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November 4, 1939

A NEW INTERPRETATION OF A PARAGRAPH IN THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH

JAMA. 1939;113(19):1736-1737. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.02800440040014
Abstract

The paragraph referring to lithotomy in the Hippocratic Oath, [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk] [unk], is one of the most confusing in classical literature. It has been generally assumed that the oath forbids the performance of lithotomy. The two usual justifications for this injunction are (1) that the operation was often fatal and was therefore delegated to another expert group, and (2) that the oath indicates the beginning of specialization in Greek medicine as already existed in Egypt. These appear to a recent student of history to be absurd. Savas Nittis1 states that sufficient grammatical and linguistic consideration has never been given to this paragraph. Instead a meaning was assumed and explanations for the injunction against lithotomy were sought afterward. Nittis proposes a new interpretation of the paragraph. His translation, for which grammatical and etymological reasons are given, would be as follows:

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