6. LIFE OF HIPPOCRATES.
We possess three ancient biographies of Hippocrates :
one by Suidas, one by Tzetzes, and one by
Soranus, a late writer of uncertain date.
From these we gather that Hippocrates was born
in Cos in 460 B.C.;1
that he belonged to the guild of
physicians called Asclepiadae ; that his father was
Heraclides, and his teachers were Herodicus and
his own father ; that he travelled all over Greece,
and was a great friend of Democritus of Abdera ;
that his help was sought by Perdiccas king of Macedonia
and by Artaxerxes king of Persia ; that he
stayed the plague at Athens and in other places ;
that his life was a long one but of uncertain length,
the traditions making him live 85, 90, 104 or 109
In these accounts there is a certain amount of
fable, but in the broad outline there is nothing
improbable except the staying of the Athenian
plague, which is directly contrary to the testimony
of Thucydides, who expressly states that medical
help was generally unsuccessful.
in the Hippocratic collection, and the
so-called Decree of the Athenians
, merely give, with
fuller picturesqueness of detail, the same sort of
information as is contained in the biographies.
Plato refers to Hippocrates in two dialogues--the
and the Phaedrus.3
passage tells us that Hippocrates was a Coan, an
Asclepiad, and a professional trainer of medical
students ; the latter states as a fundamental principle
of Hippocratic physiology the dogma that an understanding
of the body is impossible without an
understanding of nature as a whole, in modern
language, physiology is inseparable from physics and
we learn that Hippocrates was
already known as "the Great Hippocrates."
Such is the ancient account of Hippocrates, a
name without writings, as Wilamowitz says. There
is no quotation from any treatise in the Corpus
and he assigns as the author not Hippocrates
has been recognized by Littré as a reference to
, but Galen is positive that it refers
to Nature of Man.
In fact the connexion between the great physician
and the collection of writings which bears his name
cannot with any confidence be carried further back
than Ctesias the Cnidian,7
Diocles of Carystus8
the writer of the recently discovered Iatrica.
Ctesias and Diocles belong to the earlier half of the
fourth century, and Menon was a pupil of Aristotle.