Professor Vivian Nutton (Emeritus)

Professor Vivian Nutton

Professor Vivian Nutton specialises in the history of the classical tradition in medicine, from Antiquity to the present, and particularly on Galen, some of whose works he has edited and translated, and on medicine during the Renaissance. Among his publications are From Democedes to Harvey: Studies in the History of Medicine (Variorum, 1998), the first ever edition and translation of Galen's On My Own Opinions (Akademie Verlag, 1999) and an edited issue of Renaissance Studies, ‘Medicine in the Renaissance City’ (Oxford University Press, 2001). He is currently co-editor of Medical History.



Heirs of Hippocrates
The medical theories of the ancient Greeks formed the basis of Western medical thought and practice for more than 2000 years, and are still influential today in parts of the Muslim world. They were taken over and translated into Latin, Arabic, Hebrew and a range of European languages. How they exercised their influence, and how they were received and interpreted over the centuries, are fascinating stories. My main work has focused around Galen of Pergamum (129–216/7 AD), the most prolific writer to survive from the ancient world, whose combination of great learning and practical skill imposed his ideas on learned doctors for centuries, and, secondly, on the development of medical ideas and practices in the Renaissance of the sixteenth century. My new history of Greek and Roman medicine covers the period from Homer, around 800 BC, to Paul of Aegina, around 620 AD and looks at all aspects of health and healing, from medicine and surgery to magical and religious cures, within the changing contexts of ancient society. Another book will consider in detail the transmission of Greek medicine to the Muslim world. I have also begun work on a re-edition of an anatomical tract by Galen that was familiar to the Middle Ages but which was for long thought to be spurious.


1965 BA, University of Cambridge
1967 Research Fellow, Selwyn College Cambridge
1969 Director of Studies in Classics, Selwyn College Cambridge
1970 PhD, University of Cambridge
1977 Lecturer, WIHM/UCL
1979 Senior Lecturer, WIHM/UCL
1993 Professor, WIHM/UCL
1999 Hon FRCP
2000 Member, Academia Europaea
2000 Fellow, The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
2002 Member, Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina
2003 Fellow, Studio Firmano per la Storia de la Medicina
2007 Visiting professor, MacMaster University, Canada
2008 Fellow of the British Academy
2009 Honorary Fellow, Selwyn College, Cambridge

Key Publications

Galen, On prognosis: Text, translation, commentary, CMG V.8.1, Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 1979.

(Editor), Galen, problems and prospects, London, The Wellcome Institute, 1981.

(Joint Editor), Theories of fever from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, London, The Wellcome Institute, 1981.

(Joint Editor), The emergence of modern cardiology, London, The Wellcome Institute, 1985.

(Compiler), A vision of history: The Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London, The Wellcome Institute, 1986.

John Caius and the manuscripts of Galen, Cambridge, Cambridge Philological Society, 1987.

From Democedes to Harvey: studies in the history of medicine, London, Variorum, 1988.

(Editor), Medicine at the Courts of Europe, 1500-1837, London, Routledge, 1990.

(Joint Editor), Essays in the history of therapeutics, Amsterdam, Rodopi, 1991.

(Joint Author, with L. I. Conrad, M. Neve, R. Porter, A. Wear), The Western medical tradition, 800 B.C. to AD 1800, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

(French version: Histoire de la lutte contre la maladie, Collection. Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond, Paris, Institut Synthélabo, 1999).

(Joint Editor), The history of medical education in Britain, Clio Medica 30, Amsterdam, Rodopi, 1995.

(Section Editor, Medizin) Der neue Pauly. Enzyklopädie der Antike, Bände 1-15, Stuttgart and Weimar, Metzler Verlag, 1996-

Galen, On my own opinions. Text, translation and commentary, CMG V.3.2, Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 1999.

(Guest editor), Medicine in the Renaissance city, Renaissance Studies. Journal of the Society for Renaissance Studies 15, 2, 2001.

(Editor), The unknown Galen. Galen beyond Kühn, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Supplement 71, 2002.

Ancient Medicine, London, Routledge, 2004

(Editor) Pestilential complexities: Understanding medieval plague, Medical History, Supplement  27, 2008

Translator and editor, Girolamo Mercuriale, De arte gymastica, Florence, L. Oschki, 2008

(Joint Editor) Girolamo Mercuriale. Medicina e cultura nell'Europa del Cinquecento. Atti del convegno "Girolamo Mercuriale e lo spazio scientifico e culturale del Cinquecento (Forlì, 8-11 novembre 2006), Florence L. Olschki, 2008 

‘"Idle old trots, coblers and costardmongers"; Pieter van Foreest on quackery’, in Henriette A. Bosman-Jelgersma, ed., Petrus Forestus medicus, Stichting A D & L, Amsterdam, 1996, 243-256.

