Galen and the Great Fire of Rome

The discovery of a letter written by the great physician sheds new light on one of the most dramatic events in Roman history, as Raoul McLaughlin explains.

A detail from a relief on the Arch of Titus, built in AD 81 in honour of Titus' victory over the Jews in AD70. It shows a triumphal procession, carrying the Menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum of the Temple of Solomon. Photo: AKG Images/Erich LessingIn 2005 Antoine Pietrobelli, a student from the Sorbonne in Paris, was looking at microfilm copies of old manuscripts from the Vlatadon monastery in Thessalonica, modern Greece, when he made an extraordinary discovery. Among a collection of medieval texts he found a copy of a letter written by the ancient Greek physician Galen. ‘On the Avoidance of Grief’, thought to have been destroyed during the Middle Ages, provides remarkable new insights into the global trade of the Roman Empire at the height of its power.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.