Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hippocrates of Cos (c 460-377 BCE)

Sierra Club


Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm.


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COPAC UK: Hippocrates
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Hippocrates of Cos -- about 460 BC - 377 BC. Ancient Greek physician, commonly regarded one of the most outstanding figures in medicine of all times. He is often called "the father of medicine". He was the leader of a medical school of Cos and the author of most of writings of the school. He had a great impact on succeeding generations of practitioners of medicine and some general rules still apply. His work and writings rejected the superstition and magic of primitive "medicine" and laid the foundations of medicine as a branch of science. The whole collection of works of the Hippocratic medical school were gathered as the Hippocratic Corpus. The best known of the Hippocratic writings is the Hippocratic Oath.

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 judgement, 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 judgement 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.

Another famous, time-honoured medical rule ascribed to Hippocrates is : "Primum non nocere" (First, do no harm). [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Hippocrates.]

Books from Alibris: Hippocrates


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