‘The rise of medical humanism: Ferrara, 1464-1555’, Renaissance Studies, 1997, 11: 2-19.

‘Hippocratic medicine and modern morality’, in Médecine et Morale dans l'Antiquité, Entretiens sur l'Antiquité Classique 43, Fondation Hardt, Vandoeuvres, Geneva, 1997, 31-63.

‘Hellenism postponed: some aspects of renaissance medicine, 1490-1530’, Sudhoffs Archiv, 1997, 81: 158-170.

‘Medicine at the German universities, 1348-1500; a preliminary sketch’, in R. French, J. Arrizabalaga, A. Cunningham, L. Garcia-Ballester, eds, Medicine from the Black Death to the French Disease, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1998, 85-109.

‘"A Diet for Barbarians". Introducing Renaissance Medicine to Tudor England’, in A. Grafton, N. G. Siraisi, eds, Natural particulars. Nature and the disciplines in Renaissance Europe, Cambridge, Mass., and London, MIT Press, 2000, 275-294.

‘Did the Greeks have a word for it ? Contagion and Contagion Theory in Classical Antiquity’, in L. I. Conrad, D. Wujastyk, eds, Contagion. Perspectives from pre-modern societies, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2000, 137-162.

‘Medical thoughts on urban Pollution’, in V. M. Hope, E. Marshall, eds., Death and disease in the Ancient city, London, Routledge, 2000, 65-73.

‘Medicine’, in A. K. Bowman, P. D. A. Garnsey, D. Rathbone, eds, The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. XI, The High Empire, A.D. 70-192, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2000, 943-968.

‘Dr James's legacy: Dutch printing and the history of medicine’, in L. Hellinga, A. Duke, J. Harskamp, T. Hermans, eds, The Bookshop of the World. The role of the Low Countries in the book-trade, 1473-1941, 't Goy-Houten, 2001, 207-218.

‘Representation and memory in Renaissance anatomical illustration’, in F. Meroi and C. Pogliano, eds, Immagini per Conoscere. Dal Rinascimento alla Rivoluzione scientifica. Atti della Giornata di Studio (Firenze, Palazzo Strozzi, 29 ottobre 1999), Florence, L. S. Olschki Editore, 2001, 61-80

'In defence of Küühn', in V. Nutton (Editor), The Unknown Galen, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Suppl. 77, 2002, 1-7

'Ancient medicine: Asclepius transformed', in C. Tuplin, T. Rihll, eds, Science and Mathematics in Ancient Greek Culture, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002, 242-255

'William Harvey's epitaph', Journal of Medical Biography 2003, 11: 74-77

(with N. Serikoff) 'A fragmentary manuscript of Galen's Commentary on Hippocrates' Aphorisns', in A. Garzya, J. Jouanna, eds, Trasmissione e Ecdotica dei Testi medici greci , Naples, M. D'Auria, 2003, 385-400

'The diffusion of ancient medicine in the Renaissance', Medicina nei Secoli. Arte e Scienza 2002, 142: 461-478

'Andréé Véésale et l'anatomie parisienne', Cahiers de l'Association I nternationale des ÉÉtudes Franççaises 2003, 55: 239-249

(with Christine Nutton) 'The archer of Meudon: a curious absence of continuity in the history of medicine', Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences , 2003, 58: 401-427

'A translation of Galen's De substantia virtutum naturalium by Niccolòò da Reggio', in D. Großß, M. Reininger, eds, Medizin in Geschichte, Philologie und Ethnologie. Festschrift füür Gundolf Keil , Wüürzburg, Verlag Köönigshausen & Neumann, 2003, 321-331

(with Cornelius O'Boyle) 'Montpellier Medicine in the Marsh Library, Dublin', Manuscripta, 2001/2, 45/46: 109-132

'Ancient medicine, from Berlin to Baltimore', in F. Huisman, J. H. Warner, eds., Locating Medical History, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, 115-138

(with Christine Nutton), 'Noëël du Fail, Cardano, and the Paris Medical Faculty', Medical History, 2004, 48: 367-72

'Mattioli and the art of the commentary', in D. Fausti, ed. La complessa Scienza dei Semplici. Atti delle Celebrazioni per il V Centenario della Nascita di Pietro Andrea Mattioli, Atti dell' Accademia delle Scienze di Siena detta De' Fisiocritici, serie XV. Tomo 20, Suppl. 2001, Siena, Accademia dei Fisiocritici Onlus, 2004, pp. 133-48

