Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Galenos(Galen) the heir of Hippocrates

Claudius Galen
Claudius Galen was a second century physiologist, philosopher, and writer who is often considered the most important contributor to medicine following Hippocrates. Even though Galen is fairly well known, his fame does not compare to that of Hippocrates, so Galen's reputation and work are often underscored by Hippocrates' notoriety. While Galen's name is mentioned in most sources about ancient medicine, usually only a small portion of the piece is dedicated to his accomplishments; this coverage often does not do him justice. Of the sources specifically written about Galen, most are fairly old and tend to focus a lot on Galen's philosophies and how his ideas measure up to the different schools of thought that existed in his time rather than on his medical acclaim. Newer and sometimes less complete sources on Galen often neglect to discuss extensively the philosophical aspect of Galen's works. Nevertheless, both medical pursuits and philosophy were major aspects that shaped Galen's life, work, and results. Therefore, this examination of Galen will aim to illustrate how medical, philosophical, and other influences affected Galen's work and shaped his reputation in the history of medicine.

The influence of ancient medicine is still present in modern medicine. Even today, despite technological, methodological, and experimental advances in medicine, many of the basic foundations in medical teachings date back to ancient times. Hippocrates and Galen are two of the earliest and most frequently cited influences on the development of medicine. While Hippocrates is known mostly for his contributions to patients' rights and the moral and professional obligations of physicians, Galen is still respected for his contributions to anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology and for his incorporation of philosophy, logic, and experiment with medicine. Galen's impact on medicine was particularly profound because of his extensive and meticulous research and his relentless search for the truth.

For hundreds of years before Galen's time, debates existed among physicians about which philosophy of medicine was most proper. By Galen's time, the Empiricists and the Rationalists were two of the major schools of philosophy influencing medicine and science. Empiricists believed that a competent doctor gained knowledge by experience not by creating or following medical theories. Others who believed that theories were necessary to supplement pure experience for adequate treatment of patients became known as Rationalists (Galen, 1985 xxii). In the fourth and fifth centuries BCE, both Aristotle and Plato rejected the idea that science could be adequately understood and practiced by experience alone and instead preferred the use of reason to provide medical knowledge. At this time, scholarly doctors who were extensively trained in their field studied and formulated rational theories about the human body and disease states, whereas practitioners who had gained knowledge through experience were often able to practice medicine as doctors without extensive training (Galen, 1985 xxiv-xxv). Because trained doctors used theoretical understanding to distinguish themselves from other less qualified practitioners, the tendency of Aristotle, Plato, and other scholarly physicians to rely on medical theory over pure experience was understandable. However, Empiricists argued that theoretical assumptions were unreliable and unverifiable, and that their method of using observable and quantifiable data to develop methods of treatment for similar classes of diseases was superior to Rationalist methods (Galen, 1985 xxv).

Around the same time that the debate between the Rationalists and Empiricists was going on, Hippocrates, a very influential physician, produced many writings stressing the importance of examining symptoms, finding natural causes, using rational cures, and keeping records of the course of diseases (BBC [b]). Because a religious prohibition on human dissection restricted Hippocrates and his followers' understanding of the body, they relied mostly on observable changes in the characteristics of their patients (Fishbein 9-11; Wischik). Hippocrates' concentration on observable characteristics of disease influenced medicine beyond his own lifetime and into modern times. Another influence that had developed around 500 BCE was the belief in Asclepius, the god of healing, who was thought to produce supernatural causes and cures for diseases. Many people believed in both natural and supernatural causes of disease because of these two major influences (BBC [b]). Therefore, in addition to the influences of the Rationalists and Empiricists, the belief in Asclepius and importance placed on Hippocratic teachings all helped to shape the state of medicine that Galen faced in his time around the second century AD. Physicians were still divided by their various approaches to medicine; however, Galen took a unique approach by incorporating both Rationalist and Empiricist ideas with a respect for his predecessors and for the supernatural role in disease and healing.

Galen was born around 129 AD in Pergamum, Asia Minor and belonged to a prestigious family headed by his father, Nicon, an architect (Galen, 1985 xii). Pergamum was a wealthy city, famous as a center of learning and for its temple of Asclepius, a god of healing (Galen, 1985 xii). While Nicon intended for Galen to study philosophy or politics, Asclepius supposedly came to Nicon in a dream and told him to allow Galen to study medicine (Pearcy). Starting at the age of sixteen or seventeen, Galen studied medicine as he traveled to Smyrna, Corinth, and Alexandria in order to achieve a more vast and extensive knowledge of medicine (Pearcy; Galen, 1985 xii). During this time he also studied philosophy from at least four different schools of thought in order to learn many different viewpoints so he could make up his mind about which was correct (Fishbein 22-23; Galen, 1985 xii). Because he found both strengths and faults with many philosophies, he avoided using one method of thought exclusively. Galen's accumulation of knowledge in many fields and his tendency to make conclusions based on facts and truth throughout his life contributed to his success and reputation.

At the age of 28, Galen was appointed as the physician to the gladiators. This was a prestigious position that provided him with plenty of opportunities to practice surgery techniques. These skills were useful when he conducted numerous dissections in his later years (Fishbein 22; BBC [a]). Several years later, Galen was summoned to be the physician to the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus (Fishbein 23). These prestigious positions helped Galen to become a part of Rome's intellectual life and contributed to his opportunities to learn and study in the most conducive environment (Pearcy). Because Rome was a thriving academic center during Galen's lifetime, it was a prime location for him to conduct his experiments. Galen's career, research, and teachings thrived in Rome, so he remained there until his death around 200 AD (Galen, 1985 xiii). While Galen's fortunate background and prestigious appointments early in his career helped to strengthen his likelihood for success, the importance of his extensive and exhaustive research and writing on a plethora of topics cannot be discounted.

