No ancient critic appears to have doubted the
authenticity of this work, and only Haller among
the moderns has rejected it.
It is divided roughly into two parts. The first
(Chapters I-XI) deals chiefly with the effects of
climate and situation upon health ; the second
(XII-XXIV) deals chiefly with the effects of climate
upon character. At the end of XII a portion has
been lost dealing with the Egyptians and Libyans.
The style of the book has the dignified restraint
which we associate with the Hippocratic group of
treatises. In tone it is strikingly dogmatic, conclusions
being enunciated without the evidence upon
which they are based. Modern physicians are
sceptical about many of these conclusions while
fully recognizing the value of the principle that
geographical conditions and climate influence health.
The second part of the work is scarcely medical
at all, but rather ethnographical. It bears a close
resemblance to certain parts of Herodotus, but lacks
the graceful bonhomie
which is so characteristic of
the latter writer. Indeed it is hard not to see a
close connection between the account of the impotent
effeminates of Chapter XXII and the ἐνάρεες2
of Herodotus I. 105.
MSS. AND EDITIONS.
THE chief MSS. are V and R, the latter being
a fifteenth-century MS. at Rome called Codex
To these must be added the readings
of a MS. called by Kéhlewein b, which is now lost,
but its readings have been noted by Gadaldinus of
Venice. There are two Paris MSS. worth noticing.
One (2255 or E) divides the treatise into two parts,
and the other (7027) is a Latin translation which
sometimes helps in the reconstruction of the text.
The work has often been edited. The earliest
edition was published at Venice in 1497, and there
were at least ten others during the sixteenth
The best edition is that of Coray (2 vols.,
Paris, 1800). Though verbose it is both scholarly
and medically accurate, Coray being a Greek by
birth, a medical man by training, and a scholar by
There are English translations by Peter Low
(London, 1597), John Moffat (London, 1788), Francis
Clifton (London, 1734), and, of course, Francis
Adams (London, 1849).
The following table, taken from Aetius III. 164,
may prove useful in determining the periods of the
year mentioned in the Hippocratic writings.
March 23 . . ἰς1ημερία ἐαρινή
April 1 . . αἱ πληιάδες2 ἀκρόνυχοι φαίνονται
April 19 . . αἱ πληιάδες2 ἑς1πέπιοι κρύπτονται
April 21 . . αἱ πληιάδες2 ἀμα ἡλίου ἀνατολῇ
May 7 . . . αἱ πληιάδες2 ἑὧαι φαίνονται
June 6 . . . ἀρκτοῦρος2 δύνει
June 25 . . τροπαὶ θεριναί
July 19 . . ὁ κύων εὧος2 ἐπιτέλλει
September 17 ἀρκτοῦρος2 ἐπιτέλλει
September 25 ἰς1ημερία φθινοπωρινή
November 6 αἱ πληιάδες ἑὧαι δύνους1ι
December 23 τροπαὶ χειμεριναί
February 25 ἀρκτοῦρος2 ἑς1πέριος2 ἐπιτέλλει καὶ
(26) χελιδόνες2 πέτονται καὶ φαίνονται
Spring began with the equinox, but was often
popularly dated from the appearance of swallows
and the acronychal rising of Arcturus in February.
The heliacal rising of the Pleiades marked the
beginning of summer, which ended with that of
Arcturus, an event nearly coinciding with the
autumnal equinox. Finally, winter began with the
cosmic setting of the Pleiades.
A star is said to rise heliacally when it gets far
enough in front of the sun to be visible before
dawn. It sets cosmically when it gets so much
further in advance as to be first seen setting in the
west before dawn. The acronychal is the evening
rising of a star, when it is visible all night, and
contrasts with the heliacal, or morning, rising, when
it soon disappears in the sun's rays.
Galen, in his commentary on the third section of
, implies that there are two meanings of
μεταβολαὶ τῶν ὡρέων
, a common term in Airs Waters
(1) the actual changes from season to season ;
(2) sharp contrasts of weather during the
It is clear from the passages in Airs Waters Places
where the phrase occurs that it may have either
meaning. The notion underlying it is that of
violent change in the weather.
The reader should note the meanings of the
(1) "between the winter rising of the sun and
the winter setting," i. e.
(2) "between the summer setting and the
summer rising," i. e.
roughly W.N.W. to
(3) "between the summer and winter risings,"
roughly E.N.E. to E.S.E.
The exact number of degrees is a question of
latitude. The directions given above are roughly
correct for the Mediterranean area.