The aim of project D-2-2 was to reconstruct the medical doctrines of the influential Pneumatist physician Archigenes of Apamea (early 2nd c. AD) by preparing a collection of the fragments with translation and commentary, thus laying the foundations for a detailed analysis of the interaction between the Stoics and the Pneumatists. Archigenes was famous particularly for his elaborate classification of various kinds of pain as diagnostic indicators of diseased places within the body; he was also quoted by later authors for his pulse theory.


Archigenes’ writings have come down to us only in fragments; extensive quotations can be found in Galen’s works and in later medical compendia. A systematic collection and interpretation of these fragments has long been a desideratum. This task is complicated by the fact that some of the most important source texts have yet to be published in critical editions. Thanks to the critical edition of Galen’s De locis affectis, which was sponsored by Topoi 1 and which has been published in the Corpus Medicorum Graecorum of the BBAW, one of the most important sources can now be used as a reliable basis for reconstruction. Collaboration with Heinrich von Staden (Princeton) provided a similar basis for Archigenes’ pulse theory, for which Galen’s writings on the pulse provide numerous quotations and testimonia. For the extensive Archigenes fragments preserved in the early Byzantine medical encyclopedia (Libri medicinales) by Aëtius of Amida (6 – 7 c. AD), the project benefited from co-operation with the Berlin project “The transfer of medical episteme in the encyclopaedic collections of late Antiquity”, led by Philip van der Eijk and Mark Geller, which is part of the Sonderforschungsbereich “Episteme in Motion”.

The fragments of Archigenes’ writings preserved in Aëtius’ encyclopedia are often presented in combination with fragments of another Pneumatist physician, Posidonius of Byzantium (4th c. AD). An additional aim of the project is therefore to prepare a collection of the fragments of Posidonius. Among Posidonius’ fragments is the first extant testimonium about the localization of cognitive faculties in the different chambers of the brain – a theory that influenced Nemesius of Emesa, St. Augustine and John Philoponus and which exerted a major influence on medieval Arabic conceptions of the localization of intellectual faculties. Posidonius also dealt in depth with the treatment and diagnosis of psychological illnesses.

The common aim of the collaborating research projects (D-2-2) Localization of intellectual faculties within the body: Archigenes and Poseidonios and (D-2-3) has been to trace the development of materialist theories on the localization of mental faculties as testified by the most important intellectual movements of the Hellenistic and (early) Imperial periods, with particular emphasis on the following questions:

  • How and to what extent were the results of empirical research, as claimed by the medical schools of the Hellenistic period, received and brought to bear on theoretical discussions about the substance of the soul and the localization of mental faculties within the body? What innovations can be perceived in the history of thinking about these questions and how can these innovations (or the lack of them) be explained?
  • What epistemological and methodological assumptions were made and what arguments were used to defend and justify the positions adopted? What diagnostic and therapeutic methods were developed in order to answer the question about the nature and location of the soul with greater certainty and to treat mental illnesses more successfully?
  • What role did tradition, authority and school identity play in the development of these theories and therapeutic practices? To what extent are the various philosophical schools in which these theories were developed to be regarded as homogeneous or pluralistic? How reliable in this regard are the sources (which often present a schematic or distorted picture as a result of later doxographical and historiographical simplifications) for our understanding of theories that in most cases are transmitted only indirectly and in fragmentary form?

In attempting to answer these questions, research in D-2-2 and D-2-3 has focused on Stoicism and on the medical ‘school’ of Pneumatism. This is because in the psychology of the Stoics, the concept of pneuma occupies a central position in understanding the material and spatial dimensions of the soul and its functions. Moreover, the Stoics had close connections with their medical contemporaries and precursors. Due to the fragmentary nature of the surviving evidence, a new, in-depth analysis of the extant source material was necessary in order to obtain a more detailed picture. This has focused on the two most important representatives of the Pneumatist school, Athenaeus of Attalia (1st century BCE) and Archigenes of Apamea (1st – 2nd century CE) (Sean Coughlin, Orly Lewis). It has become clear that the Stoics had close connections with the physician Praxagoras of Cos (end of the 4th c. BCE), and with the early Hellenistic Peripatetics, especially with regard to the concept of psychic pneuma. At the same time, it has become clear that the so-called Pneumatist medical school developed parallel to rather than within Stoicism and also incorporated Aristotelian ideas and material from other medical traditions (Sean Coughlin), especially in the domain of pulse lore (Heinrich von Staden).

