largely on the dissection of apes and swine. Galenmade many mistakes, especially concerning the inter-nal organs. For example, he incorrectly assumed thatthe rete mirable, a plexus of blood vessels at the baseof the brain of ungulate animals, was also present inhumans. In addition, he sometimes postulated thepresence of structures not there to ﬁt his theories. Hestudied osteology in the ape (
) andfrom stray human skeletons, such as that of the robberhe once found on a lonely mountainside. His myologywas based mainly upon the study of the musculatureof the Barbary ape (
), but he clearlyunderstood the difference between origin and inser-tion and knew most of the muscles and their func-tions. Galen showed that arteries contain blood andgave the ﬁrst description of the cranial nerves, thelymphatic system, and the phenomenon of paraplegiaafter division of the spinal cord. He believed thecerebellum to be the origin of the motor nerves andthe spinal cord. The cerebellar vermis he consideredto be a valve regulating the ﬂow of animal spiritswithin the cerebral ventricles. The term “thalamus,”meaning chamber or anteroom, was applied by Galento the organ to which he believed the optic nerveswere connected, providing vital spirits for vision. Hedescribed the nervous system, the brain, spinal cordand nerves, as one functional unit. He observed loss of sensation and paralysis of all muscles supplied bynerves originating from the spinal cord after completeresection below that level. He distinguished the duramater and pia mater, the corpus callosum, the thirdand fourth ventricles with the iter (Sylvian aqueduct)the fornix, corpora quadrigemina, vermiform process,calamus scriptorius, hypophysis, and infundibulum.Of the 12 cerebral nerves, he knew seven pairs, alsothe sympathetic ganglia, which he described as thereinforcers of the nerves. Galen also described a net-work of blood vessels surrounding the pituitary glandat the base of the brain and assumed this existed inman. Berangario da Carpi (1460–1530) dissected 100brains and failed to ﬁnd it. He wrote “Galen imagineda rete but never saw it.” Galen was the author of some500 papers and gave his name to the great cerebralvein (of Galen) and also to the nerve of Galen, thecommunicating branch of the internal laryngeal nervewith the recurrent laryngeal nerve. He studied theanatomy of the respiratory system and of the heart,arteries, and veins. He did not, however, discover thecirculation of the blood throughout the body, andbelieved that blood passed from one side of the heartto the other through invisible pores in the dividingwall (Fielding Garrison, 1929; Nuland, 1995).A particular characteristic attached to the name of Galen was the large-scale use of medications. Hegathered medicinal plants and prepared his own pre-scriptions, out of mistrust for the rhizotomists anddrug sellers. The many ingredients that he put to-gether in a single preparation have sometimes beenreferred to as Galenicals, but the term has no precisemeaning. He carried polypharmacy to an extreme,mixing and blending agents whose properties he clas-siﬁed according to the humors and their qualities of hot, cold, dry, and moist. For example, an illnesscategorized as hot required a drug that was in the coldcategory, a classiﬁcation system founded on specula-tive doctrines (Lyons and Petrucelli, 1987; Tan, 2002).During his brilliant career Galen compiled morethan 300 books, of which some 120 are still availablefor our study. It is small wonder that this medicalcolossus reigned like a dictator over the world of medical science for almost 1,500 years.
Galenism is a system of medicine that belongs toGalen. It is a blend of the humoral theory andPythagorean number lore.If the work of Hippocrates can be taken as repre-senting the foundation of Greek medicine, then thework of Galen, who lived 6 centuries later, is the apexof that tradition. Galen, for all his mistakes, remainedthe unchallenged authority for over 1,000 years. Afterhe died in 200 (or 201) A.D., serious anatomical andphysiological research ground to a halt because every-thing there was to be said on the subject had been saidby Galen, who, it is reported, kept at least 20 scribeson staff to write down his every dictum. Although hewas not a Christian, Galen’s writings reﬂect a belief inonly one god, and he declared that the body was aninstrument of the soul. This made him most accept-able to the fathers of the church and to Arab andHebrew scholars. Galen’s mistakes perpetuated fun-damental errors for nearly 1,500 years until Vesalius,the 16th century anatomist, although he regarded hispredecessor with esteem, began to dispel Galen’s au-thority.
VEIN OF GALEN (GREAT CEREBRAL VEIN OF GALEN)
The single great cerebral vein (of Galen) receivesthe paired basal veins (of Rosenthal), the pairedbasal veins of Rosenthal, the paired occipital veins,and the posterior vein of the corpus callosum, andsometimes the superior cerebral vein. The pairedoccipital veins are superﬁcial cerebral veins thatdrain the inferior and medial surfaces of the occip-