Robert Vinkesteijn
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In this case-study, we shall have a look at Galen’s interaction with Plato’s Timaeus. Particularly, and in connection to the two previous case-studies, we will examine the way Galen uses the Timaeus to put forward a ‘somatising’ interpretation of the human soul and the relation between body and soul. That is to say, how he explains the distinction between body and soul in terms of a distinction between different elemental qualities.

In the previous case-study, we noticed how Galen drew Plato into his Galenic history of natural philosophy by depicting him and Hippocrates as his main predecessors with regard to the question of human nature. Particularly through his interpretation of Plato’s Phaedrus 270c-d, he suggested that knowledge of the nature of everything is essential for knowing both body and soul. Galen explained this nature in terms of a primary substance common to everything, one consisting of the hylomorphic principles of a matter without quality and a mixture of the four elemental qualities as form. In this manner, it turns out that knowledge of the human soul, like knowledge of the human body, is dependent upon knowledge of this primary substance of mixture. This is in line with Galen’s stronger thesis in QAM, as we found in Case-Study I, namely, that the substance of the soul is a specific mixture of elemental qualities. It is also in line with his interpretation of the Timaeus, as various texts and testimonies show. In his dealings with the Timaeus, as we shall see in the present case-study, Galen recasts the Platonic opposition between body and soul into an opposition of elemental qualities. In this way, the mixture of elemental qualities can account for man ‘as a whole’, that is, as a hylomorphic substance.

The Timaeus must have been one of Galen’s favourite philosophical texts. Also, it is clear enough that, at least in his own explicit appreciation, Plato is Galen’s favourite philosopher. One might argue that he is indebted to Aristotle and the Peripatetics to at least the same extent, but he often seems less willing to acknowledge this influence than that of Plato.1 At the same time, it seems that Galen has little use for some ideas that are central to Plato’s work, most notably, his mythological and metaphysical speculations on the immortal, immaterial soul, and his theory of Forms. To put it in ‘introduction to the history of philosophy’ terms: we know Plato from his mind-body dualism and theory of Forms and we know Galen (if he is in the book at all) as a doctor and scientist with a thoroughly sceptical attitude towards metaphysical speculation. Now, introductions necessarily involve simplifications, but there certainly is some justification for the worry that a Galenic Platonist might turn out to be a somewhat monstrous being (despite Ficino disagreeing).2 From the perspective of this difficulty, it is easy to see why Galen would love Plato’s Timaeus in particular: it does not only explicitly emphasize the tentative nature of its speculative content, as Galen likes to point out, but it is also the most ‘physical’ of Plato’s works. Furthermore, the elements play an important role in Timaeus’ story (though the geometrical elements are problematic for Galen, as we shall see), there is a lot on subjects that pertain to the medical science, and Timaeus speaks extensively of the physiological constitution of the human body and the whole cosmos as well as their mutual relation. Besides, the Timaeus might also be the most teleological of Plato’s works: the teleological design of the cosmos is a fundamental and structural aspect of Timaeus’ narrative. In fact, as has been pointed out, Galen’s own teleological outlook must have been strongly influenced by the tradition of the Timaeus, perhaps more so than by the Peripatetic tradition.3 Indeed, Galen draws on the Timaeus in various works, for example in PHP, where he aims to show the agreement of Plato with Hippocrates, in QAM, where he is out to argue for the dependence of the psychological on the physical and in UP, where the goal is to show the unsurpassed grandeur of nature’s inherent teleological design.

Therefore, it should not surprise us that Galen did not only write a summary of the Timaeus, which he presumably did for all Platonic dialogues, but also produced a commentary (in four volumes), which he did not do for any of the other Platonic dialogues.4 Unfortunately, we do not have the Greek text of his summary of the Timaeus, but we do have the Arabic translation attributed to the workshop of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq.5 The Arabic edition was published by Kraus and Walzer in 1951, who conveniently included a Latin translation (Galeni Compendium Timaei Platonis). Kraus’ Arabic edition is soon to appear in a new English translation by Das and Koetschet.6 Galen’s summaries of Plato were very popular in the medieval Arabic-speaking world and must have been a major factor in the transmission of knowledge of Plato’s works, as there seem to have been no direct Arabic translations of Plato’s work itself.7 Particularly in the case of the Timaeus, much of the Medieval Arabic knowledge of the text is dependent on Galen.8

Besides the Arabic translation of Galen’s summary, we also have fragments from his commentary. Galen named it ‘περὶ τῶν ἐν τῷ Πλάτωνος Τιμαίῳ ἰατρικῶς εἰρημένων’ (On the Medical Statements in Plato’s Timaeus) in his On My Own Books.9 He anticipated this commentary in PHP book VIII, saying that his friends had requested him to write on the medical passages in the Timaeus, and that although many commentaries have been written on the Timaeus already, the medical passages in particular have not been sufficiently commented upon.10 We also find anticipatory references to it in Trem. Palp., from which it becomes clear that Galen intends the commentary to be critical of Plato instead of merely explanatory.11 In the fragments from Galen’s commentary itself we find references to Nat. Fac. and the lost On Hippocrates’ Anatomy.12 Based on these references, Schröder suggests that Galen wrote his Timaeus commentary shortly before 180, in the last years of Marcus Aurelius’ rule.13

It is useful to keep in mind that Galen, both in PHP and Trem. Palp., brought up the need for this commentary in the context of a discussion of humoural theory and the way Plato and Hippocrates relate to it. In particular, he tells us that Plato did not have anything else to say on the subject than what Hippocrates had already said, except for the fact that Plato discussed the underlying causes of why a certain humour is the way it is, e.g. why blood is red, bitter bile is yellow and sharp bile is black, whereas Hippocrates refrained from such inquiries, since they fall outside the scope of medical science.14 Interestingly, this implies that we can expect Galen in his commentary to also discuss things that lie outside the scope of medical science and were therefore not discussed by Hippocrates, despite his own suggestion that he merely comments on that which is relevant to the medical science.15 In fact, on the basis of these anticipatory remarks one would expect the commentary to explain how Plato’s reasoning about the underlying causes of the humours is congruent or incongruent with Hippocratic humoural theory as Galen views it. In fact, this could be said to be the tendency of some of the fragments we have, particularly of those collected by Larrain; as we shall see, the author of those fragments is indeed very critical of the underlying causes Plato proposes.

This case-study will draw not only on PHP and QAM, but also on Galen’s ‘summary’ of the Timaeus, the so-called Compendium, as well as the fragments of his commentary collected and edited by Daremberg and later republished by Schröder. Furthermore, we shall have a special focus on the contested fragments published by Carlos Larrain in 1992. These fragments are understudied, not to say almost completely neglected, presumably because Larrain’s assertion that they are excerpts from Galen’s Timaeus commentary has subsequently been questioned by Diethard Nickel (2002), who claimed they must have been written by someone deliberately imitating Galen.16 There is no doubt that these fragments show strong similarity with many attested Galenic writings and that their content generally fits well with Galen’s interpretation of the Timaeus elsewhere, as Nickel also observed. But so far there has been no study that analyses the fragments in relation to the rest of Galen’s work, except for the very brief critique by Nickel (based on only two of the thirty-four fragments) and Larrain’s own work in his edition of the fragments. What is more, Aileen Das has recently argued that these fragments already circulated with those collected by Daremberg in the 9th century Arabic tradition and that the question of their authenticity deserves a re-evaluation.17 Therefore, it may make sense to include a comparative discussion of Larrain’s fragments, here, against the background of Galen’s attested work. There is no need to attempt any definitive decision as to their authenticity, though our discussion of the fragments might have something to contribute to this debate as well. We will discuss and analyse some of the fragments, specifically those that lend themselves to comparison to Galen’s somatising Timaeus-interpretation as we know it from his attested work.

It is noteworthy that almost all of Galen’s works that particularly deal with the Timaeus are written around the same period: the final books of PHP, his Compendium and his commentary are probably all written between 169 and 180. Only QAM is of later date, presumably after 193, but could be said to take up the earlier work on the Timaeus in the context of a more speculative treatment of the relation between body and soul. This suggests that Galen worked on the Timaeus for a prolonged period of time, which led to various kinds of texts that are closely interrelated (even though they seem to serve different purposes) and might therefore be conceived as a unified project to some extent.18 Nonetheless, with only a few notable exceptions, there are no studies that systematically look into Galen’s dealings with the Timaeus, even though it must have been one of his most important philosophical source-texts.19

Since Galen’s work on the Timaeus is relatively uncharted territory, some further introductory observations about the various editions of fragments and their relation to the Compendium and other sources are in order. Although the Timaeus must have been a profoundly important text for Galen and his writings on the Timaeus were crucial for the Arabic transmission, we now unfortunately have only scatters and testimonies, which can be found in various editions, later Arabic sources and a few small collections of scholia. Moreover, as we mentioned before, some of these scatters are contested, so it will be useful to first chart the sources we now have available. Following this survey of the sources (paragraph 1), we shall proceed to a brief discussion of the scope of Galen’s commentary, both in terms of his specific selection from the Timaeus, and in terms of its subject and status (paragraph 2).

After these preliminaries, we shall discuss some general tendencies of Galen’s Timaeus-interpretation (paragraph 3), which we can then use for the subsequent comparative analysis of Larrain’s fragments (paragraph 4). This comparative analysis consists of four thematic subsections: (1) a discussion of the Aristotelianizing tendency of the author, (2) the somatisation of the soul, that is to say, the extent to which the soul is explained in terms of the elemental qualities, (3) the depiction of the soul as a dry and hot substance that exudes light, and (4) the role of the relation between substances and activities or movements in this reading of the Timaeus.

1 Sources

The most well known collection of fragments from Galen’s commentary is that from the Paris manuscript BnF gr. 2383, first published by Daremberg in 1848, and republished in a new edition by Schröder in 1934. This collection presumably contains fragments from the third of Galen’s four books only. Schröder republished the fragments collected by Daremberg with the addition of excerpts from the first and fourth book found in Al-Rhāzī, Serapion and Maimonides, the Arabic excerpts translated into German by Kahle. These fragments have never been contested, as far as I know.

In addition, we have an edition of 34 possible excerpts published with a commentary by Carlos Larrain in 1992, under the title Galens Kommentar zu Platons Timaios. Larrain discovered these untitled and anonymous fragments in the 14th century Escorial manuscript known under the name Scorialensis and has proposed that they are summaries of the first two books of Galen’s commentary on the Timaeus.20 In his 1991 article on these fragments he suggested that they are ‘ein zusammenfassendes Exzerpt aus den ersten beiden Büchern von Galens Timaioskommentar’.21

Nickel’s rejection of Larrain’s view goes some way towards explaining the neglect his edition subsequently suffered, despite the potential importance of the material presented in it.22 Nickel argues that the fragments must be from an unknown author who has paraphrased several passages from original Galenic works, such as PHP and UP, and that therefore the ‘value of these texts for the study of Galen is very small’.23 A strongly formulated conclusion, perhaps deliberately chosen to counter Garofalo’s earlier assessment in his review of Larrain’s edition, which amounts to the exact opposite: ‘La scoperta di Larrain di 34 nuovi estratti in un tardo manoscritto Scorialense gr. O III 11 (Revilla 230 del VI sec.) dunque del massimo interesse per gli studiosi di Galeno e del ‘Timeo’’.24

Nickel based his brief assessment on an analysis of only two of the thirty-four fragments (6 and 14). Fragment 6 is concerned with Platonists’ responses to the question of how the communion of body and soul comes about (we shall discuss it below). Nickel states that ‘The problem of ensoulment which is raised in this ‘excerpt’ did not interest Galen at all’, but rightly adds that here the author might simply have been setting out the problem he sees with the Platonist position. This would indeed correspond to a rather common practice by Galen, i.e. setting out the possible (or actual) contemporary or earlier Platonists’ answers to a problem related to their notion of soul, making their disagreement amongst themselves explicit, and pointing to the lack of clear answer in Plato’s own text.25 Furthermore, it is not the case, as Nickel asserts, that this issue is raised nowhere else in Galen except for in Prop. Plac., since the question of how a non-bodily soul could possibly acquire communion (κοινωνία) with the body is discussed by Galen in QAM, indeed as a critique of the Platonist notion of an immaterial soul.26 Nickel’s second argument for regarding Larrain’s fragment 6 as inauthentic, i.e. not based upon Galen’s actual Timaeus commentary, is the comparison made in the fragment between newborn babies and ‘solidified cheeses’. In Nickel’s opinion, the text of the fragment ‘corresponds exactly with Galen’s concepts and his style of expression’ up until this comparison. He considers the comparison to be a ‘deliberate imitation’, since the metaphor would merely appear similar to the way Galen compares the constitution of babies to cheeses, while in truth it is used differently: ‘while it does appear similarly expressed in genuine Galenic texts, [it] is used there to refer either to a different stage of development, or to specific component parts of the body’. However, Aileen Das, in her ‘re-evaluation’ of the authenticity of these fragments published in 2014, has already shown that Nickel did not take into account some of these cheese-comparisons found in genuine Galenic texts and that the metaphor in Larrain’s fragment 6 is ‘entirely consistent with its application elsewhere in the Galenic corpus’.27 Finally, Nickel proposes that the end of Larrain’s fragment 6 presents the same material as a passage from Schröder’s edition in a different manner, and concludes from this ‘discrepancy in the mode of presentation’ that the author of Larrain’s fragment ‘borrowed ideas from the work of Galen’.28 The two passages both state that man is composed of a mixture of opposing qualities and therefore loses part of his substance (fire burns up the substance or fire and air leave the substance), which is why the gods created another substance that could function as nourishment, making up for the continuous loss. However, Larrain’s fragment 6 more specifically pertains to Tim. 43, while the passage in Schröder pertains to Tim. 76e–77c. In Larrain’s fragment, the emphasis is on the introduction of innate heat, as a principle that orders and regulates. It is added to the stream of wetness that is considered to damage the rational soul, so that the rational soul can function properly as a balanced mixture of heat and wetness. The point of departure is the river-metaphor from the Timaeus, which the author presents as Plato’s take on the communion of soul and body (for which we have a parallel in QAM IV 780 K). The innate heat is presented as a contrasting force against the wetness that hinders rationality. As a consequence of the addition of the innate heat, however, as the author explains towards the end of the fragment, the body dissipates to some extent, which is why the gods have provided another substance to make up for this loss. In Schröder’s fragment, relating much rather to 76e–77c, the emphasis is more on this additional substance, which turns out to be that of the plants. As far as I can see, there is no contradiction between these two texts; rather, they seem to not only support each other, but also be in line with Galen’s ideas in his attested work, as Nickel also observes.29 The ‘discrepancy in the mode of presentation’ might be explained as the consequence of these fragments pertaining to different parts of the Timaeus, instead of, as Nickel suggests, dealing with the same material. But, again, I think these two passages complement each other: because of the wetness the soul is hindered; this needs to be opposed by heat; because of the heat our substance dissipates; this dissipated substance needs to be replaced by another.

Nickel’s discussion of Larrain’s fragment 14, in turn, consists of a comparison of the fragment with parallels in PHP and UP. He argues that the fragment gives abbreviated and distorted versions of what is said there about the origin of the nerves. Certainly, Nickel is right about these parallels and also right in concluding that in Larrain’s fragment we find, at least, less elaborated versions of the passages in PHP and UP. On the other hand, as Aileen Das has argued in her reply to Nickel, it is not ‘uncharacteristic of Galen … to reuse material from his own works’ (this might even be somewhat of an understatement) and to rephrase more succinctly, and often with less clarity, what he has elsewhere worked out more elaborately. Das does not go into the particular distortions that Nickel observes, of which the ones relating to UP seem the most problematic to me (in PHP the differences observed by Nickel are slight changes in terminology amounting to less precise descriptions). However, here too, I think Nickel’s account is debatable, and his comparison of the end of fragment 14 with UP VI 18 is open to criticism as well. For instance, in the UP-passage, in the context of a discussion of the origin of the nerves, Galen states that no nerves can be seen to branch from the heart itself, but that it can be observed that some thin nerves reach (from another source) the membrane around the heart. In large animals, he continues, these thin nerves can even be seen to go into the heart itself, i.e. through the membrane. However, Galen adds, it certainly remains impossible to observe them branching from the heart itself, i.e. having a common source in the heart and then getting divided into separate nerves, since in these larger animals they are still clearly separated when they go into the heart.30 The author of fragment 14, on the other hand, remarks that these small nerves cannot even in the largest animals be seen to spring from the heart itself, presenting this as an argument against viewing the heart as source of the nerves.31 Nickel argues that this is a distortion of the text and proposes Larrain’s fragment is a ‘reversal’ of what Galen says in UP, since Galen said there that the nerves can be seen to go into the heart in large animals (although, again, they cannot be seen branching from the heart). Once more, I think this might be too quick a conclusion, since it seems more reasonable to assume that the author of Larrain’s fragment is presupposing the difference between observing that the membrane around the heart receives the nerves and observing that these nerves cannot be seen to branch from the heart itself, and then simply remarks that even in the largest animals these nerves cannot be seen to stem from the heart itself (although they can be seen to go in it, from elsewhere), as an argument against the source of the nerves being in the heart.32 Again, I find the reading in which the two selected passages complement each other more plausible than the conclusion that one is a kind of deliberate but faulty imitation of the other.33

Having said this, I agree with Nickel that the text in Larrain’s fragment 14 (and in some other fragments as well) is somewhat odd in places, and certainly less precise than the one in UP. In general, I think Larrain’s fragments are more difficult to read and make sense of than most Galenic texts. In discussing Larrain’s fragments, we shall encounter some of their textual oddities, which could in some cases cast doubt on their authenticity (as excerpts from Galen’s commentary) as well. However, I agree with Aileen Das that Nickel’s argument based on fragment 14 is not strong enough to ascribe the fragments to an imitator. There are many similarly odd passages in Galen’s undisputed works as well, some of which have more precise parallels in other genuine works too.34

As mentioned before, the question of the heritage of these fragments took a new turn with the publication of an article by Aileen Das in 2014. She not only engages with Nickel´s arguments, but also re-evaluates the matter in the light of the Arabic tradition, which was not taken into account in Nickel’s much briefer analysis. Das found that an Arabic translation of Galen’s Timaeus commentary had been current as early as the 9th century, and included both the fragments published by Schröder and Larrain together. She has shown that Larrain’s fragments were likely a part of the Greek manuscript of Galen’s commentary that was translated by Ḥunayn and others, and subsequently used by Al-Rhāzī, pseudo-Thabit and Maimonides. Her analysis is supported by and building on that of Arnzen (2012), who seems to presuppose the authenticity of the Larrain fragments, but was perhaps unaware of the controversy, since he does not refer to Nickel’s article. Arnzen also gives a brief comparative analysis of Galen’s Compendium and the fragments of both Schröder and Larrain, from which it appears that the Compendium and the commentary fragments contain some overlapping and similar passages, and that deletions or omissions occurring in the commentary correspond to those in the Compendium. I think all of this shows that Nickel’s conclusions have been too rash. However, we still cannot be sure about the authenticity of Larrain’s fragments, i.e. we still cannot be certain whether they are excerpts or paraphrased summaries of Galen’s actual Timaeus commentary, as Larrain proposed. It is also noteworthy that in the 14th century manuscript Larrain found, each of the fragments are marked with an obelus at their beginning. Larrain merely notes this fact in his introduction, without going into it any further.35 Presumably, the author of this manuscript indicated that he considered the complete text to be either not original or damaged.36 Then again, I do not know which of these options is meant, nor on what basis, nor how to assess the judgement of the responsible scribe. Larrain is certain that the writer of his manuscript was one Neophytos Prodromenos, a 14th century monk and physician with an interest in the medical tradition, working in the monastery of Ioannes Prodromenos in Constantinople.37

It seems possible, though rather unlikely, that these fragments were interpolated into the Greek manuscript of the genuine commentary by an unknown pseudo-Galen, probably familiar with his Compendium, before they reached Ḥunayn. In the conclusion of her 2014 article, Das notes: ‘… the evidence presented above indicates that the fragments in Scorialensis graec. Φ-III-11 circulated, at least by the ninth-century, with the ‘genuine’ text of Galen’s Timaeus commentary. On this basis, they have as good a claim to Galen’s authorship as any of the other Greek fragments, whose provenance is widely accepted’.38 As we shall see below, there are a few other textual indications that may suggest that the author of these fragments wrote in a slightly later time period than Galen. That does not rule out the possibility of them being summaries of parts of Galen’s authentic commentary, however, that as such may have found their way into the manuscript of the rest of his commentary early on. As long as we do not know the history of the transmission of these texts, it seems to me that we cannot determine with full certainty the extent to which they might be derived from Galen’s actual commentary. Indeed, it seems to me that more research is needed on these fragments and that as things now stand, there is certainly not sufficient reason to discard them, with Nickel, as being ‘of small value for the study of Galen’ and leave it at that. Furthermore, even if it were proven beyond doubt that these fragments are not based on a lost part of Galen’s commentary, they would still offer a valuable and interesting testimony of what is probably an ancient or at most late ancient form of ‘Galenic Platonism’, if we may call it that, and in particular, a Galenically inspired reading of the Timaeus.

Larrain, in his pioneering work with these fragments, might have been slightly overconfident in some of his conclusions and in some of the parallels he reports. This, perhaps, together with Nickel’s article – which may have also stated its case in rather strong terms to counter Larrain’s confident attitude and Garofalo’s positive review – may have, unfortunately, condemned these fragments to near oblivion in scholarship. Future work on the Arabic reception in particular might still bring new insights as well. Meanwhile it is worth considering to what extent these fragments could be compared with Galen’s treatment of the Timaeus in his genuine works, with a particular focus on the relation between body and soul.

