Galen's De indolentia

Essays on a Newly Discovered Letter
Ed. by Clare K. Rothschild and Trevor W. Thompson

[Galens De indolentia. Aufsätze zu einem neu entdeckten Brief.]

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Published in English.
The recently discovered letter, De indolentia is a moral-philosophical treatise in which Galen describes his response to the fire in the city of Rome (192 CE) that destroyed a significant portion of his library and medicines. In addition to essays on important aspects of the text, this volume includes an English translation, a collation of leading critical editions, and an expansive bibliography.
In 2005 a French doctoral student discovered the long-lost treatise, De indolentia (Περὶ ἀλυπησίας/ἀλυπίας) or On the Avoidance of Distress in a monastic library in Thessalonica. De indolentia is a letter from Galen to an unspecified addressee in which he describes how he responded to the fire that destroyed much of his library and medicines in 192 CE. The manuscript, catalogued in the Vlatadon monastery as codex 14, is of unspeakable value to scholars of antiquity. Vivian Nutton characterizes the discovery as »one of the most spectacular finds ever of ancient literature.« Scholarly consensus has established 192–193 CE as the most probable date of composition that,according to Galen, belonged to a group of writings he classified as moral philosophy. De indolentia provides important evidence for second-century literary culture covering a range of topics in this area of study, including Galen's aptitude for distinguishing genuine from false texts, his nuanced lexical debates with other physicians, and his prolific scholarly activity. The treatise also offers information about ancient library culture. Too often neglected in comparative studies of Early Christian literature, Galen's writings, particularly on moral philosophy, treat many of the same topics. Of particular interest to scholars of early Christian texts, De indolentia specifically addresses second-century use of parchment codices to preserve valuable texts, preserves some standard epistolary elements in the absence of others, has both private and publication aims in mind, and denotes a 'hermeneutics of self-interpretation' as crucial for understanding the text. This volume includes a brand new English translation of the text, a collation of all discrepancies among the leading critical editions of the Greek text, and essays by eminent Classicists and scholars in the field of early Christianity on different aspects of this fascinating new text.

Clare K. Rothschild Born 1964; 1986 BA University of California, Berkeley; 1992 MTS Harvard University; 2003 PhD University of Chicago; 2006 postdoctoral fellow Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; currently Professor of Scripture, Department of Theology, Lewis University (USA) and Professor Extraordinary, Department Ancient Studies at Stellenbosch University (South Africa).

Trevor W. Thompson 1998 BA from Oklahoma Christian University; 2002 MA from Harding School of Theology; 2002 MDiv from Harding School of Theology; 2007 MA from the University of Chicago; currently PhD (Candidate), University of Chicago.


The following reviews are known:

In: Journal for the Study of the NT — 37.5 (2015), S. 107–108 (John R.L. Moxon)
In: Bryn Mawr Classical Review —–07–22.html (David H. Kaufman)
In: L'Antiquité Classique — 85 (2016), S. 284–287 (Frédéric Le Blay)
In: Classical Review — 66 (2016), pp. 83–85 (Caroline Petit)
In: Review of Biblical Literature — (2/2018) (David Wheeler-Reed)