Keep watch also on the faults of the patients,
which often make them lie about the taking of
At First Sight it is indeed ironic that the so-called Hippocratic Oath, which is the most renowned medical ethical document and the one most popularly associated with Hippocrates' name, is now judged by very few scholars to be authored by Hippocrates. What's more, it is especially doubtful that the Oath accurately reflects the ethical values and medical practices that the Hippocratic authors favored and typically followed in their practice of medicine. In what follows, I shall endorse these conclusions in two steps. First, I shall critically discuss two important contemporary positions on the date, origin, and purpose of the Oath. Then I shall argue that the Oath represents essentially an esoteric ethical code that is partly, though not exclusively, of Pythagorean origin.
The Oath itself is a very short document. It reads in full:
(PI) I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Pana-
ceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will
fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant.
(P2) To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and
to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money, to give
him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in
male lineage and to teach them this art—if they desire to learn it—without
fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the