Before we can do this, we should have a closer look at the relation between the Compendium and the commentary. Rashed has argued that the commentary is likely to have been written by Galen as a consequence of his epitomizing activity.39 As it appears from the medieval Arabic Liber Aneguemis, expertly analysed by Rashed, Galen found this particular part of the Timaeus to be in need of more than a descriptive summary given its exceptional value for the medical science. For this reason, and because it would benefit his intended audience, which supposedly required a more in-depth treatment, Galen would have decided not only to summarize the entire Platonic dialogue, but also to comment upon this particular section. The latter part of this reconstruction has come down to us, in the Liber Aneguemis, as a story about Galen’s writings on Plato’s Laws, but Rashed convincingly shows that it must have rather been the story of Galen’s summary of and subsequent commentary on the Timaeus.40 This would imply that Galen initially simply summarized the Timaeus, and from there on, possibly with the further impetus of some of his friends’ interest, decided to comment on part of it.41 I find Rashed’s article convincing, but I do not agree with his suggestion that there would be anything enigmatic about Galen writing this kind of commentary on this specific section of the Timaeus, without an explanation of the kind he offers.42 Galen wrote so many commentaries on so many different authors (Aristotle, Theophrastus, Eudemus, Chrysippus, Hippocrates, Erasistratus, Asclepiades of Bithynia etc.), including many commentaries on specific subjects within certain works or authors as well as commentaries that quote the commentated text, that it makes much more sense to me to consider this a common practice of his, rather than to look into particular reasons he might have had to write a commentary on a section of one his favourite works by one of his favourite authors.43 Besides, he used passages from this specific part of the Timaeus in other works as well, some of which are dated before the commentary, which indicates that he was already working with these parts of the Timaeus in any case. Finally, Galen frequently remarks that he wrote a certain work merely to gratify the needs of some friend or protégé. But it seems to me rather uncertain to what extent this is a rhetorical strategy to present himself in a certain manner (the modest figure that merely responds to the requests of others seeking to learn from him, rather than someone that is eager to produce writings and show off his knowledge) and to what extent such remarks refer to actual historical fact.44 That is to say, I think Rashed provides a convincing and sophisticated answer to a question that does not really need to be a question in the first place. This might simply be due to his point of departure, namely, asking the question ‘why would Galen write a commentary on a part of the Timaeus?’ and finding the answer in a kind of synthesis of the previous work on the matter.45 In any case, whatever the specific relation between the Compendium and the commentary, I think it makes complete sense from Galen’s perspective on Plato, to engage intensively with the Timaeus, and particularly with this specific part of it.46 I hope this will become clearer when we look at Galen’s use of the Timaeus in other works, below.

Das and Koetschet, in their important recent study of Galen’s Compendium, conclude that it served not as a mere summary, but rather as an ‘isagogic or mnemotechnical text’ that was to prepare its reader for Galen’s ‘more detailed exegeses (such as his commentary)’. Such a practice would find a parallel in that of contemporary Platonists, such as in the case of Alcinous’ Didaskalikos.47 Indeed, in some concrete respects, the Compendium prepares the ground for a more elaborate Galenic interpretation of the Timaeus, as we shall see below.

Besides the Compendium, the commentary fragments collected by Schröder and the possible excerpts published by Larrain, we also have some fragments found in Galenic scholia by Moraux and by Lorusso.48 Paul Moraux has found two fragments among scholia to Hipp. Elem., which he published in the Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik (1977). The first corresponds exactly to the citation found by Daremberg in Paris. Gr. 2147 and included by Schröder as the start of the first book.49 It states that, in his commentary, Galen said that the demiurge shaped man out of the elements50 and must certainly pertain to Tim. 42e–43a, the place where both Schröder and Larrain thought Galen began his commentary (see below, on the scope of the commentary). In the second, we find a discussion on the elements being one or many in nature (Galen there equates Plato’s ἰδέα with φύσις), in which Galen states that the elements are many (four) and proceeds to explain Plato’s notion of the constitution of the elements in terms of geometrical shapes.51 It is reminiscent of the discussion in Hipp. Elem. and HNH on the elements being many not merely in number, but in form.52 The latter part of this passage can also be paralleled with PHP book 8, where Galen argues that Hippocrates and Plato fundamentally agreed that the elements generate our body, but that Plato also proceeded to inquire what the cause of the generation of the elements themselves was, and therefore came up with the geometrical shapes, a subject purposely neglected by Hippocrates, since he was pursuing a practical rather than a theoretical science.53 These comments are lacking in Schröder and Larrain and must pertain to Tim. 54 D and further, which means that, according to the proposed ordering of Schröder and Larrain (see below), they must have belonged to either the first or the second book.54 Moraux’s finds can also be taken to affirm that there is overlap between the commentary and Galen’s other writings on the Timaeus, for example the last books of PHP (which in turn again problematizes Nickel’s conclusion that Larrain’s fragments must be from an author imitating Galen’s PHP and other works, because it shows that Galen himself paraphrases content from his other works in the commentary).

In addition, Vito Lorusso has discovered two new fragments in scholia to The Therapeutic Method. These fragments were also published in the Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik (2005), along with an Italian translation. The first is about vision and must pertain, according to Lorusso, to Tim. 45b-d. Lorusso also remarks that this fragment shows resemblance to Larrain’s fragment 22 (on the same passage), particularly in its dependency on Aristotelian theory of vision.55 The second fragment discusses the theory of the formation of the colour red, and is related by Lorusso to Tim. 67c–68d, a passage lacking in both Schröder’s and Larrain’s editions.

2 Scope of the Commentary

As we have noticed, the title of his commentary (On the Medical Statements in Plato’s Timaeus) seems to imply that Galen, perhaps unsurprisingly, was primarily interested in the content that he considered pertinent to the medical science. However, as is well known, Galen’s notion of what is relevant to the medical science is quite broad – just think of his famous dictum that doctors need to be trained in philosophy in order to appropriately practice their art.56 Furthermore, we have also noticed that Galen thinks it typical of Plato to ask for the underlying causes that actually fall outside of the normal scope of the science of medicine, which might indicate that we could expect some of Galen’s commentary to cross this boundary as well, if only as a discussion and interpretation of what Plato says. Aileen Das points out another good indication for this: Galen does not include his commentary on the Timaeus in the list of books that the doctor should read in On the Order of My Own Books, and what is more, in On My Own Books he classifies it not among his medical works but among those that pertain to Platonic philosophy. Das has shown that Galen included in his commentary material that had ‘no clear application to medical practice or theory’ but that was rather ‘related to broader debates about the nature of the soul’ and also that in his discussion of this material Galen ‘draws on his own scientific or medical theories’.57 In this sense, we could expect the commentary to show some overlap not with specifically medical works, but much rather with the more philosophical works on the soul in which Galen draws on the Timaeus as well, i.e. particularly PHP and QAM.

Finally, we learn from Mixtures (Temp.), HNH, Hipp. Elem. and other works of Galen, that the art of medicine largely consists of balancing nature. That is to say, it requires an understanding of the state of a particular individual in terms of the underlying principles behind generation and decay that rule nature in general.58 Therefore, the science of medicine cannot be mastered without some knowledge of the nature of man, and with that – since man is made of the same elements as everything else – some knowledge of natural philosophy.59 If your doctor does not understand that your body-parts are made out of a mixture of the four elemental qualities, but rather thinks there are atoms underlying them, he will not be able to rationally infer the right cure based on the symptoms of your disease.

Despite all of Galen’s remarks on not knowing the answers to speculative philosophical questions, he does fundamentally assume that the success of medical science is dependent upon adequate knowledge of human nature.60 It is useful to keep in mind this broad Galenic notion of the science of medicine and its relation to natural philosophy when studying his interaction with Plato’s Timaeus. On the other hand, it is equally useful to keep in mind that Galen rather consistently makes a distinction between knowledge, in the sense of something that is or can be scientifically proved, and questions on which we can only find plausible or likely answers.61 This distinction is particularly relevant in the context of his reading of the Timaeus and some of the subjects discussed there, as Galen himself remarks in PHP IX:

ὅτι μὲν ἄκρας ἐστὶ σοφίας καὶ δυναμεως ἡ τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν κατασκευή, δι΄ὧν ὀλίγον ἔμπροσθεν εἶπον ἐπιδείκνυται· τὰ δὲ περὶ τῆς οὐσίας τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ τῶν διαπλασάντων ἡμᾶς θεῶν ἔτι τε μᾶλλον ὅσα περὶ τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν λέγεται παντὸς ὑπὸ τοῦ θειοτάτου Πλάτωνος ἄχρι τοῦ πιθανοῦ καὶ εἰκότος ἐκτείνεται, ὡς αὐτὸς ἐδήλωσεν ἐν Τιμαίῳ πρῶτον ἐνάρχεσθαι μέλλων τῆς φυσιολογίας, εἶτα καὶ μεταξὺ κατὰ τὴν διέξοδον τοῦ λόγου παρεντιθεὶς τὴν ἀπόφασιν.62

My earlier remarks make it clear that the fashioning of our bodies is a work of the highest wisdom and power; but the statements of the most divine Plato about the substance of the soul and of the gods who formed us, and still more all that he says about our whole body, extend only to the point of being plausible and reasonable, as he himself pointed out in the Timaeus when first he was about to enter upon an account of the natural world, and again when he inserted the statement in the middle of the account.

tr. De Lacy

Galen gladly emphasizes that Plato made sure to repeatedly state the epistemological status of Timaeus’ discourse and also states that, because of its status as merely plausible, Plato had Timaeus deliver it, rather than Socrates himself.63 We also find this notion in Larrain’s fragment 17, though with more emphasis on difference in style. There, the author suggests that the poetical and elevated style of speculative cosmology better befits sophists than Socrates.64

In any case, the emphasis on the tentative nature of Timaeus’ cosmology does not mean in the least that the discourse is uninteresting to Galen, or not worth extensive exegesis. Therefore, we should also not be surprised to see him make statements in his commentary about things that fall under the header of speculation, as long as we keep in mind that these statements should not be read as propositions that fall under the header of scientific knowledge. We can also see from this passage that Galen uses his qualification of what is ‘plausible’ (πιθανός) in different ways. The first subjects he mentions, the substance of the soul and the gods that made us, seem to be outside the scope of scientific knowledge altogether, whereas our bodies, clearly, are not. That Galen includes Plato’s remarks on the body in this list of what is merely ‘plausible’, does not mean that the subject is outside the scope of scientific knowledge altogether, but that whatever Plato said about it in his Timaeus does not qualify as scientific knowledge and can thus be improved in favour of a different account that is perhaps more plausible or not merely ‘plausible’.

With respect to the actual part of Plato’s text that Galen commented upon: both Larrain and Schröder (following Daremberg) propose a linking of their fragments to specific passages in Plato’s Timaeus (for the Greek fragments in Schröder the lemmata were part of the transmission). Larrain has 42e8–46c6 (attributed to the first book of Galen’s commentary) for his Fr 1–27, and 64a2–65a1 for his Fr 28–34 (attributed to the second book of Galen’s commentary). Schröder has 42e8–46a2 (first book) and 59e5–66d2 and 72e3–6 (second book) for the excerpts from Maimonides and Al-Rhāzī, 76d3–81a2 for his nineteen Greek fragments (book 3), and finally 84e2–91c7 for excerpts from Maimonides and Al-Rhāzī thought to belong to book 4.

Both Schröder and Larrain assume Galen started his commentary at Tim. 42e. If they are right, this would indeed make sense in terms of the title. That is, this part of the Timaeus is relevant to medical science in the broad Galenic sense, since it is where the nature of the human body comes into the picture. It would mean that Galen avoided commenting on the parts of Timaeus’ story that would be particularly uninteresting or unsuitable for his purposes, leaving out not only the introduction, narrative setting and the story of Atlantis,65 but also, more significantly, the beginning of Timaeus’ speech containing: the creation of the gods, the address of the demiurge to the created gods in which they are ordained to create the three other kinds of beings, the making of the immortal part of the soul by the demiurge and the description of the process and hierarchy of reincarnation. And, in fact, these are all subjects that Galen generally seems to have limited use for. Even if the title of his commentary were different, what would we imagine him to comment on these passages? These subjects all involve some notion of the divine maker or the immortal soul he gave us, beings that cannot be sufficiently explained in Galenic terms, since they are essentially non-bodily. They belong to the category of subjects that Galen lists in PHP IX, as not susceptible to scientific demonstration.66 Besides, even if Galen were to interpret these passages as descriptions of what is likely or plausible as opposed to true, and simply discuss them as such, they would still evidently harm the continuity he insists upon between him and Plato. Since Plato took these subjects into a direction that Galen has no use for, there is no reason for Galen to include them in his commentary.67

It is tempting to think that Galen started his commentary around the place where the body is introduced and the relation between body and soul becomes the subject at hand (42e). However, there is a relevant passage in Al-Bīrūnī’s Kitāb Taḥqīq mā li-l-hind min maqūlah maqbūlah fī al-ʿaql aw mardhūlah (The Book Confirming What Pertains to India, Whether Rational or Despicable), which is a quotation from Galen’s commentary according to Larrain, Arnzen and Das, and which reports on subjects that are definitely part of the immediately preceding passage in the Timaeus from 41a6 onwards.68 This passage was apparently unknown to Schröder, which explains why he assumed the commentary to start further on in the text. Larrain, however, knew of Al-Bīrūnī’s citation, but proposed that Galen merely wrote about these subjects as an explanation to go with the actual start of the commentary in 42e6, where it is about ‘the children’, i.e. the gods as children of the demiurge. Larrain’s suggestion does not seem implausible to me, and I agree that it would be odd for Galen to start his commentary ‘On the Medical Statements in Plato’s Timaeus’ with the demiurge speaking to the newly created gods about the immortal soul of man. It also makes sense that, given where he starts according to Larrain and Schröder, he would have to provide a short explanation to explain the term ‘children’ in terms of the foregoing, especially considering that he was citing the passages he commented upon from the Timaeus. Furthermore, the passage starting at 42e, particularly the river-metaphor that is introduced to describe the state of the soul after its incarnation, is a passage for which Galen must have had a particular liking, since he comments upon it extensively in QAM as well.69 Although we cannot be sure whether Galen started commenting at 41a6 or 42e6, it seems reasonable enough to assume that it was around the introduction of the creation of the human body. With regard to the end of his commentary, we have testimonies from Al-Rhāzī that pertain to Tim. 91b-c (included in Schröder’s edition), so it seems likely that Galen simply commented up until the end of the Timaeus (which perhaps makes it all the more pertinent that he skipped a large part of the beginning).

3 Basic Tendencies in Galen’s Interpretation of the Timaeus

The river metaphor Plato introduces in Tim. 43a to describe the chaotic kinetics of the body by which the soul becomes disturbed, must have made a strong impression on Galen. He brings it up in QAM as well, using this metaphor to fit Plato closer into his notion of the nature of man as a specific mixture of the elemental qualities, in which, as we shall see, wetness in particular comes to take over the role that the body as a whole plays in Platonic cosmology.70 Even in the Compendium, which generally remains relatively faithful to Plato’s text (although it is highly selective in the attention attributed to specific aspects), Galen distorts this metaphor so as to make it reflect his own doctrines. In Timaeus 43a, Plato describes how the gods made our bodies out of the elements and then bound the revolutions of the immortal soul into them, resulting in a perversion of the soul’s movement:

αἱ δ΄ εἰς ποταμὸν ἐνδεθεῖσαι πολὺν οὔτ΄ ἐκράτουν οὔτ΄ ἐκρατοῦντο, βίᾳ δὲ ἐφέροντο καὶ ἔφερον, ὥστε τὸ μὲν ὅλον κινεῖσθαι ζῷον, ἀτάκτως μὴν ὅπῃ τύχοι προїέναι καὶ ἀλόγως, τὰς ἕξ ἁπάσας κινήσεις ἔχον …71

These orbits, then, now bound within a mighty river, neither mastered that river nor were mastered by it, but tossed it violently and were violently tossed by it. Consequently the living thing as a whole did indeed move, but it would proceed in a disorderly, random and irrational way that involved all six of the motions.

tr. Zeyl

Plato here describes the chaos that results when the proper movements of the soul are brought into contact with the elements through the body. He depicts the overwhelming multitude of impressions befalling the soul with the metaphor of being dragged along in a river. This causes the soul to become devoid of understanding:

αἷς δ΄ἂν ἔξωθεν αἰσθήσεις τινὲς φερόμεναι καὶ προσπεσοῦσαι συνεπισπάσωνται καὶ τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ἅπαν κύτος, τόθ΄αὗται κατούμεναι κρατεῖν δοκοῦσι. καὶ διὰ δὴ ταῦτα πάντα τὰ παθήματα νῦν κατ΄ ἀρχάς τε ἄνους ψυχὴ γίγνεται τὸ πρῶτον, ὅταν εἰς σῶμα ἐνδεθῇ θνητόν. ὅταν δὲ τὸ τῆς αὔξης καὶ τροφῆς ἔλαττον ἐπίῃ ῥεῦμα, πάλιν δὲ αἱ περίοδοι λαμβανόμεναι γαλήνης τὴν ἑαυτῶν ὁδὸν ἴωσι καὶ καθιστῶνται μᾶλλον ἐπιόντος τοῦ χρόνου, τότε ἤδη πρὸς τὸ κατὰ φύσιν ἰόντων σχῆμα ἑκάστων τῶν κύκλων αἱ περιφοραὶ κατευθυνόμεναι, τό τε θάτερον καὶ τὸ ταὐτὸν προσαγορεύουσαι κατ΄ ὀρθόν, ἔμφρονα τὸν ἔχοντα αὐτὰς γιγνόμενον ἀποτελοῦσιν.72

And so when certain sensations come in from outside and attack them, they sweep the soul’s entire vessel along with them. It is then that these revolutions, however much in control they seem to be, are actually under their control. All these disturbances are no doubt the reason why even today and not only at the beginning, whenever a soul is bound within a mortal body, it at first lacks intelligence. But as the stream that brings growth and nourishment diminishes and the soul’s orbits regain their composure, resume their proper courses and establish themselves more and more with the passage of time, their revolutions are set straight, to conform to the configuration each of the circles takes in its natural course. They then correctly identify what is the same and what is different, and render intelligent the person who possess them.

tr. Zeyl

Over time, when the bodily affections are less intense and more under control, the soul can stabilize in the body and regain its intelligence. Timaeus also stresses that education plays an important role here: the right educational training can reinforce this positive development of the soul. Conversely, a lack of such training could lead one to remain unaccomplished and devoid of understanding until the very end of one’s life (ἀτελὴς καὶ ἀνόητος εἰς ῞Αιδου πάλιν ἔρχεται).73

In his summary of this passage, however, Galen takes Plato’s metaphor of the river rather literally, namely, in terms of an abundance of moistness. He even states that according to Timaeus the cause for the return of intellect is dryness:

After this, he [sc. Plato] describes the things that happen to the soul necessarily because of its connection to the body: why it is without intellect at the beginning of its connection with it [the body] and why intellect arises second to it after this. Then, he made the cause of the first state an abundance of moisture and the cause of the second state dryness.74

According to Galen’s summary, the lack of intellect in the newborn is caused by an abundance of fluid or moisture: the cause of the ignorance of the newborn is not the binding to the bodily elements as such, but rather the abundance of one specific element or rather elemental quality, namely that of wetness. In Plato’s text, the metaphor of the river clearly referred to all four elements and the incarnation of soul as such, rather than to water or wetness particularly:

πολλοῦ γὰρ ὄντος τοῦ κατακλύζοντος καὶ ἀπορρέοντος κύματος ὅ τὴν τροφὴν παρεῖχεν, ἔτι μείζω θόρυβον ἀπηργάζετο τὰ τῶν προσπιπτόντων παθήματα ἑκάστοις, ὅτε πυρὶ προσκρούσειε τὸ σῶμά τινος ἔξωθεν ἀλλοτρίῳ περιτυχὸν ἢ καὶ στερεῷ γῆς πάγῳ ὑγροῖς τε ὀλισθήμασιν ὑδάτων, εἴτε ζάλῃ πνευμάτων ὑπὸ ἀέρος φερομένων καταληφθείη, καὶ ὑπὸ πάντων τούτων διὰ τοῦ σώματος αἱ κινήσεις ἐπὶ τὴν ψυχὴν ερόμεναι προσπίπτοιεν.75

For mighty as the nourishment-bearing billow was in its ebb and flow, mightier still was the turbulence produced by the disturbances caused by the things that struck against the living things. Such disturbances would occur when the body encountered and collided with external fire (i.e., fire other than the body’s own) or for that matter with a hard lump of earth or with the flow of gliding waters, or when it was caught up by a surge of air-driven winds. The motions produced by all these encounters would then be conducted through the body to the soul, and strike against it.

tr. Zeyl

Galen here makes a crucial interpretative step – one that is rather remarkable in the context of this summary, which generally stays close to Plato’s text and does not stand out for interpretative originality. Perhaps this indicates that this is truly how Galen reads the Timaeus, rather than it being a deliberate manipulation to fit his own agenda. Or perhaps it indicates that this is indeed such a crucial matter for him that he does not even want to leave it out in this generally more neutral summary. The next step, making dryness the cause for the coming to be of understanding, simply follows from the first step of making an abundance of wetness the cause of the lack of understanding. The notion that dryness or the decrease of the initial wetness of the newborn is the cause of understanding is completely absent from the text Galen is summarizing, and must be understood, I propose, as a way to rewrite the Platonic soul-body dynamics in terms of Galenic mixture and the predomination of specific qualities within it. As we have been able to gather from our previous two case-studies, this interpretation is in line with Galen’s approach in QAM and HNH, where the nature of the soul and the nature of man respectively were understood in terms of the mixture of the elemental qualities. Indeed, we find the exact same interpretative movement in QAM, where Galen uses the same passage from the Timaeus:

… ἃ τάχ΄ ἂν ἐφεξῆς εἴποιμι ξύμπαντα πρότερον ἀναμνήσας ὅν ὁ Πλάτων ἔγραψε λόγον, ὑπὸ τὴς τοῦ σώματος ὑγρότητος εἰς λήθην ἔρχεσθαι τὴν ψυχὴν ὧν πρότερον ἠπίστατο, πρὶν ἐνδεθῆναι τῷ σόματι. λέγει γὰρ ὧδέ πως αὐτοῖς ῥήμασιν ἐν Τιμαίῳ κατ΄ ἐκεῖνο τὸ χωρίον τοῦ συγγράμματος, ἔνθα φησὶ τοὺς θεοὺς δημιουργῆσαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐνδοῦντας τὴν ἀθάνατον ψυχὴν “εἰς ἐπίρρυτον σῶμα καὶ ἀπόρρυτον”, εὔδηλον ὅτι τὴν ὑγρότητα τῆς τῶν βρεφῶν οὐσίας αἰνιττόμενος.76

