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Hippocrates
(c. 460 B.C. - c. 370 B.C.)

Greek physician who is associated with the Hippocratic Writings which, in fact, are the work of a large number of anonymous medical writers. Attempts to distinguish the specific works of Hippocrates himself have been unsuccessful due to poor available evidence.

Science Quotes by Hippocrates (34 quotes)

Ars longa, vita brevis.
Art is long, life is short.
— Hippocrates
Aphorisms, i. The original was written in Greek. This Latin translation, by Seneca (De Brevitate Vitae, 1.1), is in John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations (1905), 6, footnote 3. The sense is generally taken to be, 'Life is short, but to learn a profession (an art) takes a long time.'
Science quotes on:  |  Aphorism (13)  |  Learning (130)  |  Life (460)  |  Profession (26)  |  Skill (27)

About medications that are drunk or applied to wounds it is worth learning from everyone; for people do not discover these by reasoning but by chance, and experts not more than laymen.
— Hippocrates
Affections, in Hippocrates, trans. P. Potter (1988), Vol. 5, 69. Littré VI, 254.
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (185)

An insolent reply from a polite person is a bad sign.
— Hippocrates
Prorrhetic, in Hippocrates, trans. P. Potter (1995), Vol. 8, 181.
Science quotes on:  |  Polite (3)

And if incision of the temple is made on the left, spasm seizes the parts on the right, while if the incision is on the right, spasm seizes the parts on the left.
— Hippocrates
On Wounds in the Head, in Hippocrates, trans. E. T. Withington (1927), Vol. 3, 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Incision (2)  |  Nerve (53)

And if this were so in all cases, the principle would be established, that sometimes conditions can be treated by things opposite to those from which they arose, and sometimes by things like to those from which they arose.
— Hippocrates
Places in Man, in Hippocrates, trans. P. Potter (1995), Vol. 8, 87.
Science quotes on:  |  Treatment (61)

And men ought to know that from nothing else but thence [from the brain] come joys, delights, laughter and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations. And by this, in an especial manner, we acquire wisdom and knowledge, and see and hear, and know what are foul and hat are fair, what are bad and what are good, what are sweet, and what unsavory... And by the same organ we become mad and delirious, and fears and terrors assail us... All these things we endure from the brain, when it is not healthy... In these ways I am of the opinion that the brain exercises the greatest power in the man. This is the interpreter to us of those things which emanate from the air, when it [the brain] happens to be in a sound state.
— Hippocrates
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, trans. Francis Adams (1886), Vol. 2, 344-5.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Joy (25)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Neuroscience (2)  |  Wisdom (91)

Any man who is intelligent must, on considering that health is of the utmost value to human beings, have the personal understanding necessary to help himself in diseases, and be able to understand and to judge what physicians say and what they administer to his body, being versed in each of these matters to a degree reasonable for a layman.
— Hippocrates
Affections, in Hippocrates, trans. P. Potter (1988), Vol. 5, 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (170)  |  Health (93)  |  Medicine (185)  |  Physician (172)

As to diseases, make a habit of two things—to help, or at least to do no harm.
— Hippocrates
Epidemics, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. I, 165.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (170)  |  Harm (17)

But medicine has long had all its means to hand, and has discovered both a principle and a method, through which the discoveries made during a long period are many and excellent, while full discovery will be made, if the inquirer be competent, conduct his researches with knowledge of the discoveries already made, and make them his starting-point. But anyone who, casting aside and rejecting all these means, attempts to conduct research in any other way or after another fashion, and asserts that he has found out anything, is and has been victim of deception.
— Hippocrates
Ancient Medicine, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. I, 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (360)  |  Medicine (185)  |  Research (360)

Correct is to recognize what diseases are and whence they come; which are long and which are short; which are mortal and which are not; which are in the process of changing into others; which are increasing and which are diminishing; which are major and which are minor; to treat the diseases that can be treated, but to recognize the ones that cannot be, and to know why they cannot be; by treating patients with the former, to give them the benefit of treatment as far as it is possible.
— Hippocrates
Diseases, in Hippocrates, trans. P. Potter (1988), Vol. 5, 113.
Science quotes on:  |  Diagnosis (48)  |  Treatment (61)

Even when all is known, the care of a man is not yet complete, because eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise. For food and exercise, while possessing opposite qualities, yet work together to produce health.
— Hippocrates
Regimen, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1931), Vol. 4, 229.
Science quotes on:  |  Exercise (26)  |  Food (77)  |  Health (93)

First of all a natural talent is required; for when Nature opposes, everything else is in vain; but when Nature leads the way to what is most excellent, instruction in the art takes place...
— Hippocrates
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, trans. Francis Adams (1886), Vol. 2, 284.
Science quotes on:  |  Education (177)

