Hippocrates II, also known as Hippocrates of Kos or Hippocrates the Great, was a Greek physician who was born in the year 460 BCE on the Greek island of Kos and is thought to have died in the Ancient Greek town of Larissa in 377 BCE.
Having earned one of the most stellar reputations in medical history, Hippocrates is known by the sobriquet of the “Father of Medicine” due to his contributions as the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine, which revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece. Hippocrates formed a distinct discipline from a field that had been previously associated with religion, creating a unique profession.
Hippocrates is believed to be the first physician to form the hypothesis that diseases had causes in nature, such as health habits, diet, and environmental factors, and that conditions were not caused by the gods.
Hippocrates is believed to have inspired, if not to have actually written, the Hippocratic oath, which is based upon his medical methodology and principles, incorporating ethical practices and standards that are still used as a founding moral guide. It is the basis of the vow that contemporary physicians of today take a modernized version of upon successfully completing medical school and beginning their medical practice.
Much of what is known about Hippocrates and the school of medical thought that he founded is derived from the over 60 medical books, which historians posit are the work of a diverse group of doctors practicing during the Father of Medicine’s life and shortly after his death. This collection of works came to be known as the Hippocratic Corpus, and they are thought to be some of the oldest written meditations on medicine.
Some ideas that Hippocrates and the Corpus generated included the need to record case histories and treatments, the relationship between the weather and some health conditions, and the importance of maintaining a lifestyle that included physical exercise and a healthy diet as a cure for many illnesses. If additional aid was needed medication was prescribed, and the medicine was often based upon medicinal plants.
A fascinating quality of the Hippocratic Corpus is that the works share common ideas about the body and about the nature of diseases. They were written for an audience of physicians, pharmacists, and laypersons to facilitate better communication with one another.