Perhaps I should discuss these all next – after first giving a reminder of that statement of Plato’s, that as a result of the wetness of the body the soul reaches a state of forgetfulness of what it knew before being bound into the body. For this basically is what he says – in these very words – in the Timaeus, in that part of the work in which he states that the gods craft the human being by placing the immortal soul ‘in a body replete with ebb and flow’. It is quite evident that this is an oblique reference to the wetness of the substance of infants.

tr. Singer

It is ‘quite evident’, according to Galen, that Plato here intended to refer to the relative wetness of the substance of newborns, but merely expressed it in a veiled or allusive manner (αἰνίττομαι is a way of speaking typical of myth).77 He goes on to unambiguously state that this wetness is the cause of ‘mindlessness in the soul’ (τῆς κατὰ ψυχὴν ἀνοίας), whereas dryness is the cause of understanding. He then remarks that a body that does not have any share of wetness would be extremely intelligent, as the bodies of the stars are. The stars, of course, are associated with the rational soul already in the Timaeus, and Galen also refers to Heraclitus’ aphorism comparing the dry soul to a ‘ray of light’.78 There will be much more to say about all of this, but we will come back to Galen’s peculiar use of this metaphor from the Timaeus when we discuss fragment 6 from Larrain’s edition below. For now, let this be a preliminary illustration of what is exceptional about Galen’s use of the Timaeus: he seems to come closer to a consistent somatisation of the soul (i.e. explaining soul and its functions in terms of bodily mixtures), including its rational part, than he does in other contexts.79 What happens in this passage in QAM, in the Compendium and some of the fragments from the commentary (in particular the ones that supposedly pertain to the first book), is a recasting of the dualistic Platonic view of man consisting of body and soul into terms of the (opposing) elemental qualities. Wetness is related to forgetfulness, ignorance, destruction, disorder, inactivity, sleep etc., that is, everything caused by the linking with the body in Platonic myth and cosmology. Dryness, on the other hand, is related to thinking, wisdom, orderly (circular) movement etc., that is, everything related to the Platonic (rational) soul. This is one of the main reasons why these fragments from the first part of Galen’s commentary are particularly interesting from the perspective of the previous two Case-Studies: they cast light on the extent to which it is possible, from a Galenic perspective, to account for functions that are traditionally considered psychic in terms of the elemental qualities. As we have noticed in Case-Study II, there is a tension throughout Galen’s work between what one could call the explanatory power of mixture on the one hand, and the intelligence of nature implied by the observable design of its individual beings on the other hand. We have seen how this tension still comes to the fore strongly in a late work such as Foet. Form.:

ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν ἀπορεῖν ὁμολογῶ περὶ τοῦ διαπλάσαντος αἰτίου τὸ ἔμβρυον. ἄκραν γὰρ ὁρῶν ἐν τῇ διαπλάσει σοφίαν τε ἅμα καὶ δύναμιν οὔτε τὴν ἐν τῷ σπέρματι ψυχήν, τὴν φυτικὴν μὲν ὑπὸ τῶν περὶ τὸν ᾿Αριστοτέλη καλουμένην, ἐπιθυμητικὴν δ΄ ὑπὸ Πλάτωνος, ὑπὸ δὲ τῶν Στωїκῶν οὐδὲ ψυχὴν ὅλως, ἀλλὰ φύσιν, ἡγοῦμαι διαπλάττειν τὸ ἔμβρυον οὐ μόνον οὐκ οὖσαν σοφήν, ἀλλὰ καὶ παντάπασιν ἄλογον, οὔτ΄ αὖ πάλιν ἀποστῆναι τελέως αὐτῆς δύναμαι διὰ τὴν πρὸς τὰ γεννήσαντα τῶν ἐγγόνων ὁμοιότητα.80

And so I confess that I do not know the cause of construction of the foetus. For I observe in this construction the utmost intelligence and power, and I cannot allow that the soul in the seed, which Aristotle calls vegetative and Plato desiderative, and which the Stoics consider not to be soul at all, but nature, constructs the foetus, since this kind of soul is not only not intelligent, but entirely devoid of reason; nor, however, can I entirely distance myself from that opinion, in view of the similarity of the offspring to the parents …

tr. Singer

The seed is a substance consisting of a mixture of the four elemental qualities. In other places, Galen seems to suggest that it is the seed itself, or a ‘power in the seed’ that constructs the human being.81 Here, at the end of Foet. Form., we can see how he is still attracted to this view, but at the same time we see his inhibitions to fully commit to it. Lacking intelligence itself, a mixture of elemental qualities could not sufficiently explain the intelligent design Galen observes in nature’s creations. In the end, Galen does not seem to solve this tension by choosing to commit fully to any of the two possible directions. One might view this as philosophical inadequacy or scientific integrity, according to one’s own taste. In any case, this tension has been the subject of much discussion already82 and we will not pursue the problem further here. I simply note that while, for example, Galen’s UP tilts more towards an emphasis on intelligent design and a wise artificer, his writings on the Timaeus rather seem to tilt towards the opposite aspect, which is striking, considering the prominence of the demiurge in Plato’s Timaeus itself. This makes Galen’s commentary on the Timaeus an interesting case to see to what extent the physiological explanation of the soul in terms of elementary qualities could be successful from a Galenic perspective. It has already been shown by Mario Vegetti that Galen displayed a tendency of somatisation of Plato’s Timaeus in PHP and QAM as well. Vegetti argues that, in PHP, the Timaeus has been particularly useful for Galen’s central doctrine of the division of the soul in three separate parts (εἰδή) or substances (οὐσίαι) and their concomitant location in and attachment to three separate bodily organs, and that, in QAM, this line is taken a step further towards identification of the three parts of the soul with the homoeomerous bodies that constitute these organs.83 Teun Tieleman has argued in a similar vein for understanding QAM as an elaboration of Galen’s interpretation of the Timaeus as presented in PHP: ‘In PHP Books 1–6 Galen mounted an extensive vindication of the trilocation of the soul as presented by Plato in the Timaeus. The localization of reason, anger and appetite in three different organs committed him to the view that the soul consisted of three parts rather than powers … In PHP Galen suspends judgement as to its substance (corporeal/incorporeal, mortal/immortal) but in the work of his old age, QAM, he explicates his position in this matter by adapting a Peripatetic theorem: form is to be understood as the blend of corporeal elements of the main organs’.84 Our analysis of QAM in Case-Study I supports these readings. Both Vegetti and Tieleman see continuity (rightly, I think) between PHP and QAM and the relationship of both to Galen’s interpretation of Plato’s Timaeus. In the fragments and testimonies of Galen’s commentary on the Timaeus – particularly those supposedly belonging to the first book, including the contested excerpts found by Larrain – this specific line of interpretation (or ‘manipulation’ if you like85) of the Timaeus is continued. Again, this Galenic interpretation of the Platonic text, basically consists of a recasting of the traditional Platonic body-soul opposition into an opposition of elemental qualities, which fits Galen’s notion of mixture as the nature of man. Thus, whereas Plato understands soul as a (self-moving) cause, Galen argues that soul is causally dependent on or even identical with bodily mixture in QAM, after he has shown, already in PHP, how each of the three soul-parts is localized in a specific bodily organ from which it functions and without which it cannot function. In the excerpts collected by Larrain, be they excerpts from Galen’s commentary or not, this line of interpretation is continued, as we can also see when we briefly look at one of the main cosmic structures explained in the Timaeus: that of the two kinds of movement. An important aspect of Timaeus’ narrative is that there are essentially two kinds of movement in the cosmos, that of the same and that of the other, and that human beings can take part in both (which makes it so that we can partake both in being and in becoming). The movement of the same is fixed, circular and wise, while the movement of the other, in various linear directions, is irrational, inconsistent and variable.86 In the Timaeus these movements are prior to that which they actually move.87 However, as we have seen in our previous case-studies, Galen’s approach is rather to explain whatever activity of any given thing in terms of its substance, which in itself – if it is assumed that the substance is a body – amounts to a somatisation. Galen also applies this principle with regard to his interpretation of the Timaeus: the type of movement undertaken by something depends on its constitution in terms of the elemental qualities – particularly its relative wetness or dryness. In this manner the movement of the same becomes related predominantly to dryness, the movement of the other to wetness. The explanation of these movements in terms of the elemental qualities is a fundamentally different point of departure, since for Plato the movements (i.e. soul) are primary and the bodies are fitted in later (at least in the narrative). For Galen and the author of Larrain’s fragments, the causal explanation has to run the other way around: a substance that is relatively dry and fiery will, therefore, be wise.

There are a few other general tendencies in Galen’s interpretation of the Timaeus, which will be less important for our analysis but can be briefly mentioned here.

In accordance with Middle-Platonist predecessors and indeed with his own work, Galen, in his reading of the Timaeus, places all causality with the demiurge, or intelligent nature, and understands Plato’s χῶρα as the (qualityless) matter unto which nature or the demiurge puts its form, which fits his hylomorphic outlook better.88 Das has shown that Galen, in his Compendium, too, downplays the notion of the eternal paradigm in his description of the creative activity of the demiurge.89 Again, this corresponds to a general Middle Platonist tendency to put greater emphasis on the role of the efficient cause, by reducing the autonomy of the Forms as cosmic paradigms and making them more inherent to the demiurge as creator.90 It also corresponds to Galen’s UP, however, in which the beauty and order of the cosmos and its inhabitants is due to the providence and artistry of the demiurge, much rather than due to the perfection of eternal paradigms.91 Das has also argued that the ‘distinctively mechanistic account of primordial chaos’ that we find in Plato’s Timaeus as description of the workings of necessity, would have been reason for Galen to diminish the role of necessity in his Compendium, given his obvious lack of appreciation for mechanistic accounts of nature.92 For what it is worth, these preferences are matched in Larrain’s fragments, where we also do not find anything on necessity or eternal paradigms.

Finally, it might be good to keep in mind that it is likely that Galen wrote the last books of PHP, the Compendium and the commentary on the Timaeus, quite soon after one another. They were also all included, together with QAM as well, under the header ‘Works concerning Platonic philosophy’ in his On My Own Books. The many parallels, programmatic resemblance, and the fact that these works can be dated closely to each other, suggests that Galen undertook some sort of Timaeus-project. Hence, it might be fruitful to interpret the several results of it together or at least in relation to each other.93 Some of the tendencies described above can be found in all of these works, and come to the fore in a particularly lucid manner in those fragments of Larrain’s edition that are supposedly excerpted from the first book of Galen’s commentary. We shall now discuss some of these fragments, and compare them to some of Galen’s attested work on the Timaeus.

4 Comparing Galen’s Timaeus to the Larrain Fragments

4.1 Aristotelianizing Plato

One of the first things to notice, when looking at these fragments, is that even though they are supposed to be commenting on a Platonic text, two of the first three fragments are about Aristotle. In the first fragment, the author expresses his appreciation of Aristotle’s use of the so-called geometrical method in a book on vision and in the Problemata.94 As Larrain remarks, this is not unusual. Galen is wont to make methodological remarks at the beginning of his works, and he also specifically praises Aristotle’s scientific methodology on several occasions, including another work in which he is in fact writing about Plato and the Timaeus, namely in PHP.95 It is therefore not untypical, but still significant, that the author – in either case well-versed in Galen’s previous work – evokes Aristotle so prominently in what is likely to be an introductory passage at the very beginning of the commentary. In the second fragment, moreover, Plato’s notion of the underlying nature of things is criticized and discarded. In the third, the compositional hierarchy of homoeomerous and organic bodies is brought in. As we have seen in the previous case-studies, this is standard Galenic doctrine hailing from Aristotle, who is again explicitly referred to.

Let us have a brief look at these latter two fragments:

ὅτι διὰ τί τὸ μὲν ὕδωρ ὑγρόν τέ ἐστι καὶ ῥυτόν, ἡ δὲ γῆ βαρεῖα καὶ σκληρά, τὸ δὲ πῦρ ἄνω τε φέρεται καὶ καίει, μαλακώτατος δὲ καὶ εὐαλλοιότατος ἐστιν ὁ ἀήρ, ἐπισκεπτόμενος ὁ Πλάτων εἰς τὰς τῶν στερεωτέρων σχημάτων φύσεις ἀνήνεγκεν, ἐξ ὧν βούλεται συγκεῖσθαι ταυτὶ τὰ στοιχεῖα τὰ αἰσθητά, καὶ ἀναλύων γε ταῦτα καὶ δεικνὺς ἕτερα στοιχεῖα τούτων ὑπάρχειν, οὐδ΄ αὐτὸς ἠδυνήθη ἀνελθεῖν μέχρι παντός. τὰς γὰρ ἔτι τούτων ἀρχὰς ἄνωθεν ἔφη θεὸν εἰδέναι καὶ ἀνδρῶν, ὅς ἂν ἐκείνῳ φίλος εἴη.96

That the reason why water is moist and fluid, earth is heavy and hard, fire is borne upwards and burns, and air is most soft and alterable, Plato, after examination, referred to the natures of the solid figures, from which he thought those perceptible elements are composed, and even though he indeed analysed them and showed that other elements underlie them, he himself was not able to go up to the whole. For he said that the principles still higher than those are known by God and by those men who are loved by God.

The structure of this fragment is reminiscent of the general philosophical method described by Galen in HNH and Hipp. Elem. and discussed in Case-Study II: to analyse the elements available to perception, that is to say, to break them down into final principles that cannot be further analysed and to determine the causal powers of these principles. We see the same terminology here as in those works – τὰ στοιχεῖα τὰ αἰστητά, which Galen uses to indicate the difference between the elements according to perception and the true elements (that in a strict sense are to be called principles, ἀρχαί). But, although Plato was right not to stop at the realm of perception and to further analyse these perceptible elements (Plato realized, at least, that there must be other principles underlying the perceivable ones), Galen does not deem his final analysis successful. Plato comes up with the geometric figures as the principles that underlie the perceptible elements, and we can safely assume that Galen considered this a mistake. This would be one of Galen’s main problems with the Timaeus: as we have seen in the previous two case-studies, it is clear enough that Galen prefers a hylomorphic model in which the elements according to perception are conceptually broken down into the two principles of form and matter.97 From this perspective, this particular fragment fits well with Galen’s attested work.

That Plato was mistaken must be the meaning of the somewhat odd sentence ‘οὐδ΄ αὐτὸς ἠδυνήθη ἀνελθεῖν μέχρι παντός’. That is to say: Plato was not able to completely fulfil this method since his analysis did not bring him to the true principles of things.98 This sentence might also be a play on the passage on dialectics from book VI of Plato’s Republic (which is also full of references to the ideal of the geometrical method), where Socrates speaks of going up to the ‘first principle of everything’ that requires no further hypotheses itself. There, it is said that in this highest form of science, one uses the fundamental hypotheses of the other sciences not as first principles, but rather truly as hypotheses, so that they become a kind of stepping stones, so that one could go up to the unhypothetical first principle of everything’ (ἵνα μέχρι τοῦ ἀνυποθέτου ἐπὶ τὴν τοῦ παντὸς ἀρχὴν ἰών).99 The resemblance in choice of words is striking, and is reinforced by another sentence from the same passage in the Republic a few lines down, where it is said that those who study the objects of the other sciences, ‘do not go back to a genuine first principle but proceed from hypotheses’ (διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐπ΄ ἀρχὴν ἀνελθόντες σκοπεῖν ἀλλ΄ ἐξ ὑποθέσεων).100 If this was indeed done intentionally, it must be a joke on Plato (which would not be untypical of Galen), saying that even though he did examine the matter, he was not able to live up to his own ideal as he portrayed it in the Republic, since he did not in fact end up at the actual principles of everything. Plato, of course, is not talking about the principles of the bodily elements in that passage in the Republic, but that is not a requirement for the author’s presumed joke to work, since Galen generally is talking about the principles underlying the mixtures when he talks about the principles of everything.101 Finally, this sentence may also remind us of Galen’s interpretation of the passage from Plato’s Phaedrus, discussed in Case-Study II. According to Galen, Plato suggested that a knowledge of ‘the nature of everything’ is required to arrive at knowledge of the nature of man, implying that knowledge of the mixture of elemental qualities – which Galen identified as the nature of man – is a prerequisite for knowledge of the whole of man, i.e. both body and soul. The ‘whole’ or ‘all’ that Plato was not able to uncover, despite using the right method, is the same ‘whole’ or ‘all’ that Galen analysed in his commentary on the Hippocratic On the Nature of Man; namely, a hylomorphic composite consisting of two principles, matter and the elemental qualities. This particular critique of Plato fits well with the strong presence of Aristotle in the first few fragments.

We saw how Galen in PHP brought up the need for a commentary on the Timaeus in the context of Plato’s explanation of the human body (and its congruence with Hippocrates) and his reasoning on underlying causes for the humours being such as they are.102 In PHP, Galen still refrained from criticism on Plato’s choice, declaring that ‘the question whether Plato’s opinions about these matters were correct or incorrect lies outside our present discussion’.103 ‘These matters’ here refers to the discourse on the principles of the elements, which apparently belongs to theoretical philosophy (that is not to say that Galen does not engage with this question himself; he often does, in fact). After this remark, Galen continues to simply sum up Plato’s analysis of the elements in terms of the geometrical shapes, without criticizing it. In Larrain’s fragment 2, however, Plato’s reasoning about geometrical figures is quickly discarded. In that sense, this fragment would live up to Galen’s anticipatory remarks on his Timaeus commentary in Trem. Palp., where he states that the commentary will be critical of Plato (rather, I take it, than merely explanatory or descriptive as in PHP).104 Finally, it is easy to see why Galen would have no use for Plato’s geometrical shapes. They do not have any place or role to fulfil in the hylomorphic schema of primary matter and elementary qualities that Galen usually proposes, as we have seen in the previous two case-studies. Again, this is also one of the aspects of the Timaeus that is downplayed in Galen’s Compendium. The analysis of the elements in terms of geometrical shapes is only briefly mentioned and the emphasis is then immediately turned towards the respective qualities of the elements rather than their constitution from specific geometrical structures.105 Section 52b–55d from the Timaeus, which discusses the geometrical figures, is left out of consideration entirely.106 As we mentioned briefly above, it is striking to note these similarities between the Compendium and the texts published by Larrain. Indeed, they could be taken as indications that the author of Larrain’s fragments must have been familiar with Galen’s Compendium, which in turn may make it more likely that the fragments are based on Galen’s actual commentary (it is one thing to assume that the original text was written by someone familiar with PHP and UP, as Nickel does, another that the author was also familiar with Galen’s summary of the Timaeus).

Thus, after what seems to be a fundamental critique of Plato’s natural philosophy, which has been anticipated in Galen’s attested works, in the next fragment Aristotle is brought up once more:

ὅτι ὁμοιομερῆ καλεῖ ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης τὰ κατὰ τὴν πρώτην σύστασιν ἐκ τῶν στοιχείων γεγονότα, τὴν σάρκα, τὴν πιμελήν, τὸ νεῦρον καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα τοιαῦτα. δευτέρα δὲ ἐκ τούτων σύνθεσις ἡ τῶν ὀργανικῶν ἐστιν, ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ γλώττης καὶ ἐγκεφάλου καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα τοιαῦτά ἐστι, καὶ τρίτη τις ἐκ τῶν ὀργανικῶν σύνθεσις ἡ ἅπαντος τοῦ σώματος.107

That Aristotle calls ‘homoeomerous’ the things that have come about as the first composite from the elements, flesh, fat, sinew and all other things that are such. That from these there is a second composition, namely that of the organs, of the eye and the tongue and the brain and all other things that are such, and that from the organic parts there is some third composition, namely that of the body as a whole.

The compositional hierarchy that Galen consistently employs is also presented at the outset here, in the Peripatetic terminology he is wont to use. Galen himself, at least, is well aware that Plato does not use this terminology. In both QAM and HNH, he remarks that Plato used the name πρωτόγονα for the most basic bodies, the ‘first’ bodies that come to be from a mixture of the elemental qualities in prime matter, while Aristotle calls them ὁμοιομερῆ.108 Galen seems to have been wrong about Plato’s use of the term πρωτόγονα, but it is true that the term ὁμοιομερῆ also does not occur in Plato. Hence, bringing up this terminology here, together with Galen’s identification of Plato’s πρωτόγονα with Aristotle’s ὁμοιομερῆ elsewhere, could be taken as a deliberate attempt by the author to steer the Timaeus into more Peripatic spheres, similarly to what Galen has done elsewhere. As Vito Lorusso has already pointed out, Larrain’s fragments about vision (Fr 18–23) also mix Aristotelian (and Stoic) influences into the theory of vision that we find in the Timaeus, in a manner which is paralleled in Galen’s attested writings.109

In general, it is safe to conclude – given the praise for the Aristotelian method, and the rejection of Plato’s notion of the underlying nature of things (presumably in favour of the hylomorphic scheme of the mixture of elemental qualities and prime matter) – that the author at least gives a Peripatetic twist to his reading of the Timaeus, not to say that he considers it necessary to introduce some basic Peripatetic conceptual apparatus at the very outset of his commentary to make what follows more understandable. As we know and as has been pointed out above, this Peripatetically inclined reading of the Timaeus – particularly the combination of emphasis on the distinction between homoeomerous bodies and organs with the tripartition and trilocation of the soul – can be considered typically Galenic. We also find a similar use of Aristotelian terminology to ‘clarify’ the Platonic text in the longest Greek fragment preserved of Galen’s commentary in Schröder’s edition, where he comments on the passage about plants.110 On the other hand, while this specific way of Aristotelianizing Plato might be typically Galenic, Aristotelianizing Plato is a general tendency shared widely among earlier and contemporary Platonists. Hence, both Galen and/or the author of Larrain’s fragments might already have found themselves in a context in which Plato is an Aristotelianized Plato to some extent.111 However, it seems that the author of Larrain’s fragments did not only Aristotelianize Plato as many so-called Middle-Platonists did, but that he Aristotelianized Plato in a distinctly Galenic manner, with his emphasis on the soundness of Aristotle’s scientific method, the disapproval of Plato’s analysis of the elements in terms of geometrical figures, the introduction of the distinction between homoeomerous and anhomoeomerous bodies or organs and the Aristotelian influences in his discussion of Plato’s theory of vision.

