Hippocrates. C. 460 BC – between 377 and 356 BC. Famous ancient Greek physician. Became known as the founder of medicine. His name is in the oath of ethics taken by physicians, and in a number of medical terms.


Life and Work:

1. “I swear by Apollo Healer, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.” These words were written more than two and a half thousand years ago. Today, you can only hear them in their original form during the annual theatrical festivals on the island of Kos. The choice of place is no accident: Kos was the birthplace of the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of medicine and the creator of the Oath that has been taken by all physicians from the fifth century BC to the present day.


2. In Ancient Greece, the profession of a physician was hereditary. A hereditary physician, Hippocrates belonged to the Asclepiad family that prided itself on descending from Asclepius, the God of Healing himself.


3. Hippocrates gained his first knowledge of medicine at the Asclepeion, a temple of Asclepius, taught by his father Heraclides and grandfather Hippocrates.


4. Afterwards, the future father of medicine set off to improve his craft by traveling around cities and countries, learning practice of other physicians and visiting temples. There is evidence that he studied under the famous philosopher Democritus.


5. According to the Roman physician Soranus of Ephesus, who lived four centuries after Hippocrates, Hippocrates fathered not only medicine, but also two sons, named Thessalus and Draco, and a daughter. Each of the sons had a son who was named Hippocrates after his grandfather.


6. Everything he saw and heard and everything he learned from his own medical practice, Hippocrates relayed in his numerous works. Surviving to our day, the Hippocratic Corpus contains around seventy works, a dozen of them undoubtedly attributed to Hippocrates. Among them are the works On Airs, Waters, Places; Prognostics; On Regimen in Acute Diseases; two volumes of Epidemics; surgical treatises On Joints and On Fractures.


7. From his writings, an attentive readier will learn that Hippocrates was a true scientist and unlike his contemporaries, did not believe that all diseases were sent by the gods. The father of medicine earned this title for placing medicine on a scientific foundation, connecting diseases with natural factors and patients' living habits, noticing their inherited nature.


8. Hippocrates used hundreds of medicinal plants in his treatments, many of them still in use today.


9. Hippocrates left descriptions of allergies and the flu, and identified four types of human temperament: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic, a classification we still use to this day.


10. Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food” and believed that out of a thousand medicines, 999 should be exercise.


11. One of Hippocrates's writings is titled Aphorisms. In it, Hippocrates outlined briefly and clearly the principles that should guide the physician, and others. And here are these short masterpieces: “Everything in moderation,” “Those diseases which medicines do not cure, iron cures; those which iron cannot cure, fire cures; and those which fire cannot cure, are to be reckoned wholly incurable,” the famous “Do no harm.”


12. Few people know that the famous “Life is short, and Art long” is only the first part of an aphorism. It goes on as follows: “...the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.”


13. When the genius Hippocrates was asked if it was true that genius is a disease, he replied that it is, adding with regret that it is rare and non-contagious.


14. Hippocrates treated people in Thessaly and in Thrace, in Macedonia and on the coast of the Sea of Marmara. Data on the time of his death vary greatly: according to different sources, he lived to be anywhere from 83 to 104 years old.


15. Both on Kos, where Hippocrates was born, and in Larissa, where he passed away, monuments were erected in his memory.