Philosophy and linguistics were major components of Galen's work and served as important tools in his medical career. In fact, the majority of his more than 300 writings were on the subjects of philosophy, medicine, and philology, which shows that Galen was very dedicated to multiple studies (Pearcy; Nutton 1998; Galen, 1985 xiii). Galen believed that philosophical knowledge was essential to all educated persons, especially physicians. To Galen, philosophical knowledge included an understanding of logic, ethics, and physics (Pearcy; Weisstein; Virginia; Galen, 1985 xv-xvi). Unlike most of his predecessors and contemporaries, Galen avoided joining any school of thought in medicine or philosophy, because he believed that the his loyalty to " 'the constant endeavor to find out what is true and to discern what is true and false in the claims made by others' " was more important than proclaiming loyalty to any one group of philosophers or physicians (Temkin 36; Fishbein 26). This lack of loyalty allowed him to develop his own thoughts and ideas while respecting his predecessors and criticizing his contemporaries. However, because he was not affiliated with any particular group, Galen frequently criticized his contemporaries, leaving him with the reputation of being self-admiring and argumentative (Pearcy). Although Galen was often criticized for being arrogant because of the rigidity of his beliefs, his disregard of more common political and professional associations helped to make his perspectives unique and relatively unbiased.

Galen and Hippocrates
Another characteristic of Galen central to his methods and perspectives was his relentless search for truth. Galen used meticulous dissections and sensory observations to confirm or disprove his new ideas and others' previous claims. He believed that logic was important for demonstrating truths, but warned that it should be used carefully when trying to confirm hypotheses, because it could pervert one's conclusions (Temkin 12, 22). Galen believed that both reason and observation served the dual purpose of helping to arrive at truths while helping to confirm truths once they were established (Galen, 1985 xxxii). The best method of discovery according to Galen's way of thinking was to assimilate the functions of reason with the clues obtained by the senses. Assertions by Galen himself about the importance of distinguishing fact from speculation confirm the impression of Galen as a "fanatical lover of truth who wages an unceasing battle against ignoramuses and scientific opponents" (Temkin 53). Galen believed that his methods of ensuring accurate research results was superior to other systems, so he did not accept any way besides his own as adequate. Nonetheless, Galen's firmly established criteria for evaluating the nature and quality of theories provided a high standard to which he held himself and others and ultimately contributed to his success.

Although Galen used some of the ideas of his predecessors, he did not hesitate to deviate from accepted theories when appropriate. Galen believed that the authority of ancients was limited to the validity of their claims, and that, while their theories need not necessarily be replaced, they usually required clarification and progression. His tendency to reexamine ancient science and to incorporate modified theories with his own ideas reflected his belief that progress is a cumulative process subject and knowledge is subject to verification (Temkin 31-3). For example, Galen found it necessary to reexamine Hippocrates' work in order to uncover previously misinterpreted science (Pearcy). He thought more accurate science was buried beneath centuries of inaccurate interpretations. Galen adopted Aristotle's theory of the four humors, which stated that the body is composed of a balance between the four elements present on earth- fire, earth, water, and air- which were manifested in the body as yellow bile, black bile, water, and phlegm, respectively. Further, Galen agreed with the Aristotelian notion of experiment, and he also believed in Aristotle's idea of the functional form of natural bodies, meaning that all bodies arising from nature are suited structurally for their function (Temkin 73). Nevertheless, he branched out with his own theories regarding ideas like the residing place of the soul and the functions of major organs such as the heart, brain, and liver. He elaborated on many old conceptions such as when he expanded the humors theory by asserting that a person's temperament could be distinguished by feeling the palm of the hand (Fishbein 25; Temkin 19, 73). Thus, Galen's work resulted from the foundations of Plato, Aristotle, and Hippocrates and provided a comprehensive summary of medicine until his time, but also further expanded science through his own experiments (Nutton 1998; Virginia; Pearcy).

Pig dissection
Anatomy was very important to Galen. He believed that "the working body is not understandable without knowledge of its structure" (Temkin 13). Galen did not dissect humans because of the negative social and religious stigmas associated with experimentation on the human body, but he performed dissections and vivisection experiments on many animals including apes, goats, dogs, and pigs (Fishbein 25; BBC [a]). Because he could only study animals, some of Galen's anatomical assertions were inaccurate with respect to the humans (Wischik). While studying animals led to some errors in his work, many more accurate observations and key ideas were uncovered through his thorough and intensive anatomical explorations. Galen shared his knowledge of anatomy with others by carefully recording his observations and techniques so as to help " 'all seriously interested in anatomy' " while ensuring that it was written " 'as clearly as possible for those who have never seen the operations' " (Temkin 12). Thus, although Galen's writing is very detailed and uses medical terminology, his writings were clear enough to be understood by anyone with minimal medical knowledge. Galen's reliance on anatomy and experiment showed his belief in the value of observation in medicine. He argued that diseases were manifestations of impaired anatomical functioning, so in order to diagnose and to treat disease, a fundamental understanding of the human structure was critical (Temkin 13). In other words, physicians could not possibly understand a disease and its effects on the body unless they understood the layout and functioning of a normal human body. Galen's methodology included reliance on experimental and observational results in conjunction with logic and reasoning to help elucidate concepts; his methods, in turn, became popular methods of study and research in medicine.