4.2 Somatising the Soul

Let us have a look at the next fragment in Larrain’s edition, fragment 4, which happens to feature Galen’s favourite Platonic doctrine, the tripartition of the soul:

ὅτι τὴν τοῦ κόσμου ψυχὴν δύο ἔχειν ἐν αὐτῷ περιόδους ὁ Πλάτων φησί· τήν τε ταὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν τοῦ ἑτέρου. καὶ ταύτας ἔχειν φησὶ καὶ τὴν λογικὴν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ψυχήν, μόριόν πως οὖσαν τῆς τοῦ παντὸς οὐσίας, ἑτέρας δὲ δύο ψυχὰς ὑπὸ τῶν διαπλασσόντων ἡμᾶς ἅμα τῇ διαπλάσει συγγενηθῆναι θνητάς, ὧν τὴν μὲν ἑτέραν ὀνομάζει θυμοειδῆ, τὴν δὲ ἑτέραν ἐπιθυμητικήν, οἰκίζειν δὲ τὴν μὲν ἐν καρδίᾳ, τὴν δὲ ἐν ἥπατι.112

That Plato says that the soul of the cosmos has two cycles in it: that of the same and that of the different. And he says that the rational soul of man also has these, it being in some way a portion of the substance of the all, but along with the formation of it two other souls, mortal ones, have been created by the ones that formed us, of which the one is called ‘spirited part’, and the other ‘desiderative’, and the first dwells in the heart, the second in the liver.

As we have mentioned before, Galen appreciates the tripartition of the Timaeus better than that of the Republic and that of the Phaedrus with its horse and chariot metaphor, since in the Timaeus it is clear that there are not only three forms but also three separate parts (εἴδη τε καὶ μέρη) of soul, able to exist independently of each other to some extent (the vegetative soul exists in plants, the rational in gods or heavenly bodies) and located in three distinct organs, with all the required connections from the organ to the rest of the body.

Both the emphasis on the other two parts of the soul being mortal (without making any definitive statement on the mortality of the rational part), as well as the inclusion of their specific location, is typical for Galen.113 In that sense, this fragment too is at least very similar to Galen’s attested work.

The two cycles of the same and the different return in some of the other fragments and are given a specific somatic or elemental twist by the author, as we briefly mentioned before. They bring out an interesting difference between Plato and the author, one that also applies well to Plato and Galen. In Plato, these cycles are prior to the body that follows their movement, since, in Platonic cosmological narrative, soul has to be prior to body:

ὁ δὲ καὶ γενέσει καὶ ἀρετῇ προτέραν καὶ πρεσβυτέραν ψυχὴν σώματος ὡς δεσπότιν καὶ ἄρξουσαν ἀρξομένου …114

The god, however, gave priority and seniority to the soul, both in its coming to be and in the degree of its excellence, to be the body’s mistress and to rule over it as her subject.

tr. Zeyl

This applies to the world-soul as well as to our rational soul, which is fabricated out of its left-overs. However, that implies that, in a very fundamental sense, the movements of the world-soul are prior to the bodies that move in them, the bodies by which we can observe those very movements. Accordingly, Timaeus describes the movements and revolutions of the heavens before the creation of the heavenly bodies:

᾿Επεὶ δὲ κατὰ νοῦν τῷ συνιστάντι πᾶσα ἡ τῆς ψυχῆς σύστασις ἐγεγένητο, μετὰ τοῦτο πᾶν τὸ σωμαατοειδὲς ἐντὸς αὐτῆς ἐτεκταίνετο καὶ μέσον μέσῃ συναγαγὼν προσήρμοττεν …115

Once the soul had acquired a form that pleased him, he who formed it went on to fashion inside it all that is corporeal, and, joining center to center, he fitted the two together.

tr. Zeyl

This is a central point in Plato’s narrative, since it follows from the relation between soul and body as ruler and ruled, respectively. Soul, as ruler, has to be prior to body, as that which is ruled by soul. Galen, however, is wont to use an explanatory scheme that is quite different. For him, it is an axiom that the kind of activity a being undertakes is dependent on its specific bodily substance.116 This is a fundamental reversal of perspective. To Galen, the notion of movement apart from a bodily substance moving must have been completely foreign and in fact not understandable, as is the notion of soul apart from body. We can see this difficulty in Galen’s dealings with Plato and we see the subsequent manipulation of Plato’s text to fit Galenic preferences come to the fore in Larrain’s fragments in exceptional clarity. Whereas Plato would do no such thing, the author of these fragments explains the type of movement that the heavenly bodies make in terms of their specific substance, particularly, again, their relative wetness or dryness. And through the exact same reasoning, our own activities as human beings are determined by our relative dryness or wetness. This strong emphasis on the causal power of the mixtures of elemental qualities over soul has parallels in Galen’s attested work. As we have found in Case-Study I, Galen argues in QAM that the activities of our souls are dependent on the interaction of the four elemental qualities taking place in the organ from which the respective psychic functions are exercised. In the Larrain-fragments, this principle is extended to an analogy between the activities of human beings and heavenly bodies, which has its basis in an analogy between their respective bodily substances. This, too, is in line with several passages from genuine Galenic works, as we shall see below. Furthermore, it is notable that in his Compendium, Galen leaves out the remark we just quoted on the soul being prior to body, which forms a kind of apology by Timaeus for speaking of the body before the soul in his cosmogony.117

The author of these fragments projects this Galenic doctrine of the soul being dependent upon the mixture onto Plato’s Timaeus, taking as his point of departure the river metaphor used by Plato to describe the embodiment of soul. We have briefly discussed Galen’s reading of this metaphor above, and noticed how he, both in his Compendium and in QAM, steered the Platonic struggle of the soul with incarnation towards a struggle between elemental qualities, by taking the metaphor of the river to refer to the abundance of moisture in the substance of newborns, and adding to that the notion that dryness rather causes intelligence or understanding. In Larrain’s fragment 6, the same passage from the Timaeus is cited and interpreted in the same manner, with some additions with respect to the citation in QAM. It may be useful to quote the fragment in full:

ὅτι ὅπως μὲν ἡ ἀσώματος ψυχὴ τὴν πρὸς τὸ σῶμα κοινωνίαν (ἐδέξατο) ἐκτήσατο, καὶ καθ΄ ὅν τινα τρόπον ἐνεδέθη, καὶ πηνίκα δὲ μάλιστα τοῦτο ἔπαθε, πότερον ἅμα τῷ κυηθῆναι τὸ κυηθὲν ἢ κατὰ τὴν πρώτην σύλληψιν ἢ κατά τινα μεταξὺ χρόνον, οὐδ΄ αὐτοῖς τοῖς Πλατωνικοῖς ὁμολόγηται. οὕτω δὲ μόνον ὁ Πλάτων φησί· τὰς τὴς ἀθανάτου ψυχῆς περιόδους ἐνέδουν εἰς ἐπίρρυτον σῶμα καὶ ἀπόρρυτον, αἱ δ΄ εἰς ποταμὸν ἐνδεθεῖσαι πολὺν οὔτε ἐκράτουν οὔτε ἐκρατοῦντο, βίᾳ δ΄ ἐφέροντο καὶ ἔφερον. τοῦτο δὲ οὕτως εἶπε διὰ τὴν ὑγρότητα τῆς οὐσίας, ἐξ ἧς ἐγένετο τὸ σῶμα, τὴν μὲν πρώτην σύστασιν ἐκ καταμηνίου καὶ σπέρματος ἔχον, ἀποκυηθὲν δὲ τοῖς νεωστὶ πηγνυμένοις τυροῖς παραπλήσιον. ἐπεὶ δὲ θερμότητα σύμφυτον ἀναγκαῖον ἦν ὑπάρχειν αὐτῷ, ταύτῃ δὲ εἶπε τὸ διαφορεῖσθαι τὴν μεμειγμένην οὐσίαν ὑγρὰν αὐτοῦ, διὰ τοῦτο ἀναγκαῖον ἦν, ὅπως μὴ φθαρείῃ τὸ σώμα, προνοήσασθαι τοὺς ἐπιμειγνύντας αὐτὸ θεοὺς ἐπιρροὴν ἑτέρας οὐσίας ἀντὶ τῆς ἀπολομένης.118

That it is not even agreed upon among Platonists themselves how the incorporeal soul acquires the communion with the body and is bound to it in some way, and especially the exact time when this happens, either at the same time with being born or with the first conception or at some time in between. Plato speaks only in this manner: that the cycles of the immortal soul are bound to a body that is subject to influx and efflux, they are bound in a great river and they don’t rule and are not ruled over, but they produce violence and suffer it. It is like that he says due to the wetness of the substance from which the body comes about, since its initial structure consists of menstrual blood and semen, after birth nearly resembling solidified cheeses. Therefore it is necessary that it also had an innate hotness, but because of this, he says, the wet substance mixed with it was dissipated by it, and therefore it was necessary that the gods who mixed it in provided an influx of another substance to compensate what is lost, so that the body is not destroyed.

The first remarks of this fragment are again typically Galenic. The author points out that the doctrine of the incorporeal soul is so difficult to account for that even its adherents have not agreed upon how to do it, and then points towards the difference between what those Platonists hold and what Plato himself has actually said. The author emphasizes that Plato himself has not handed us anything to solve the difficulty of the communion (κοινωνία) of soul and body and the inception of a composite being, but merely introduced the metaphor of the river.119 This metaphor is related, through an odd literalist reading, to the substance from which the body comes about, which is relatively wet, as Galen also remarked in QAM.120 The wetness of this substance is specified here in a way which makes perfect sense from a Galenic perspective: it is a composite of blood and semen, two fluids, while in its state after birth it is likened to a solidified cheese because, like cheese, it has undergone a drying process which makes it more solid. As we have noted above, Galen ignores the fact that in the Timaeus the river-metaphor is about the bodily elements as such. Both in his Compendium as well as in QAM, he takes it to refer only to one specific elemental quality of the four that constitute the body, namely its wetness. In this way, something else that is also an elemental quality, namely dryness or in the case of this fragment (as elsewhere in Galen’s attested work) rather innate heat, can be posed as the counteracting antagonist, taking the place of what is usually called soul.121 Thus, this fragment fits with Galen’s idiosyncratic interpretation of the metaphor of the river from the Timaeus. The innate heat, says the author, has been mixed in together with the wetness by the gods that formed us (presumably still the ‘children’ of the demiurge), to make it less moist by dissipating some of the wetness. As a consequence, there needed to be another addition, an influx of another substance to avoid complete dissipation and destruction of the body, so as to bring about a balance. It seems as if the author of this passage, completely in line with Galen’s interpretation of the Timaeus, reconstructs the struggle that results from the incarnation of the soul as a struggle between two elementary forces, here designated as wetness and innate heat, mixed together by the gods to balance each other and to render possible the generation and growth of a human being. The addition necessary after the mixing in of the hotness, is that of nourishment, or, as it is described in Plato’s Timaeus and the third book of Galen’s commentary: the gods made the plants so that human beings can regain what they lose due to the continuous dissipation of their substance.122 The necessity of nourishment is explained here in terms of the basic human constitution being a precarious balance between the various elemental qualities.

According to this reconstruction, the reason for children’s lack of rationality is not that the soul has just been embodied and needs some time to come to its senses, control its new vehicle and remember the knowledge it previously had, but it is rather that the body of children is exceptionally wet, whereas intelligent bodies are more dry (as we shall see below). The reason given for the wetness of the newborn is a simple reference to the stuff from which it is generated: blood and semen. Human beings are understood in these fragments as composites of two conflicting elementary forces, wetness and dryness, and at first, the one that renders us intelligent is predominated by its opposite due to the wetness of our initial substance. After we are born, our substance is still soft and malleable, like a solidified cheese. For Nickel, this cheese-analogy was one of the reasons to ascribe the text to an imitator, since he considered it to be motivated by, but not consistent with, other, similar comparisons in authentic Galenic works.123 Das, however, has added several other passages in which Galen makes similar comparisons, and concludes that ‘Galen uses these metaphors to differentiate levels of moisture in the body’.124 Here, too, Nickel’s conclusion might have been somewhat rash. One of the passages Nickel refers to for comparison is from Galen’s Mixtures. There, Galen also generalizes about the state of newborn animals that have their first composition from blood and sperm, ‘substances which are hot and wet’.125 The context is that of blooded animals in general, although the prior discussion has been about man in particular. These two substances, blood and sperm, are said to enter into a continuous process of drying, which evolves into the construction of all the various kinds of homoeomerous bodies and organs while the child is in its mother’s womb. Even after the child has been born, it remains ‘extremely wet’, even in its driest parts, the bones. Galen proceeds now to give a concrete example of this: when you eat a young animal that has just been sacrificed, you find its flesh to be relatively moist and flabby, and you’ll find that even its bones resemble ‘solidified cheese’.126 Because of this excess of moisture, baby animals are not pleasant to eat. Clearly, Galen is using this particular example because in this case we can actually see and taste or chew the flesh and parts of the newborn animal and in this manner empirically verify the texture. That does not mean, as Nickel seems to think, the comparison does not equally apply to human newborns. Both the immediately preceding and following context is specifically about human beings and their relative dryness and wetness in relation to their age. Neither should the comparison be restricted to the bones (which rather serve as an extreme example, being the driest parts), as becomes clear when one reads a few pages further, where it is the skin that is compared to solidified cheese.127 Therefore, the whole passage should be read as treating of the substance of blooded animals as such. It shows how Galen’s occasional remarks in QAM, UP and elsewhere on dryness and wetness in relation to the capacities of the (rational) soul, are rooted in his basic physiological ideas on the composition, formation and growth of human beings and indeed blooded animals in general.

In the fragments following Larrain’s fragment 6, the role of relative wetness and dryness is further elaborated, particularly in its relation to our rational soul. In fragment 7, it becomes clear that the predominance of wetness does not only trouble our soul around the time when we are born:

ὅτι ἐν τῇ κυήσει μόνη ἡ ἐπιθυμητικὴ ἐναργῶς φαίνεται, ὡς ζητεῖσθαι πότερον ὡς φυτὸν ἢ ζῷον ἤδη διοικεῖται τὸ ἔμβρυον. μετὰ δὲ τὴν ἀποκύησιν θυμοῦ τι μέτεστιν αὐτῷ, λογικὸν δέ τι ἔργον οὐχ ὁρᾶται. τούτου δὲ αἰτίαν εἶναί φησιν ὁ Πλάτων τὴν ὑγρότητα τοῦ σώματος, καὶ δηλοῦσι τοῦτο τῶν μὲν ὑγιαινόντων οἱ μεθύοντες, τῶν δὲ ἀρρωστούντων οἱ τοῖς ὑγροῖς πάθεσι καταληφθέντες, ἐξ ὧν ἐστι καὶ ὁ καλούμενος λήθαργος. οὐ μόνον δὲ ἐπὶ τούτων ἐναργῶς φαίνεται ναρκώδης τε καὶ ἀργὸς ἡ λογικὴ ψυχὴ πρὸς τὰς ἰδίας ἐνεργείας, ἀλλὰ κἂν μετρίως ὑγρανθῇ, βραδυτέρα μὲν νοῆσαι, καταφερομένη δὲ εἰς ὕπνον ὁρᾶται.128

That during pregnancy only the desiderative [soul] is clearly manifest, so that it needs to be inquired whether the embryo is governed like a plant or already like an animal. After birth something of the spirited soul is in it as well, but there is no sight of any rational activity. Plato says that the cause of this is the wetness of the body, and of the healthy people those that are drunk with wine testify to this, of the unhealthy those who are seized by wet affections, from which the so-called lethargy comes. But the rational soul clearly appears torpid and idle with regard to its proper activities not only with those people, but even when it is moderately moistened thinking becomes heavier, and it can be seen to descend into sleep.

The first few lines of this fragment depict a gradual development of the three souls starting with the embryo. This schema, including the question whether the embryo, since it is governed by the desiderative soul only, should be considered a plant or an animal, is familiar from Galen’s genuine work. We also find it in the Greek fragments of his Timaeus commentary published by Daremberg and Schröder.129 The idea that Plato ascribed the lack of rationality in newborns to the wetness of their substance is also familiar by now and can be found, as we have noted, in QAM and Galen’s Compendium, as well as in some of the other fragments collected by Larrain (see below). Here, however, the author also takes another step, by going beyond the context of generation. First, the author claims that the lack of understanding due to predominant wetness can also be found in some extreme physical conditions, namely in the case of drunkenness or lethargy. Then, he continues to state that even a moderate increase in wetness can already hinder one’s rational capacities and induces sleep. This is an important step; whereas Galen’s Compendium merely used the river-metaphor to make relative wetness and dryness into the causes of understanding or lack thereof departing from the state of the newborn, this fragment also specifies how the strife between these elemental qualities of our substance determines our capacities for understanding throughout our life.

As we noted above, in QAM Galen also generalizes the causal role of dryness and wetness with respect to understanding, so that it has a wider application than the context of generation:

ἀλλ΄ εἴπερ ὑγρότης μὲν ἄνοιαν ἐργάζεται, ξηρότης δὲ σύνεσιν, ἡ μὲν ἄκρα ξηρότης ἄκραν ἐργάζεται σύνεσιν, ἡ δ΄ ἐπίμικτος ὑγρότητι τοσοῦτον ἀφαιρήσει τῆς τελείας συνέσεως, ὅσον ἐκοινώνησεν ὑγρότητος. τίνος οὖν θνητοῦ ζῴου τοιοῦτον σῶμα ἄμοιρον ὑγρότητος, ὥσπερ τὰ τῶν ἄστρων; οὐδενὸς οὐδ΄ ἐγγύς· ὥστ΄ οὐδὲ συνέσεως ἄκρας ἐγγύς ἐστι σῶμα θνητοῦ ζῴου, πάντα δ΄ ὥσπερ ὑγρότητος οὕτω καὶ ἀνοίας μετέχει.130

If, then, wetness brings about mindlessness, and dryness understanding, then extreme dryness brings about extreme understanding, while a dryness mixed with wetness will take away from perfect understanding to precisely that extent to which it partakes of wetness. And indeed, which mortal animal’s body is of such a sort as to be without any share of wetness – like the bodies of the stars? There is none which is even close to this. And so too there is no body of a mortal animal which is close to extreme understanding; but all partake of mindlessness too just as they partake of wetness.

tr. Singer, slightly modified

Here, the degree to which a given body partakes of wetness is said to determine the degree to which it lacks ‘perfect understanding’. Given the fact that no mortal animal is without any share in wetness, this kind of understanding is not to be found among them, though it is present in the stars, which are apparently completely devoid of wetness. In UP, too, we find this vertical hierarchy in which wetness predominates the substances on earth, hindering the development of their intellectual capacities, while it is inferred from the dryness of the heavenly bodies that they must be supremely intelligent.131 Although it is rather long, it is useful to quote the passage in full:

ἀλλ΄ ὅμως ἐνταῦθα φαίνεται νοῦς τις ἀφικνούμενος ἐκ τῶν ἄνω σωμάτων, ἅ καὶ θεασαμένῳ τινὶ παραχρῆμα θαυμάζειν ἐπέρχεται τὸ κάλλος τῆς οὐσίας, ἡλίου πρῶτον καὶ μάλιστα, μετ΄ αὐτὸν δὲ σελήνης, εἶτα τῶν ἀστέρων, ἐν οἷς εἰκὸς, ὅσῳ πέρ ἐστι καὶ ἡ τοῦ σώματος οὐσία καθαρωτέρα, τοσούτῳ καὶ τὸν νοῦν ἐνοικεῖν πολὺ τοῦ κατὰ τὰ γήινα σώματα βελτίω τε καὶ ἀκριβέστερον. ὅπου γὰρ ἐν ἰλύї καὶ βορβόρῳ καὶ τέλμασι καὶ φυτοῖς καὶ καρποῖς σηπομένοις ὅμως ἐγγίγνεται ζῷα θαυμαστὴν ἔχοντα τὴν ἔνδειξιν τοῦ κατασκευάσαντος αὐτὰ νοῦ, τί χρὴ νομίζειν ἐπὶ τῶν ἄνω σωμάτων; ἰδεῖν δ΄ ἔστι νοῦ φύσιν καὶ κατ΄ αὐτοὺς τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐννοήσαντα Πλάτωνα καὶ ᾿Αριστοτέλη καὶ ῞Ιππαρχον καὶ ᾿Αρχιμήδην καὶ πολλοὺς ἄλλους τοιούτους. ὁπότ΄ οὖν ἐν βορβόρῳ τοσούτῳ – τί γὰρ ἂν ἄλλο τις εἴποι τὸ συγκείμενον ἐκ σαρκῶν αἵματός τε καὶ φλέγματος καὶ χολῆς ξανθῆς καὶ μελαίνης – ἐπιγίγνεται νοῦς περὶττός, πόσην τινὰ χρὴ νομίζειν αὐτοῦ τὴν ὑπεροχὴν εἶναι καθ΄ ἥλιον ἢ σελήνην ἢ τινα τῶν ἀστέρων;132

But even here some intelligence appears to be reaching us from the bodies above, and the beauty of their substance forces anyone that sees them to be amazed at once, that of the sun first and foremost, that of the moon after that, and next that of the stars, and it is reasonable to suppose that the intelligence that dwells in them is exactly that much better and sharper than that in the earthly bodies as the substance of their body is purer. For when in mud and slime, in marshes, and in rotting plants and fruits animals are engendered which yet bear a marvelous indication of the intelligence constructing them, what must we think of the bodies above? But you can see the nature of the intelligence in man himself when you consider Plato, Aristotle, Hipparchus, Archimedes and many others like them. When a surpassing intelligence comes into being in such slime – for what else would one call a thing composed of fleshes, blood, phlegm, and yellow and black bile? – how great must we consider the pre-eminence of the intelligence in the sun, moon, and stars?

tr. May

Clearly, in this passage towards the end of UP, Galen points to the relative wetness of human beings as a hindrance to the development of their intellectual capacities.133 Whereas in QAM he stated that a being is removed from perfect understanding to the degree that it partakes of wetness, now we read that the heavenly bodies are that much more intelligent as their substance is purer, i.e. more like fire. Given the recurrence of this idea in various works, it makes no sense to put passages such as these aside by appealing to the rhetorical context of the epode of UP or QAM in general. In these passages, Galen is re-establishing the physiological basis of the psychic over against – presumably mostly Platonist – opponents. One important difference between these passages from Galen’s attested work and Larrain’s fragment 7, however, is that in the former the wetness and dryness are always attributed to the human body, whereas in the last sentence of Larrain’s fragment it is predicated of the rational soul itself. In this sense, the author of Larrain’s fragment seems to go a step further than Galen does in his attested works (as far as I can see), attributing specific elemental qualities to soul itself. We will come back to this issue in the discussion of some of Larrain’s other fragments below.