How twins are born my discourse will explain thus. The cause is chiefly the nature of the womb in woman. For if it has grown equally on either side of its mouth, and if it opens equally, and also dries equally after menstruation, it can give nourishment, if it conceive the secretion of the man so that it immediately divides into both parts of the womb equally. Now if the seed secreted from both parents be abundant and strong, it can grow in both places, as it masters the nourishment that reaches it. In all other cases twins are not formed. Now when the secretion from both parents is male, of necessity boys are begotten in both places; but when from both it is female, girls are begotten. But when one secretion is female and the other male, whichever masters the other gives the embryo its sex. Twins are like one another for the following reasons. First, the places are alike in which they grow; then they were secreted together; then they grow by the same nourishment, and at birth they reach together the light of day.
— Hippocrates
Regimen, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1931), Vol. 4, 273.
Science quotes on:  |  Birth (47)  |  Twin (4)  |  Womb (3)

I also maintain that clear knowledge of natural science must be acquired, in the first instance, through mastery of medicine alone.
— Hippocrates
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1929), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Medicine (185)

I am about to discuss the disease called 'sacred'. It is not, in my opinion, any more divine or more sacred that other diseases, but has a natural cause, and its supposed divine origin is due to men's inexperience, and to their wonder at its peculiar character.
— Hippocrates
The Sacred Disease, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. 2, 139.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (170)  |  Sacred (8)

I have clearly recorded this: for one can learn good lessons also from what has been tried but clearly has not succeeded, when it is clear why it has not succeeded.
— Hippocrates
On Joints, 47. Trans. R. W. Sharples.
Science quotes on:  |  Diagnosis (48)

In acute diseases the physician must conduct his inquiries in the following way. First he must examine the face of the patient, and see whether it is like the faces of healthy people, and especially whether it is like its usual self. Such likeness will be the best sign, and the greatest unlikeness will be the most dangerous sign. The latter will be as follows. Nose sharp, eyes hollow, temples sunken, ears cold and contracted with their lobes turned outwards, the skin about the face hard and tense and parched, the colour of the face as a whole being yellow or black.
— Hippocrates
Prognostic, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. 2, 9.
Science quotes on:  |  Diagnosis (48)  |  Disease (170)

Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.
— Hippocrates
Oath, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. 1, 301.
Science quotes on:  |  Oath (5)  |  Physician (172)

Life is short, and the Art long; the occasion fleeting; experience fallacious, and judgment difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.
— Hippocrates
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, trans. Francis Adams (1886), Vol. 2, 192.
Science quotes on:  |  Life (460)  |  Physician (172)

Life is short, the Art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult. The physician must be ready, not only to do his duty himself, but also to secure the co-operation of the patient, of the attendants and of externals.
— Hippocrates
Aphorisms, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1931), Vol. 4, 99.
Science quotes on:  |  Life (460)  |  Nurse (13)  |  Patient (54)  |  Physician (172)

Medicine in its present state is, it seems to me, by now completely discovered, insofar as it teaches in each instance the particular details and the correct measures. For anyone who has an understanding of medicine in this way depends very little upon good luck, but is able to do good with or without luck. For the whole of medicine has been established, and the excellent principles discovered in it clearly have very little need of good luck.
— Hippocrates
Places in Man, in Hippocrates, trans. P. Potter (1995), Vol. 8, 93.
Science quotes on:  |  Luck (22)  |  Medicine (185)

Medicine is of all the Arts the most noble; but, owing to the ignorance of those who practice it, and of those who, inconsiderately, form a judgment of them, it is at present behind all the arts.
— Hippocrates
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, trans. Francis Adams (1886), Vol. 2, 283.
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (185)

Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joys, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs and tears. Through it, in particular, we think, see, hear, and distinguish the ugly from the beautiful, the bad from the good, the pleasant from the unpleasant, in some cases using custom as a test, in others perceiving them from their utility. It is the same thing which makes us mad or delirious, inspires us with dread or fear, whether by night or by day, brings sleeplessness, inopportune mistakes, aimless anxieties, absent-mindedness, and acts that are contrary to habit. These things that we suffer all come from the brain, when it is not healthy, but becomes abnormally hot, cold, moist, or dry, or suffers any other unnatural affection to which it was not accustomed. Madness comes from its moistness.
— Hippocrates
The Sacred Disease, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. 2, 175.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Joy (25)  |  Madness (15)  |  Pain (49)  |  Pleasure (52)

Men think epilepsy divine, mere because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.
— Hippocrates
As given in Carl SaganCosmos (1985), 145.
Science quotes on:  |  Divine (17)  |  Hippocrates (37)  |  Understanding (231)

