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ON the south-eastern coast of Asia Minor, there is a deep indentation known by the name of the Ceramic Gulph. At the entrance of this long bay is the island of Cos. It is rather smaller than the Isle of Wight, being ninety-five square miles in extent, and of somewhat the same shape. On the opposite shore, to the right, looking eastward, on a point of the main land, stood its great rival the town and
temple of Cnidus. Cos was a fertile country, carrying on an extensive trade in wine and ointments, and manufacturing a peculiar kind of dress which went by its name (Coo Vestes). Its chief town was beautifully situated on the north-east side, and had an excellent harbour. In the immediate neighbourhood stood the Asclepieum, or temple of Esculapius. Here, about the year 460 B.C., were born Apelles, the greatest painter of his age-possibly of any age and Hippocrates, the second of his name, called the Great his grandfather, the first Hippocrates, was the great-grandson of Sostratus the Third, whose ancestor, the first Sostratus, was the grandson of the Homeric hero, Podalirius, son of Esculapius.2
We may fairly assume that Hippocrates and Apelles were early companions; and, possibly, some of the peculiarities of the style of the great physician may be due to the influence of the great painter. Hippocrates' descriptive faculty, in which, in his own department, he has never been even approached in excellence, is wholly destitute of literary merit. It has the severity of naked truth. He sees with the eye of an artist, but tells what he sees in the plainest, most unartistic method. For example, take his picture of a dying face: "a sharp nose, hollow eyes, collapsed temples ; the ears cold, contracted, and their lobes turned out; the skin about the forehead being rough, distended, and parched; the colour of the whole face being green, black, livid, or lead-coloured." This still goes by the name of the facies Hippocratica, or "the dying face, by Hippocrates." If we compare this picture of a dying man with that drawn by Shakespere, we shall at once perceive the points of resemblance and contrast: "After I saw him fumble with the sheets, and play with the flowers, and smile upon his
'Smith's Classical Dict., Art. Cos. 2 The genuine works of Hippocrates, translated by Francis Adams. Sydenham Soc. p. 23. Dr. Adams has laid
not the profession alone of which he is so great an ornament, but humanity itself, under a debt of gratitude by his admirable revival of Hippocrates.
finger-ends, I knew there was but one way; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and he babbled of green fields." Both these pictures give the permanent and universal, stripped of the accidental; they both exhibit a perception of the type, which is the first step in art; but while Hippocrates contents himself with this and jots it down, as becomes a physician, to assist him and his followers in recognizing the indications of approaching death, Shakespere completes it by giving form and finish to the wording, so as to satisfy the mind with the picture itself.
When old enough to go to school, Hippocrates was sent to Selimbria, in Thrace, on the coast of the Propontis, not far from where Constantinople now stands. Here he came under the tuition and discipline of Herodicus, a man of great celebrity in his day, who seems to have been the first to institute a regular system of exercise and regimen, not only for the use of his pupils, but for invalids. He was the Priesnitz of Greece, and as such incurred the ridicule of Plato, who describes him as sending his patients on a walk from Athens to Megara and back without a rest, a distance of fifty-two English miles. This is probably a caricature. He is blamed, however, by Hippocrates-at least, in one of the Hippocratic treatises-for attempting to cure fevers by exercise; and Plato hits the blot in the whole system of this kind of treatment-no less applicable to the modern Water-cure than to the method of Herodicus-when he observes, that this way of going on may do very well for rich people, who can afford to spend their life in taking care of it; but that when a mason or carpenter falls ill, he sends for a physician to cure him then and there by some immediate expedient, otherwise he must starve. Notwithstanding the objections to the extravagances of this
1 Death of Falstaff, Henry V., Act II.
2 Phædrus, in principio.
3 Book of Epidemics.
Gymnasium, it was doubtless an excellent training for the young Hippocrates, as his master insisted upon rigid abstinence from all deleterious food and habits.
After leaving Herodicus, he went to Gorgias, a celebrated orator and philosopher in Sicily, and to Democritus of Abdera, who seems to have been quite an encyclopædia of learning. His knowledge "embraced, not only the natural sciences, mathematics, mechanics, grammar, music, and philosophy, but various other useful arts ;" and he was, besides, a founder of an atomic theory, which we shall have to consider more in detail in the sequel.
Having finished his university education-taken his degree, as we should now term it, Hippocrates returned to the study of medicine at the schools of Cnidos and his native Cos; and in time-how long it took we can form not even a conjecture—he acquired a reputation as a physician, which gradually increased till it ripened into a splendid renown, and bore his name over Greece to foreign courts. Perdikkas, the young king of Macedonia, was supposed to be dying of consumption, and Hippocrates was sent for. After carefully observing the patient, the physician noticed an aggravation of the febrile accession every time a certain lady, of the name of Phila, in the employment of the youth's father, approached. Hippocrates pronounced the consumption to be love, and that Phila alone could cure him. The issue justified the prediction.2
It is strange that several of the most celebrated cures in history should be of a similar complexion. Erasistratus detected the love of Antiochus for Stratonike by the following device. The young man was wasting away, and no one could divine the cause. Erasistratus put his hand upon the chest of the invalid, and arranged that the attractive attendants of the court should file past him. When Strato
1 Smith's Class. Dict., Art. "Democritus."
2 Apologie des Hippocrates, von. K. Sprengel, p. 58.
nike appeared, the heart of Antiochus throbbed so violently as to reveal the cause of all his illness.1
Avicenna, the Arabian, is reported to have gained great repute, when he himself was quite a youth, by making just such a hit.2
If it require such men as Hippocrates and Avicenna to make the discovery, there must now be many sufferers from this complaint undergoing daily examination with stethoscopes, and all the ingenious modern substitutes for the discerning eye which sees at a glance what no science will ever reveal.
No wonder that, with such a reputation, his advice should be sought by the Athenians at the time the plague committed such deadly havoc in their city. Although the fact is not mentioned by the great historian of the event, Thucydides, there are good grounds for the general belief that Hippocrates was consulted, and recommended the lighting of large fires all about the city to stay the progress of the infection.3
By this we learn what a vast step had been made in recognizing disease as a natural result of certain physical causes, not the baneful act of some incensed god or goddess. Indeed, in this respect, Hippocrates was far in advance, not only of his own age, but of much later periods. can be more emphatic than his rejection of supernatural influences as causes of any disease whatever.
We may take, as proof, what he says of Epilepsy, which, from its mysterious character, was called par excellence "the sacred disease." "It is thus with regard to the disease
1 Plutarch, quoted by Sprengel, Vol. I., p. 240.
2 Sprengel, Vol. II., p. 420.
3 Galen says, the wood used for the fires was of an aromatic kind, probably some species of pine.
Aretæus gives the following explanation of the epithet in his Chapter on Epilepsy:-"There is a sort of ignominy, too, in its character, for it seems to attack those who offend the moon, and hence the disease is termed
sacred,' as it may be from other sources, either from its magnitude (for what is great is sacred), or from the cure not being in the power of man, but of God, or from the notion that a demon had entered into the patient, or from all put together, that it has been so called." - Aretaus on the Causes and Signs of Acute or Chronic Disease. Translated from the Greek, by T. F. Reynolds, M.B., 1837, p. 62.