(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 practised in Greece during the time of Hippocrates were mostly written after his death. And the standards he set were similar to what ancient Egyptians practised. For instance, symptoms-assessments and making the patient as comfortable as possible were prioritized. Also, scales of various epidemics and the prevailing climates/conditions under which they occurred were noted. All treatments-options, alongside their respective durations and side-effects were elaborated. There were as well, established precautions on handling childbirths, attending to traumas, manipulating dislocations and setting fractures. Although Hippocrates should be praised for rigorously adhering to these norms, it is historically clear that ancient Egyptians developed and utilized them long before Greeks. Notwithstanding, he deserves kudos for reviving, cataloging and orchestrating all those criteria. The fact that the Pythagoreans of his era recognized and commended his visions attests to their importance.


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