Galen's experiments and the texts which describe them were very meticulous and detailed. The care and persistence that he must have possessed surely contributed to his vast array of accomplishments. Dedication and patience were required from Galen in order to produce the extensive volumes of writing that he did, especially when considering that he wrote each word by hand with a stylus on papyrus, without the help of a stenographer, for the sake of learning and science alone (Fishbein 26). One of Galen's major advances was his work on the movement of blood in the body. While he never explained how the blood circulated, he made many important discoveries regarding the movement of blood in the body, including the differences between veins and arteries and the anatomy of the heart and its associated vasculature (Weisstein; Nutton 1998; BBC [a]; Fishbein 25). He incorrectly believed that food from the stomach was digested and taken to the liver, where it was transformed into blood (Temkin 155). From there, Galen explained "the veins which nourish the whole body all have their origin from the vena cava...the vena cava has two subdivisions of which one makes its way ascending upwards, and the other descends downwards" (Galen, 1962 169-70). Galen described with great detail how the veins and arteries running throughout the body nourish it with blood, but he never quite formed the link to connect the beating of the heart with the pattern of blood flow through the body. Instead, he thought that the heart provided the vital heat of the body (Temkin 154). The detail with which he studied the heart and blood vessels contributed to his progress with the cardiovascular system and contributed a vast amount of knowledge to medicine's understanding of this crucial process.

Galen's precise descriptions and studies of neurological functions and anatomy also led to major breakthroughs. Galen used dissection to explore the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord, including the spinal nerves (Galen, 1962; Nutton 1998; Fishbein 25). Not only did he explore anatomy, but he also demonstrated the functions of nerves. For example, Galen tied off laryngeal nerves to demonstrate their function with the voice and to relate their function to the brain (Nutton 1998). He also showed that severing nerves at different locations along the spinal cord produced varying levels of paralysis (Temkin 14; Fishbein 25; BBC [a]). These experiments and anatomical examinations led to the discovery of seven of the ten pairs of cranial nerves and the identification of many spinal nerves (Nutton 1998; Galen, 1962). Galen's use of experiments to prove his theories rather than being satisfied with speculation was unique and significant to his success. Considering that Galen had absolutely no technology to assist him and could only use his eyes and very basic instruments to carry out dissections and experiments, it is amazing that he was able to ascertain such vast amounts of knowledge about human function.

Galen also explored many other aspects of the human body, including the eyes, tongue, larynx, fetal development, and reproductive organs (Galen, 1962). In addition, his experiments with the kidneys showed that they were functionally related to the bladder (Nutton 1998). Ultimately, Galen's ideas about the body were explained by his belief in three bodily systems. The three systems consisted of the brain and nerves, the heart and arteries, and the liver and veins. The systems were each represented by a form of pneuma, an air like substance that was considered to be essential to all life. The pneuma physicon, or animal spirit, was present in the brain, the organ that was correctly predicted to be responsible for sensation and thought. Pneuma zoticon, or vital spirit, was in the heart, and represented life energy. The third system, consisting of the liver and veins, was involved with nutrition and growth and embodied the pneuma physicon, or natural spirit (Virginia; Nutton 1998; Weisstein). Galen divided the body into these systems according to his understanding of vital human functions and how they interacted based on his exploration of many bodily functions and structures. The systems and their corresponding pneuma contributed to his theory about the existence of the soul, a notion that eventually gained him both criticism and acclaim.

The foundation of all of Galen's treatment methods was his belief that disease resulted from an internal imbalance of the four humors: air (blood), fire (yellow bile), earth (black bile), and water (phlegm). Unlike Hippocrates, who believed that disease resulted from a humoral imbalance throughout the body, Galen believed that a disease-causing imbalance could be located within an organ (Nutton 1998). Because the disease was considered to be afflicting primarily one organ or region in the body, treatments devised by Galen were able to be more precise. Disease treatment was basically analogous to the Hippocratic method of treating with contraries; that is, by providing or removing opposing humors to correct the imbalance with which the patient was suffering (Temkin 18; BBC [a]). While treatment by contraries seems simplistic according to modern views, current research supporting the role of neurotransmitter levels in moods and some mental and physical diseases shows that perhaps Galen had a better understanding of the body and disease than was initially believed (Wischik). The use of opposites to treat diseases was undertaken by pharmacological agents or other "balancing" procedures, like bloodletting or purging.

Drugs developed by Galen were made from herbs that he collected from all over the world (Fishbein 26). The drugs were classified by their properties- heating, cooling, drying, or moistening- and were applied so as to counteract whatever humor disproportion existed. Galen improved the use of drugs by establishing different degrees of potency to treat varying levels of dysfunction (Temkin 20, 112). This was critical because now patients' afflictions were being treated more specifically and uniquely based on their particular symptoms and levels of distress. Proper medicinal dosing is still a crucial aspect of modern medicine that was started by Galen nearly two thousand years ago.

While most of the drugs and other methods of treatment popularized by Galen were used up until the seventeenth century, virtually none of these treatments were employed in more modern times. One exception, however, was the practice of monitoring the pulse. Galen was the first physician to use the pulse as an indicator of illness when compared to the normal pulse. Galen used pulse observations to diagnose diseases and symptoms such as fevers (Temkin 165; BBC [a]). Although the pulse measurement was one of the only treatments methods of Galen's that survived, Galen also furthered medical methods by starting the trend toward determining potency and doses of medicines, which is still fundamental in medicine of today.

Galen achieved notoriety during his lifetime, and his ideas and writings lived on for about 1400 years after his death. His texts were kept alive primarily by the Arabs until they were retranslated in Europe in the Middle Ages (Nutton 1998; Nutton 2000). One of the crucial causes of this endurance was that Galen's concepts coincided, for the most part, with Christian beliefs. Of great importance was Galen's assertion that human organs were suited for their function; this notion fit in with the Christians' "belief in a system ordained by nature" (BBC [a]). In addition, although Galen was not Christian, his writings expressed his belief in one god and in the body as an instrument of the soul (Virginia). Galen argued that three aspects of the soul existed, each coinciding with the functions of one of the three systems. Because Galen's ideas were based on monotheistic beliefs that included the existence of a soul, his ideas concurred with Christians' system of beliefs. Further, because Galen neglected to discuss the soul beyond its existence, it was subject to individual interpretation (Temkin 44, 171). This vagueness regarding particulars about the mortality and nature of the soul sometimes helped his ideas to be accepted, but also made him and the physicians who followed his methods subject to criticism and to accusations that they were atheists (Temkin 169-71).