Research in D-2 has also included the relevant ideas of Galen of Pergamum (129-216 CE). While not a materialist in the strict sense, Galen had an elaborate theory of pneuma and its various manifestations, including psychic pneuma (Julius Rocca). But he also considered the psychological significance of other corporeal factors, such as the mixture of the elementary qualities, the humours, and innate heat (Philip van der Eijk), as well as the role of philosophy in the treatment of mental disorder (Christopher Gill). Particular attention has been given to his theory of memory, both in its psychological and in its pathological aspects (Ricardo Juliao).

The results of the research have been presented at conferences, workshops and in a number of publications. In particular, the following should be mentioned:

Philip van der Eijk and Peter N. Singer (Eds.), Galen: Works on Human Nature. Mixtures (De Temperamentis), Cambridge University Press, 2019

Sean Coughlin, “Athenaeus of Attalia on the psychic causes of bodily health”, in: Chiara Thumiger and Peter N. Singer (Eds.), Medical Conceptions of Mental Illness from Celsus to Caelius Aurelianus, Leiden: Brill, 2018

Orly Lewis, “Archigenes of Apamea’s treatment of mental diseases”, in: Chiara Thumiger and Peter N. Singer (Eds.), Medical Conceptions of Mental Illness from Celsus to Caelius Aurelianus, Leiden: Brill, 2018

Orly Lewis, Praxagoras of Cos on Arteries, Pulse and Pneuma. Fragments and Interpretation, Leiden: Brill, 2017

Gerrit Bos and Tzvi Langermann, The Alexandrian Summaries of Galen’s On Critical Days. Editions and Translations of the Two Versions of the JAWAMIʿ, with an Introduction and Notes, Leiden: Brill, 2015

Gerrit Bos, Maimonides, Medical Aphorisms. Treatises 16-21. A parallel Arabic-English edition edited, translated, and annotated, Provo: Brigham Young University, 2015

Orly Lewis, “The practical application of ancient ‘pulse-lore’ and its influence on the patient-doctor interaction”, in: Georgia Petridou and Chiara Thumiger (Eds.), Homo patiens. Approaches to the Patient in the Ancient World, Leiden: Brill, 2015, 345–364

Philip van der Eijk, “Galen on the assessment of bodily mixtures”, in: Brooke Holmes and Klaus-Dietrich Fischer (Eds.), The Frontiers of Ancient Science. Essays in Honor of Heinrich von Staden, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2015, 675–698

Philip van der Eijk and Peter N. Singer (Eds.), Galen. Psychological Writings, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Research in D-2 has been carried out in close collaboration with the project “Galen als Interpret, Vermittler und Vollender der antiken Medizin” at the BBAW (Arbeitsstelle CMG), and with Philip van der Eijk’s Alexander von Humboldt project “Medicine of the Mind, Philosophy of the Body” at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, in particular with Roberto Lo Presti (several publications on ancient medical ideas on the mind-body relationship and their reception in the medieave; and early modern period), Julien Devinant (e.g., his Les troubles de l’âme chez Galien, Diss. HU Berlin – Paris IV Sorbonne 2016), Chiara Thumiger (e.g., her The Life and Health of the Mind in Classical Greek Medical Thought, Habilitationsschrift HU Berlin 2016), Christine Salazar (e.g. her work on Galen’s commentary on the Hippocratic Prognosticon) and Peter N. Singer (e.g. his Galen. Psychological Writings, Cambridge 2013, 537 pp.).