Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine

Hippocrates, greatest physician of antiquity, is regarded as the father
of medicine. Born on the island of Kos, Greece in the year 460 b.c., says the
earliest biography written by Soranus of Ephesus in the a third century a.d.
Although a native of Kos he was forced to leave the island as the result of a
fire for which he was blamed. He traveled to many other islands to practice
medicine. Most of the cases in the two books of Epidemics considered to be
genuine are located at Thasos, a small island in the North Aegean Sea, and at
Abdera, a town on the adjacent mainland; but there are also references to
Cyzicus, on the south coast of the Sea of Marmara, and to Larisa and Meliboea in
Thessaly. He died, according to tradition, in Larissa, Greece; little else is
known about him. His name is associated wioth the Hippocratic Oath, though he
probably is not the author of the document. In fact, of the approximately 70
works ascribed to him in the Hippocratic Collection, Hippocrates may actually
have written about six of them. The Hippocratic Collection probably is the
remnant of the medical library of the famous Kos school of medicine. His
teachings, sense of detachment, and ability to make direct, clinical
observations probably influenced the other authors of these works and had much
to do with freeing ancient medicine from superstition.
Among the more significant works of the Hippocratic Collection is Airs,
Waters, and Places, which, instead of ascribing diseases to divine origin,
disusses their environmental causes. It proposes that considerations such as a
town\'s weather drinking water, and site along the paths of favorable winds can
help a physician ascertain the general health of citizens. Three other works-
Prognostic, Coan Prognosis, and Aphorisms -advanced the then- revbolutionary
idea that, by observing enough cases, a physician can predict the course of a
The idea of preventative medicine, first concieved in Regimen and
Regimen in Acute Diseases, sterss not only diet but also the patient\'s general
way of living and how it influences his or her health and well being. Sacred
Disease, a treastise on epilepsy, revealed the rudimentary knowledge of anatomy
in ancient Greece. Epilepsy was beleived to be caused by insufficient air, which
was thought to be carried by the veins to the brain and limbs. In Joints the
use of the so-called Hippocratis bench is described for treaating dislocations.
Also interest are Wounds in the Head, Women\'s Diseases, and Dismembering of the
Feotus in the Womb.

Category: Biographies