Hippocrates of Cos



We cannot talk about Greek medicine and its notable physicians without mentioning Hippocrates.
Hippocrates today as well as then, held the respect of surgeons and physicians alike, he was a contemporary of Socrates commonly referred to as is now commonly referred to as the father of medicine. He established that the greatest of all healing forces was nature itself. Hippocrates is believed by some, to be a descendant of Aesculapius. The great philosophers Aristotle and Plato wrote about this physician.
Hippocrates was credited from freeing the medical profession from the ignorance that was ripe due to the religious factions at the time. His writings are far-reaching and his chronology of diseases and surgical conditions was extensive.

It is thought that Celsus copied and translated his work. His skill was widely known, during the 3rd Peloponnesian war, his assistance was requested by the Persian Governor to aid his own Physicians who were dying faster than their patients.
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, can be best remembered by doctors, for the theory of his Four Humours






Ancient name


Ancient characteristics





warm & moist



courageous, hopeful, amorous

Yellow bile



gall bladder

warm & dry



easily angered, bad tempered

Black bile




cold & dry



despondent, sleepless, irritable





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




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