'The fatal embrace; Galen and the history of ancient medicine', Science in Context, 2005, 18: 111-121

'Books, printing and medicine in the Renaissance', Medicina nei Secoli, 2005, 17: 421-442

'Fracastoro in Manchester', in A. Pastore, E. Peruzzi, eds, Gerolamo Fracastoro fra Medicina, Filosofia e Scienze della Natura , Florence, L. S. Olschki, 2006, 299-310

'The rise of medicine', in R. Porter, ed., The Cambridge History of Medicine, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, 46-70

'Medicine', in E. Bispham, T. Harrison, B. A. Sparkes, eds, The Edinburgh Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome , Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2006, 423-427

'With benefit of hindsight: Girolamo Mercuriale and Simone Simoni on plague', Medicina e Storia 11: 2006, 5-19

'Medicine and philology in Renaissance Paris', in C. W. Müüller, C. Brockmann, C. W. Brunschöön, ÄÄrzte und ihre Interpreten. Medizinische Fachtexte der Antike als Forschungsgegenstand der Klassischen Philologie. Fachconferenz zu Ehren von Diethard Nickel , Leipzig, K. G. Saur, 2006., pp. 49-59

'Greco-Roman medicine and the Greek Papyri', in Harald Froschauer, Cornelia Röömer, eds, Zwischen Magie und Wissenschaft. ÄÄrzte und Heilkunst in den Papyri aus ÄÄgypten, Vienna, Phoibos Verlag, 2007, 5-12 (German version: 'Die Medizin der Griechen und Röömer und die griechischen Papyri', ibid., pp. 13-21)

`Basle, printing and the Early Modern intellectual world', Essay review of Frank Hieronymus, Theophrast und Galen - Celsus und Paracelsus. Medizin, Naturphilosophie und Kirchenreform im Basler Buchdruck bis zum Dreissigjährigen Krieg, Basle, Universitätsbibliothek, 2005, in Medical History 51: 2007, 246-249

`Galen in Byzantium', in Michael Grünbart, Ewald Kislinger, Anna Muthesius, Dionysios Stathakopoulos, eds, Material Culture and Well-being in Byzantium, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, phil.-hist. Klasse, Denkschriften, Bd. 356, Veröffentlichen zur Byzanzforschung, XI, 2007, pp. 171-176

`Dante, medicine and the invisible body', in John C. Barnes and Jennifer Petrie, eds, Dante and the human Body. Eight Essays, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2007, pp. 43-60

`It's the patient's fault': Simone Simoni and the plague of Leipzig, 1575', Intellectual History Journal 18: 2008, 5-13

`De motibus liquidis and the medieval Latin Galen', Galenos. Rivista di Filologia dei Testi medici antichi 1: 2007, 163-173

`The manuscripts of the Latin Galen and a Quotation from De Humoribus', in V. Boudon-Millot, A. Guardasole and C. Magdelaine, La science médicale antique. Nouveaux regards. Études réunies en honneur de Jacques Jouanna, Paris, Beauchesne, 2008, pp. 339-352

`Ancient Mediterranean pharmacology and cultural transfer', European Review 16: 2008, 211-217

`The fortunes of Galen', in R. J. Hankinson, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Galen, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 355-390

`Greek medical astrology and the boundaries of medicine', in A. Akasoy, C. Burnett, R. Yoeli-Tlalim, Astro-Medicine. Astrology and Medicine, East and West, Florence, Sismel - Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2008, 17-31

`Books, printing and medicine in the Renaissance, in F. Zurlini, ed., Atti della XXXVII Tornata degli studi storici dell'arte medica e della scienza, Fermo, 2003, Fermo, Andrea Livio editore, 2008, 50-65

`The medical world of Rufus of Ephesus', in P. Pormann, ed., Rufus of Ephesus. On Melancholy, Scripta Antiquitatis posterioris ad ethicam REligionemque pertinentia 12, Tübingen, Mohr Siebeck, 2008, 139-58

`The pleasures of erudition: Mercuriale's Variae lectiones', in A. Arcangeli and V. Nutton, eds, Girolamo Mercuriale. Medicina e cultura nell'Europa del Cinquecento, Florence, L. Olschki, 2008, 179-90

`The discourse of practitioners in the tradiition of the Hippocratic texts', in Robert B. Baker and Laurence B. McCullough, eds, The Cambridge World History of Medical Ethics, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 359-63

Electronic publication:

'Introduction' to D. Garrison, M. Hast, Vesalius on the Fabric of the Human Body, at: http://vesalius.northwestern.edu/