Hippocrates (ca. 460-370 B.C.)Hippocrates (ca. 460-370 B.C.) - The "Father of Medicine", Hippocrates is the first known human who can rightly claim the title of physician. While others before him may have practiced the art of healing, Hippocrates was the first to approach medicine as a science. One may question why the Egyptians (or a particular Egyptian, like say...Imhotep) are not considered the founders of medicine; after all, they did conduct extensive studies of the human body and embalmed their dead. However, except for performing simple non-invasive surgeries and learning to set broken bones, Egyptian medicine never progressed past a rudimentary level. Still, it was the most advanced of its time, and Hippocrates himself acknowledged the Egyptians' influence on his own work. While his legacy as a physician is well known, other events of his life are not.


Plato and Aristotle mention him in their writings, but the bulk of our knowledge comes from the 2nd century physician, Soranus of Ephesus, who wrote a biography of Hippocrates. Plato's reference is particularly interesting in that he calls Hippocrates the "Asclepiad of Cos" (Asclepius being the Greek god of medicine). He was born on the island of Cos (just off the coast of Asia Minor) around 460 B.C.. Because his ground-breaking work in medicine was considered heretical by some authorities in Greek society, he spent several years in prison. Undeterred, he wrote The Complicated Body while in prison, a work dealing with human mechanics. There is also a collection of about 60 works known as the Hippocratic Corpus, although most, if not all, were probably written by his students, not Hippocrates himself. The varying writing styles found within the corpus makes multiple authors a virtual certainty. The two things for which he is best known are his school of medicine which he founded on Kos around 400 B.C., and the oath which bears his name.