The Legacy and Legends Surrounding Hippocrates

By Phin Upham

Hippocrates is widely considered to be the father of Western Medicine because of his thoughts on how to care for a patient. By today’s standards, his tactics might seem rudimentary, but he discussed in detail the concepts behind medical diagnosis. He is one of the first people in history to question the idea that the gods cause disease, instead looking for empirical evidence as to what made someone sick.

He was quite revolutionary for his time, but his legacy did not extend much farther past his death in 370 B.C. It was not until A.D. 129 that his teachings saw resurgence. Galen, a roman physician, utilized the Hippocratic method. His process was both a step forward, and a step back for medicine. The Islamic world also used the Hippocratic ideologies in treating for their patients, which pushed the development of new medical technologies.

Those traditions caught on during the Crusades, and were brought back to England after and during the conflict. During the European Renaissance, the rigorous attention to detail that Hippocrates preached became an essential aspect of medical and scientific study.

Then there is the legend of Hippocrates’ daughter, told in the Travels of Sir John Mandeville. This legend tells of the ruler of “Kos and Lango”: the Great Hippocrates. His daughter was transformed into a 100 foot long dragon by the goddess Diana, and remained lady of the manor for his castle. The legend said that she could turn back into a woman if a knight would kiss her. Of course, no one ever lived to tell whether that tale was true or not.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Twitter page.