Greek History


When we think of Greek medicine and its notable physicians, you cannot go any further unless you mention Hippocrates. Hippocrates today as well as then, held the respect of surgeons and physicians alike, commonly referred to as the father of medicine.

He established that the greatest of all healing forces was nature itself. Hippocrates are believed by some, to be a descendant of Aesculapius. Hippocrates advised his students to trephine all cases of contusion, this concerned a lot of physicians at the time that he should suggest this for all cases, but it was his own practice. Hippocrates who is best remembered by doctors for the theory of the Four Humors.50

Humour Season Element Organ Qualities Ancient characteristics
Blood spring air liver warm & moist courageous, hopeful, amorous
Yellow bile summer fire gall bladder warm & dry easily angered, bad tempered
Black bile autumn earth spleen cold & dry despondent, sleepless, irritable
Phlegm winter water brain/lungs cold & moist calm, unemotional

Hippocrates summed up the standard of professional ethics with what is still used today, the Hippocratic Oath.

"I swear by Apollo the physician, by Aesculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath. To consider dear to me as my parents him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and if necessary to share my goods with him; to look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise; to impart to my sons and the sons of the master who taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone the precepts and the instruction. I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art. I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art. In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves. All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal. If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot."51


I am dying from the treatment of too many physicians.52




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The History of Surgery and Anaesthesia was created as a free resource to educate Students or indeed anyone wishing to understand the beginings of surgery and Anaesthesia.

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