(Chapter 21) Footnote 27:

For this formula of proportion, cf. the ratio of sizes of the first three carpal bones, ch. 25, p. 377. Rules of symmetria or proportion were first applied to anatomy by the fifth-century sculptor Polyclitus, whose lost Canon set forth a set of ideal proportions for external human anatomy. Vesalius’ hint here of a rule of proportion for inner anatomy may have been suggested by a passage in Galen ( De usu partium 13.352.5 ff) praising Polyclitus for his observation of bilateral symmetry: “Is it right to admire Polyclitus for the symmetry of the parts in his statue called the Canon and yet necessary to deprive Nature not only of praise but of all skill — Nature, who exhibits the symmetry of the parts both on the outside, as sculptors do, and also deep below the surface? Or was it not Polyclitus himself who was her imitator, at least in what he was able to imitate?” (tr. May 1968, pp. 726ff). Vesalius is not, however, concerned here with bilateral symmetry but with a more important aspect of Greek symmetria, the proportions of unequal parts. The specific ratio of the three sides of the scapula which Vesalius gives here make it a Golden Triangle, whose sides correspond to the so-called Divine Proportion: the upper side is as much shorter than the lower side as the lower side is shorter than the base. Vesalius mentions Polyclitus by name in Book 5 chapter 19 (p. 548 of the 1543 edition): “The body displayed in a public dissection should be as well compounded as possible for its sex (in suo sexu quam temperatissimum) and of middle years, so you may be able to compare other bodies to it as to a statue of Polyclitus.”