1902 Encyclopedia > Medicine > Development of Medicine in Greece

(Part 11)

Development of Medicine in Greece

It is only from non-medical writers that anything is known of the development of medicine in Greece before the age of Hippocrates. The elaborate collections made by Daremberg of medical notices in the poets and historians illustrate the relations of the profession to society, but do little to prepare us for the Hippocratic period. Nor is much importance to be attached to the influence of the philosophical sects on medicine except as regards the school of Pythagoras. That philosopher and several of his successors were physicians, but we do not know in what relation they stood to later medical schools. We must therefore hasten onward to the age of Pericles, in which Hippocrates, already called "the Great," was in medicine as complete a representative of the highest efforts of the Greek intellect as were his contemporaries the great philosophers, orators, and tragedians. The medical art as we now practise it, the character of the physician as we now understand it, both date for us from Hippocrates. The justification of this statement is found in the literary collection of writings known by his name. Of these certainly many are falsely ascribed as certainly rightly so ascribed; others again are clearly works of his hand or not. But which are to be regarded as the "genuine works" is still uncertain, and authorities are conflicting. There are clearly two schools represented in the collection, -- that of Cnidus in a small proportion, and that of Cos in far the larger number of the works. The latter was that to which Hippocrates belonged, and where he gave instruction; and accordingly it may be taken that works of this school, when not obviously of a different date, are Hippocratic in doctrine if not in actual authorship.

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