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to consult entrails and rupture snakes with incantation
to summon shades and set deepest Acheron in motion
to turn day into night and night into dawn.
Teachable skill by effort conquered everything (omnia conando
docilis sollertia vicit).
(Astr. 1.91“95).
The passage is replete with allusions to a wide range of earlier literature.
Particularly striking is the way Manlius brackets his introduction of the bod-
ily knowledge of haruspicators and magicians. He opens with a paradoxical
reference to Virgil™s lament over themes that are commonplace, or vulgata
(G. 3.3), only to introduce one that is not. And he concludes by fashioning a
new aphorism (˜teachable skill by effort conquered everything™) out of Vir-
gilian sententia (˜effort conquered everything™: labor omnia vicit, G. 1.145)
and syntax (the gerund as ablative of means), and pointedly Ciceronian
diction (sollertia, ˜skill™, as the human faculty that drives progress through
the ages).32
From the perspective of the literary tradition, perhaps the most revealing
aspect of Manilius™ poetics of corporeality is to be found in his literalisa-
tion of Lucretius™ metaphor of the universe as a body. As we might expect,
31 32
Compare Lucr. 5.1“5 and Man. 1.25“33. Baldini Moscadi (1979).
238 thom a s h a b i nek
Manilius disavows the randomness of the universe as imagined by Lucretius
and his philosophical hero Epicurus. But this rejection of Lucretian atom-
ism includes a reworking of the earlier poet™s own imagistic likening of
the universe to a body. As Duncan Kennedy notes, Lucretius™ description
of atoms assimilates them to human body parts and processes of pro-
creation. By giving atoms names such as ˜birth-giving bodies™ (genitalia
corpora), ˜the seeds of things™ (semina rerum), and ˜the ¬rst bodies™ (cor-
pora prima), and by describing them as acting ˜of their own accord™ (sponte
sua), Lucretius seeks to ˜reduce the alienating effect of his system. . . The
poem [De Rerum Natura] thus offers a recon¬guration of nature, granting
to nature, in Lucretius™ term, a fresh, and, as he believes, de¬nitive ¬gura,
“form”, “outline”, “shape”.™33 Manilius, in turn, in his own most explicit
declaration of doctrinal allegiance, reworks Lucretius™ imagery to suggest
that whatever con¬guration is going on, it results in the animation of the
universe. ˜A single spirit™, he writes, inhabits every sector of the universe,
permeates it, and rushing throughout, con¬gures it as an animate body™
(corpusque animale ¬guret, 2.65).
As the passage proceeds, Manilius continues to deploy Lucretian images
and arguments to his own ends, explaining the cycles of nature as the
outcome of the universe™s orderly rationality, a rationality that rules human
affairs as well:
Therefore this god and reason (ratio), which governs everything,
leads from heavenly constellations the animate beings of the earth
(terrena animalia).
Although the stars are removed at a great distance,
reason nonetheless compels recognition of how they distribute lives
and fates
among the nations and assign distinctive characters to individual
bodies (singula corpora). (Astr. 2.82“86).

Reason is no longer a tool for analysing the universe but a power that
informs it. And the universe, far from being merely ¬gured as a body, con-
sists of multiple bodies, aethereal and terrestrial, that interact meaningfully
with one another. Manilius articulates the astrological principle of stellar
in¬‚uence in language that builds upon and transforms the Lucretian image
of the universe as a body. Corporeality is not reason™s ¬guration of the uni-
verse, but the very feature of reality that reason is called upon to probe and
comprehend.