Regardless of the religious approval or disapproval of Galen, his theories and writings remained prominent until the Renaissance. During this time, Galen's works were reexamined and studied. In particular, physicians found a new respect for Galen's emphasis on the identification and curing of illnesses and on detailed investigations of the body. The importance he placed on anatomy and verification of science led his followers to create a surge in inquiries about bodily structure and function. Ironically, Galen's own encouragement of experiment ultimately led to the overthrow of most of his ideas as Renaissance physicians found the flaws in Galen's work and developed new theories and medical techniques to replace or revise the older ones (BBC [a]; Nutton 1998; Nutton 2000). Despite new developments and understanding of the body, Galenic practices and remedies lived on for some time because, even though the concepts behind the treatments had been proven wrong or partially inaccurate, the physicians still believed that Galen's methods were effective (Temkin 165). And while Galen's practices, too, were eventually overturned and replaced with more modern therapies, Galen's influence on medicine was still crucial to modern medical science. The progress Galen made in his lifetime was astonishing, especially because he managed to influence medicine and philosophy simultaneously in dramatic ways.

Fishbein, Morris.  Frontiers of Medicine.  Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1933.
"Galen." University of Virginia Health Systems Website>.
Galen. On Anatomical Procedures.  Trans. W.L.H. Duckworth. Ed. M.C. Lyons
        and B. Bowers.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1962.
Galen.  Three Treatises On the Nature of Science.  Trans. Richard Walzer and
        Michael Frede.  Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1985.
"Medicine Through Time: Claudius Galen (c. AD 129-216).">. [a]
"Medicine Through Time: Greek Medicine."
        education/medicine/nonint/prehist/dt/prdtcs2.shtml>. [b]
Nutton, Vivian, Ph.D.  "Galen." Encyclopaedia Britannica.  1998.
Nutton, Vivian, Ph.D. "Galen of Pergamum and the Medical Renaissance."
       University College London. 2000.
Pearcy, Lee.  "Galen: a Biographical Sketch." Medicina Antiqua.
Temkin, Owsei.  Galenism: Rise and Decline of a Medical Philosophy.  Ithaca:
         Cornell UP, 1973.
Weisstein, Eric. "Galen of Pergamum (ca. 130-ca. 200).">.
Wischik, Marcus.  "To what extent is modern medical theory and practice
        influenced by its more primitive forms?"  


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cosmas the Indicopleustes(Indian Ocean voyager)

Cosmas was born in the early 6th century in Alexandria of the Byzantine province of Egypt. He was lucky to live at the period where Byzantium was a world power under the reign of the notorious emperor Justinian. He was a merchant and later a monk, he became famous because of his Topografia Christiania(Christian Topography) a series of 12 books in which he recorded a variety of information which derived from different fields of science or religion.His books were all written in Koine Greek. 

Many scholars doubt about the existence of a person called Cosmas. They even question the fact that Christian topography was written by only one author. There is also a theory that the author's name(Cosmas) derives from the contents of the books (World=Cosmos)

        The commercial pursuits of Cosmas carried him into seas and countries far remote from his home. Thus he tells us that he had sailed upon three of the great gulfs which run up into the earth from the ocean, namely, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, and Persian Gulf. He sailed also upon that part of the Erythraean Sea which beyond Cape Guardafui stretches southward toward the outlying ocean, which in those days was regarded with terror and held to be unnavigable on account of the violent currents and dense and dismal fogs in which it was thought to be enveloped. When the ship which carried Cosmas was approaching this dread region of currents and fogs, a storm gathered overhead, and flocks of albatrosses, like birds of ill omen, hovered on the wing high above the mast. Dismay seized alike the passengers and the crew, and amidst outcries of "port the helm," the course of the vessel was reversed and she headed northwards.Cosmas does not say whether in the course of this voyage he reached India, which was his destination when he embarked. |

 If he did not, he must have made a second and more successful attempt; for no one, we think, who reads his eleventh book, in which he describes the island of Ceylon and the ports, commerce, and animals of India, can doubt that he writes about these places from personal knowledge of them

One of the most interesting and instructive parts of the Topography is that in which Cosmas relates what he had heard and seen in the course of his travels in Ethiopia. By the name of Ethiopia he designates in a general way the vast region which stretches southward from Egypt down towards the   equator; and from an incidental remark which he drops when treating of the Adulitic inscription on the throne, we learn that he had traversed it almost throughout its length and its breadth. Like Herodotus of old, he was ever athirst after knowledge, and when he was unable to visit places which lay in the vicinity of his route, he made inquiries about them from such persons as knew them and could be trusted to report things truly.

 The capital of Ethiopia at that time was Axum, an important centre of commerce, and also of religion and learning. It was one of the places which Cosmas, in pursuit of his calling, visited, and from one or two of his statements we may infer that he was well received at Court, and was permitted by the King, who professed the Christian faith and could speak Greek, to travel freely through his dominions.

The seaport of Axum was Adule or Adulis, the modern Zulá or Thulla, situated near Annesley Bay and distant from the capital about one hundred and twenty miles or an eight days' journey. Cosmas found himself here in the year 525 A.D., at which time Elesboas, the King of Axum, was preparing an expedition against the Homerites in Arabia. Here, at the request of the Governor, Cosmas, along with his friend Menas, a monk of the monastery at Raithu, copied the famous Greek inscriptions on the marble tablet and the basanite throne, which lay together outside the town on the road which led to Axum.

