Hippocrates

Topics: Hippocratic Oath, Ancient Greece, Medicine Pages: 5 (1691 words) Published: September 5, 2013
In ancient Greece around 400 B.C., many historical events took place. Hippocrates, who is credited as the “father of medicine”, wrote On Ancient Medicine which revolutionized the way the ancient Greeks viewed health and medicine. The text On Ancient Medicine is a piece contained in the Hippocratic Corpus, a collection of ancient Greek medical texts. This writing was important to this time period, and heavily impacted the ancient Greek society. In this text, there is an oath, simply titled The Oath, which is still used by doctors today. From these texts, many Greek philosophers discovered valuable ideas that they used in this new field which Hippocrates believed should be separate from religious ideas. Without the ideas of Hippocrates, modern medicine may not be what it is today. The text of Hippocrates, On Ancient Medicine, holds his views on medicine, highlighting the argument of natural causes as opposed to supernatural causes of illness, the importance of diet and the importance of fitness to keep the body strong and healthy.

The text, On Ancient Medicine was divided up into 24 parts, where each part highlighted a certain idea of his. The main focus of this document was to argue the absurdity of relying on chance to treat the sick, and targeted the philosophers of that day and criticized their beliefs. Hippocrates claimed that it was easier to learn about nature and diseases by studying the human body, rather than focus on the supernatural aspect of health and medicine. One of the main ideas of this text was based upon equilibrium of the body and the four bodily fluids he referred to as the “four humors” which consisted of blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. Basically, Hippocrates believed that to stay healthy all four of these “humors” must stay in balance. Another main idea of this text focused on foods and what should and should not be consumed while an individual was sick so they could get better. The text suggests that the health of prehistoric people was poor due to the fact that they ate mostly raw foods, and to stay healthy it was necessary to cook their foods. This all resulted in the “art of medicine”.

The first part of On Ancient Medicine argued that whomever decided to hypothesize that good or bad health was only caused by the “four elements” (hot/fire, cold/air, moist/water,dry/earth) were mistaken and unskilled. Hippocrates argued that by only using these “four elements” to explain the root of disease narrowed their thinking and did not allow for further investigation of the real cause. In this segment, Hippocrates claimed that had people not learned about medicine, everything concerning the sick would have been left up to chance. Hippocrates also stated that hypotheses that were “occult and dubious” did not give the truth. Hippocrates argued that supernatural explanations should not have been used anymore; the explanations should have been natural to find out the real truth. Before these advancements in medicine, the ancient Greeks believed that health and sickness was constituted by many of the Greek gods and goddesses. Hygeia was the goddess that was considered to be in charge of ancient Greek health. Prior to the text of Hippocrates, the practice of ancient Greek medicine was mostly limited to the temples of Esculapius and the priests in ancient Greece. The patients brought gifts, sacrifices and often fasted in attempt to have the gods cure them of their diseases.

Another part of the text concentrated on the importance of exercise and diet on staying healthy and being strong. Hippocrates stated that those who “devote themselves to gymnastics and training…by eating and drinking certain things, they are improved and grow stronger than they were”. The ancient Greeks were known for their beliefs in the importance of fitness. The ancient Greeks believed that keeping the body fit and healthy was extremely important, and societies of this time, Sparta for example, required...
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