Hippocrates

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Hippocrates of Cos, universally venerated as the father of medicine, was apparently an older contemporary of Plato (thus c.400 bc) but absolutely nothing is known of his life from contemporary Greek sources. Much later writings suggest that he was the founder of the medical school of Cos, which had a distinctive philosophy opposed to that of neighbouring Cnidos, and was the author of an uncertain number of authoritative works on anatomy, surgery, medicine, dietetics, and medical philosophy. However, the substantial collection of medical writings of all kinds that goes under Hippocrates’ name was really written by many different authors (some of whom followed Cnidian rather than Coan teachings) at different dates. It is a kind of library. Clearly, from a very early date, the tradition was to collect medical writings under the honourable name of Hippocrates, and there is no way of knowing whether any were really written by a person of that name.