We noticed how, in Galen’s interpretation of the Timaeus, the causal role that relative dryness and wetness plays with regard to rational capacity, is rooted in the metaphor of the river that Plato uses for the description of the incarnation of the soul, or in more Galenic terms: for the phase of generation, of the embryo and the newborn. However, both in Larrain’s fragment 7 and in some of Galen’s attested works, as we have seen, this theme is taken beyond the context of generation alone. In fragment 7, particularly, the state of the newborn is compared to a state of inebriation, the implication being that drinking wine wets the substance of the soul. Also, the predominance of wetness is said to cause sleep. Both of these points are paralleled by an important testimony found in Al-Rhāzī, supposedly pertaining to the first book of Galen’s commentary on the Timaeus and added to the commentary fragments by Schröder as an excerpt from the first book. Let us have a look at the Latin translation provided in Schröder’s edition:

Dixit Timaeus in primo libro suo: constituerunt medici et physici certam dietam hominibus qua non multiplicetur sanguis in eis, quod multiplication humiditatum in corporibus administrat defectum in intellectu. Et signum ad hoc est, quod multotiens invenimus quod illi quorum humiditas multiplicatur sunt ebetes et lenti et somni profundi et melancholici et moventur in eis egritudines quibus deficit eorum ingenium, et quoniam cerebrum humectatur, deficit eorum ingenium sicut accidit in ebrietate.134

In his first book Timaeus says: doctors and natural philosophers have set up a certain diet for men so that the amount of blood in them is not increased, because increase of wetness in bodies causes weakness in intellect. And an indication of this is that, often we have found that those in whom wetness is increased are obtuse and sluggish and sleep immoderately and are melancholic and mental illnesses are troubling them that make their natural intellectual capacity fail, and since the brain is moistened, their natural intellectual capacity fails just as if they are inebriated.

This text is particularly important because it is considered an excerpt from the first book of Galen’s commentary and shows great resemblance to what is discussed in Larrain’s fragments, particularly fragments 7–12, as Larrain has noted himself.135

As we see more often in the Arabic tradition, Galen’s text is simply attributed to ‘Timaeus’.136 Interestingly, it is said here that doctors and natural philosophers have established diets to regulate the predominance of wetness in the body, since wetness decreases intellectual capacity. Of course, these particular thoughts on diet are not found in Plato’s Timaeus, but we do find them, notoriously, in Galen’s QAM,137 so it should not surprise us to find them in his Timaeus commentary as well. Schröder thought Al-Rhāzī’s testimony pertains to Tim. 43a4–44b1, which is also where Galen’s beloved river-metaphor is introduced. This makes sense if we compare the passages from UP and QAM cited above:138 departing from this river-metaphor Galen develops an opposition between wetness and dryness that amounts to a rewriting of the Platonic struggle between soul and body. In this passage, the traditional themes of sleep and inebriation are added. It is also noted that mental illnesses causing damage to rational capacities can result from excessive moisture and that an increase of blood implies an increase in wetness. To all of this, again, there are parallels in Galen’s work. The predominant wetness of blood is well attested throughout Galen’s work. As we have seen in Case-Study II, in HNH Galen considers blood to be the cause of ‘simplicity and artlessness’, which corresponds to the correlation between the increase of blood and decrease of intellectual capacities here due to the wetness of blood.139 Schröder points to a passage in Galen’s commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms (Hipp. Aph.), where it is said that those who are drunk with wine lisp because their brain becomes soaked by an excess of wetness, and that their brain is weighed down (βαρυνομένου) because of this excess.140 The idea seems to be that the same symptom of lisping can be caused both by a natural local excess of moisture and an excess caused by temporal inebriation. Besides lisping, another symptom that inebriation and excessive wetness of the brain share, is the dysfunctioning of normal rational capacities.

We find a similar comparison between inebriation and mental illness based on an excess of wetness as their common aspect in Galen’s commentary on the Hippocratic Epidemics (Hipp. Epid.), where he discusses an affliction called ‘κῶμα’, which is a kind of lethargy. Both excess of wetness and coldness are said to cause this condition:

πολλάκις μὲν γὰρ ὑγρότητι πολλῇ τοῦ πρώτου αἰσθητικοῦ μορίου, καθ΄ ὅ καὶ τὸν ὕπνον ὀρθῶς ᾿Αριστοτέλης ἔδειξε γινόμενον, ἕπεται κῶμα, καθάπερ ἐνίοις τῶν μεθυσθέντων γίνεται, πολλάκις δὲ διὰ μόνην ψύξιν, ἔστι δ΄ ὅτε καὶ δι΄ ἄμφω ταῦτα συμπίπτει βαθὺς καὶ κωματώδης ὕπνος, ἀλλὰ καὶ δι΄ ἀρρωστίαν δυνάμεως ἡ τοιαύτη γίνεται διάθεσις, οὕτως ἤδη νεκρουμένης αὐτῆς, ὡς ἐπῃρμένα τὰ βλέφαρα φυλάττειν μὴ δύνασθαι.141

For often coma follows upon an excess of moisture of the primary organ of perception, according to which Aristotle has correctly shown sleep also arises, just as it happens with some of those who are intoxicated, though often it comes about by coldness only; and when it is both of these, a heavy and lethargic sleep occurs, but such a state also arises because of a deficiency of power, such as when the power has already died out, so that it is not possible to keep the eyelids raised up.

Thus, the association of predominant wetness with lack of intelligence and with sleep, as well as the examples of drunkenness and lethargy, both found in Larrain’s fragment 7, are well attested in Galen’s genuine works (we will return to the notion of lethargy below, in the discussion of fragment 9). In this last quotation, ‘coldness only’ was added as an alternative cause for the same symptoms. This is paralleled by, among many others, a passage in book III of Galen’s The Affected Places (Loc. Aff.), where he goes into these matters somewhat more elaborately. There, damage in memory and the capacity for reasoning (ὁ λογισμὸς), as well as lethargy and ‘κάρος’ (an affection of deep sleep), are all associated with predominant coldness of the homoeomerous parts constituting the brain.142 In general, Galen remarks, ‘one can see that cold weakens the mental activities’. Cooling of the head causes somnolence and purging phlegm, one of the wet humours, can relieve ‘heaviness of the head’. Heating, on the other hand, leads to sleeplessness, and ‘warm and biliary diseases’ are said to cause lack of sleep and even delirium and phrenitis, the same condition mentioned in Larrain’s fragment 8. We also find the notion that infants are ‘drowsy’ due to their predominant wetness and that the older become sleepless because of the predominant dryness of the mixture of their brain. Galen concludes that in ‘rendering the soul inactive’ moisture is the second strongest cause and coldness is the first.143 Of course, these two are related, since if heat is more predominant, the moisture will dissipate and a substance will become dry. Here we can see that the effect of wetness on the rational capacities attributed to newborns, is embedded in a larger physiological framework of which drunkenness and diseases such as lethargy are part. In Larrain’s fragment 12, the author takes the notion of the river Lethê, the river of forgetfulness from which the souls drink before their reincarnation according to Plato, as an allegorical reference to the wetness of newborns in the same vein as Galen’s reading of the river-metaphor from the Timaeus (using also the same verb αἰνίττεσθαι).144 The author relates the notions of lethargy and the mythical river Lethê to one another, while both are explained in terms of predominant wetness hindering rational capacities such as memory.145

All of this corresponds well to Galen’s interpretation of the Timaeus in QAM, which we have discussed above. However, it is not simply the case that dryness and heat are beneficial to intellectual capacity per se, while wetness and coldness are detrimental per se. An excess in heat can, likewise, cause serious impairment of the intellectual capacities, but more in the sense of an overload that leads to a phrenetic or delirious state, i.e. a state characterized by a kind of overload of activity. In the words of Jouanna: ‘So change to the mixtures of the brain towards an excess of either heat or cold produces contrasting effects on the intellectual faculties, either delirious excitement or the numbing of intelligence and memory’.146 Jouanna has shown that Galen’s descriptions of the effects of humoural mixture on the intellectual capacities in QAM are close to those of some Hippocratic writings. In The Sacred Disease, excess of bile (a dry humour) is said to cause an agitated madness, while excess of phlegm (a wet humour) causes a calm madness. In Regimen, the relative predominance of fire or water is said to increase or decrease intelligence respectively.147 Jouanna has also argued that Galen draws on an extensive tradition for the idea that the intellectual capacities of our soul can and need to be improved through dietary regime, exercise and choice of climate – i.e. through influencing one’s mixture.148 I would merely add to this that Galen (as well as the author of Larrain’s fragments) through his somatising interpretation of Plato’s Timaeus, is concerned to give this tradition a firmer physiological and philosophical grounding by anchoring it in his favourite philosophical authority.

We find another interesting passage in this regard in the so-called Character Traits (extant only in Arabic). At the outset of the work, Galen states that he will ignore the questions on what it is that makes thought, anger and desire come about, and whether these things are called different souls, parts of the soul or different capacities of a single substance. Typically, Galen wants to discuss more practical matters in this work and stay away from difficult theoretical issues discussed elsewhere (he refers to PHP). Nonetheless, on the next page he proceeds to explain that, in his view, the essence of the strength of the spirited soul is identified as innate heat:

The essence of this strength, which enables someone to act patiently and steadfastly is, as far as I can see, innate heat, for the more powerful the movement of the innate heat, the more someone moves. Just as cold produces laziness, immobility and weakness, so heat produces energy, movement, and the strength to act. That is why the beginning of youth and wine arouse movement and power, while old age and chilling drugs produce laziness and weakness; they lead, in time, to the annihilation of actions and movements.149

As in other works cited above, coldness and wetness (this time particularly coldness, but again, they are related) are associated with degeneration, weakness and immobility, while dryness and hotness are associated with the opposite. In all passages cited, this association clearly has a strong causal sense. Likewise, in QAM Galen states that a higher quantity of heat in the heart (the seat of the spirited soul) makes one more ‘manic and sharp-spirited’ while a higher quantity of coldness makes one ‘lethargic, heavy and slow to move’.150 Thus, it seems that even in a work such as the Character Traits, which is emphatically about ethical philosophy and shuns the difficult theoretical discussion on what soul itself is, the same underlying schema that comes to the fore in QAM and Galen’s interpretation of the Timaeus is also at work. In this underlying schema, the qualities that are associated with the lower realm of the cosmos, wetness and coldness, are considered to cause passivity of the soul, while the qualities that are associated with the heavenly bodies, dryness and hotness, are considered to cause activity of the soul.

In UP we also saw the humours associated with the wetness of the lower realms.151 In Al-Rhāzī’s testimony, however, it was blood in particular, apparently because of its predominant wetness. Since the various elementary qualities each have their specific relations to specific psychic capacities, it would make sense if the four humours too, being composed of different mixtures of the elementary qualities, accordingly relate differently to the exercise of psychic capacities. Indeed, an important passage from HNH, which we also cited in Case-Study II, shows that Galen took this into account:

ἔστι δὲ καὶ ἕτερός τις λόγος φυσικὸς οὐ σμικρὰν ἔχων πιθανότητα, καθ΄ ὅν εἰς ἠθῶν ἐπιτηδείων γένεσιν οἱ τέσσαρες ἀποδείκνυνται χυμοὶ χρήσιμοι. προαποδεῖξαι δὲ χρὴ πάλιν ἐν αὐτῷ ταῖς τοῦ σόωματος κράσεσιν ἑπόμενα τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς ἤθη, περὶ οὗ καὶ ἡμῖν ἑτέρωθι γέγραπται. τούτου τοίνυν ὑποκειμένου τὸ μὲν ὀξὺ καὶ συνετὸν ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ διὰ τὸν χολώδη χυμὸν ἔσται, τὸ δ΄ἑδραῖον καὶ βέβαιον διὰ τὸν μελαγχολικόν, τὸ δ΄ ἁπλοῦν καὶ ἠλιθιώτερον διὰ τὸ αἷμα …152

There is also another physical account which has no little plausibility, according to which the four humours are proved to be effective in the generation of the dispositions which are appropriate to them. In it we first need to establish that the dispositions of the soul are consequent upon the mixtures of the body, about which we have written elsewhere. On this basis, sharpness and intelligence in the soul will exist as a result of the bilious humour, stability and firmness as a result of the melancholic, simplicity and artlessness as a result of the blood …153

This passage clearly refers to QAM (ταῖς τοῦ σόωματος κράσεσιν ἑπόμενα τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς ἤθη, περὶ οὗ καὶ ἡμῖν ἑτέρωθι γέγραπται). The bilious humours are considered the drier two of the four humours, while blood and phlegm are the wetter ones. Hence, the ordering in which the drier humour increases the intellectual capacity, and the wetter humour reduces it, corresponds to the passages cited above on the causal relation between relative dryness or wetness and intelligence. It is also noteworthy that the examples that Galen gives here seem to particularly relate to the rational capacities.

This passage from HNH compares well to the next text-fragment in Larrain’s edition, fragment 8:

ὅτι τὸ αἷμα καὶ τὸ φλέγμα ἂν πλεονάσωσί ποτε κατὰ τὸ σῶμα, βραδεῖς καὶ νωθροὺς καὶ ὑπνώδους ἀποτελοῦσιν, ὥσπερ πάλιν αὐξηθείσης τῆς χολῆς ἄγρυπνοί τε καὶ φροντισταὶ γίνονται καὶ εἰ ἀμέτρως αὐξηθείη, φρενετικοί.154

That blood and phlegm, whenever they excessively increase throughout the body, bring about slowness and sluggishness and sleepiness, just as when the bile is increased, they become wakeful and deep thinkers again, and when it is increased excessively, [they become] phrenetic.

Unfortunately, there seem to be some textual problems with this fragment. The word φρενετικός is not attested for Galen and barely attested for any other texts. However, forms of φρενιτικός, with iota instead of epsilon, are found rather regularly in Galen and the Hippocratic corpus. Besides that, the part ‘βραδεῖς καὶ νωθροὺς καὶ ὑπνώδους’ does not make sense grammatically, since the three adjectives are not congruent with each other. Unfortunately, Larrain does not go into these problems and as we mentioned before, all of Larrain’s fragments were marked with an obelus in the manuscript. Whether these issues can be explained in terms of errors or deviations by a scribe taking excerpts from Galen’s actual commentary, or whether a different explanation is needed, I do not know. In this fragment too, however, the resemblance to Galen’s attested works is obvious. Furthermore, Larrain found a translation of this fragment in Thābit Ibn Qurrah (9th century), in which it is ascribed to Galen’s commentary on Plato’s Timaeus.155

From our comparison of Larrain’s fragments 4–8 with Galen’s attested work, we can at least conclude the following: the somatising interpretation of the Timaeus, through the introduction of the causal relation between relative dryness or wetness and rational capacities, corresponds both to passages from Galen’s work on humoural theory and to his notion that psychic capacities are dependent on the mixtures of elemental qualities. We find it supported by passages from works such as UP, QAM, Loc. Aff., Temp., HNH, as well as Galen’s Compendium and the testimonies on the first book of his Timaeus commentary. It is unavoidable to conclude that the author of these fragments was, at least, thoroughly familiar with Galen’s work and in strong agreement with it. Additionally, they discuss the same topics as Galen apparently discussed in the first book of his Timaeus commentary. As we have seen, the correspondences go much further than a resemblance to a few passages of major Galenic works such as PHP and UP (as it may appear from Nickel’s article). Moreover, despite some textual oddities, I have so far not found anything speaking strongly against Larrain’s conclusions, however confident they may have been in themselves.

4.3 The Soul as a Dry and Hot Substance That Exudes Light

Besides the Hippocratic tradition discussed by Jouanna and briefly referred to above, another clear precedent for these views on the relation between elemental qualities and rational capacity, is Heraclitus, who Galen also refers to in this context.156

In several of the extant fragments, Heraclitus associates a dry state of the soul with intelligence and a moist state with drunkenness, stupidity and death. Kahn says, in his commentary on the fragment in which Heraclitus calls the dry soul a ray or beam of light, wisest and best (CIX in his edition, 118 DK): ‘This gives a new dimension to Heraclitus’ doctrine of the soul: just as moisture weakens the soul so that it may perish into water, so dryness strengthens and improves it to the point where it may be purified as light (not fire)’.157 Heraclitus relates the good state of the soul to the light of the heavenly bodies and Kahn points to the roots of this notion in pre-Socratic cosmology, which separates the upper and lower realms of the cosmos in terms of their respective elemental qualities: ‘This conception is deeply rooted both in the language of early Greek poetry and in the theories of pre-Socratic philosophy. In poetic terms CIX defines the best condition of the psyche as a kind of aither, not fire as such but the clear and luminous upper sky, as contrasted with the murky and moist lower aer, comprising haze, mist, and cloud’.158 In another fragment, Heraclitus relates a wet soul to inebriation, youth and faulty perception, all themes we have encountered in Galen’s interpretation of the Timaeus as well.159 In Larrain’s fragment 9, the author also refers to Heraclitus’ notion of the dry soul being wise, as we shall see below.

The river-metaphor of the Timaeus and its connotation of the flux of becoming is easily associated with Heraclitus.160 It is no coincidence that Galen refers to Heraclitus in QAM right after he has discussed it. Apparently, the idea of flux represented by the river is related by Galen to the notion of the wet soul and thereby contrasted to the soul that is dry and fiery. In a way, the contrast of flux and stability as we find it in Plato, is maintained in Larrain’s fragments with the notion of the two kinds of movements, one of which is round and continuously the same, i.e. stable, while the other is linear and goes in all directions, i.e. more chaotic and never the same. As we shall see, these two motions are determined by the relative dryness or wetness of the moving substance, which makes them either more or less like divine movements.

The characterization of the upper and lower realms in terms of different elemental qualities and the association of soul and intelligence with the qualities of the heavenly bodies, is something we have seen before in several of Galen’s works, and which we find also in the longest fragment we have of his commentary on the Timaeus. This is the second Greek fragment in Schröder’s edition, supposedly pertaining to 76e7–77c5 of Plato’s Timaeus, in which Galen divides the elements in more ‘material’ and more ‘active’ ones:

… ἴδωμεν δὲ μᾶλλον ἅ λέγει περὶ τῶν πραγμάτων αὐτῶν ἔνθα φησὶ τὴν ζωὴν ἡμῶν ἐν πυρὶ καὶ πνεύματι κατ΄ ἀνάγκην εἶναι. τεττάρων γὰρ ὄντων στοιχείων, ἐξ ὧν ἡ γένεσις τοῖς γενητοῖς ἐστι, γῆς καὶ πυρὸς ὕδατός τε καὶ ἀέρος, ὅτι τούτων τὰ μὲν ὑλικώτερα γῆ τε καὶ ὕδωρ ἐστί, τὰ δὲ δραστικώτερα καὶ μάλιστ΄ ἐν τοῖς ζῴοις πῦρ τε καὶ πνεῦμα, σχεδὸν ἅπασιν ὡμολόγηται …161

… we see that he speaks more of the matters at hand themselves where he says that our life necessarily consists in fire and pneuma. For there are four elements, from which the coming-to-be of generated beings comes about, namely from earth, fire, water and air, and almost everybody agrees that of those earth and water are the more material, while fire and pneuma are the more active, particularly in the living beings …

The extent to which Galen here stays true to the Platonic text is debatable. He quotes Plato with a slight variation: Plato’s Timaeus has ‘τὴν δὲ ζωὴν ἐν πυρὶ καὶ πνεύματι συνέβαινεν ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἔχειν αὐτῷ’ for Galen’s τὴν ζωὴν ἡμῶν ἐν πυρὶ καὶ πνεύματι κατ΄ ἀνάγκην εἶναι. Dependent upon translation, these could mean the same. For example, Zeyl translates Plato’s text as ‘Of necessity, however, it came about that he [i.e. the newly created human being] lived his life surrounded by fire and air’. In that case, the fire and air that are wasting the human being away are not considered innate to the human being, but rather part of its surroundings. Because of the surroundings of the human being gnawing away at it, it must acquire nourishment to add new substance to itself. This is why the gods made plants. Galen seems to read this sentence differently than Zeyl does, saying rather that our life (itself) consists in fire and air. While both readings seem possible to me, dependent also on the wider interpretation of the text, it is also clear that the way Galen quotes Plato fits his general reading of the Timaeus, which emphasizes a schema of opposition between wetness and coldness or earth and water on the one hand, and dryness and hotness or air and fire on the other hand. Thus, this opposition is also what Galen proceeds to refer to as the explanation for Plato´s words: earth and water are more material, while fire and air are more active. It is said in the Timaeus itself that fire is made up of the smallest particles and can therefore pass through the other elements.162 In that sense, as an interpreter of Plato one might be justified in calling fire less material than the other three. However, the strong opposition between active and material elements or qualities, with life belonging exclusively to one of the two opposites, is certainly Galen’s own projection, familiar from what we have seen before. Again, this is also in line with Galen’s humoural theory, in which the humour that is most like the heavenly bodies (i.e. most fiery) is also the humour that is most active or causes activity to the greatest extent. This is yellow bile, a humour that tends to move upwards and that Galen associates with intelligence.163

These thematics from the Timaeus also recur in a passage on innate heat in Galen’s On Tremors, which we mentioned earlier. Notably, Galen also refers to Heraclitus in there. He explains the phenomenon of ‘rigor’ (τὸ ῥιγοῦν), a painful chill accompanied by irregular shock and agitation, as an affection of our ‘natural heat’ (πάθος τοῦ κατὰ φύσιν θερμοῦ).164 Interestingly, Galen then says that ‘nature’ and ‘soul’, are nothing other than this natural heat (καὶ ἥ γε φύσις καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἢ τοῦτἔστιν), and that we should understand this heat as a self-moving and eternally moving substance (οὐσίαν αὐτοκίνητόν τε καὶ ἀεικίνητον). Galen must have the Platonic definition of the soul from the Phaedrus in mind here, which he knew very well, as we have seen in Case-Study II. Here we have one of the elemental qualities – one that is specifically associated with the substances of the heavenly bodies – defined in the same terms as the Platonic soul. Moreover, this occurs in the context of a rather practical discussion of a specific medical condition, not in a context of tentative speculating. This corresponds to the observed tendency of a somatisation of Plato’s notion of soul that has a strong point of departure in the Timaeus. And indeed, in this passage from On Tremors, Galen brings up the same issue of the increase and decrease of heat, in terms that are reminiscent of the passage around 77a in the Timaeus (the same passage to which Galen’s commentary from our last quotation pertains). He says that, since the innate heat continuously moves, there must be both an inward as well as an outward motion of innate heat that succeed each other, if a living being is to persist. Should the heat only move inward, the living being would become immobile; should it only move outward, the heat would become dispersed and the living being would perish as well. Therefore, it rather remains constantly in motion ‘now quenched and now kindled, as Heraclitus said’.165 Now we can see also how Galen reads the passage from the Timaeus and understand his commentary better:

