The Secrets of Galen’s Anatomy
In Chapter Four of The Treasure of Mad Doc Magee, Jenny and Pandora unearth a mysterious medical textbook called Galen’s Anatomy in Doc Magee’s office. Galen was an ancient Greek physician, one of the founding fathers of medicine. The girls also discover a print of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man—a “cosmography of the microcosm.”
By this point in the story, keen readers may also have noticed that Jenny’s home is full of landscape features with human characteristics, including:
• The Sleeping Girl
• The Crooked Man
• The Gorge
• The Wise Women
Galen may have been thinking of Hamlet’s observation that “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” It’s interesting to note that Mr. Grimsby is sporting a rictus grin and Mr. Polk is grinding his molars.
This is a paraphrase of the real-life Galen’s theory on why shoulder joints are prone to dislocation. He talks about the “antagonism between diversity of movement and safety of construction.”
As Jenny and Pandora discover, there’s an important connection between the shoulder and the place where they’re standing. You might also consider the girls’ attitudes at this stage of their quest: Jenny is all for immediate action; Pandora is much more cautious.
Galen is obviously riffing on Shakespeare’s quote in The Merchant of Venice: “Tell me where is fancy bred?” Note how many people in this chapter are in love, remembering past loves, or pretending to be in love. Somebody may even be having a “heart attack.”
You may also want to take a closer look at the parts of the heart, including the atria. There’s a reason for the bank’s design.
Galen is probably thinking of “vesicoureteral reflux.” Urine usually flows downward from the kidneys to the bladder. During reflux, the bladder pushes urine back up toward the kidneys, often causing a urinary tract infection.
When you examine Jenny and Pandora’s waterfall, you may notice that the water is flowing from the lake toward the Gorge of the Crooked Man. Not only that, but the weather is extremely rainy and the mud is very brown.
Galen is talking about the “femoral triangle”—an anatomical region that is bounded on three sides by the inguinal ligament, the adductor longus muscle, and the sartorius muscle. This triangle contains the femoral artery. In fact, one way to stop major bleeding in the thigh is to put pressure on points in this triangle.
Savvy readers may notice that there are three characters in this chapter, all of whom are working together on a triangle-based clue.
Galen is thinking of the Achilles tendon, which is prone to weakness & injury. In the Greek myth, Achilles’s mother dips her baby son in the River Styx to make him invulnerable to harm. But she has to hold him by the ankles to do it. Inevitably, Achilles is killed by a poison dart/arrow that punctures his heel.
There are all kinds of anatomical things happening in this chapter, including the appearance of a dead man’s hand, but look out for references to feet. It may also be useful to know that “heel” is slang for a lowdown person.