In a spectacular career rose from gladiator physician in Asia Minor to court physician in the Rome of Marcus *Aurelius . The son of a wealthy architect, he enjoyed an excellent education in rhetoric and philosophy in his native town before turning to medicine. After studying medicine further in *Smyrna and *Alexandria (1) , he began practising in Pergamum in 157, and went to Rome in 162. Driven out by hostile competitors, or fear of the *Plague , in 166, he returned in 169, and remained in imperial service until his death. A prodigious polymath, he wrote on subjects as varied as grammar and gout, ethics and eczema, and was highly regarded in his lifetime as a philosopher as well as a doctor.
Although *Plato (1) and *Hippocrates (2) were his gods, and *Aristotle ranked only slightly below them, he was anxious to form his own independent judgements, and his assertive personality pervades all his actions and writings. His knowledge was equally great in theory and practice, and based in part on his own considerable library. Much of our information on earlier medicine derives from his reports alone, and his scholarly delineation of the historical Hippocrates and the writings associated with him formed the basis for subsequent interpretation down to the 20th cent. Large numbers of new texts, some book length, continue to be recovered, mainly in translation, but some in the original Greek.