33 Kennedy (2002) 92.
Manilius™ Astronomica 239
At a super¬cial level it is easy to see how Manilius™ poem and its subject
matter participate in the self-legitimising ideology of Rome™s imperial elite.
Manilius deftly celebrates the horoscopes of two successive emperors, giving
high praise ¬rst to Capricorn, which admires itself due to its association with
Augustus (Astr. 2.507“9), while Libra, the birth sign of Tiberius, governs
Italy, and especially Rome, ˜which raises and lowers the nations placed in
the scales™ (lancibus et positas gentes tollitque premitque, 5.775). His ˜astrology
of nations™ “ a device that in Ptolemy™s parallel account defensively explains
how individuals born at the same time can have different destinies “ instead
becomes the basis of a world tour of Roman dominions and explanation
for historical enmities between peoples. Indeed, while Ptolemy expressly
advises consideration of the general problem of nations and cities prior
to investigation of individual destinies (Tetr. 2.2), Manilius postpones the
astrology of nations until relatively late in the poem, even then treating
it only cursorily (Astr. 4.711“806). Unlike the Corpus Hermeticum, with
its ˜total absence of references to contingent reality™,34 or the astrological
poem of Dorotheus of Sidon (late ¬rst or early second century, ce), which
focuses on the anonymous lower ranks of society (e.g., ˜How many will own
the native if he is a slave?™, 1.11),35 Manilius™ Astronomica celebrates emperors,
incorporates astrological exempla from Roman history and identi¬es the
hierarchy of the universe with the orderly ranking of the Roman common-
wealth (Astr. 5.734“42). The entire poem concludes with an expression of
relief that the masses of the stars in heaven are as powerless as the ˜populace™
(populus) is on earth “
to which had nature given strength to match their number
the empyrean itself would be unable to endure their ¬‚ames
and the universe would blaze atop the Olympian pyre.
(Astr. 5.743“5)

In relating the universe to contemporary social arrangements, Manilius
extends a line of thought familiar from earlier Roman epic, such as Ennius™
Annales and Virgil™s Aeneid, and characteristic of the domesticated Stoicism
that constitutes the dominant ideology of the imperial elites.36 But “ to
adopt his own metaphor “ he also probes more deeply into the nature of
power and knowledge and in so doing points the way to a new understand-
ing of astrology™s hold on elite Romans during the early principate.

34 35 Quoted from translation of David Pingree (1976).
Vallauri (1954) 167.
36 On the relationship between cosmology and imperialism in Roman epic see Hardie (1986); on
Stoicism as elite ideology, Shaw (1985).
240 thom a s h a b i nek
Manilius™s emphasis on the corporeality of the universe and of the
astrological subject™s encounter with it restores the unity of body and
mind threatened by the processes of rationalisation in which astrology
otherwise participates. The dissemination of new disciplines in the late
republic and early principate strengthened the hold of what Paul Con-
nerton calls ˜inscribing practices™, patterns of thinking and knowing based
on or analogous to writing, and therefore consistently open to critique.37
Astrology respects the claims of such practices, even seeking to become
one itself, while also producing a kind of knowledge carried by bodies,
and thus less susceptible to analysis, resistance and change. As Connerton
puts it, summarising Oakeshott, ideologies can only be ˜abbreviations of
some manner of concrete behaviour . . . [W]hat has to be learned is not an
abstract idea, or a set of tricks, nor even a ritual, but a concrete, coherent
manner of living in all its intricateness™.38 As presented by Manilius, this
is what astrology provides the urban elites of the early Roman empire: a
manner of living in all its intricateness. Astrology is systematic and abstruse
enough to be distinctively their possession. But it is suf¬ciently bodily in
orientation, in its teachings concerning the ˜exercise™ of heavenly forces on
the human subject, in its performance (as Manilian song or as professional
consultation), and in its intended impact on the everyday experience of its
devotee to absorb the functions of divination, magic and other modes of
accommodating contingent human experience to the natural world. Pre-
cisely in its focus on the responsiveness of the human subject from birth,
it serves to ease the transition from one generation, one emperor, one set
of social circumstances to the next. It tells its followers that they, and all
they control, are ˜perfectly adapted to the form of cosmic being™39 in every
dimension of experience, and thereby renders their position impervious to
critique. Organising knowledge in texts and through bodies, astrology is
well-positioned to assume a critical role in the reproduction of social order
over time.40
37 38 Connerton (1989) 10. 39 Benjamin (1999) 721.
Connerton (1989), esp. 102“3.
40 Critical, but perhaps not unique. In time, the spread of sophistic rhetoric, with its own powerful
pairing of inscribing and incorporating practices, will pose a signi¬cant challenge to the ascendancy of
astrology. See Gellius™ suggestion that Favorinus™ denunciation of astrology may itself be a rhetorical
showpiece (NA 14.1.2) and Firmicus Maternus™ overt hostility to the rhetoricians (Mathesis 1.1).
c h a p t e r 11