κατὰ μὲν τὸν πρῶτον λόγον τοῦ θερμοῦ, τοῦτ’ ἔστι αὐτοκίνητον αὐτοῦ, καὶ τούτου μάλιστα δεῖται πρὸς τὰς ἐνεργείας· μεγάλην δ’ ὅμως αὐτῷ χρείαν καὶ τὸ ψυχρὸν παρέχει. πέφυκε γὰρ τὸ μὲν θερμὸν εἰς ὕψος αἴρεσθαι καὶ συμπροσάγειν αὐτῷ τὴν τροφήν· εἰ δὲ μὴ τὸ ψυχρὸν ἐμποδὼν ἐγένετο, καὶ ἐπὶ μήκιστον προῆκε. γίνεται δ’ ἐμποδὼν τὸ ψυχρὸν τῇ τοιαύτῃ τοῦ θερμοῦ κινήσει, ὡς μὴ ἀπόλοιτο ἐκτεινόμενον. κίνδυνος γὰρ ὑπὸ κουφότητος καὶ τῆς πρὸς τὸ ἄνω ὁρμῆς ἀποστῆναι τῶν σωμάτων αὐτό. ἀλλὰ τὸ ψυχρὸν ἐπέχει τε καὶ κωλύει, καὶ τῆς ἄγαν ταύτης κινήσεως ἀφαιρεῖ τὸ σφοδρόν.166

By reason of its heat, it is self-moved, and very much needs this property in order to act. Yet cold too is very useful for it. For heat is accustomed to rise up and bring along its nourishment; if cold did not prevent this, it would proceed to the greatest heights. But cold does prevent heat from moving in this way, and thereby keeps it from dispersing and perishing. For there is danger that heat will leave the bodies because of its natural lightness and its tendency to move upwards. But the cold checks, hinders, and reduces the violence of this excessive motion.

tr. Sider and McVaugh

Heat naturally moves upward and our heat apparently would do so unhindered, and perhaps would add itself to the realm of the heavenly bodies, if it were not checked by the coldness that is mixed with it and that reduces it and keeps it down. Thus, the heat and air Galen mentions in his commentary on the Timaeus is our natural heat that is naturally constantly leaving us, moving upwards, and creating a constant need for replenishment. This heat, as we saw, is itself identified by Galen with our ‘nature’ and ‘soul’. Supposedly, the cold that checks it is something else then, something more ‘material’ or something that belongs more to the lower cosmic realm. In the same manner, wetness generally hinders our psychic activities while dryness makes us more intelligent. It is clear that there needs to be a balanced mixture of all four, for Galen, in order to have a properly functioning and subsisting human being. However, it is also clear that Galen rather often privileges the hot and dry by associating it with activity, intelligence and the heavens, while he often portrays the cold and wet as mere hindrances with respect to the exercise of our proper activities and associates them with passivity, lack of intelligence and the lower part of the cosmos. This is still the same paradox that we find so often in Greek philosophy: man finds his fulfilment in part of himself, while other parts hinder this same fulfilment. At the same time, man, as such, cannot be without any of these parts: were we fire like the sun, then we would move upwards and leave the earth; were we water like the river, we would not know of ourselves.

This general outlook is also displayed in Larrain’s fragment 9, which shows a lot of similarity to the various passages from Galen’s attested work discussed above.

I shall quote it in several parts, since it is a bit longer and requires some explanation:

ὅτι ταῦτα μὲν ἰατρικά τις ἂν εἶποι τεκμήρια τοῦ τὴν λογικὴν ψυχὴν ὑγρῷ σώματι κεραννυμένην εἰς τὰς οἰκείας ἐνεργείας βλάπτεσθαι, θεωρητικὸς δὲ φιλόσοφος τὴν αἰτίαν πειραθεὶς εἰπεῖν, ὁ μὲν αὐγοειδῆ τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς οὐσίαν εἶναι φάσκων, πρόχειρον τὸν τῆς αἰτίας δώσει λογισμόν, ἐναντιωτάτη γὰρ αὐγῇ ἐστιν ἡ τῆς ὑγρότητος φύσις εἰς ὅσον γὰρ ἀποχωρεῖ τῆς οἰκείας, εἰς τοσοῦτον καὶ τῶν ἐνεργειῶν ταύτης ἀφίσταται.167

That someone might say these medical observations are indications that the rational soul is damaged with regard to its proper activities when it is mixed with a wet body, and that when a theoretical philosopher is challenged to state the cause of this, he would say that the substance of the soul is of the nature of light and he shall give the common account for the cause, namely that, since the nature of wetness is utterly opposed to light, it shall be distanced from its activities to the extent that it is away from its proper nature.

This fragment starts out with a challenge to philosophers, which we also find in Galen’s attested work: how do you explain the fact that the activities of the (rational) soul are hindered due to specific changes in the body?168 The next part is more remarkable, because here the author comes up with a possible answer a ‘theoretical philosopher’ would give, and which the author of these fragments seems to adhere to as well. This is a somewhat more speculative move than what we usually get in Galen’s works. It is not, however, in contradiction with it. After all, the answer consists simply in attributing a specific quality to the substance of the soul that is opposed to that of the one that hinders the soul’s activity, i.e. wetness. Furthermore, this quality, being ‘of the nature of light’ (αὐγοειδῆ) is consistent with that of dryness and (innate) heat as well as with the characterization of the stars as supremely intelligent, which we have found both in Larrain’s fragments and in Galen’s attested work. Finally, it has a precedent in the Timaeus itself, where the souls were related to the stars as their original dwelling-places.169 In QAM, Galen seems to have had this passage in mind as well, when he interprets wetness as the cause of mindlessness and predicates the extreme dryness that causes perfect understanding to the stars.170 As we noted, he then relates Heraclitus’ aphorism, which he cites as ‘a dry ray is the wisest soul’ (αὐγὴ ξηρὴ ψυχὴ σοφωτάτη), to the extreme intelligence of the stars that are both dry and ‘of the nature of light’ (αὐγοειδεῖς).171 There are also passages in Galen where he states that the intelligence of the heavenly bodies is transmitted through the light they exude. Frede has offered an excellent discussion of this subject, noting that ‘Notoriously from Plato onwards down to late antiquity the αὐγή of the sun or of fire is referred to again and again in discussions of the soul and in particular of the cognitive powers of the soul’.172 As Frede observes, Galen mostly uses the term αὐγοειδές in the context of vision and uses it to describe the psychic pneuma that is produced in the ventricles of the brain and moves between the brain and the eye.173 Katerina Ierodiakonou, in her insightful study of Galen’s theory of vision, has shown how he ‘collects elements from the Platonic, the Aristotelian, and the Stoic model, in order to form his own eclectic theory’, in which the psychic pneuma functions as a kind of extension of our eye, assimilating the air into something similar to itself with the aid of sunlight and thus gathering data about perceived objects through the observation of colour.174 Galen considers this psychic pneuma to be of the same character as the light of the sun.175 Furthermore, in PHP book 7, he suggests that either soul needs to be identified with this ‘light-like and ethereal pneuma’ or the light-like pneuma is the vehicle (ὄχημα) of the soul.176 Typically, Galen does not reach any definite conclusion on this subject, except that the pneuma is not likely to be the substance of the soul, since the substance would rather dwell in the ‘body of the brain itself’, whereas the pneuma appears to be an instrument moving from and to the brain.177 It is clear, though, that the psychic pneuma is related to the power of cognition and that both are related to the light exuded by the heavenly bodies.

The notion of a vehicle of the soul is also used in Plato’s Timaeus, in two ways. First, Timaeus states that each soul is assigned to a star as its vehicle, and later on in the text the body, or more particularly the head, becomes the vehicle for the soul.178 These two Platonic characterizations of the vehicle correspond to Galen’s location of the light-like pneuma in the head, eyes and heavenly bodies. Since the sun is not to be identified with the light it exudes, it might also make sense, given Galen’s comparisons between the brain and the sun, that the psychic pneuma that is produced and distributed from the brain, is not identical to its source, which would rather be something like the sun, i.e. a body of such mixture that it exudes something light-like. Therefore, the psychic pneuma should not be considered the substance of the soul, which is seated in the brain and rather produces and exudes the pneuma, using it as its instrument to extend itself throughout the body and outside of it. In the context of his theory of vision, Galen holds that this psychic pneuma meets with the air in such a manner that the air ‘forms one body’ with it, or is ‘assimilated’ to it.179 The eye uses air as an instrument, in the same manner as the nerve is an instrument of the brain – as a medium for the psychic pneuma.180 In his Compendium, Galen gives the same abridged and altered version of the theory of vision from the Timaeus.181

In Larrain’s fragment 18, the author seems to build on this notion of psychic pneuma as a corporeal substance that is able, due to its fineness, to penetrate other bodies like fire does, but due to its mildness compared to fire, can do so without burning or damaging those bodies.182 The author cites from Timaeus 58c the passage on the different types of flames. As Larrain remarks, he also connects this passage to Timaeus 45b, where Timaeus describes the fire flowing through the eyes, which is milder, comparable to the light of day and therefore does not burn.183 In Larrain’s fragments 19 and 20, likewise, the pneuma which flows through the eyes is called αὐγοειδές and compared to the light of the sun.

In fragment 21, the author emphasizes that, if according to Plato himself the world-soul stretched itself out through everything, it surely must have been pre-eminently present in the sun.184 Since our rational soul has some likeness to the world-soul, and the world-soul is pre-eminently located in the sun, it would make sense if our rational soul is light-like as well and if its substance would show some likeness to the substance of a heavenly body like the sun.185 The passage from UP that we discussed earlier, on the pre-eminent intelligence of the heavenly bodies and the intelligence coming down through the air, seems to correspond well to this fragment. The author of Larrain’s fragments connects this notion of the heavenly bodies – being supremely intelligent because of their fiery substance and communicating their intelligence through the light they exude – with the notion of the light-like pneuma that moves between the eyes and the brain and that is described as the primary instrument of soul in PHP book VII (a description repeated in Larrain’s fragment 25,3–4).186 Thus, visual perception and intelligence are strongly linked, as in Plato, but with more emphasis on the physiological underpinnings of this connection in terms of the light-like substance. This corresponds to the Galenic appreciation of dryness and heat as the qualities that increase intelligence and that are found pre-eminently in the heavenly bodies.187 The same idea seems to come to the fore in Larrain’s fragment 22 as well, where the interaction of the light of the sun and the light-like pneuma from the eyes explains visual perception.188

If the substance of soul is of the nature of light, then it has to be dry and warm, or have a substance that is fiery, like the stars. If the substance of the soul were then combined with something that is wet by nature, this combination would impede the activities of soul to the extent that its substance would not be as it should be in its ‘natural’ state, which seems similar to that of a star or heavenly body. Therefore, according to this fragment, the ‘embodiment’ of soul as it was depicted with the river-metaphor in the Timaeus, should be understood in terms of a kind of downward movement of a substance resembling the heavenly bodies towards the earth, including the changes it necessarily falls prey to on this journey. To step out of the Platonic cosmological frame a bit further, we might say: the generation of soul and intelligence on earth is dependent on the downward movement of intelligence from the heavenly bodies in the form of light, which forms the basis for our capacity of vision, cognition and understanding.189

The underlying pattern of thought here seems to be something like the following. The heavenly bodies are divine and eternal. Soul bears some resemblance to them with respect to these qualities. Light is the quality that fiery heavenly bodies emanate and through which, perhaps, they order events down below (day and night, the seasons, growth and decay of living beings). Soul, originally a fiery substance that is dry and hot, is exuded from purely dry and hot heavenly bodies. It reaches down through the air in the form of light and mixes with an earthy substance that is wet and cold. That makes it lose some of its power. At the same time, however, it burns up the wet and cold substance. Therefore, there must be additions of substance in order to acquire a precarious and ephemeral balance between those two opposed qualities, temporally united in a single substance. However, even if this ephemeral balance is acquired, the activities of soul as something that is light-like, are still impeded to the extent that it is mixed with a substance opposite to itself, as becomes clear from the end of the last quotation: ‘… since the nature of wetness is utterly opposed to light, it shall be distanced from its activities to the extent that it is away from its proper nature’.190 In that sense at least, this schema seems to remain faithful to the Platonic notion of the composite of body and soul. In those last lines, we can also recognize a basic axiom of Galen’s we have referred to earlier, namely that activity is determined by substance (or nature): when the substance changes, so does the activity it causes. The phrasing is similar to the passage in UP that we referred to above, where it was said that the intelligence of the heavenly bodies is ‘that much better and sharper than that in the earthly bodies as the substance of their body is purer’.191

Interestingly, the author presents this account as common, or the one that is most at hand or readily available (πρόχειρον τὸν τῆς αἰτίας δώσει λογισμόν). This seems to indicate that the notions of soul as something light-like and, therefore, that of wetness as something that is opposed to it and that hinders the proper activities of soul, were more commonly held or discussed.

In the next lines of the fragment, Heraclitus is brought in again:

διὸ καὶ καλῶς ὑφ΄῾Ηρακκλείτου δοκεῖ λελέχθαι· ξηρὰ ψυχὴ σοφωτάτη. καὶ διὰ τοῦτο δὴ καὶ τὴν δίαιταν οἱ φιλόσοφοι κελεύουσιν ἡμᾶς ποιεῖσθαι διὰ ποσότητός τε καὶ ποιότητος ἐδεσμάτων τοιαύτης τε καὶ τοσαύτης.192

And therefore it seems to have been stated also by Heraclitus rightfully: the dry soul is wisest. And for this reason also, the philosophers urge us to make a diet based on quantity and quality of foods that are such and so much.

The way Heraclitus is quoted here is slightly different than in QAM, but the meaning attributed to it is the same: the dry soul is wiser since the rational soul is naturally dry.193 We also find the notion of a specific diet that is conducive to changing one’s substance for the better in order to improve intelligence. Al-Rhāzī also reports this in the passage we quoted earlier, which Schröder and Larrain considered to be on the first book of Galen’s commentary. We also know it from QAM, where Galen claims to be able to prescribe diets that increase intelligence and memory.194 To take a concrete and practical example: in Loc. Aff., Galen suggests that loss of memory is due to cold and wet affections of the head, and should be treated by prescribing substances that warm and dry the head.195 Under the assumption that the relative dryness of the substance of the rational soul determines its intellectual capacities, it seems reasonable for philosophers to try and change their substance to become drier. This would involve, as we have seen, the soul becoming more active, closer to its original nature, hot and dry, exuding light and intelligence like the heavenly bodies do. That is to say, once the idea is established that the activities of the rational soul are dependent upon its substance, and that its substance is something that can be analysed as some kind of mixture of the elemental qualities, while at the same time we know that these mixtures are subject to change and that we can influence them via the qualities we bring them in contact with, it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that specific diets could be more or less conducive to the pursuit of wisdom because of the changes they bring about to the substance of the rational soul, especially considering the assumption that there is a hierarchy of mixtures corresponding to the vertical cosmic hierarchy. After all, the very fact that the soul, or the stuff of soul, moves from its primary source, i.e. the heavenly realm, to the realm of the earth – this Platonic background seems to be still in place to some extent – with the corresponding change in elemental qualities that are found in these respective regions, apparently prompts a change in its substance that is so intense, that it loses the rationality that defined its nature, as Galen (and the author of Larrain’s fragments) seems to interpret Plato. Thus, the struggle of soul with its newly acquired body is explained in terms of a struggle between elemental qualities predominantly found among the heavenly bodies and those predominating the lower realm.

Let us look at the next part of Larrain’s fragment 9:

ἂν δ΄ ἀσώματόν τις τὴν ψυχὴν εἶναι λέγῃ καθάπερ ὁ Πλάτων, ἀλλ΄ ὄχημά τι διδωσιν αὐτῇ αὐγοειδές. διὰ τούτου τοίνυν τῆς κοινωνίας αὐτῇ πρὸς τὰ τῶν νεογενῶν σώματα γινομένης, διὰ τούτου καὶ τὰ τῆς βλάβης ἕπεται, κινήσεις γὰρ ἐχούσης τῆς λογικῆς τεταγμένας. ὅταν δὲ ὑγρότης ἀτάκτως κινουμένη παραποδίζηταί πως αὐτάς ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστι εἰς ταραχὴν καὶ στάσιν ἀφικέσθαι τὸ διοικούμενον ὑπ΄ ἀμφοῖν σῶμα, ποτὲ μὲν τῆς ψυχῆς κρατούσης, ποτὲ δὲ τῆς ὑγρότητος.196

Someone might say, like Plato, that the soul is something incorporeal, but he gave some kind of vehicle to her that is of the nature of light. This is why, accordingly, when the communion of her with the bodies of newborns comes to be, therefore also the indications of damage follow, for the rational has ordered movements. But when the soul is wet and is moved in a disorderly fashion, those are somehow hindered, and it is necessary that the body arranged by both comes to be in disorder and discord, where sometimes the soul wins, and sometimes the wetness.

The author emphasizes that Plato gave a luminous vehicle to the soul. As we have seen, this may go back to the star assigned to each soul, or the head as the soul’s abode. This remark seems to imply that even Plato himself did not strictly deny the soul all bodily qualities, or at least that he considered it necessary to give it a proper vehicle. Since the qualities of this vehicle, then, clash with the wetness of the body, the soul’s movements are perturbed. In the fragment, however, the opposition in the end is simply between soul and wetness, not between two different kinds of bodies of which the soul naturally inhabits one (which would also, obviously, amount to further problems). The phrase ‘τὰ τῆς βλάβης’ must refer back to the medical observations (ταῦτα ἰατρικά) at the beginning of the fragment, that were called indications (τεκμήρια) for the rational soul being damaged when mixed with a wet body. Thus, it seems as if the author here is trying to bring Plato closer to the notion of soul being a hot and dry substance originating from higher realms, by emphasizing that Plato thought it necessary to give soul a luminous vehicle. Next, the distinction between the soul itself and its vehicle is simply dropped again, and the struggle between body and soul is depicted as a struggle between soul and wetness. The harm that follows is not harm for a vehicle or a body, but for the rational soul itself, which becomes hindered in its proper movements. The author simply calls the soul itself wet. This clearly implies that he assumes that the soul itself can be described in terms of the elemental qualities. Again, the struggle is that of a continuous fight between the elemental qualities, rather than a fight between an incorporeal and corporeal substance. The only way to make sense of this text seems to be to assume that ‘soul’ here is equivalent to a substance that is relatively dry. In fact that is also what the fragment started out with when calling the substance of the soul αὐγοειδῆ, that is to say, something that is of such nature that it exudes light, i.e. fiery, warm and dry, opposed to wetness. The last part of fragment 9 is as follows:

εἰ μὲν οὖν ἡ ψυχὴ τελέως ἐνικήσει, τεταγμένας ἴσχει τὰς κινήσεις, ἐὰν δὲ ἡ ὑγρότης, ἀτάκτους ἁπάσας, ὁποῖαι κατὰ σπασμοὺς καὶ παλμοὺς γίνονται. κἂν ἐπὶ πλέον δὲ κρατήσῃ, λήθαργοί τε καὶ ἀποπληξίαι καταλαμβάνουσι τὸ ζῷον.197

Thus, if the soul wins completely, it holds ordered movements, but when the wetness wins, all movements are disordered, such as those that happen with spasms and quivers. And if it wins for the most part, lethargy and apoplexies take hold of the living being.

Here we see clearly, once more, that the relative predominance of the elemental qualities of a substance determines the quality of its movements: if wetness wins, the movements are of the disordered, irrational kind; if ‘soul’ wins, the movements are of the ordered kind. This struggle between the qualities, which determines the relative intelligence of a substance, can also cause disease if wetness wins for the most part. The disorder caused by predominant wetness can cause extreme conditions such as lethargy. As we have seen, this relation of lethargy and predominant wetness (sometimes coldness), is found in attested Galenic works as well. The conception of soul as something that is luminous, or dry and hot, fits well with the explanation of psychic ailments, such as lethargy, in terms of mixture.