Among other parts of Ethiopia which our traveller visited we may include the Aromatic country that great projection on the east of the African Continent which terminates in Cape Guardafui. His description of this district (which supplied the Egyptians of old with their spices for embalming the dead), and of its products and its foreign trade, shows that it must have come from the pen of an eye-witness. He may also have proceeded to the north-west, and visited the kingdom of Meroe (now Khartum), for in that direction lay the seats of several tribes mentioned in the inscription on the throne. Montfaucon, in his Preface, credits him with the discovery, in the Abyssinian province called Agau, of the true source of the Nile. It was not, however, the source of the main stream  which he discovered, but that of the Blue Nile, which, a millennium afterwards, was rediscovered by the Portuguese, and more recently by the Scottish traveller Bruce. There was still another interesting locality which the traveller tells us he visited, and this lay on the other side of the Red Sea----the Desert, namely, of Sinai, where he found, strewn among the sands, fragments of rock covered with inscriptions which he took to have been carved by the Israelites when they were wandering in that wilderness.

Cosmas, when all his travels were over, returned to Alexandria, perhaps after paying a visit to Jerusalem; and, abandoning the secular life, retired to the seclusion of the cloister, where he devoted his leisure to the composition of works on descriptive geography, cosmography, and Scriptural exegesis. Of these, the Christian Topography alone is extant. The loss of the geographical treatise, as Montfaucon well says, is to be deplored with tears. It has been conjectured that the geographical passages in the Topography, as, for instance, the description of Ceylon in the eleventh book, are extracts from that treatise.

BOOK I:The Places and Figures of the Universe; the heresy of affirming that the Heavens are spherical, and that there are Antipodes; Pagan errors as to the causes of rain and of earthquakes
BOOK II:The position, figure, length and breadth of the earth; the site of Paradise; the Greek inscriptions at Adulê; extract from Ephorus; the ancient empires; the Fall of Man and its effect on the Angels; the circumscription of angels, demons and souls
BOOK III:The Tower of Babel; the Mission of Moses to the Israelites; comments on his history of the Creation of the World; the conversion of the nations to Christianity
BOOK IV:A recapitulation of the views advanced; theory of eclipses; doctrine of the sphere denounced
BOOK V:Description of the Tabernacle: Patriarchs and Prophets who predicted the coming of Christ and the future state; the agreement of these with the Apostles
BOOK VI:The size of the Sun; a dissertation on the two states 
BOOK VII:The Duration of the Heavens
BOOK VIII:Interpretation of the Song of Hezekiah; the retrogression of the Sun; ancient dials; predictions referring to Cyrus
BOOK IX:Courses of the Sun and Moon and other heavenly bodies; their movements effected by the angels 
BOOK X:Passages from the Christian Fathers confirming the Author's views
BOOK XI:Description of certain Indian animals and plants, and of the island of Taprobane (Ceylon)
BOOK XII:Old Testament narratives confirmed by Chaldaean, Babylonian, Persian and Egyptian records; the island Atlantis 

In the days of Cosmas ecclesiastical controversies were rife, and professing Christians were divided  into numerous sects. That to which Cosmas most probably belonged was the Nestorian. To this point Photius makes no reference, and it has been equally overlooked by Montfaucon. The first who called in question the orthodoxy of Cosmas was De La Croze, who, in his Histoire du Christianisme des Indes, adduced the following arguments to prove his Nestorian beliefs: that Cosmas calls Patricius, who was the Archbishop of Persia when that country had been infected with Nestorianism, a divine man and an illustrious teacher, that Cosmas, in his list of heretical sects, names the Manichaeans, the Marcionists, the Eutychians, the Arians and the Apollinarians, but not the Nestorians; that in his exposition of Scripture, and in his system of the world, he always follows Theodosius of Mopsuestia and Diodorus of Tarsus, who were the principal teachers of the Nestorians; 4°, that concerning Christ and the Incarnation of the Word, he uses the same modes of expression as the Nestorians. We may add as a fifth argument the glowing terms in which Cosmas speaks of the wide diffusion of Christianity among the heathen nations of the east, which was mainly the work of missionaries from Persia, where Nestorianism reigned supreme.Only one passage occurs to throw some doubt on the certainty of this conclusion that in which Cosmas addresses Mary as  the Mother of God, an expression abhorrent to the Nestorians. 

His views about the world  have been biased because of his christian ideas and influences. In his books he tried to prove that the earth is flat and that the theory of a spheric earth was  pagan .He wrote his work in 550 A.D after a voyage in India and Sri Lanka through the Red sea.A very interesting fact is that he reported the existence of Christian communities in India and Ceylon. According to Cosmas there were two bishops and some churches in the regions he visited.His work may have been a failure from a cosmological perspective and considered as heretic by contemporary religious figures because of the author's beliefs but today it is an important geographic and historical artifact  that introduces us in a world that not many author's wrote about  during that era.
He had a decent skill in drawing and he enriched his books with many drawings. Some of them have survived till nowadays.These are mainly maps of how he perceived the world

In the middle there's a depiction of the Earth with its surrounding ocean, which is itself surrounded by the other earth which was the seat of Paradise and the abode of man before the Flood. The four gulfs which penetrate into our earth from the ocean, and the rivers which flow into it from Paradise, are also depicted. 

