We’ve all heard about the Hippocratic Oath. But how much do you know about the person it was named after? Do you know about the contributions he made to the field of medicine? Let’s get an insight into the life of Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine.
Timeline: 460–377 BC
Place of study:
Hippocrates was trained by his father, Heracleides, in the field of medicine at Cos, a Greek island in the Aegean sea.
- He was the first to rationalise the practice of medicine by discarding divinity as a cause of disease.
- Hippocratic medicine was influenced by the Pythagorean theory of four elements(Nature was made of four elements- water, earth, wind and fire), and he believed that the body consisted of four fluids or ‘humours’.
- Many of the modern medical practices such as patient history, a thorough examination of the patient, using the 5 senses as a part of the examination, etc. were popularised by Hippocrates.
- His descriptions of diseases are unsurpassed. He did not name diseases or syndromes though it is possible to recognise ‘diseases’ from his disease descriptions.
- He also gave the code of ethics for medicine, the Hippocratic Oath, however, it is debatable whether he actually authored it.
Hippocrates compiled and organised a series of medical texts called the Corpus Hippocraticum or Hippocratic Collection sometime around 400 BC. It isn’t clear how many texts were actually written by Hippocrates himself. However, it was the first widely distributed medical text with information on diagnoses and treatments of ailments and diseases.
No one knows how Hippocrates actually looked like! His profile is supposed to be based on coins unearthed from Cos and a sculpture found in the cemetery of Ostia.
1. Joshi VR, et al. Hippocrates. The Journal of the Association of Physicians of India. 2013 Aug;61(8):580.
2. Yapijakis C. Hippocrates of Kos, the father of clinical medicine, and Asclepiades of Bithynia, the father of molecular medicine. Review. In Vivo. 2009 Jul-Aug;23(4):507-14
3. Winters-Miner L, et al. Chapter 1 – History of Predictive Analytics in Medicine and Health Care, Practical Predictive Analytics and Decisioning Systems for Medicine, Academic Press, 2015;5-22,
Image used in this blog are for representation purposes only.
Image taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocrates#/media/File:Hippocrates.jpg