4.4 Substance, Activity and Soul in Plato’s and Galen’s Timaeus

The author of Larrain’s fragments takes over the dualism of ordered and disordered movements from the Timaeus. However, its explanation in terms of the elemental qualities is dependent upon the assumption that substance determines activity and the accompanying assumption that the substance of any given thing, including the soul, must consist of a specific mixture of elemental qualities. In Larrain’s fragment 10, these two kinds of movement are differentiated according to a hierarchy in which the circular motion is said to be the best. The other movements are considered inferior to it because they differ according to ‘the more and less’ (κατὰ τὸ μᾶλλον τε καὶ ἧττον).198 As Larrain observed, this fragment relates to Timaeus 34a1–5 and 43b1-e8, where the two kinds of movement are described respectively.199 Opposed to the unordered and non-recurring movements, the circular motion is said to be the most ordered movement, which is possessed by the wisest body (φρονιμώτατον σῶμα).200 The author here uses the word κυκλοφορικὴ, which is mostly found in Byzantine authors, but also in early Christian ones such as Eusebius and Basilius, and in Neoplatonists such as Olympiodorus, Philoponus and Syrianus. The word seems to have been used in this form from somewhere around the 4th century only, although Aristotle uses κυκλοφορία, which is also frequently found in Peripatetic and Neoplatonist authors after Aristotle. This could be taken as an indication that the text we are dealing with was not (strictly) based on Galen’s own commentary. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to find exceptional forms of existing words in Galen that we hardly find anywhere else before his writings. Moreover, it would not be odd if an excerptor of Galen’s actual commentary would use terminology from his own day to summarize its content. We also know that Neoplatonist scholars such as those just mentioned knew and discussed Galen’s work, particularly QAM.201

In Plato’s Timaeus, the other movements, apart from the circular and wise one, are six in number and are essentially distinct from the circular one because their movement is characterized by the different. This second kind of motion is quite opposed to the circular motion of the same. It is not motion in one place, not uniform or regular, not systematic, and does not relate to the same things. This is irrational motion, and the six rectilinear motions fall under this qualification. Specifically, this is the motion attributed by Timaeus to the primary bodies, when they are governed by necessity, ‘before’ or separated from the persuasion of reason. Everything within the cosmos is governed through some mix of these various kinds of motions, while those things that move more regularly and rationally have a larger share in the movement of the same. The circular movement that is always the same is the movement of the universe as such, which has no share in the other six, irrational movements.202 In Laws book X, the Athenian elaborates on this idea and distinguishes two basic kinds of motion.203 The first is motion that takes place in one place, and therefore round some centre, regularly and uniformly, in relation to the same things. This is the motion that is described there as most akin to ‘the revolution of reason’ (τῇ τοῦ νοῦ περίοδῳ), while in the Timaeus the motion of the same is attributed primarily to the universe as such (which is the most rational movement) and then also to the motion of the heavenly bodies, which, however, partake of the movement of the different as well. It is this motion that we need to adapt our own motion to, if we are to partake of the divine.204

The author of Larrain’s fragments seems to transform this idea of becoming like the gods by adapting our movements to one of becoming like the gods through altering our mixture into a substance that is more luminous and dry. This idea comes to the fore clearly in Larrain’s fragment 11, where the author states once more that the activities of the rational soul are damaged by wetness (‘ὅτι μὲν ὑπὸ τῆς ὑγρότητος αἱ τῆς λογικῆς ψυχῆς ἐνέργειαι βλάπτονται’).205 Then, however, the distinction between the two ‘revolutions’ (περίοδοι) is said to be difficult to understand, unless these revolutions are understood as substances rather than movements, to which the movements can be attributed (‘πλὴν εἰ περιόδους ἀξιώσει τις λέγειν αὐτὸν οὐ τὰς κινήσεις ἀλλὰ τὰς οὐσίας, αἷς αἱ περίοδοι συμβεβήκασιν’).206 The author grounds the resemblance of our soul to the heavens in a similarity of substance, rather than one of movement (‘οὕτω γὰρ μόνως ἐπινοῆσαι δυνατὸν εἶναί τινας κατὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν ψυχὴν οὐσίας, ὁμοίας ταῖς κατὰ τὸν οὐρανον’).207 This corresponds to Galen’s views on substance and intelligence in UP and QAM, as we have seen, as well as to his general views on the relation between substance and activity (i.e. the former is cause of the latter). Moreover, in his Compendium, he speaks of the ‘natures’ of the same and the different rather than the ‘movements’. As Das and Koetschet indicate, ‘nature’ may be a vague term in this context, but it could be that this is ‘an interpretative reworking of Plato’s doctrine of soul rotations’ by putting emphasis on a difference in nature rather than movement.208 I think that, indeed, especially given Galen’s common equation of nature and substance, it is quite plausible that we have another parallel between the Compendium and Larrain’s fragments here. Moreover, this interpretation of Galen’s Compendium would also be in line with his general reading of the causal role of mixture with regard to intelligence. That is to say, one’s movements would be more in accordance with the movements of the same if one’s substance or nature would be more in accordance with the nature of things that display this movement, i.e. the heavenly bodies. The emphasis on substance as a cause of movement – as opposed to the distinction of different kinds of movement that are defined as the soul which is prior to body as in the Timaeus – corresponds to Galen’s general appreciation of the causal role of the body with regard to the activities of the soul. The lack of rationality of newborns due to the wetness of their substance also recurs again in Larrain’s fragment 12, and is particularly related again, as we also have seen in Galen, to the abundance of blood, which is required in greater amount in newborns because they need it for their growth.209

In QAM Galen does something similar to what the author of Larrain’s fragments does, when he argues that our psychic capacities are dependent upon our mixture and that there are diets (in the broad sense of regimens) that could change mixture for the better, improving our capacity for memory and understanding by increasing the predominance of dryness, supposedly.210 In QAM, Plato’s ὁμοίωσις θεῷ becomes a kind of ὁμοίωσις οὐσίᾳ τῶν ἄστρων, an adaptation of the mixture to liken it more to the substance of the stars.

The important differences with Plato are (1) that the change that needs to be made is a change primarily in substance, rather than in motion, upon which a change in motion follows since substance determines activity, and (2) that this change of substance consists in a change in the elemental qualities of the substance of the rational soul. According to Galen, at least, such a change is not only effected by diet. Besides the fact that for Galen one’s mixture is affected by many other factors besides food and drink,211 it is not only the case that mixture determines activity, but also that activity determines mixture, as we can see, e.g., in the following passage from Temp.:

πολλοὺς γὰρ καὶ τῶν φύσει λεπτῶν ἐθεασάμην παχυνθέντας καὶ τῶν παχέων λεπτυνθέντας τοὺς μὲν ἀργίᾳ τε καὶ τῷ ἁβροδιαίτῳ τὴν ὅλην κρᾶσιν ὑπαλλάξαντας ἐπὶ τὸ ὑγρότερον, τοὺς δ΄ἐν ταλαιπωρίαις πλείοσι καὶ φροντίσι καὶ διαίτᾳ λεπτῇ καταξηρανθέντας.212

I have observed many naturally thin people become thickened, and naturally thick people thinned, the former as a result of changing their entire mixture for the wetter through idleness and self-indulgence, the latter as a result of a drying-out process arising from excessive labour, worry and a thin[ning] daily regime.

tr. Singer and van der Eijk

Here, it is activity or a lack thereof that changes mixture: by being idle and self-indulgent, one’s mixture becomes wetter, while through labour and worry it becomes drier. This corresponds to the specific way the causality functions when conceived the other way around: wetness makes the soul inactive and dryness or heat stimulates the activity of the (rational) soul. Here we must also remember, however, that activity for Galen is always already activity of a specific substance and thus dependent on the condition of the substance prior to the activity that then alters that same substance.

We do find in Plato’s Timaeus the notion that certain bodies are proper to certain movements,213 but in no way should the substances of these bodies be taken to determine their movement, particularly not in case of the heavenly bodies. The reasoning in the Timaeus is rather the other way around: these substances were put there because they suit the movements that were already put there.214 Therefore, in Plato, it is essentially the movement or the mover (i.e. soul) that is wise, and not the body partaking of the wise movement, which is, rather, a hindrance. In the reading of Galen and the author of Larrain’s fragments, however, a specific quality of bodies becomes the hindrance, while another specific quality of bodies becomes the cause for the movement.


The question of the heritage of the fragments collected by Larrain must remain undecided for now. Yet, I think that this case-study shows that, at the least, Nickel’s conclusions have been too rash and the fragments published by Larrain are valuable for the study of Galen. We have seen how specific and idiosyncratic interpretations of the Timaeus that we know from Galen’s attested work can be found in these fragments as well; we have looked at testimonies that refer to the first book of Galen’s commentary and discuss the same content and issues that we find in Larrain’s fragments; we have not found any conclusive evidence that these fragments cannot be based on Galen’s actual commentary on the Timaeus; and we know that scholars working on the Arabic tradition conclude that these fragments must have been part of the Greek manuscript of Galen’s commentary before the 9th century. Therefore, without reaching a definite conclusion, I think it is fair to say that Larrain’s conviction that these fragments are ‘summarizing excerpts’ from Galen’s commentary on the Timaeus, might well be the best explanation for the heritage of these texts so far.

We have found that the fragments propose a Galenic reading of Plato’s Timaeus, in which the opposition between body and soul is recast into an opposition between the elemental qualities that make up our bodily mixture, viz. the cold and the wet versus the dry and the hot. This corresponds to Galen’s project in QAM, which, as we have seen in Case-Study I, has a strong basis in other Galenic works. Besides the resemblances to Galen’s works on the Timaeus – his summary and commentary as well as PHP and QAM – we have also seen how the content of these fragments is not only consistent with, but shows parallels to, works such as HNH, UP, Temp., Loc. Aff. and Galen’s commentaries on Hippocratic treatises.

The specifically Galenic Aristotelianizing tendencies, the arguments against the cardiocentric theory of the soul in favour of the encephalo-centric one based in the analysis of the nerve-system, the characterization of the substance of the rational soul resembling the fiery substance of the heavenly bodies, the relation of this resemblance in substance to the theory of vision and understanding through the psychic pneuma exuded by the brain and the psychic pneuma’s similarity to the light of the heavenly bodies, the general characterization of dryness and heat as contributing causes to understanding and the characterization of wetness fulfilling the opposite role, the anchoring of this theory in the river-metaphor of the Timaeus, the application of this general theory to the different phases of human life from embryo to old age, to mental illnesses such as lethargy and to diet, the emphasis on bodily substance as cause of activity or movement – all of these themes are typically Galenic. It is true that the author of Larrain’s fragments takes some of these issues a bit further than Galen does in (most of) his attested work. We have also noted, however, that Galen considered his commentary on the Timaeus a work on Platonic philosophy and not something indispensable to practicing physicians, that is to say: we can expect it to be somewhat more speculative. Besides this, the anticipatory references to the commentary Galen gives elsewhere suggest a critical form of commentary, in which matters that fall outside of the scope of the medical science are also discussed.

We have also seen how, in general, both Galen and the author of Larrain’s fragments use the Timaeus to put forth a somatising interpretation of the soul and anchor it in Galen’s favourite philosophical authority. This Galenic interpretation of the Timaeus is in line with our findings in Case-Study I and II and points to Galen’s explorative inclination to try to understand man as a whole – including what is (in the Platonic tradition) considered psychic – in terms of the hylomorphic substance that he considers to be the substance of everything.


Cf. Van der Eijk (2009) 261 f., 263: ‘Plato, alongside Hippocrates, clearly stands on a higher pedestal for him than Aristotle and Theophrastus, let alone the older Stoics. Yet we should distinguish between overt and covert appropriation of an earlier thinker’s ideas; and one of the points I intend to make in this paper is that Galen’s implicit use of Aristotelian thought is much more profound and pervasive than his explicit acknowledgement of his debt to Aristotle might suggest’. See also DeLacy (1972); Singer (1991); Frede (2003) 75; Chiaradonna (2009) on Galen’s relation to ‘Middle Platonism’ in particular. There are some themes around which Galen rather praises Aristotle instead of Plato as well, notably Aristotle’s account of scientific demonstration and the theory of the elements.


One significant simplification in this regard is the sceptic aspect of Plato’s work, which Galen emphasizes particularly with regard to the Timaeus: he often points out that Plato presented his cosmology there as a ‘likely account’, i.e. as something which is not scientifically proven. Cf. Tieleman (2018).


Cf. Vegetti (1978) 37–41; Hankinson (1989) 211–18; Chiaradonna (2009) 245–47.


In Lib. Prop. XIII, Galen mentions the summaries of Plato’s dialogues, in eight volumes, as well as the ‘Commentary on the Medical Statements in the Timaeus, in four volumes. Cf. Arnzen (2012) 193 ff., who has found Arabic references to Galenic summaries of eight different dialogues, among which the Timaeus; Flemming (2008) 327; Das and Koetschet (forthcoming).


For an in-depth discussion of the authorship of this translation, see Das (2013) 41 f., who concludes (79): ‘In absence of further comparative data, it is difficult to make a more specific assertion than that the Arabic translation of the Synopsis likely belongs to the output of Ḥunayn’s circle’. Das and Koetschet (forthcoming) conclude that ‘the more general attribution of the extant Arabic version of Com. Tim. to Ḥunayn’s workshop is fairly secure’. I am very grateful to Aileen Das and Pauline Koetschet for letting me use the drafts of their new translation of the Compendium as well as their introduction (to appear in the Cambridge series Galen: Works on Human Nature); since these drafts do not yet have a definite page-numbering, I will simply refer to it in general when I refer to their introduction to the translation of the text.


Das and Koetschet (forthcoming).


Arnzen (2012) 181–267, 185: ‘… in all likelihood no direct Medieval Arabic translation of the complete Greek text of any authentic Platonic work was ever made’. On Galen particularly 193 f.; see also Das and Koetschet (forthcoming).


Arnzen (2012) 202–11; cf. Das (2013), for a more detailed discussion; see also Das and Koetschet (forthcoming).


Lib. Prop. XIX 46 K.


PHP VIII 508,6–9 De Lacy (V 682–3 K): ‘These passages need not be quoted now, for it is better, as some of my friends request, that I comment elsewhere on the medical passages in the Timaeus. Many persons have written commentaries on the rest (of the Timaeus), some at greater length than was needed; but on these matters few have written, and they not well’. (tr. De Lacy); see also PHP VIII 522,34–6 De Lacy (V 702 K), referring back to the previous remark: ‘I have decided that for the present this is enough about the humors if, as some of my friends ask, I am going to write a commentary on the medical passages in the Timaeus’. (tr. De Lacy)


Trem. Palp. VII 631,10 K: ΄περὶ μὲν οὖν τῆς ἀληθείας ὧν εἶπεν ὁ Πλάτων οὐ πρόκειται νῦν ἐπισκοπεῖσθαι, μελλόντων γε ἡμῶν ἐν ἑτέροις ὑπομνήμασιν ἐξηγεῖσθαί τε ἅμα καὶ κρίνειν ἅ κατὰ τὸν Τίμαιον εἶπεν’. ‘As to whether or not the things Plato said are true this is not now our task to consider. (I intend to write a critical commentary on the Timaeus)’. (tr. Sider and McVaugh); see also a bit further Trem. Palp. VII 632,1 K: ‘In the future, then, we shall examine the views of Plato in our commentary on the medical teachings of the Timaeus; now, however we are putting forward our own opinion, explaining what was said a little above according to the teaching of Hippocrates’. (tr. Sider and McVaugh)


For Nat. Fac.: Fr II, 11,15 and Fr XIX, 25,26 Schröder; for the lost On Hippocrates’ Anatomy: Fr I, 10,3 Schröder.


Schröder, Praefatio IX; cf. Das (2013) 12 f.


PHP VIII 506, 25–508,5 f. De Lacy (V 681–2 K).


Cf. Frede (2003) 80–1.


Nickel (2002) 73–8.


Das (2014).


Das (2013) 12–16, 16: ‘These three texts [PHP, the commentary and the summary] constitute a period of Galen’s career that is marked by sustained and varied engagement with the Timaeus’. Cf. Das (2020) 37 ff.; Das and Koetschet (forthcoming).


Vegetti (2000) devoted a chapter to this subject but does not take the commentary and compendium into account and focuses on PHP and QAM; Das (2013, 2014, 2020, and the forthcoming translation of the Compendium with Koetschet) has made invaluable contributions to the study of both the commentary and Compendium as well as the subsequent Arabic reception; Sorabji (2003) provides a brief but insightful general overview of the ancient reception of the Timaeus with regard to the ‘mind-body relation’, with particular attention for Galen’s role.


Larrain (1992) 7 ff., 226; see also Larrain (1991).


Larrain (1991) 10.


Before Nickel, Ferrari (1998, 16 note 8) has remarked that the differences between Larrain’s fragments and those published by Schröder are so great that Larrain’s attribution of them to the first two books is ‘completely unfounded’: ‘… a suo avviso, gli estratti deriverebbero dai primi due libri del Commento al Timeo di Galeno. In realtà, come mi riprometto di dimostrare in altra sede, si tratta di un’attribuzione del tutto infondata che non tiene conto delle notevoli differenze, sopratutto di natura formale, tra questi frammenti e quelli in nostro possesso derivati dal III libro del commentario galenico’. I know of no text in which Ferrari makes good on his promise, so are unable to assess his judgement; Flemming (2008) 349 note 21 follows Nickel in saying Larrain’s edition ‘does not add to our Galenic material’; Hankinson (2009) 150 note 20, regards some of Larrain’s material as being ‘of doubtful provenance’.


Nickel (2002) 78.


Garofalo (1995).


Cf. for instance QAM 38,9–18 Müller (IV 775 K): ‘For death takes place, according to Plato, when the soul is separated from the body. But why great voiding of blood, the drinking of hemlock, or a raging fever, causes this separation, I would have certainly have wanted to learn from him, if he were himself alive. But since he no longer is, and none of the Platonist teachers taught me any cause, on account of which the soul is compelled by those things that I have mentioned to be separated, I dare to state myself that not every form of body is suitable to receive the rational soul’. (tr. Singer)


QAM 48,20–5 Müller (IV 788 K): ‘Now, this point in itself casts great suspicion upon the question, whether the whole substance of the soul can really be non-bodily. For how could it be brought into the nature opposed to itself by communion with the body, if it is neither some quality of the body, nor a form, nor an affection, nor a capacity?’ (Singer) The formulations ‘ὅπως μὲν ἡ ἀσώματος ψυχὴ τὴν πρὸς τὸ σῶμα κοινωνίαν ἐκτήσατο’ (Larrain fragment 6) and ‘πῶς γὰρ ἂν ὑπὸ τῆς τοῦ σώματος κοινωνίας εἰς τὴν ἐναντίαν ἑαυτῆς φύσιν ἀχθείη’ (QAM) seem rather close, and Nickel’s assertion that Galen does not take an interest in this question anywhere else, seems to me too hastily made, especially considering that both passages are debating the Platonist notion of an immaterial soul.


Das (2014) 4; Nickel gives De Sem.186,2–5 De Lacy (IV 632 K) and Temp. I 578–9 K; the additional parallels put forward by Das are: Praen. 114, II.8–9 ed. Nutton (1979); Hipp. Art. XVIIIa 597 K; Hipp. Off. Med. XVIIIb 842 K.


Nickel (2002) 75–6; Larrain fr 6; Schröder book III fr II (p. 11,4–9).


Nickel refers to Foet. Form. 88,12–21 Nickel (V 684 K) and his note ad locum, which provides other parallels, particularly for the notion of the diminishing of our substance and subsequent need for nutrition.


UP I 364,6–14 Helmreich (III 500 K): ‘νεῦρον δ΄ οὐδὲν φαίνεται κατεσχισμένον εἰς αὐτήν, ὥσπερ οὐδ΄ εἰς ἧπαρ ἢ νεφροὺς ἢ σπλῆνα. μόνον γὰρ δὴ τὸ περικάρδιον σκέπασμα λεπτῶν νεύρων φαίνεται δεχόμενον ἀποβλαστήματα. καὶ τούτων διασχιζομένων ἐμφύσεις μέν τινες αἰσθηταὶ καὶ σαφεῖς, ἐπὶ γοῦν τῶν μειζόνων ζῴων, καὶ εἰς αὐτὴν ὁρῶνται τὴν καρδίαν· οὐ μὴν ἔτι γε δυνατὸν αἰσθήσει διαγιγνώσκεσθαι σαφῶς, ὅπως ἔτι κατ΄ αὐτὴν σχίζεται …’; May’s translation: ‘… but no nerve is seen to ramify in it [the heart], just as no nerve ramifies in the liver, kidneys, or spleen. Only its covering [membrane], the pericardium, is seen to receive branches of slender nerves, and when these ramify, there are to be seen some insertions even into the heart itself, perceptible and clear, at least in the larger animals. Certainly it is not possible to perceive by the senses how they branch in the heart …’


Larrain Fr 14,11–9: ‘εἰ δὲ καὶ νεῦρα τις αὐτῷ συγχωρήσει τοὺς κατὰ τὴν καρδίαν συνδέσμους ὑπάρχειν, ἀλλοὐδέν γε φαίνεται πρὸς οὐδὲν μέρος τοῦ σώματος ἀπ΄ αὐτῶν φερόμενον, ὡς ἀπ΄ ἐγκεφάλου τε καὶ νωτιαίου πρὸς ἅπαντα. τοσούτο δὲ δεῖται νεύρων ἀρχὴν κατὰ τὴν καρδίαν ὑπάρχειν, ὥστε καὶ τῶν παραγινομένων εἰς αὐτὴν νευρίων σμικροτάτων οὐδὲν ὁρᾶται σχιζόμενον εἰς ἅπασαν αὐτήν, ὡς ἐπ΄ ἄλλων παμπόλλων φαίνεται μορίων. ἀλλ΄ εὐθὺς ἅμα τῷ πρῶτον ἐκφῦναι τελέως ἐκφεύγει τὴν αἴσθησιν, ὡς καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν μεγίστων ὁρᾶται ζῴων’.


Cf. Trompeter (2018) 188–90 on these two passages from UP and Larrain’s fragment 14.


With regard to the fragments on the nerve-system and seat of the soul in general, namely Larrain’s 13A and B, 14, 15 and 16: they could be part of a commentary on Tim. 44d (Fr 15 quotes from Tim. 44d), as Larrain observes (109 ff), since there Timaeus speaks of the head as the most divine part of the body, containing the imitation of the revolutions of the universe. It would make sense for Galen (or a Galenically-inclined other author) to use this passage to elaborate on one of his favourite subjects: the arguments for the tripartition of the soul and the leading part of the soul having its seat in the head, including the refutation of kardiocentric and Stoic views on the subject. It might also be, to follow Nickel’s suggestion in a slightly different direction, that the author added parts from other works such as PHP and UP to his excerpts of Galen’s actual commentary. But, once again, we do not need to resort to the assumption of several authors merely because Galen would otherwise be repeating his own work.


An example is the passage from QAM that we discussed in Case-Study I (IV 774 K), where Galen simply stated that the soul as form of the body should be located at the level of the homoeomerous bodies because ‘the activities primarily belong there’. Within the direct context of QAM itself this does not make any sense and is left completely unexplained.


Cf. Larrain (1992) 12: ‘Das Exzerpt ist in 35 Abschnitte untergliedert, deren Anfänge der Schreiber jeweils mit “† ὅτι” markiert hat’.


Larrain (1992) 12.


Larrain (1992) 226.


Das (2014) 11.


Rashed (2010).


Das and Koetschet (forthcoming) in their new translation of the Compendium, have included this text as its preface.


Cf. Rashed (2010) 89; Ferrari (1998) 14–34.


Rashed (2010) 89: ‘Mais il pouvait se contenter d’une monographie pour établir ce point historique, qui ne lui aurait pas demandé de se confronter à chaque détail philologique d’un texte redoutable. Il n’est pas sûr que nous puissions un jour résoudre cette énigme’.


An astounding number of such commentaries can be found listed in Galen’s On my own books.


Cf. König (2009) 44; Das (2013) 3 f.


