirabile] by anatomists, is the most wonderful of the bodies located in this region. It encircles the gland [the hypophysis] itself and extends far to the rear; for nearly the whole base of the encephalon has this plexus lying beneath it. It is not a simple network but [looks] as if you had taken several fisherman’s nets and superimposed them. It is characteristic of this net of Nature’s, however, that the meshes of one layer are always attached to those of another, and it is impossible to remove anyone of them alone; for, one after another, the rest follow the one you are removing, because they are all attached to one another successively.
— Galen
On the Usefulness of the Parts of the Body, Book IX, 4. Trans. Margaret Tallmadge May (1968), Vol. 1, 430-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (63)

Work is nature’s physician; it is essential to human health and happiness.
— Galen
Science quotes on:  |  Essential (117)  |  Happiness (94)  |  Health (156)  |  Human (550)  |  Nature (1223)  |  Physician (243)  |  Work (635)

Quotes by others about Galen (11)

Employment, which Galen calls 'Nature's Physician,' is so essential to human happiness that indolence is justly considered as the mother of misery.
In Tryon Edwards, A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908), 243.
Science quotes on:  |  Employment (24)  |  Essential (117)  |  Happiness (94)  |  Indolence (7)  |  Misery (20)  |  Mother (71)  |  Nature (1223)  |  Physician (243)

Casting off the dark fog of verbal philosophy and vulgar medicine, which inculcate names alone ... I tried a series of experiments to explain more clearly many phenomena, particularly those of physiology. In order that I might subject as far as possible the reasonings of the Galenists and Peripatetics to sensory criteria, I began, after trying experiments, to write dialogues in which a Galenist adduced the better-known and stronger reasons and arguments; these a mechanist surgeon refuted by citing to the contrary the experiments I had tried, and a third, neutral interlocutor weighed the reasons advanced by both and provided an opportunity for further progress.
'Malpighi at Pisa 1656-1659', in H. B. Adelmann (ed.), Marcello Malpighi and the Evolution of Embryology (1966), Vol. 1, 155-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Argument (82)  |  Experiment (602)  |  Explanation (177)  |  Inculcate (6)  |  Medicine (344)  |  Name (170)  |  Phenomenon (278)  |  Philosophy (259)  |  Physiology (83)  |  Progress (368)  |  Reason (471)

And I do not take my medicines from the apothecaries; their shops are but foul sculleries, from which comes nothing but foul broths. As for you, you defend your kingdom with belly-crawling and flattery. How long do you think this will last? ... let me tell you this: every little hair on my neck knows more than you and all your scribes, and my shoebuckles are more learned than your Galen and Avicenna, and my beard has more experience than all your high colleges.
'Credo', in J. Jacobi (ed.), Paracelsus: Selected Writings (1951), 80.
Science quotes on:  |  Apothecary (9)  |  Avicenna (19)  |  Beard (7)  |  College (35)  |  Defense (18)  |  Experience (342)  |  Flattery (7)  |  Foul (8)  |  Hair (25)  |  Kingdom (38)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Learning (177)  |  Medicine (344)  |  Neck (13)  |  Nothing (395)  |  Scribe (3)  |  Shop (11)

He that knows the secrets of nature with Albertus Magnus, or the motions of the heavens with Galileo, or the cosmography of the moon with Hevelius, or the body of man with Galen, or the nature of diseases with Hippocrates, or the harmonies in melody with Orpheus, or of poesy with Homer, or of grammar with Lilly, or of whatever else with the greatest artist; he is nothing if he knows them merely for talk or idle speculation, or transient and external use. But he that knows them for value, and knows them his own, shall profit infinitely.
In Bertram Doben (ed.), Centuries of Meditations (1908), The Third Century, No. 41, 189-190.
Science quotes on:  |  Artist (69)  |  Body (247)  |  Cosmography (4)  |  Disease (275)  |  External (57)  |  Galileo Galilei (122)  |  Grammar (14)  |  Greatest (63)  |  Harmony (72)  |  Heaven (153)  |  Hippocrates (49)  |  Homer (9)  |  Idle (15)  |  Infinite (130)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Moon (199)  |  Motion (160)  |  Nature (1223)  |  Poesy (2)  |  Profit (39)  |  Secret (131)  |  Speculation (104)  |  Talk (100)  |  Transient (6)  |  Value (242)

