Hippocrates was a Greek physician born in 460 BC on the island of Kos Island, Greece. He became known as the founder of medicine and was regarded as the greatest physician of his time. He based his medical practice on observations and on the study of the human body. He held the belief that illness had a physical and a rational explanation. He rejected the views of his time that considered illness to be caused by superstitions and by possession of evil spirits and disfavor of the gods.
Hippocrates held the belief that the body must be treated as a whole and not just a series of parts. He accurately described disease symptoms and was the first physician to accurately describe the symptoms of pneumonia, as well as epilepsy in children. He believed in the natural healing process of rest, a good diet, fresh air and cleanliness. He noted that there were individual differences in the severity of disease symptoms and that some individuals were better able to cope with their disease and illness than others. He was also the first physician that held the belief that thoughts, ideas, and feelings come from the brain and not the heart as others of him time believed.
Hippocrates traveled throughout Greece practicing his medicine. He founded a medical school on the island of Kos, Greece and began teaching his ideas. He soon developed an Oath of Medical Ethics for physicians to follow. This Oath is taken by physicians today as they begin their medical practice. He died in 377 BC. Today Hippocrates is known as the "Father of Medicine". Medicine is and always has been the Divine Art. To primitive man, the ability to heal and cure disease seemed to be magical, even miraculous. The gospels of the New Testament are filled with the miraculous healings of Jesus. Every traditional culture has its gods, demigods, and heroes who are associated with the art of healing.
To the ancient Greeks, medicine was a gift from the gods. Greek mythology is full of symbolic legends and allegories explaining the nature and origins of the art of healing. In these myths and the gods and goddesses associated with them, we can find the basic, fundamental archetypes that have guided and shaped the art of healing in Western civilization from its very inception. These archetypes still guide the physician today, and all those who come to him for healing, whether they realize it or not.
Greek mythology is a wonderful source of wisdom and inspiration for the physician. By studying the Greek myths, we can gain valuable insights into the nature of health and disease, and the way of the healer.