For an aspiring medic it was a dream assignment- official team doctor to the gladiators of Pergamon. The top names in the arena were worth a lot of money and it was up to young Galen to keep them alive. Slash and stab wounds had to be closed quickly and cleanly and diets devised to maintain the perfect balance of fat and muscle for the finest fighters. It gave Galen unrivalled insight into the workings of the human body, knowledge he would use as he went on to treat emperors and write the textbooks that would guide doctors for hundreds of years.
Mary Beard traces the career of Rome's greatest medic from its highs to its lowest of lows- the moment when a great fire swept through Rome, threatening to wipe out his life's work.
Producer: Alasdair Cross
Expert Contributors: Helen King, Open University and Matthew Nicholls, Oxford University
Special thanks to the British Museum and the Parco Archeolgico del Colosseo, Roma