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Hippocrates of Kos (460 B.C.E. to 370 B.C.E.), the founding father of medicine, was a Greek physician who remains unmatched in the pages of history. His stellar contribution in setting up the Hippocratic School of Medicine revolutionized the status of medicine in Greece and the world at large.
Read on to learn about the life and significant contributions of the father of modern medicine. Also, the motives behind his machinery.
Hippocrates | The father of modern medicine
Hippocrates had a different perspective and opinion from the schools of thought. The Hippocratic Corpus is a collection of the remaining 60 medical manuscripts and the Hippocratic oath. As a result, the Hippocratic Corpus reveals a great deal about his philosophy of human life and body. Furthermore, Hippocrates steered medicine in a new direction by asserting scientific perspectives and promoting rational thinking.
Early life and education
Soranus, a Greek physician, provided the earliest biography of Hippocrates, which details the life of the renowned physician of the time. The father of medicine was a generational medicine enthusiast who gained much of his knowledge from his father and grandfather; and mingled with people like Democritus and Georgias to study the science further. Hippocrates also received training at the Asklepieion of Kos under the direction of the Thracian physician Herodicus of Selymbria.
Eminent Grecian thinkers like Plato and Aristotle also have made mention of the admired physician and educator. Plato identified Hippocrates as the ‘Asclepiad of Cos’ who taught medicine throughout his life and also attributed a great sense of respect towards the father of modern medicine. He identified Hippocrates as a physician — a professional stature like the noted sculptors Polyclitus and Phidias.
Career and works
Soranus, a Greek physician, provided the earliest biography of ancient Greek legends like Hippocrates and Plato, who had never recorded their discoveries and theories in a book. Instead, these philosophers had disciples who would note the teachings sacrilegiously and preserve these manuscripts. Due to this evidence, we get a hint of their minds, suggested theories, and so on. The “Hippocratic Corpus” is one such artifact that led medical science to prosper. Historians estimate that it contains around 19 writers with different construction dates and subject matter. The anthology comprises lectures delivered by the father of medicine, his philosophy, research, and medical notes. The book is essential as it provided vital information on unconfirmed theories and probable diagnoses and became a torchbearer for medicine’s rational and scientific practice. Notable pieces of the treatise are “The Hippocratic Oath,” “Aphorisms,” “Instruments of Reduction,” “The Book of Prognostics,” and so on.
Theory of four humors
Hippocrates vehemently rejected the misconceptions regarding diseases. He believed human beings became ill not because of God’s will or retribution, or even as a byproduct of mystical spirits lurking around in the environment, but due to the imbalance caused in their physical being. His rational mind separated illness from religion, allowing him to inspect the condition and behavior of the human body thoroughly. The father of medicine formulated the Theory of the Four Humors, which was celebrated and later made famous by Plato, Aristotle, and William Shakespeare.
The Hippocratic theory expounded that human beings suffered from illness when the four humors were imbalanced. The four humors consist of black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm. The four humors are believed to be linked with the earth’s four elements and determine a human’s disposition. As mystic as it may sound today, this necessary deviation ushered in a fresh idea that the human body reacted to environmental factors. Hippocrates asserted that health and illness heavily depend on diet. An unsuitable diet and other environmental factors like season, the position of certain planets, and age could potentially trigger the balance between the humors and produce diseases.
Ancient Greece barred dissecting corpses, limiting the scope of medical advancements and research. So, the father of medicine relied on prognosis rather than a diagnosis to cure his patients. Hippocrates prioritized immobilization and avoided exertion. He would bank on a clean environment, diet, soothing balms, and rarely any potent drugs. The Hippocratic school favored passive treatments and general diagnoses, successfully treating diseases and making room for further clinical studies.
Physicians became more indebted to Hippocrates’s theories, and contributions as technology and science progressed beyond Hellenistic bounds. The advancements in anatomy, physiology, surgery, and pharmacy credit the father of medicine as their origin and inspiration. Galen of Pergamum, who became the chief determiner of medicine in Renaissance Europe, expressed that the father of medicine inspired his knowledge and practice. Hippocrates was the inspiration for many physicians, while Galen provided more nuanced stances.
The relevancy of Galen faded with the dawn of the 19th century, but Hippocrates holds his place to the present day. The Hippocratic Oath remains a mark of ethics and humaneness and is still widely used today.
The legacy of the father of medicine
Hippocrates, regarded as the father of medicine to this day, had a long line of successors who looked up to the man’s brilliance. His methodologies showed a new direction in the history of medical science and remained undeterred for centuries. After Hippocrates’s death, his successors refused further improvements and treated patients based on their master’s theories. Critics have noted that the practice of documenting a patient’s clinical case history faded after Hippocrates.
However, in the middle ages, entire Europe and Arabian lands celebrated the father of medicine for many centuries. The 19th-century European practitioners like Thomas Sydenham, William Osler, William Heberden, and Jean-Mariot Charcot revived the methods of the father of medicine and began elucidating them.
- Hippocrates has made some stellar contributions to the field of medicine.
- Hippocratic Corpus is a collection of his medical work and findings and has contributed to the development of medical science.
- The father of medicine formulated the Theory of the Four Humors.
- Hippocrates, his work and findings have helped advance anatomy, physiology, surgery, and pharmacy.
- The father of medicine has taught generations how to be courageous and determined by individual beliefs.
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Q1. Who is the father of western medicine?
Answer– Hippocrates is known as the father of western medicine/modern medicine/ancient medicine.
Q2. Who is the father of Ayurveda medicine?
Answer– Charaka, an ancient Indian physician, is widely known as the father of Ayurveda medicine.
Q3. What is the Hippocratic Oath?
Answer– The Hippocratic Oath is the ethical code that medical practitioners take in order to maintain the integrity of human life. The oath is prominently mentioned in the Hippocratic Corpus and has become a testimony of humaneness and moral ethics. Practitioners who swear by the oath are obliged to prescribe beneficial treatments with their best judgment.