HIST 410: Week 2

The Long History of Dietary Advice

This week we cover medical and dietary thinking from ancient Greece and Rome through about 1700. Some of the medical thinking seems a bit bizarre to our modern sensibilities, but in terms of dietary advice, there is a remarkable consistency over the last 2000 years. So it’s worth looking at the foundational thinking that has directly influenced modern nutrition, even if if certain aspects have been dramatically altered by increasingly sophisticated biochemical research.

Mon 8/24

  • Classical medicine, diet, and Intro to Galen Lecture
  • Mark Grant, Galen: On Food and Diet, 1-8. These few pages provide a general introduction to the classical physician Galen (died circa 215 CE) and ancient medicine. The author of the introduction has translated many of Galen’s writing about food, and we’ll read an excerpt from those as noted below.
  • Galen, (tr. Mark Grant), On the Humors, 14-18; On the Power of Foods, 68-84. Note that there is WAY MORE DETAIL about foods in here than you need to know. Remember we’re not concerned with that level of detail. Read for the big picture in terms of how Galen establishes his expertise, what topics are most interesting to him, how he thinks about the relationship between diet and health. What can you learn about medical practice in the ancient world from Galen’s writing? What can you learn about how different foodstuffs differ from each other?

Wed 8/26

Fri 8/28

  • Ken Albala, Eating Right in the Renaissance, 63–77; 78–84; 91–104.