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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/01.ACM.0000424220.16454.f5
Medicine and the Arts

Hippocratic Corpus: [Excerpts]

Hippocrates

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Longrigg J. Aphorisms I.1 (page 102) and Decorum 16 (page 104). In: Greek Medicine: From the Heroic to the Hellinistic Age. New York, NY: Routledge; 1998. Copyright © Routledge. Reprinted with permission.

Lloyd GER. Prognostic 1 (page 68) and The Canon (page 170). In: Hippocratic Writings. New York, NY: Penguin Books; 1983. Copyright © Penguin Books. Reproduced by permission of Penguin Books Ltd.

Aphorisms I.1: Life is short, art is long, opportunity fleeting, experiment dangerous, judgment difficult. Not only must the physician show himself prepared to do what is necessary, he must also secure the co-operation of the patient, the attendants, and of external circumstances. (Translated by J. Longrigg.)

Prognostic 1: It seems to be highly desirable that a physician should pay much attention to prognosis. If he is able to tell his patients when he visits them not only about their past and present symptoms, but also to tell them what is going to happen, as well as to fill in the details they have omitted, he will increase his reputation as a medical practitioner and people will have no qualms in putting themselves under his care. Moreover, he will the better be able to effect a cure if he can foretell, from the present symptoms, the future course of the disease. (Translated by J. Chadwick and W.N. Mann.)

Decorum 16: Do everything in a calm and orderly manner, concealing most things from the patient while treating him. Give what encouragement is required cheerfully and calmly, diverting his attention from his own circumstances; on one occasion rebuke him harshly and strictly, on another console him with solicitude and attention, revealing nothing of his future or present condition. For many patients through this cause have been pushed the other way. (Translated by J. Longrigg.)

The Canon: Although the art of healing is the most noble of all the arts, yet, because of the ignorance both of its professors and of their rash critics, it has at this time fallen into the least repute of them all. The chief cause for this seems to me to be that it is the only science for which states have laid down no penalties for malpractice. Ill-repute is the only punishment and this does little harm to the quacks who are compounded of nothing else. (Translated by J. Chadwick and W.N. Mann.)

© 2013 Association of American Medical Colleges

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