June 17, 1968

Hippocrates of Ostia

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York.

JAMA. 1968;204(12):1049-1056. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140250029007

My purpose is to give you a description and a picture of Hippocrates, as accurate and vivid a picture as I can, to include what he looked like, and also what he was.

How is it possible to reach back into the shadows, 2,400 years ago, find the man, distinguish and identify him out of the myths, legends, and errors that obscure him? There have been biographies, those now extant having been written many centuries after his death; there are a few contemporary references; there are the man's own writings and those of his school; and there are coins, statuary, and mosaics representing his likeness with greater or lesser authenticity—these almost wholly of the Roman era or later.

Hippocrates was born on the island of Cos, near the Asian mainland, about 460 BC, and died and was buried near Larissa in Thessaly, around 370 or 360 BC. His life spanned