Galen™s imperial order of knowledge
Rebecca Flemming




Order (taxis) is a vital matter for the great imperial physician Galen of
Pergamum. Sound method (in all things) depends on it: on beginning at
the beginning and proceeding systematically through all the requisite stages
until the goal is attained. It is, moreover, a test that most in the medical
¬eld fail. Galen™s total commitment to good order provides him with a
measure against which his rivals (past and present) can be measured and
found wanting: it creates an important space within which his superiority
can be asserted once again. Thus, for example, he makes order a key divid-
ing line between Rationalists and Empiricists in On the therapeutic method,
suggesting that it underlies the epistemological gap between these two med-
ical groupings.1 The latter, he avers, solve problems and make discoveries
in a disorderly fashion “ through what they happen to observe, through
chance experience “ while the former lay claim to an orderly and logical
approach to the acquisition and consolidation of knowledge. Their delivery
is poor, however, and most Rationalists fail to start at the beginning; they
also recapitulate received wisdom rather than actually working through a
line of reasoning or argument. Two types of taxic failure are thus demon-
strated, and duly criticised, allowing the virtues of the Galenic model to
shine through all the more clearly. It is stated more positively, and prac-
tised, in many of his tracts and treatises: proper order is always asserted,
and essayed, in his various enquiries and disquisitions.
Still, as Galen became increasingly aware over the course of his long and
illustrious career, especially as his monumental oeuvre began to take on
something approaching its ¬nal shape, that shape lacked the kind of order
he so repeatedly avowed in his individual projects. The sum of well-ordered
parts is not necessarily a similarly structured whole; an accusation that could
be levelled not just at the sum of his writings, but also at the totality of the

1 Gal. MM 1.4 (x 30“35 K); and on medical sects and Galen™s relation to them more generally see, e.g.,
Frede (1985). A key to abbreviations for Galen™s titles can be found at the beginning of this volume.

241
242 reb ecc a fle mm i ng
medical art (iatrik¯ techn¯ ) they claimed to encompass, since the two were
e e
so closely connected. The former displayed the latter, variously demon-
strated Galen™s mastery of all the knowledge, methods and skills requisite
to medicine; any problems of order could not, therefore, be con¬ned to the
literary realm, but might also call into question the authority of his version
of the techn¯ in a more global sense. This gap, therefore, had to be closed:
e
overall order had to be imposed, and there are recurrent efforts amongst
his later works to do just that. The ¬rst attempt was made with the short
treatise On the order of my own books, addressed to one Eugenianus and
probably written around the time of Septimius Severus™ accession to the
imperial throne in 193 ce.2 Here Galen proposed programmes of reading,
structured paths through his oeuvre. Next, the compact compendium on
the Medical art made a rough stab at a more general ordering of medical
knowledge, and supported its summary outline with a bibliographic end-
piece that provided a guide to the works that ¬ll in the detail on each topic
covered. An exhaustive listing of his entire literary output was, however,
deferred to a later occasion, a promise ful¬lled by the arrival of On my own
books, a text that not only lists but classi¬es, ¬rst biographically and then by
subject matter. Lastly, On my own opinions, is a summation of key Galenic
tenets, completed perhaps at the very end of his long life, in the early third
century ce.3
These last two texts present themselves primarily as guardians of authen-
ticity, as defences against literary fraud or mutilation, and doctrinal error
or distortion, respectively. Nor is this a pre-emptive strike. Galen claims
that works falsely attributed to him are already on sale in the Sandalarium
at Rome, and that his writings, despite their clarity, are currently being
traduced by modern readers, ignorant of grammar and the basic tools of
understanding as they are.4 Of course, he also has his eyes ¬xed ¬rmly on
posterity, on the time when he will be unable to come to the aid of his
oeuvre in person, and must rely on these textual boundary markers and
signposts to police and direct subsequent interpretations. Issues of order

