In these two short treatises, which Galen states were prepared at the request of friends,1 he offers some thoughts on what constitutes the best state or condition of the human body, based primarily on his concept of krasis and its variants, and his division of the components of the body into homoiomeres and organic structures. They clearly supplement his major treatise on krasias (temperaments).

In the first work, On the Best Constitution of our Body, Galen poses two fundamental questions:

  • What the best composition of the human body is.
  • What the best composition of the human body does.

His concise answer to the first question is given in the final sentence of the work: “. . . we must lodge the best constitution in two things—in eukrasia of the homoiomeres and in balance of the organic parts.” The short answer to the second question is that the best constitution ensures excellence of all functions, facilitates euchymia, and makes the body most resistant to factors, both external and internal, that threaten to adversely affect this otherwise stable state.

Three other issues considered are as follows:

  • 1Galen refers to the treatises having been written at the request of friends in his On the Order of My Own Books, XIX.56K. He refers to them more generally and in relation to his other works in his Art of Medicine, I.407–8K.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.galen-best_constitution_body.2020