At this point, however, I have no intention whatever of criticizing the false teachings of Galen, who is easily first among the professors of dissection, for I certainly do not wish to start off by gaining a reputation for impiety toward him, the author of all good things, or by seeming insubordinate to his authority. For I am well aware how upset the practitioners (unlike the followers of Aristotle) invariably become nowadays, when they discover in the course of a single dissection that Galen has departed on two hundred or more occasions from the true description of the harmony, function, and action of the human parts, and how grimly they examine the dissected portions as they strive with all the zeal at their command to defend him. Yet even they, drawn by their love of truth, are gradually calming down and placing more faith in their own not ineffective eyes and reason than in Galen’s writings.
From De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem: (1543), Book I, iv, as translated by William Frank Richardson, in On The Fabric of the Human Body: Book I: The Bones and Cartilages (1998), Preface, liv.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (163)  |  Author (62)  |  Authority (66)  |  Criticism (60)  |  Description (84)  |  Discovery (680)  |  Dissection (29)  |  Examine (44)  |  Eye (222)  |  Faith (157)  |  False (99)  |  Follower (10)  |  Harmony (72)  |  Human (550)  |  Ineffective (4)  |  Practitioner (13)  |  Professor (54)  |  Reason (471)  |  Reputation (28)  |  Teaching (108)  |  Truth (928)  |  Writing (81)  |  Zeal (11)

For, however much we may clench our teeth in anger, we cannot but confess, in opposition to Galen’s teaching but in conformity with the might of Aristotle’s opinion, that the size of the orifice of the hollow vein at the right chamber of the heart is greater than that of the body of the hollow vein, no matter where you measure the latter. Then the following chapter will show the falsity of Galen’s view that the hollow vein is largest at the point where it joins the hump of the liver.
From De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (1543), Book III, 275, as translated by William Frank Richardson and John Burd Carman, in 'The Arguments Advanced by Galen in Opposition to Aristotl’s Views about the Origin of the Hollow Vein Do Not Have Oracular Authority', On The Fabric of the Human Body: Book III: The Veins And Arteries; Book IV: The Nerves (1998), 45.
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As for Galen’s netlike plexus, I do not need to pass on a lot of misinformation about it here, as I am quite sure that I have examined the whole system of the cerebral vessels. There is no occasion for making things up, since we are certain that Galen was deluded by his dissection of ox brains and described the cerebral vessels, not of a human but of oxen.
From De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (1543), Book III, 310, as translated by William Frank Richardson and John Burd Carman, in 'Structure of the Plexus in the Prior Ventricles of the Brain; Galen’s Netlike Plexus', On The Fabric of the Human Body: Book III: The Veins And Arteries; Book IV: The Nerves (1998), 140.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (213)  |  Cerebral (2)  |  Deluded (2)  |  Dissection (29)  |  Examined (3)  |  Human (550)  |  Misinformation (3)  |  Ox (4)  |  System (191)  |  Vessel (28)

Galen never inspected a human uterus.
In De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem [Seven Books on the Structure of the Human Body] (1543), 532. Quoted and trans. in Charles Donald O'Malley, Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, 1514-1564 (1964), 142.
Science quotes on:  |  Human (550)  |  Inspection (7)  |  Uterus (2)

How many things have been accepted on the word of Galen.
In De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem [Seven Books on the Structure of the Human Body] (1543), 642. Quoted and trans. in Charles Donald O'Malley, Andreas Vesalius of Brussels, 1514-1564 (1964), 179.
Science quotes on:  |  Accepted (6)  |  Thing (37)  |  Word (302)

The great horde of physicians are always servile imitators, who can neither perceive nor correct the faults of their system, and are always ready to growl at and even to worry the ingenious person that could attempt it. Thus was the system of Galen secured in the possession of the schools of physic.
In Lectures Introductory to the Practice of Physic, Collected in The Works of William Cullen: Containing his Physiology, Nosology, and first lines of the practice of physic (1827), Vol. 1, 386.
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I realize that Galen called an earth which contained metallic particles a mixed earth when actually it is a composite earth. But it behooves one who teaches others to give exact names to everything.
As translated by Mark Chance Bandy and Jean A. Bandy from the first Latin Edition of 1546 in De Natura Fossilium: (Textbook of Mineralogy) (2004), 19. Originally published by Geological Society of America as a Special Paper (1955). There are other translations with different wording.
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Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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