Galen, On Non-Uniform Distemperment

LCL 546: 284-285

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  • dyskrasia in a particular part will affect adjacent parts.
  • 4. That fevers, apart from the hectic, are examples of non-uniform dyskrasia.
  • 5. That ēpialos fevers (agues), which are characterized by the coexistence of chills and fever, are non-uniform dyskrasias in which the two components of the hot/cold antithesis are affected simultaneously, signified respectively by the heat of the fever and the coldness leading to shivering and the sensation of coldness.

These points are exemplified by inflammation in a muscle and by the various fevers. There is no systematic consideration of the methods of treatment; of course, general allopathic principles must apply. In the final section Galen gives a list of common focal non-uniform dyskrasias.


The Greek text in the present work is essentially that of Garcia Novo, which was published in 2012 and is itself based on seven Greek manuscripts that she lists and discusses in her introduction (pp. 19–25). This is the only critical edition, although mention is made of a partially prepared edition by George Helmreich that is preserved in his papers held in the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, and which Garcia Novo also examined. In the present text, significant points of difference between Garcia Novo’s text and that in the Kühn Opera omnia (the only other readily available Greek text) are indicated in footnotes. In certain instances the translation



follows the Kühn Greek or Latin text on grounds of perceived meaning.

There are two modern translations of Galen’s De inaequali intemperie, both into English. The first is that of Mark Grant in his Galen on Food and Diet published in 2000. The second is that of Garcia Novo herself, which closely follows the Greek. Both have been consulted in preparing the present translation.


1. Galen begins with a brief introductory statement on the term, non-uniform dyskrasia, listing some of the diseases that are regarded as being due to such a state. This is followed by the general classification of the dyskrasias (four simple and four compound) and the difference between a uniform and a non-uniform dyskrasia. In a final statement of intent, Galen stresses the need to set out all the parts of the body.

2. Galen provides more on the parts, beginning with the subdivision of the major parts (arms, legs, abdomen, chest, and head), and further subdivisions, including that into homoiomerous and organic parts, with reference to his work On Anatomical Procedures. Specific mention is made of the spaces between the parts and the pores of the skin. Differences in the non-uniform dyskrasias in different parts follow the nature of the parts.

3. Galen considers fluxes causing non-uniform dyskrasias in various parts—blood vessels, the spaces between various parts, muscle, abdomen, brain, and chest. The outcome depends on whether the flux overcomes the part or vice versa. Pain is a sign of active change. Non-uniform

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.galen-nonuniform_distemperment.2020