The number 11 depicts two Athenian Pagans with their characteristic outfit.
From 12 to 19 .We see  depictions of the tabernacle which contained the ark of covenant(the Jewish graal) from indoors and outdoors.
21: Aaron

At the top there is an annual circle on which there are twelve months and four seasons written. Moreover there are also fruits drawn under each month they are produced.
The rest of the drawings depict images of the exotic flora and fauna that his eyes saw during his voyage.

sources: , 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Official proclamation by Barack Obama for the Greek independence day

 The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Proclamation--Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy

One hundred ninety years ago, Greece regained its independence and became a symbol of democracy for the world for the second time in history. As America recognizes this milestone in the birthplace of democracy, we also celebrate our warm friendship with Greece and the lasting legacy of Hellenic culture in our own country.
America's Founders drew upon the core democratic principles developed in ancient Greece as they imagined a new government. Since that time, our Union has strived to uphold the belief that each person has a fundamental right to liberty and participation in the democratic process, and Greece has continued to promote those very principles. Over the centuries these cherished ideals -- democracy, equality, and freedom -- have inspired our citizens and the world.
The relationship between the United States and Greece extends beyond our common values and is strengthened by the profound influence of Greek culture on our national life. From the architecture of our historic buildings to the lessons in philosophy and literature passed on in our classrooms, America has drawn on the deep intellectual traditions of the Greeks in our own establishment and growth as a nation. Reinforcing the steadfast bonds between our two countries, Americans of Greek descent have maintained the best of their heritage and immeasurably enriched our national character.
The American people stand with Greece to honor the legacy of democracy wrought over 2,000 years ago and its restoration to the Hellenic Republic nearly 200 years ago. As we celebrate the history and values of Greece and the United States, we also look forward to our shared future and recommit to continuing our work as friends and allies.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 25, 2011, as "Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy." I call upon all the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

The president of USA  Barack Obama

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Greek Revolution part 4: The battle of Dervenakia

The battle of Dervenakia is perhaps the most crucial battle of the Greek revolution. It took place in 1822 just one year after the revolution broke out and its success allowed the Greeks to continue their struggle for independence.

The Greeks ambush the main body of the Ottoman army.

It was July of 1822 and the Sultan upset of the revolution's success decided to send a regular army to quell any ressistance once and for all.After he defeated the rebel Ali pasha he had available forces to send to Peloponnese

He chose as a commander the talented Mahmut Pasha or Dramalis.
Dramalis proceeded with an army of 25.000 soldiers facing no ressistance until he reached the Isthmus of Corinth. Sources mentioned that the Greeks were fleeing in the sight of such a large army and the high morale of the initial stages of the war had been lost as many considered that there was no force in Greece that could beat this army.

Dramalis' aim was to reclaim Tripolitsa the capital of Peloponnese or Morea as it was called in this time. The landscape of Peloponnese is mountainous and moving a large force was slow through narrow roads.Therefore even though the geographical proximity was small it was dangerous to make a direct attack.The advisors of Dramalis old him to use Corinth as a base of operations but he mistakenly did the opposite. Likely because of arrogance he decided to recalim the forts of Morea one by one before entering Tripolitsa.

Theodoros Kolokotronis in black
Mahmut Pasha "Dramalis"
       As it is aforementioned the Greeks were demoralized and were fleeing from the areas the Ottoman army was approaching. So it was done when Dramalis decided to move towards the plains of Argos to take Nauplion an important port. Noone stood against him while he was passing with his army from mountainous regions which were fit for guerilla war and ambushes.

Dramalis took Nauplion and the greek government that was stationed near it fled panicked towards the ships .
In these dire moments a great leader arose Theodoros Kolokotronis .While anarchy and despair prevailed among the the Greeks he was the one who organised a ressistance to slow down Dramalis' advance.

    He succeeded to keep Dramalis' army in the Nauplion region by putting defences in strategic spots that were leading to Tripolitsa, by reinforcing the defences of local forts, and by using a scorched earth policy to cause starvation in Dramalis' large army.He also mobilised the demoralized Greeks through his majestic appearance(he wore a western military outfit) his reputation(he was already a succesful and experienced officer) and his fiery speeches.

Kolokotronis rallies the troops
Dramalis was not able to secure all the forts in Nauplion region and therefore he couldn't march for Tripolitsa without securing his rear. The crucial point for the turning of the events was Dramalis' decision to return back to Corinth and expect reinforcements and to take supplies for his starving soldiers.It's worth to mention the efforts of the Greek navy which effectively blockaded the region from ships that could bring supplies thus forcing Dramalis to return back to Corinth

Dramali chose to return through the narrow passes being unaware of the surprise awaiting him. This decision was taken  due to the calm passage of his forces when he was marching towards Nauplion. Kolokotronis' foresaw the return of  Dramalis through the narrow pass and orchestrated a series of guerilla attacks to slow down Dramalis' army at the Dervenakia narrow pass. The casualties of Dramalis' army by these series of attacks were heavy but in Dervenakia his army was almost annihilated and Dramalis himself barely escaped towards Corinth. In the Dervenakia battle it is estimated that 3.000 Ottoman soldiers were slain while it is not sure how many were killed from the other attacks.

The Greek force was estimated at 2.500 soldiers which was a 1:10 ratio comparing to Dramalis' army. It was sure that an open battle was a suicide for the Greeks and Kolokotronis knew that .He wasn't characterized unfairly as a strategic genius because to defeat a 10 times larger force with an irregular force was a great achievement.But even greater was his tactics to trap and defeat his enemy not by using full force but by causing attrition through shoot and go tactics.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Greek Revolution part 3:Giorgakis Olympios

Olympios was born in 1772 in the village of Livadi near Larissa and the mountain Olympus.His father was a prominent person in the society as he was a Prouchontas(Greek tax collector). He lost his mother ony a few years after he was born. that's why everyone was treating him like their child and even when he grew up he was still called Giorgakis(nickname of the the name George). He was educated at the school of Livadi but from a young age he joined the armatoloi of his area and  protected effectively the surrounding Greek villages from raids by the rebel governor of Epirus Ali pasha. His family had already produced some renown armatoloi who were literally controlling the area of the mountain Olympus. Because of this heritage Olympios received the best training and soon he become one of the best armatoloi of Olympus.

