Hippocrates (ca. 460–377 B.C.) was born on the Greek island of Cos into a family of priests and phy- sicians. He was educated at a famous school in Cos and received medical training from his father and other medical practitioners. By the time Hippocrates moved to Athens, he had acquired remarkable profi- ciency in the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of disease. He kept detailed records that gave precise accounts of mumps, epilepsy, hysteria, arthritis, and tuberculosis, to name only a few. From his training and observations, Hippocrates concluded that all disorders (both mental and physical) were caused by natural factors such as inherited susceptibility to disease, organic injury, and an imbalance of bodily fluids. Hippocrates is often referred to as the father of medicine, but this is only correct if we view him as “a culmination rather than a beginning” . Several important phy- sicians before Hippocrates (such as Alcmaeon and Empedocles) had challenged medical practices based on superstition and magic. However, Hippocrates’ great accomplishment was that he took the devel- opment of naturalistic medicine to new heights.
As with Pythagoras, it is difficult to separate what Hippocrates actually said from what his followers said. However, there is a corpus of ancient material consistent enough to be referred to as Hippocratic writings (see, for example, Lloyd, 1978). Therefore, we will hereafter refer to the Hippocratics rather than to Hippocrates.