2 This work is usually located in the period between the death of Marcus Aurelius and the accession of
Septimius Severus but has clear connections with works usually placed in Severus™ reign, not least the
fact that it shares its addressee with the last eight books of On the therapeutic method (see x 456 K).
On the standard periodisation/chronology of Galen™s oeuvre see Ilberg (1889), (1892), (1896), (1897);
and Bardong (1942); though various subsequent textual discoveries, and the lengthening of Galen™s
life (see Nutton (1995b)), have amended the schedule to some extent.
3 So, at least, the Arabic tradition would have it. Rhazes states, for example, that this was Galen™s last
work (Muhaqqiq (ed.) (1993) 4.2“4). See the recent edition by V. Nutton (CMG v 3.2; 1999) for more
detailed discussion of this text.
4 Gal. Lib. prop. pr. (SM ii 91.1“13), Prop. plac. 1 (CMG v 3.2 54.19“56.11).
Galen™s imperial order of knowledge 243
are, therefore, implicit in these productions, submerged under other osten-
sible objectives; though the threat of disorder is perhaps more palpable
than any order Galen imposes. The threat that the border between the
genuine and the fake would dissolve, that the fundamental principles to
which Galen had been consistently committed throughout his career and
had brought to bear on all his literary compositions, might be betrayed,
altered beyond recognition, by future generations, is all too real.
Ordering is more openly pursued in the other pair of texts, in response
to a different (though interrelated) set of challenges. Thus, On the order
of my own books opens with Galen™s assent to Eugenianus™ suggestion that
some explanation of the order of his writings would be helpful:
For they do not all have the same aim, function and subject matter. As you know,
some were written at the request of friends, aimed speci¬cally at their situation
(hexis), others were dictated for youthful beginners.5
Nor are these the only causes of heterogeneity and confusion. Further works
had to be composed in response to criticism received, founded (of course)
on error and misunderstanding; while various notes made for Galen™s own
personal use found their way into the public domain, contrary to his wishes.
Indeed, a whole range of Galenic texts passed, unsupervised, from their
intended recipients to much wider and less suitable audiences.6 The diver-
sity inevitably produced by targeted composition thus threatened to degen-
erate into promiscuous chaos. The inclusion of ˜subject matter™ among the
problematic variables also signals back to the inherent complexity and
multiplicity of medicine itself, a further force for literary proliferation and
diversi¬cation, which is what the summary Medical art essentially strives
to counter and control.
So too, in its own way, the treatise On the parts of the art of medicine, which
attempts to rein in, or at least impose some kind of order and reason on, the
divisional pro¬‚igacy within the art. This over-abundance is demonstrated
in terms of both the wider range of different methods of partition applied
and the myriad branches of medical knowledge and practice that have
variously been brought into existence. While the methodical divergences
are the product of wider disputes in the learned medical tradition “ such
as between the Empiricists and Rationalists “ the profusion of subdivisions
and specialisms, or at least the actual materialisation of so many of the
almost endless theoretical possibilities thus created, is more socially and
economically determined:
5 Gal. Ord. lib. prop. 1 (SM ii 80.3“7); cf. Lib. prop. 2 (SM ii 102.10“19).
6 Gal. Lib. prop. pr. and 2 (SM ii 92.4“93.16 and 97.6“98.11).
244 reb ecc a fle mm i ng
You [i.e. Justus, the treatise™s addressee] should not be surprised if the scope of the
art of medicine causes it to be divided in a great city into this large number of
sections.7
It is only in a huge metropolis such as Rome (and Alexandria) that a career
as a dedicated tooth-, ear-, or eye-doctor, or as a cutter of hernias, or as a
specialist on the stone, or whatever, is viable.8
Galen™s Rome was particularly awash with such people, who presented,
in various ways, a threat to the integrity of the iatrik¯ techn¯. Firstly, their
e e
logical proliferation threatened to burst the boundaries of the art, to render
it incoherent through overpopulation and excessive differentiation. For, if
being a tooth-doctor and a hernia-cutter are both legitimate professional
identities then it follows that a different physician will be required to deal
not only with each part of the body, but also for each ailment of each part.
Secondly (and interconnectedly), there is the question of the relationship
each sub-set of skills has with the art as a whole: where does this leave the
unity of medicine? For this is a crucial, foundational, concept for Galen,
and indeed other medical writers in a culture that, more broadly, ranked the
generalist above the specialist. Parts of medicine must, therefore, be validly
and properly derived from the totality; must make clear reference back to
their unitary origins. That is, again, to assert the need for order amidst a
confusion that might degenerate further; though it must be admitted that
the actual ordering Galen proposes and performs in On the parts of the art
of medicine is not as decisive or successful as the situation would seem to
demand.
The failures of orderly correspondence between parts and whole in both
art and oeuvre are, therefore, derived mainly from a series of circumstances
external to Galen himself. The character of medicine itself has a role to play
in the story, as does Galen™s natural af¬nity with it, the sense in which he
has had valuable things to say on the subject, things people want (or need)
to hear, right from the outset of his career, which in turn leads his own
output to be heterogeneous, as explained above for On the order of my own
books.9 The more serious problems arise, however, from the ways in which
medicine™s inherent complexity has been exacerbated, allowed to run riot, in
the contemporary world: a world of material growth, of increased content,

