Galen, On Temperaments

LCL 546: 4-5

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disease classification, diagnosis, treatment, and hygiene in the four key practical works on these subjects in the General Introduction (section 3). The teaching in De temperamentis was preserved by the medical encyclopedists in the several centuries immediately after Galen, then through Syriac, Arabic, and Hebrew translations, and then in Latin translations, as outlined in section 6 of the General Introduction. As late as 1881, an edition of Thomas Linacre’s 1521 Latin translation, along with his translation of De inaequali intemperie, was published in Cambridge, prefaced by a detailed introduction by the editor, J. F. Payne, although by then the central concept had become outmoded. Payne offers some interesting insights into the ramifications of the concept of krasis, or temperament, beyond the narrow confines of medicine. These ramifications are still discernible today.


The Greek text used in the present work is that in G. Helmreich’s 1904 edition. This in turn is based on four main Greek manuscripts (Laurentianus 74.5; Marcianus 275; Oxoniensis, i.e., Bodleianus 709 = Laudinus 58; and Truvultianus 685) plus the Greek texts in four editions of collected works: Aldina, Basiliensis, Charteriana, and Kühneiana. In the present work, Helmreich’s Greek text is compared with Kühn’s Greek text and Linacre’s 1521 Latin translation as reproduced in Payne’s 1881 edition. Significant differences relevant to the translation are indicated in the footnotes. There are two versions of P. N. Singer’s English translation; that in his 1997 Galen: Selected Works and a revised version in collaboration with



P. J. van der Eijk in Galen: Works on Human Nature, volume 1, published in 2018. Both have been consulted. Neither Durling’s work on Burgundio of Pisa’s Latin translation nor Tassinari’s 1997 Italian translation were consulted. On the style of translation, the principles outlined in relation to the Method of Medicine were followed.4 As previously noted, what were judged to be key technical terms have been transliterated rather than translated on the grounds of their importance to Galen’s theoretical formulations and the perceived unsuitability of certain English renderings.


1. Galen states his adherence to the four elements/four elemental qualities theory of the fundamental structure of matter in general and of animal bodies in particular. He then states his intention to identify all the differentiae of the krasias.

2. A summarizing statement is given on the krasias, beginning with the identification of two opposing positions on compound krasias. (a) There are four such krasias: hot and dry, hot and wet, cold and dry, cold and wet, which is Galen’s own view. (b) There are only two such krasias: hot and dry, and cold and wet, since wet cannot persist with hot nor dry with cold. Galen defends his view and counters the opposing view by citing examples such

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.galen-temperaments.2020