Hippocrates , a Greek physician, called the "father of medicine," horn in the island of Cos about 460 B. C, died in Larissa, Thessaly, between 375 and 351. He studied medicine with his father Heraclides, who belonged to the order of Asclepiada3, or descendants of AEscu-lapius, and afterward went to Athens to place himself under the instruction of Herodicus. He was a pupil of the philosopher Gorgias of Leontini, and perhaps also of Democritus of Abdera. Having practised his profession in Cos, he travelled through Thessaly, Macedonia, and Scythia, and finally returned to Thessaly, where he passed the close of his life. The esteem in which he was held by his contemporaries renders very improbable the story that, having charge of a library at Cos or Cnidus, he made too free a use of the writings of others, and burned the collection to conceal his plagiarisms. Hippocrates raised medicine from a system of superstitious rites practised wholly by the priests to the dignity of a learned profession. He referred diseases to two leading causes, climate and diet, and regulated the latter to suit the changes of the former as well as the state of the patient.
He taught that there were four humors in the human body, blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile, an undue preponderance of any of which was a proximate cause of sickness. With such an imperfect knowledge of anatomy as might have been looked for in an age when superstition forbade the dissection of dead bodies, he nevertheless had some acquaintance with the structure of the cranium and viscera; but he was ignorant of the true relation between the arteries and the veins, and of the distinction between nerves, tendons, and ligaments, speaks of the muscles simply as flesh, and held some singular views on generation. He drew his principles from careful observation, and was little given to theorizing. He relied perhaps too much on the healing power of nature, and the remedies by which he assisted her were mostly of a simple character. He practised bleeding, cupping, cauterization, and auscultation, and used several mineral and vegetable remedies, including purgatives. He was particularly skilful in his diagnoses, and was the first to divide the course of a disease into three periods, for the last of which, called the crisis, he assigned certain days known as the critical days.
Of the 72 books which bear the name of Hippocrates, only the " Aphorisms," " Prognostics," " Epidemics," the treatise on "Air, Water, and Locality," the treatise on "Diet," and a few others, can be attributed with much probability to the subject of this notice. Many were doubtless written by other physicians of the same name, of whom there were no fewer than seven among the Asclepiadae. Hippocrates wrote in the Ionic dialect, in a concise and sometimes obscure stylo. The best editions of his works are those of Foesius (fob, Frankfort, 1595); Van der Linden (2 vols. 8vo, Amsterdam, 1665); Mack (2 vols. fob, Vienna, 1743-9);
Littre (8 vols. 8vo, Paris, 1839-'53), with a French translation; Upman (3 vols. 8vo, Berlin, 1847); Ermerius (Utrecht, 1862-'4); and Reinhold (Athens, 1864-'5). There are English translations of the aphorisms and the treatises on "Air, Water, and Situation, upon Epidemical Diseases and upon Prognostics," etc, by Francis Clifton, M. D. (8vo, London, 1734), and of the "Genuine Works" of Hippocrates by Adams (2 vols. 8vo, London, 1849).