7 Gal. Part. art. med. 2.3, translation from the Arabic by M. Lyons (CMG Supp. Or. ii 28.9“10 and
29.13“14; for the Latin version see 120.29“31). On this text, and further discussion of these points,
see von Staden (2002).
8 Gal. Part. art. med. 2.3 and 2.2 (CMG Supp. Or. ii 28.9“18 and 26.21“3; 120.31“121.3 and 120.17“22).
9 See, e.g., Ord. lib. prop. 4 (SM ii 88.6“89.4) for some of Galen™s claims about his innate suitability for
medicine, combined, of course, with good education and total commitment; and Lib. prop. 2 (SM ii
97.6“98.11) for his literary precocity.
Galen™s imperial order of knowledge 245
but falling intellectual and moral standards, a place of much ignorance
and error, from which control and sound judgement are too often missing.
All of which puts considerable pressure on a man of Galen™s educational
and ethical formation. The organic development of his own output, driven
by his desire for a totalising understanding of all matters relevant to the
medical art, and shaped by his own commitment to good order, has thus
been multiply disrupted, by his friends and companions, with their requests
for clari¬cation and edi¬cation, as much as by his enemies and rivals, with
their attacks and glaring mistakes: all require (he feels) a response. Nor
do the forces that produce this heterogeneity in his work show much sign
of letting up thereafter, indeed, various extra entropic tendencies come
into operation following production, threatening to dissolve the coherence
of Galen™s project further. So he is compelled to attempt to redress the
situation, to assert his ownership over his own body of writing, and over
the iatrik¯ techn¯ itself.
e e
Several themes emerge in this recuperative discourse of order. Some
points are very self-referential, and self-serving (though that does not make
them entirely untrue). Galen™s ¬guration of this ¬eld enables him to com-
plain, and complain vigorously, about his very success; a tactic that he is
very partial to. It is his superiority, his abilities, his authority and reputa-
tion, which are at the root of many of his problems. The fact that his is a
voice people want, indeed need, to hear on such a wide range of topics and
issues, that he is so much in demand, is crucial to the loss of control over his
oeuvre. However, Galen has also situated himself in the highly competitive
and contentious world of classical medicine more broadly, and demon-
strated his participation in its complex networks of power and prestige. He
has, furthermore, drawn particular attention to certain key aspects of his
wider social and cultural environment in this respect, aspects of its imperial
formation. Indeed, he has actively involved himself in that formation.
In particular, Galen™s struggle for order is a struggle for control over
abundance, as also is the ongoing Roman imperial project: indeed, the
tension and interplay between the two might be said to characterise pro-
cesses of conquest and colonial rule more broadly. Empire is a cornucopia,
but that richness, that fecundity, must be properly structured and directed,
properly arranged and managed. Otherwise it may slip into luxury and
excess, be misappropriated and abused, and thus disrupt established pat-
terns of morality and power. It may even come to undermine the mastery of
the rulers itself, both practically and conceptually. The alignment between
Galen™s empire of knowledge and Rome™s political dominion in this respect