Ferrari (1998) argues that the commentary came about in the context of a tradition of private (teacher and friends/disciples) discussion of texts of interest, and emphasizes the importance of the interests of Galen’s friends, the first intended readership, as an impetus for the work to come about. Vegetti (2000) wrote on Galen’s general approach to the Timaeus, and will be discussed below. Rashed (2010), 89: ‘Quel était alors le but d’une telle entreprise? Deux réponses ont été proposées. Selon Franco Ferrari, Galien voudrait simplement rendre disponibles à des ἑταῖροι non versés dans la médecine, grâce aux méthodes exégétiques développées par les platoniciens des siècles précédents, les considérations médicales de Platon. Selon Mario Vegetti, il s’agirait aussi – et même surtout – de retrouver dans le Timée les précédents de la théorie (galénique) de trois âmes liées à trois organes essentiels du corps (cerveau, cœur, foie)’.


I think the same idea comes to the fore clearly in Vegetti’s chapter (2000), although he focuses on PHP and QAM and leaves the commentary and summary out of his discussion.


Das and Koetschet (forthcoming).


Moraux (1977); Lorusso (2005).


Cf. Daremberg (1848) 36; Schröder (1934) 1, note 2; Moraux (1977) considers Daremberg’s Paris. gr. 2147 ‘ohne Zweifel eine Abschrift von Y’, Y being Yalensis 234, from which his fragment is derived.


φησὶ γὰρ ὁ Γαληνὸς ἐν τοῖς ἐν Τιμαίῳ ἰατρικῶς εἰρημένοις τῷ Πλάτωνι οὕτως· μόρια ἄττα δανεισάμενος ὁ δημιουργὸς πυρός τε καὶ γῆς καὶ ἀέρος καὶ ὕδατος διέπλασε τὸν ἄνθρωπον’. (Moraux III 69–72, p. 44).


Moraux (1977) III 212–227 pp. 49–50.


See infra, Case-Study II, p. 144–8.


PHP VIII, 494,26 ff. De Lacy.


Larrain relates this second fragment found by Moraux to his own fragment 2 (see below).


Lorusso (2005) 47: ‘La dipendenza di Galeno dalla teoria aristotelica della visione è presupposta, del resto, anche dal frammento edito da Larrain, dove si dice che il mezzo tra l’oggetto e l’occhio umano (ὁ πέριξ ἀήρ), può essere modificato non solo dallo πνεῦμα αὐγοειδές proveniente dagli occhi, ma anche dallo stesso oggetto, qualora la distanza che lo separa dall’osservatore non sia molto grande’. Cf. Ierodiakonou (2014) on Galen’s theory of vision and its relation to various predecessors including Aristotle.


Opt Med I 53 K.


Das (2013) 37–9, all of this applies to the Greek fragments published by Schröder.


Cf. e.g., Temp. I 509–19 K, esp. 519: ‘Nor can they discover the healthy daily regime without reference to that well-mixed nature, as they give instructions to cool the body which is hotter than it should be and, conversely, to heat that which is colder than it should be, and similarly to dry what is too wet, and moisten what is too dry. In each case, evidently, they are introducing what is lacking to something that is in excess, in order to bring about some kind of well-mixed and middle state’. (tr. Singer and van der Eijk)


This is not a view entirely peculiar to Galen, cf. Longrigg (1993) 2–3 with reference to Aristotle’s On Breath 480b24 ff. and Sense and Sensibilia 436a8 ff.


With emphasis on ‘science’; there could be success in the sense of some kind of art of medicine completely based on empirical observation of symptoms, without knowledge of the human being (see Outline of Empiricism. 45 Frede and Walzer, 1985), but this is obviously not the art of medicine that Galen considers himself the advocate of, and not even in the strict sense a science as he sees it.


See infra, Case-Study I, p. 70–7. Cf. Frede (2003) 77: ‘So Galen does distinguish between definitive answers, backed up by conclusive proof, and answers which, though not supported by proof, are supported by reasonable argument and are not ruled out by considerations to the contrary. Galen allows himself such plausible views, but is hesitant to express them’. See also Chiaradonna (2009) 245 f.; Tieleman (2018); DeLacy, in his commentary on PHP (98,12; p. 623), lists instances in which Galen opposes plausibility and truth.


PHP IX, 598,5–11 De Lacy (V 791–2 K); Cf. Vegetti (2000) 73–4 on this passage.


PHP IX, 588,29–591,2 De Lacy (V 781–2 K); cf. Tim. 29c-d, 48d.


Cf. Larrain fr 17 and commentary 123–32; also Comp. Tim. I 11–16 p. 34 Kraus-Walzer.


These topics are also left out almost entirely in Galen’s Compendium, see Kraus-Walzer 33–5. Cf. Arnzen (2012) 215–20.


PHP IX 588,7 ff. DeLacy (V 780 K).


Cf. Baltussen (2003), who concludes that there was a ‘trend’ of ‘partial use’ of the Timaeus, before ‘in the second to fifth century AD the Platonists came to write continuous and full-blown commentaries on the Timaeus’; he names Posidonius, Alcinous and Galen, and for Galen refers to Larrain’s fragments (69–70).


Larrain (1992) 10–11; Arnzen (2012) 222–7; Das (2013) 10.


QAM 42–3 Müller (780–2 K).


Jouanna (2009a) 198: ‘For Galen’s reading of the Timaeus, the key point is that the excess of humidity in the body disturbs both intelligence and memory’.


Tim. 43a6-b2 ed. Burnet.


Tim. 44a5-b7 ed. Burnet.


Tim. 44b8 f. ed. Burnet.


Das and Koetschet (forthcoming) paragraph 7.


Tim. 43b5-c5 ed. Burnet.


QAM 42,8–17 Müller (IV 780 K).


Cf. Stroumsa (2005) 11–26.


QAM 47,11–6 Müller (IV 786 K); Tim. 41d–42b; for Heraclitus see Kahn fr CIX.


Vegetti (2000) 72, with regard to Galen’s general use of the Timaeus, speaks of ‘manipulation’ of the dialogue in a ‘strictly material sense’: ‘… egli si sente libero dalle costrizioni di scuola, il che gli consente, da un lato, un atteggiamento francamente critico la dove questo gli sembra necessario, dall’altro un uso spregiudicato del dialogo, fino alla manipolazione ma non al tradimento, in senso nettamente materialistico’.


Foet Form 104,15 Nickel (V 700 K).


Foet. Form. 86,21–88,2 De Lacy (V 683 K); Sem. 98,1–3 De Lacy (IV 546–7 K); Nat. Fac. II 83–6 K.


See infra, Case-Study II paragraph 4. Cf. Hankinson (2008) and van der Eijk (2014).


Vegetti (2000) 71 f.


Tieleman (2003) 161.


Vegetti (2000) 76: ’Ma non è certamente questo l’aspetto principale del lavoro esegetico da Galeno sul testo del Timeo. Il suo nucleo centrale consiste nell’interpretazione della teoria dell’anima e del rapporto anima/corpo, che costituisce il tema maggiore di PHP: all’osservazione imparziale di sostituiscono qui operazioni assai più interessate alla fruizione e all manipolazione del testo platonico’.


Tim. 33b–34a; 36c-d; 37a-c; 43b-c; cf. Laws 896e–898b, for what is in fact a clearer explanation than the one we get in the Timaeus.


Cf. Tim. 34b-c: ‘As for the world’s soul … it isn’t the case that the god devised it to be younger than the body. For the god would not have united them and then allow the elder to be ruled by the younger … The god, however, gave priority and seniority to the soul, both in its coming to be and in the degree of its excellence, to be the body’s mistress and to rule over it as her subject’. (tr. Zeyl); 36d8-e1: ‘Once the whole soul had acquired a form that pleased him, he who formed it went on to fashion inside it all that is corporeal, and, joining center to center, he fitted the two together’. (tr. Zeyl); Cornford (1952) 93 on this latter passage: ‘Nothing has yet been said about the bodies which display these motions and the additional motions of the seven circles. The intention is to emphasize the superior dignity of soul and the truth that the self-moving soul is the source of all physical motions’.


Cf. Das (2013) 81–95.


Das (2013) 83–5.


See Das and Koetschet (forthcoming), notes on paragraph 2.


Das (2013) 82 f.


Das (2013) 85.


See Das and Koetschet (forthcoming).


Larrain (1992) 21.


Cf. Larrain’s comments on Fr 1, 21–6; PHP II 104,3–5 De Lacy (V 213 K).


Larrain 27, fragment 2; the last sentence is a citation of Tim. 53d6–7, where it is about the principles that underlie the geometrical figures underlying the elements.


Cf. Vegetti (2000) 72–3.


This is also how Larrain interprets this sentence: ‘Platons Versuch, die Elemente auf die Figuren der stereometrischen Körper zurückzuführen, betrachtet Galen – in deutlicher Anlehnung an Aristoteles – als gescheitert’.


Rep. 511a6, ed. Burnet.


Rep. 511c8, ed. Burnet.


See infra, Case-Study II, paragraph 1 and 2, and p. 152–3 (with note 130 for references to HNH).


PHP VIII, 494,26 ff. De Lacy; VIII, 506,25 ff. DeLacy; VIII 6, 522,34 ff. De Lacy.


PHP VIII, 496,11–2 De Lacy (V 668 K).


Trem. Palp. 631,10 K.


Kraus and Walzer (1951) 59–60.


Cf. Arnzen (2012) 220–1; Das and Koetschet (forthcoming).


Larrain 41, fragment 3.


QAM 36,21–37,5 Müller (IV 773 K); HNH 6,11–20 Mewaldt (XV 7–8 K). Cf. Singer (2014) note 32 ad locum.


Cf. note 55 above.


Ed. Schröder (1934) 10 f. Cf. Das (2013) 17–37 for an excellent and detailed discussion.


Cf. Chiaradonna (2014) on Galen and Middle Platonism.


Larrain 50, Fr 4.


Cf. PHP VI 368,13 ff. DeLacy; QAM 44,2–12 Müller (IV 782 K); cf. Vegetti (2000).


Tim. 34c4–5 ed. Burnet.


Tim. 36d8-e1 ed. Burnet.


See infra, Case-Study I, p. 39–40.


See Das and Koetschet (forthcoming) notes on paragraph 4.


Fragment 6, ed. Larrain.


This fragment is reminiscent in style and structure of what Galen says in QAM (38,4–16 Müller, IV 774–5 K) in the context of the discussion of the possible immortality of the rational soul, namely that Plato did not provide an answer as to why death takes place when the body is disturbed by an excess of one of the elemental qualities, and the later Platonists are not able to account for it either.


QAM 42–3 Müller (IV 780–1 K).


Cf. Trem. Palp. VII 616 K, where the innate heat in each living being is identified as its nature or soul, being a principle of movement.


Cf. Schröder book III fragment 2 (pp. 10–1), on Tim. 76e7–77c5.


Nickel (2002) 75. The comparisons are with De Sem. II 5,29–30, CMG V 3,1, 186,2–5, where the embryo in its first stage of formation is compared to milk that is just beginning to curdle, and with De Temp. II 2, 44, 11–14 Helmreich, I 578–9 K, where the bones of young animals are compared to ‘solidified cheese’. See also infra pp. 165–71 for a discussion of the articles by Nickel and Das (2014).


Das (2014), 4. The additional parallels put forward by Das are: Praen. 114, II.8–9 ed. Nutton (1979); Hipp. Art. XVIIIa 597 K; Hipp. Off. Med. XVIIIb 842 K. She also points out that it is important to note that ‘set cheese and curdled milk are products of different stages of the cheese-making process’, which clarifies the continuity of these different parallels, and points to a passage in Alim. Fac. (VI 695–99 K), where Galen ‘goes into some detail in distinguishing ὀξύγαλα, which seems to be a type of yoghurt or cottage cheese, from soft (ἀραιός), spongy (χαῦνος) young cheese, and other older varieties’. These products are used by Galen in the passages mentioned before, to describe ‘the texture or consistency of parts of the body in various conditions’.


Temp. I 577,16 ff. K.


Temp. I 579,1 ff. K.


Temp. I 614,9–10 K.


Fr 7, ed. Larrain.


Cf. Das (2013) 17 ff., Wilberding (2014) on Galen’s views on this issue and interpretation of this particular passage; Long (1982), Tieleman (1991), Gourinat (2008) on this same issue in Stoicism.


QAM 43,15–44,2 Müller (IV 781–2 K).


Cf. Frede (2003) 116 ff., who also refers to the similarities with the Pseudo-Aristotelian De Mundo.


UP II 446,12–447,8 Helmreich (IV 358–9 K).


Cf. Frede (2003) 118: ‘Galen here is presupposing that the elements themselves are ranked according to purity in the following order: fire, air, water, earth, and that accordingly bodies mixed from them are, depending on the proportion of the different elements in the mixture, more or less pure, terrestrial bodies being the most impure because of the large proportion of water and earth they contain. He may also assume that the elements themselves come in purer or less pure forms. In any case, the heavenly bodies will consist of particularly pure fire and hence will be the purest, first among them the sun. Thus the sun will be the most intelligent’.


Schröder (1934) 2–3.


Larrain (1992) 8.


Das (2013) 94–5.


QAM 67,2–16 (IV 807–8 K).


QAM 43,15–44,2 Müller (IV 781–2 K); UP II 446,12–447,8 Helmreich (IV 358–9 K).


HNH Mewaldt 51,9 (XV 97 K); see infra Case-Study II, p. 156.


Hipp. Aph. XVIIIA 52 K.


Hipp. Epid. XVIIA 540 K.


Loc. Aff. VIII 160 K ff.


Loc. Aff. VIII 162,8–10 K.


Larrain Fr 12,9–13: ‘καί μοι δοκοῦσιν τὴν ὑγρότητα ταύτην οἱ παλαιότατοι τῶν θεολόγων αἰνίττεσθαι τὸ τῆς λήθης πόμα φάσκοντες πίνειν τὰς ψυχὰς ἐνδουμένας τῷ σώματι μετὰ δὲ τὴν πρώτην γένεσιν ἄχρι γήρως ἐσχάτου ξηρότερον ἑαυτοῦ γίνεται τὸ σῶμα, τουτέστιν αὐτὰ τὰ στερεὰ μόρια’.


See also on lethargy the testimony from Thābit Ibn Qurrah, translated in Larrain’s edition (188): ‘Es sagte Galen im ‘Timayus’ bei seinem Kommentar zum Wort des Platon: ‘Die beiden feuchten Mischungen sind das Blut und das Phlegma, die, wenn sie im Körper in groβen Mengen vorhanden sind, den Betroffenen dumm, faul und schläfrig machen. Ebenso leidet der Betroffene, wenn sich die beiden Gallen im Körper vermehren, an Schaflosigkeit und körperlicher Unruhe. Mann nimmt ein Heilmittel gegen diese Schwäche zu Hilfe, unter Berücksichtigung des Heilmittels gegen ‘LYTRGS’ <λήθαργος>, d.i. die kalte Hirnhautentzündung’.


Jouanna (2009a) 197.


Jouanna (2009a) 197 ff.; see, e.g. Regimen I, 35,50–60: ‘If in any case fire receive a power inferior to that of water, such a soul is of necessity slower, and persons of this type are called silly’. (tr. Jones) ‘Silly’ translates ἠλίθιοι, the same word Galen uses in HNH Mewaldt 51 (XV 97 K), discussed below, to describe the effect of blood on the soul; 35,70–80: ‘… following such a regimen will make such men more healthy and intelligent. But if the fire should be mastered to a great extent by the water in the soul, we have then cases of what are called by some ‘senseless’ people, and by others ‘grossly stupid’. Now the imbecility of such inclines to slowness …’ (tr. Jones); in 35,80–90 the fire in the soul is also related to perception: ‘But if the power of the water prove insufficient, and the fire have a pure blend, the body is healthy, and such a soul is intelligent [φρόνιμος], quickly perceiving without frequent variations the objects that strike it’. (tr. Jones)


Jouanna (2009a) 203.


Character Traits, ed. Singer (2013) 140 (27 Kraus), tr. Daniel Davies.


QAM 63,29–64,2 Müller (IV 804 K) tr. Singer.


See the passage quoted above, UP II 446,12–447,8 Helmreich (IV 358–9 K), more particularly 447,4–6.


HNH Mewaldt 51,9–16 (XV 97 K).


Tr. Hankinson (forthcoming), modified. I think it is better to not translate ἦθος here as ‘state of character’, since the examples Galen gives cannot successfully be placed in the traditional category of ‘character’, i.e. in the lower part of the soul as opposed to the rational part (Galen also often uses the word this way). Rather, the examples include the functioning of the rational soul (in fact they relate most to this part), which is why I choose to translate with the more formal and general term ‘dispositions’.


Fr 8, ed. Larrain.


Larrain (1992) 79–80, 188; Arnzen (2012) 222–3; I quoted Larrain’s translation above, note 522.


QAM 47,9–18 Müller (IV 786 K).


Kahn (1979) 247; fragment CIX: ‘αὐγὴ ξηρὴ ψυχή, σοφωτάτη καὶ ἀρίστη’.


Kahn (1979) 247.


Kahn (1979) fr CVI.


Cf. Mansfeld (1967) 21 ff.


Schröder (1934) 10–11.


Tim. 55e–56e, 78a.


HNH 46,5 ff. Mewaldt (XV 35 K), 50,23–4 Mewaldt (XV 96 K), 51,9–18 Mewaldt (XV 97 K); Nat. Fac. II 9, II 135 K; Hipp. Elem. 154,5–6 De Lacy (I 506 K); PHP V, 502,23 De Lacy (V 676 K); Hipp. Aph. XVIIB 667 K. See also infra, Case-Study IV, p. 307 ff.


Trem. Palp. VII 614.


Trem. Palp. VII 617, tr. Sider and McVaugh.


Trem. Palp. VII 617–8 K.


Fr 9, ed. Larrain.


See particularly QAM 38–43 Müller (IV 775–783 K).


Tim. 41d–42b.


QAM 43,10–44,2 Müller (IV 781–82 K).


QAM 47,9–18 Müller (IV 786 K).


Frede (2003) 120.




Ierodiakonou (2014) 235 ff.


Frede (2003) 121; Cf. Sem. 136,7–9 De Lacy (IV 584–5 K); Loc. Aff. VIII 66,9–67,6 K; PHP VII 474,3–7 De Lacy (V 642 K); cf. also Plotinus, Enneads IV, 8, 4.


PHP VII 474,22–9 De Lacy (V 643–4 K); cf. also PHP VII 442,36–443,2 De Lacy (V 606 K), where the second option is that the pneuma is the soul’s ‘first home’ rather than its vehicle.


PHP VII 442,36–444,11 De Lacy (V 606 K); on pneuma see infra, Case-Study I, p. 61–4.


Tim. 41d-e, 69c.


PHP VII 460,28–33 De Lacy (V 627 K); Ierodiakonou (2014) esp. 14.


PHP VII 460,1–4 De Lacy (V 626 K), 474,3–7 De Lacy (V 642 K).


See the discussion in Das and Koetschet (forthcoming): Galen omits both what could be seen as the ‘atomistic elements’ in the account of the Timaeus, such as the notion of the ‘particles [that] emanate from visible objects and collide with visual rays (67d-e)’, as well as the ‘central comparison between vision and reflection in a mirror (46a-c)’.


Fr 18, ed. Larrain.


Larrain (1992) 134; Galen does the same in PHP VII 462,25 ff. De Lacy (V 629–30 K).


Fr 21, ed. Larrain.


And in fact we find such comparisons in Galen, see note 136 above.


PHP VII, 442,19–446,17 De Lacy (V 604–9 K).


Cf. Frede (2003) 120: ‘That Galen assumes a close connection between intelligence, or, more generally, cognition, and light, becomes clear if we look at the role light plays in Galen’s doctrine of cognition’. Ierodiakonou (2014) 242: ‘… for it is exactly this luminous, light-like pneuma which, in line with the principle of like being perceptible by like, allows us to perceive and discriminate colours, to see objects, to have cognition, and to acquire some kind of understanding’.


Fr 22, ed. Larrain.


Cf. Frede (2003) 118–9.


Fr 9, ed. Larrain.


UP II 446,16–9 Helmreich (IV 359 K).


Fr 9,8–11, ed. Larrain.


We know there were different variations of this fragment circulating, see Kahn (1979) ad locum.


QAM 67,2–16 (IV 807–8 K).


Loc. Aff. VIII 150–2 K.


Fr 9,11–19 ed. Larrain.


Fr 9,19–23 Larrain.


Fr 10,1–4 Larrain.


See Larrain’s notes ad locum.


Fr 10,1–2 Larrain.


Proclus, In Remp. i. 222 Kroll; Olympiodorus Commentary on Plato’s Gorgias 49.6 Westerink (ad 524d5–6); Philoponus, On Aristotle’s On the Soul 50.32 ff. Hayduck (and the notes ad loc. in van der Eijk 2006); I thank George Boys-Stones for some of these references. See infra, Case-Study I, p. 94–5.


Tim. 34a, 37a–e, 52e.


Laws 896e–898b.


Tim. 90c–d, see Sedley’s (1997, 1999, 2017) classical studies on this subject.


Fr 11,1–2 Larrain.


Fr 11,2–6 Larrain.


Fr 11,9–11 Larrain; see Larrain (1992) 97: ‘Daβ im logischen Seelenteil, oder besser: in den Substanzen, durch die dieser agiert, die Substanzen des Himmels anzutreffen sind, scheint Galen hier nahezulegen. Zweifelsohne hat Galen dabei konkrete Elemente im Blick und zwar die leichten, nach oben strebenden, d.h. Feuer und Luft’. Larrain (pp. 96–104) points to similarities with the Pseudo-Aristotelian De Mundo and Posidonius, which cannot be further pursued here.


Das and Koetschet (forthcoming) notes on paragraph 4.


Fr 12,1–5 Larrain.


See particularly QAM 67,2–16 (IV 807–8 K).


See San. Tu. VI 40 K; see also infra, Case-Study I, p. 91–2.


Temp. I. 604–5 K.


Cf. Tim. 34A: ‘For he assigned to it the motion proper to its bodily form, namely that one of the seven which above all belongs to reason and intelligence …’ (tr. Zeyl). In 34C, however, Timaeus hurries to state that this order is only due to the narrative, and that the god made soul prior to body and to rule over body, see the earlier quotation above. It is telling that Galen in his Compendium leaves out Timaeus’ correction.


Cf. Cornford (1952) 78: ‘But Plato’s rings symbolise motions and nothing else. The bodies which have the motions are not mentioned at all at this stage; they are fashioned later and set in the motions here provided …’

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