Olympios' statue in Katerini, Greece
In 1804 the Serbians had revolted against Turkish authority and one the Serbian armatoloi Velko Petrovic asked  for Olympios' and other Greek armatoloi assistance. Olympios just like Rigas Pheraios believed that independence for the Balkan nations could only be done if they fought united against the Ottomans.In Serbia he fought along with 550 Greeks bravely for the Serbian cause. From Serbia he started corresponding with Constantine_Ypsilantis prince of Moldavia and Wallachia for the possibility of the creation of an army of Greeks and Romanians to fight the Ottomans.  Olympios participated in the creation of this army and fought along with 1500 greeks in the war of Russia with the Ottomans. His fame and reputation reaches soon the ears of the czar of Saint Petersburg.Olympios met with the minister of foreign affairs of Russia Ioannis Kapodistrias and via this acquintance he got initiated into the Filiki Etaireia and he was appointed general of the greek forces in Moldowallachia.

Even though he was a warrior his eloquence and rhetoric made him also an apostle of the filiki etaireia.He went from village to village to persuade the Greeks join the preparation of the revolution. In 1821 the revolution began not in Greece but in Moldowallachia cause Ypsilantis thought that by this way he could make the Russians intervene on behalf of the Greeks.However Russia condemned this revolution and gave permission the Ottoman empire to invade Wallachia. Ypsilantis' force was consisted mainly of Greek students who had no experience and consequently their army was anihilated in the battle of Dragatsani. Only a few survived, among them Olympios who saved Ypsilantis from dying in battle and escorted him at the Austrian borders.

Olympios is setting the gunpowder on fire.
Ypsilantis told Olympios to leave and go back to Greece but Olympios told him: Now that we have taken arms shall we leave them behind?Olympios continued his desperate fight in Wallachia with only 350 soldiers but the Turkish authorities were determined to kill every single Greek who took arms against them. Olympios finally was trapped by  10.000 turkish soldiers in a monastery . The Turkish pasha sent him letter for his surrendering but he proudly rejected any negotiation.Then a siege of the monastery began and  when the Ottomans broke in there were only Olympios and 11 loyal soldiers around him in the bell tower of the monastery.
He had concentrated there large amounts of gunpowder. While the Ottomans were getting into the monastery he opened the door of the bell tower and said to his soldiers: "Go away cause i am gonna burn now" .However noone left and Olympios set the gunpowder on fire and the whole monastery exploded.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Greek Revolution part 2- Vassos Mavrovouniotis Vaso Brajović

Early life
 Vaso Brajovic or later Vasos Mavrovouniotis was an important figure of the Greek revolution. Historians do not question his Philellenism while others believe that he was alledgedly  an adventurer who seeked to make money.
He was born towards the end of the 18th century in Bjelopavlici a village located in what is today  Montenegro or  Crna Gora (Црна Гора).  It's worth to mention that Montenegro was never occupied by the Ottomans as a whole. Even when the Ottoman empire reached its peak by even besieging Vienna itself the Montenegrims had some sort of autonomy.This makes obvious that the region along with its geographical advantages produced some very brave men.One of them was also Vasos Mavrovouniotis.

 When he became 20 years old for uknown reasons he left his home and went to Asia minor(present day Turkey). There he met his later best friend and spiritual brother Kriezotis who was an Arvanite of Greek conciousness.There are no sources about their activities in Minor Asia. Likely they either became mercenaries or bandits.

In 1820 Mavrovouniotis goes to Athens. There he is appointed as a flag carrier for the Ottoman force that was going to crush the rebellion of Ali Pasha in Epirus. He was deeply  insulted by this appointment because he thought he was better than just a flag carrier and he deserted.

Greek revolution
 In 1821 when the revolution started he was in Carystus in the island of Euvoia.He soon became the leader of the revolution in the region. In his first three battles in Euvoia he was not very succesful. We can say that the situation remained stalemate.This is because the Turks of the island were surprisingly fighting as bravely as the revolutionaries.In his fourth battle against the Ottoman forces of the island the co-captain of the revolution  in the island Ilias Mavromichalis died. Thus leaving only Mavrovouniotis as leader of the greek rebels in the island. It was a battle were the two leaders combined their forces to liberate an important town but their plans didn't go as they expected and they suffered a dissastrous defeat.

Mavrovouniotis monument in Podgorica
After this dissaster Mavrovouniotis withdrew to the mountains and fought a guerilla war.In 1822 he gave some undecisive battles having many casualties because of his choice to fight in plains. He left for Athens after a letter sent by the Athenean jury of Areios Pagos. He was invited to earn a a sum of money as a reward for his loyalty to the the revolution and his contribution(it's worth noted that, when the revolution started and he took arms he was never promised money or a reward).

Now acting under the orders of the headquarters of the revolution  Mavrovouniotis was sent  to the island of Thassos  where along with 300 soldiers he fought many victorious battles and essentially liberated the island.
However there are also atrocities reported by his army. Historians say that he left no muslim alive in the island either soldier or civilian.

After his success in Thassos with high morale he returned to Euvoia to face once again the local ottoman governor he wasn't able to beat. This time he won the battle against his enemy. However things were not going well on other fronts of the revolution thus in 1823 he had to withdraw from the island and go back to Athens were he was appointed general of the armies of Attica (Athens).

The next year a civil war broke out between the military leaders of the revolution and the political leaders.
Mavrovouniotis chose the side of the Politicians. He fought many victorious battles in Peloponnesos against his opponents. Later he fought bravely against the invasion force of the professional armies of Egypt lead by Imbrahim Pasha.In one of  his battles against the Egyptian force he lost his brother Spiros Mavrovouniotis.

He was recalled from Peloponnese back to Athens . In the same time his another brother Rantos Mavrovouniotis died heroically in the island of Psara(
Rantos was equally brave with Vasos and when the whole island had fallen to the ottomans he died along with 800 Greeks and 3000 Turks after a huge explosion.Despite the fact he was a non greek , he fought for the Greek cause without ever asking for a reward.

Vasos continued fighting this time in continental Greece and near Amfissa he utterly destroyed an enemy force which consisted mainly of muslim Albanians hired by the Ottomans.As Kriezotis with some exaggeration describes in his memorium  Mavrovouniotis  was not killing he was plowing his enemies.This was the most famous battle of Mavrovouniotis.