is not just implicit, abstract or ¬gurative, it is positively articulated and
concretely grounded in various ways. The world of plenty, productive and
246 reb ecc a fle mm i ng
problematic as it is, is clearly centred on Rome, as imperial capital, and
that is where Galen situates himself as he strives to organise that plenty as
it relates to medicine. This is speci¬cally indicated in On the parts of the
art of medicine and On my own books, but there is a general sense of this
placement purveyed in the other works mentioned so far too. Galen is,
wants and needs to be at the centre of things, at the centre of power: power
over a vast empire. Nowhere but Rome could support his ambition, could
foster his totalising vision. There is nowhere else he could stand and have
both the reach and leverage to bring order to it all, to bring a much better
order to so much more than anyone else.
The problems of that location have also been brought out; accusations
that abundance is being mismanaged, has become entropic excess, have
been made in these same taxic texts. That, however, is very much part of the
imperial package, and drawing attention to metropolitan vices, to failures of
mastery and control, threats of disorder and devaluation, is an integral part
of much writing of the early empire, in Latin as well as Greek. The question
has been raised, however, whether Galen™s criticisms do not possess a rather
different quality to those of, say, Pliny the Elder, or Seneca the Younger,
with which they certainly share much content, in that they are lodged in an
essentially, avowedly, Hellenic cultural identity, while Pliny™s, for example,
are ostensibly grounded in old-fashioned Roman values and traditions, and
Seneca™s are more hybrid products. Simon Swain particularly stresses this
point, reading Galen™s Greek allegiances as providing ˜insulation™ from the
Roman world, an insulation not bridged by any real interest in the ˜Roman
idea™, or involvement in the imperial government, in contrast to a number of
roughly contemporary Greek writers, from Lucian and Pausanias to Aelius
Aristides and Arrian.10 Galen™s disapproval of contemporary Rome, his
attacks on her anti-intellectualism and poor educational standards as well
as her more materialistic failures, has, for Swain, a greater coherence and
cogency than his more positive engagements with the city, its inhabitants
and endeavours.11 These are sporadic and super¬cial, a matter of expediency,
about advancing his career, while Galen™s true loyalties lie entirely elsewhere.
Swain thus concludes that, ˜In a very real sense, in what mattered to him,
Galen . . . was not in the Roman Empire™.12
This whole volume, however, is about how much harder it is to escape
from the Roman Empire than that statement would suggest; a point that has
10 Swain (1996) 377.
11 Swain does discuss these positive moments (1996) 363“72; and for differently emphasised coverage
of some of the same passages see Nutton (1978) and (1991).
12 Swain (1996) 378“9.
Galen™s imperial order of knowledge 247
been repeatedly made in much recent scholarship relating to other empires
too.13 Indeed, Swain™s suggestion that the intensely Greek identity asserted
by men such as Galen in the ˜Second Sophistic™ was a reaction to Roman
control would also seem to undermine the idea of Galen as an author who
stands apart from the Roman Empire.14 Can Galen really be such a clear

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