(circa 460 – 375 BC)

Hippocrates is widely regarded as the “founder” of what later transformed into modern European medicine; as well as the author of the famous Hippocratic Oath. He learned medicine from his father and grandfather while living on the Greek island of Cos. Like most ancient philosophers, very little is known about his personality and works. According to the scanty evidence available, he worried about ethics, and strived to establish the rules and regulations governing medical practice. He also succeeded in separating medicine from theurgy, alchemy and general philosophy. By so doing, he made it a distinct and dedicated profession: with a whole new sets of dos and don’ts. Surviving accounts of how medicine was practiced in Greece during the time of Hippocrates were mostly written after his death. Nonetheless, they gave insights into the standards he set. For instance, careful observation of symptoms and making the patient as comfortable as possible were prioritized. Scales of various epidemics and the prevailing climates under which they occurred were noted. And the choices of treatments, with their respective durations, were elaborated. Also, there were precautions on how to approach childbirths, attend to traumas, manipulate dislocations and set fractures. Although all of these were attributed to Hippocrates, it is hard to ascertain if he originated them or adopted them from his colleagues and/or predecessors. What is clear is that he was ahead of his time. The fact that the Pythagoreans of his era recognized and praised his visions is a testament to that.


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