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who are familiar with it. Such persons are like the figures which are introduced in tragedies: for, as they have the shape, and dress, and personal appearance of actors, and are not actors, so also physicians are many in title, but very few in reality.*
Such, then, was the condition of our profession in Greece up to the period at which it fairly emerged from the traditionary lore of the temples, and assumed its position as a rational and progressive science. The honor of effecting this change, the world has ascribed to Hippocrates.
HIPPOCRATES AND HIS IMMEDIATE SUCCESSORS.
Or the personal history of Hippocrates, we know but little. He was born in the year 460 before the birth of Christ, and was, consequently, a few years older than Plato, and younger than Socrates. He received his professional education under his father, Heraclides, at the Asclepion of Cos; and we are told that in his youth, at Athens and elsewhere, he had the benefit of the ablest masters in science and philosophy; among whom were the sophist Gorgias, and' the hygienist Herodicus, of Selymbria. It is also said that he studied under Democritus of Abdera'; or, as some suppose, Heraclitus. After the death of
The Law. Adams's Hippocrates, vol. ii., p. 784.
his father, in accordance with the custom of the philosophers and physicians of that epoch, he traveled over many countries; and afterwards, in the pursuit of his profession, spent much time in the cities of Macedonia, Thrace, and other parts of Greece. At Athens, about the time of the Peloponnesian war, his reputation was such, either for the professional services rendered to that city in relieving it of an epidemic, or for having refused to assist the enemies of his country when solicited to do so by Artaxerxes, that it was decreed that he should be initiated into the Mysteries of Eleusis, that he should enjoy the right of citizenship, that he should be supported in the Prytaneum at the public expense, that he should be honored with a golden crown, and that all the children born at Cos, his native island, might pass their youth at Athens, where they should be treated as the offspring of Athenian citizens. How much of his time may have been spent in the city where he was thus distinguished, has not been ascertained; but his most protracted residence, was at Larissa and other cities of Thessaly, where he spent his latter days, and where he died, at the advanced age of eighty-five or ninety years.*
Many speculations have been offered, to account for the rapid advancement of medicine in the hands of this great father of the profession. According to Celsus, his principal credit was in removing the teaching of medicine from the schools of philosophy, where it had always received some attention, and
Soranus. Genus et Vita Hippocratis. See Kuhn's Hippocrates, vol.
iii., p. 850.
treating of it apart, as a distinct department of practical knowledge. Pliny,* after Varro, supposes that he was the first to institute clinical instruction,). "hanc quæ Clinica vocatur," that he was led to this after the burning of the temple of Cos, and that the materials of his course were supplied mainly by the votive tablets which had been there accumulating. But his claim to our respect rests on higher ground.
The great among mankind are not merely those who set the first examples. Examples are often the result of accident; and the best of them, in a prac tical point of view, rarely the result of forethought. He who detects the rising spirit of the age, who first gives expressions and embodiment, or the power of progress and endurance, to the wisdom, feelings, aspirations, customs, or hitherto undivulged opinions of his times, is even more worthy of regard than the innovator. Such a man was Hippocrates. He lived in an age of progress. The earliest historians, the earliest and ablest dramatists, the profoundest philosophers, the wisest legislators, the ablest generals, the greatest architects, painters, and sculptors of Greece, were all men of the same epoch. And while other arts and sciences were thus springing into life, and rising at once to maturity, it is not surprising that some man of genius should appear in the ranks of medicine, to give to its principles form and utterance. This man was Hippocrates.
He was not, then, the inventor of the healing art,, nor of the modes of teaching it. He was not the
Hist. Nat. Lib. xxix., cap. i.
first to write upon it. But familiar with its traditionary lore, with the science and philosophy of his day, and with the practical details of his profession in all its bearings, he was the first to combine such knowledge in systematic form, and to give to it a scientific value; yet not so clearly scientific, as to be sufficient of itself, in the form in which he left it, and independent of oral comment or practical illustration, to qualify the aspirant who would avail himself of it alone, for the proper exercise of his calling. "The more I become familiar with the Hippocratic books," says M. Littré,* "the more I am convinced that they were prepared with reference to the accompaniment of oral instruction, without. which even the clearest of them are both obscure and incomplete."
Yet these books opened to the learned much that had hitherto been taught in full only to the initiated, and paved the way for the more exact and rational study of medicine as a liberal art. The loss of respect for the mysteries of the temples was afterwards in proportion to the general diffusion of correct knowledge. The schools of Cnidos and Cos had now entered upon the cultivation of medicine as a science; and with them were associated not only the family descendants of this great man, but also most of the distinguished names in the profession between the days of Hippocrates and the founding of the Alexandrian Museum.
Among the writings attributed to Hippocrates, it
Euvres d'Hippocrat, tome iv. p. 625.
is difficult to determine what portion was written by himself, and what by his immediate disciples. On this point the critics have never been able to agree. By Erotian and Galen many works were accepted as his which the moderns are disposed to refer to other writers. Foës,* to whom we are indebted for a most careful Latin version of the whole collection, was willing to accept as genuine all works pronounced to be such by the ancients; but the later critics have not so readily deferred to ancient authority.
According to Mercuriali,+ not more than fourteen treatises out of the whole collection were published by Hippocrates himself. Five others, according to the same critic, may have been left by him unfinished, to be completed either by his son-in-law and successor, Polybius, by his sons Thessalus and' Draco, by his grandson Hippocrates, or by other members of his family. A third portion, including about twenty-two treatises, though perhaps not even begun by Hippocrates, is in strict accordance with his doctrines, and is believed by Mercuriali to have emanated from the immediate descendants of Hippocrates or other disciples of the school of Cos. The remaining portion of the collection, according to the same authority, consists of spurious writings, and of such as contain opinions not in accordance with the doctrines of Hippocrates, though published as his.
* Magni Hippocratis Opera omnia quæ extant, in sectiones octo ex Erotiani mente distributa, nunc recens Latina interpretatione et annotationibus illustrata, Anutio Fasio auctore. 2 vols. fol. Frankfort, 1595. See Schulze, p. 215.