However because of the pressure in both fronts by Egyptians(
and Ottomans his victories brought no substantial gain and he returned back to Athens. At this time something happened that not many historians mention. A greek priest came from Lebanon and with tears in his eyes asked for help form Kolletis who was serving as leader of Greece to send an army to help the Greeks in Lebanon revolt. Kolletis thought this was an excellent idea cause he was going to cause a diversion on Ottoman forces by striking at a place of the Ottoman empire than noone could imagine that Greeks could revolt.However Kolletis had no money to pay even for the currents army and he told the priest to find Mavrovouniotis and persuade him.

Mavrovouniotis and Kriezotis were persuaded to do this after the dismantling of their forces by the greek government.(It was the time that experienced military leaders like the French Favier along with 2000 French regulars had come to join the Greeks.) 

With 2500 soldiers they went to Cyprus were they pillaged the island after some victorious battles against the turkish authority.Thus he was able to pay his soldiers and get supplies for their final destination which was Lebanon. In Lebanon the main target of Mavrovouniotis was Beirut.
His battles were stalemate and the army was running out of supplies. However Mavrovouniotis ordered the soldiers not to pillage the properties of the people who were mainly christian at the time. Later reinfrcements arrived from the Greek island of Kos but an army of 25.000  cavalry arrived in Beirut and their leader Emir Beazir of Lebanon sent a letter to Mavrovouniotis asking him who they are and what they want? Mavrovouniotis answered :"We are Greeks and we came to storm this fort". The emir then asked them to leave or else he would attack them. The Greeks found it impossible to fight such an army and after an extesive pillaging  they left Lebanon.
It is still debatable by historians whether it was the revolutionary intention of Mavrovouniotis that lead him to go to Lebanon or the pillaging tactics.While the Greek revolution was failing he found himself trying to liberate once again the island where he started the revolution along with his friend Kriezotis  with collaboration of the English admiral Hamilton.
 The Egyptian forces had supressed the revolution and reconquered almost all of Peloponnese. Mavrovouniotis was fighting in 1826 against a second invading army of the Ottomans lead by Kyutachi near the last remaining fort of continental Greece, Athens. Along with one of the great leaders of the revolution general Karaiskaskis and the insight of a Hamilton who ordered the creation of a defence in Elefsina the ottoman army was stopped in Athens relieving the Peloponnese based Greek government.

The places where Mavrovouniotis fought.

 After the intervention by the European powers and  the creation of a Greek state Mavrovouniotis remained in Greece and Athens in the service of the King Otto.He married a greek woman  of wealthy family and he died in 1847.

Source:"Χρυσολόγης Αθανάσιος" Ο Ελληνικός Αγών : Βάσσος Μαυροβουνιώτης : Διατριβή αναγνωσθείσα εν τω Φιλολογικώ Συλλόγω "Βύρωνι" την 8ην Ιανουαρίου 1876 / υπό Αθ. Ν. Χρυσολόγη, 1876 Athens. 
Traslation is made by me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Greek revolution 1rst part- Patriarch Gregorios

In five days we have the 190th anniversary of the Declaration of the Greek revolution. Thus these days i will post a series of relative posts concerning some secondary figures of the revolution that are not so famous as others.

Patriarch Gregorius V
Patriarch Gregorios
Under the name Georgios Aggelopoulos, he was born in Dimitsana by poor parents. He received Greek education in the city which at the time was a center of learning. Georgios was attracted to monastic life and the teachings of the church. He became a monk and he took the name Gregorios.

His will for learning made him leave Dimitsana for a bigger city. He went to Smyrna where he got acquainted with the metropolitan of Smyrna and later he was appointed as his archdeacon. Gregorios' piety and  virtues helped him to promote quickly in the ecclesiastical hierarchy and at a young age(39 y.o) he succeeded to become the metropolitan of Smyrna.

The arrest of the patriarch
Soon he became renowned throughout the christian population of the Ottoman empire and everyone rejoiced when he was elected ecumenical patriarch of  Constantinople in 1797.
This period was  full of difficulties for the patriarch. The Ottoman intolerance was increasing at the time because of the economical and political deckline of the empire and because of the revolutionary tendencies of the christian populations of the empire that were triggered by the nationalisms which were inspired by the French revolution of 1789.

His contribution as a patriarch was great. He founded new schools a printing press and his main aim was to protect his christian subjects. Because of his pro-Greek activity he raised suspicions at the Ottoman court. He was twice exiled in Aghio oros(Holy mountain)  and returned back to his duties as a patriarch.

At the eve of the Greek revolution many worrying messages were coming to the Sultan from allover Greece.As a result of the outbreak of the revolution the Sultan ordered an unprecedented slaughter of Greeks as a revenge. The patriarch for typical reasons denounced the revolution but the Sultan was sure he had some contribution  in this.

Gregorios' corpse is thrown at the sea. 
In 18th April 1821 one month after the outbreak of the revolution right after he finished the Sunday mass for Easter he was dethroned and arrested. He was hunged in front of the main gate of the Patriarchate.For three days his corpse was hunging there as an example. Then he was delivered to some people who dragged him throughout the city and then they threw him at the sea of Bosporus. Fortunately a Greek merchant ship passing by found the corpse and brought it to Odessa which at the time hosted a prosperous greek community.
In Odessa he was buried by the Russian state with the honours of a patriarch. In 1871 the Greek state asked for his relic to be returned to Athens. In Athens he was buried at the metropolitan church and was declared an ethnomartyr and a saint.

Source :Biographies of the heros of the Greek Revolution (Ήρωες της Ελληνικής επαναστάσεως) by Alexandros Philadelpheus .publication: 1900 
 Translation is made by me.

put your country on top

free counters