Physicians are many in title but very few in reality.
— Hippocrates
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, trans. Francis Adams (1886), Vol. 2, 284.
Science quotes on:  |  Physician (172)

Science begets knowledge; opinion, ignorance.
— Hippocrates
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1929), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Opinion (81)  |  Science (875)

The body of man has in itself blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile; these make up the nature of this body, and through these he feels pain or enjoys health. Now he enjoys the most perfect health when these elements are duly proportioned to one another in respect of compounding, power and bulk, and when they are perfectly mingled.
— Hippocrates
Nature of Man, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1931), Vol. 4, II.
Science quotes on:  |  Bile (2)  |  Blood (63)  |  Body (88)  |  Health (93)  |  Pain (49)

The brain of man, like that of all animals is double, being parted down its centre by a thin membrane. For this reason pain is not always felt in the same part of the head, but sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other, and occasionally all over.
— Hippocrates
The Sacred Disease, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. 2, 153.
Science quotes on:  |  Brain (106)  |  Pain (49)

The forms of diseases are many and the healing of them is manifold.
— Hippocrates
Nature of Man, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1931), Vol. 4, 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Cure (49)  |  Disease (170)

THE OATH. I swear by Apollo [the healing God], the physician and Aesclepius [son of Apollo], and Health [Hygeia], and All-heal [Panacea], and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this 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 look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall 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 those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen 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 any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are 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, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!
— Hippocrates
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, trans. Francis Adams (1886), Vol. 2, 344-5.
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (185)  |  Oath (5)  |  Physician (172)

There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.
— Hippocrates
Law sect. 4, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. 2, 265.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (325)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Opinion (81)

There are some arts which to those that possess them are painful, but to those that use them are helpful, a common good to laymen, but to those that practise them grievous. Of such arts there is one which the Greeks call medicine. For the medical man sees terrible sights, touches unpleasant things, and the misfortunes of others bring a harvest of sorrows that are peculiarly his; but the sick by means of the art rid themselves of the worst of evils, disease, suffering, pain and death.
— Hippocrates
Breaths, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1923), Vol. 2, 227.
Science quotes on:  |  Death (183)  |  Disease (170)  |  Pain (49)  |  Physician (172)

Through seven figures come sensations for a man; there is hearing for sounds, sight for the visible, nostril for smell, tongue for pleasant or unpleasant tastes, mouth for speech, body for touch, passages outwards and inwards for hot or cold breath. Through these come knowledge or lack of it.
— Hippocrates
Regimen, in Hippocrates, trans. W. H. S. Jones (1931), Vol. 4, 261.
Science quotes on:  |  Body (88)  |  Breath (15)  |  Hearing (19)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Mouth (10)  |  Nostril (3)  |  Sense (104)  |  Sight (12)  |  Smell (9)  |  Speech (19)  |  Taste (16)  |  Tongue (8)  |  Touch (19)

Whoever is to acquire a competent knowledge of medicine, ought to be possessed of the following advantages: a natural disposition; instructionl a favorable place for the study; early tuition, love of labor; leisure.
— Hippocrates
The Genuine Works of Hippocrates, trans. Francis Adams (1886), Vol. 2, 284.
Science quotes on:  |  Physician (172)



Quotes by others about Hippocrates (3)

How is it, one fine morning, Duchenne discovered a disease which probably existed in the time of Hippocrates.
In Fielding Hudson Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1929), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (170)

Break the chains of your prejudices and take up the torch of experience, and you will honour nature in the way she deserves, instead of drawing derogatory conclusions from the ignorance in which she has left you. Simply open your eyes and ignore what you cannot understand, and you will see that a labourer whose mind and knowledge extend no further than the edges of his furrow is no different essentially from the greatest genius, as would have been proved by dissecting the brains of Descartes and Newton; you will be convinced that the imbecile or the idiot are animals in human form, in the same way as the clever ape is a little man in another form; and that, since everything depends absolutely on differences in organisation, a well-constructed animal who has learnt astronomy can predict an eclipse, as he can predict recovery or death when his genius and good eyesight have benefited from some time at the school of Hippocrates and at patients' bedsides.
Machine Man (1747), in Ann Thomson (ed.), Machine Man and Other Writings (1996), 38.
Science quotes on:  |  Ape (26)  |  Astronomy (105)  |  Death (183)  |  Renι Descartes (32)  |  Eclipse (11)  |  Experience (132)  |  Genius (92)  |  Idiot (10)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Imbecile (3)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Mind (272)  |  Nature (534)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (176)  |  Patient (54)  |  Prejudice (31)  |  Recovery (8)

Men think epilepsy divine, mere because they do not understand it. But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things.
As given in Carl SaganCosmos (1985), 145.
Science quotes on:  |  Divine (17)  |  Understanding (231)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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