A Short History of Science

By W. T. Sedgwick; H. W. Tyler | Go to book overview

APPENDICES

A. THE OATH OF HIPPOCRATES (About 400 B.C.)

[This, as Gomperz observes, is a monument in the history of civilization. It is no less a monument in the history of science, since it proceeds from the Father of Medicine more than two thousand years ago and, if we except mathematics, medicine is the oldest of the sciences. There are many translations of the "Oath," some more literal and some, like the following, more free.]

I swear by Apollo the physician [Healer], and Æsculapius, and Health [Hygeia], and All-heal [Panaceia], and all the gods and goddesses, that according to my ability and judgment I will keep this oath and stipulation: to reckon him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him and relieve his necessities if required; to regard his offspring as on the same footing with my own brothers, and to teach them this art if they should wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation, and that by precept, lecture and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and to those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath, according to the law of medicine, but to none other.

I will follow that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; furthermore, I will not give to a woman an instrument to produce abortion.

With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my art. I will not cut a person who is suffering with a stone, but will leave this to be done by practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and further from the seduction of females or males, bond or free.

-399-

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