Hippocrates of Kos ( altgr. Ἱπποκράτης ὁ Κῷος; * around 460 BC on the Greek Aegean island of Kos; † 370 BC in Larissa, Thessaly ) is considered the most famous physician of antiquity.

Hippocrates was highly revered in his lifetime. He is regarded as the founder of medicine as a science. In the 2nd century AD, there was a Renaissance Hippocrates, Galen contributed decisively to the. Koische bronze coins from the early Roman Empire carry his portrait.


Hippocrates came from the family of the Asklepiads who traced themselves to the healing god Asklepios; his parents were Heraclides and Phänarete ( Φαιναρέτη ).

After his father taught him, among other things also Herodicus of Selymbria and the philosopher Democritus of Abdera. Apparently, he traveled as a wandering doctor much and far through Greece and Asia Minor. Among other things, he stayed for three years on the island of Thasos. He made ​​a great contribution to the Coan medical school. In his work on Kos reminds the Tree of Hippocrates in Kos Town.

His sons Drakon and Thessalos and his son Polybos continued the family tradition.

The grave of Hippocrates was discovered in 1826. It is located near the Greek city of Larissa. For this reason, a monument was erected in honor of Hippocrates in Larisa.

Corpus Hippocraticum

The corpus consists of at least 61 Hippocraticum writings that BC date from the 5th century to the 1st century AD and were written by many different people. None of the works can be assigned to the historical physician Hippocrates of Cos with certainty, however, is among those who can be dated in his lifetime, which discusses " authenticity " is possible and is to this day as " Hippocratic question " often. These include in particular the epidemics I and III, the prognostic and the treatises On the Sacred Disease and about the environment. Similarly, the surgical treatises De fracturis and De articulis, the works of the 5th century BC

All texts of the corpus Hippocraticum the ionic dialect is common and the general aspiration for a medicine that is based on the rational nature observation. Addressees are some doctors, some medical training. Some writings have enlightened and polemical character, others give in a concise, list -like form therapy instructions, some contain records of medical histories, others are designed to help the physician when creating forecasts.

Many of the writings explain the emergence of diseases from the imbalance of bodily humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile, sometimes even water). The therapy took the doctor before through change in lifestyle, diet, drugs and surgical procedures. From the Hippocratic theory of humors countless treatment measures were justified, especially to the early modern common use of blood-letting, cupping and purgatives.


The Greek physician Galen further developed the four humors and justified on the basis of the theory of humors. He also adopted a correlation between physique and character, even in some Hippocratic writings shows. Similar views have also modern psychologists and psychiatrists like Carl Gustav Jung and Ernst Kretschmer represented and developed appropriate type teachings.

The fact that the pathological ideas of Hippocrates today have only historical value, the recognition of the medical school of Kos does not diminish by their peers today. Hippocrates called the doctor of physical and mental hygiene, personal integrity, care, empathy and analytical thinking. The Hippocratic doctrine, a physician had to rely on careful observation, questioning and investigation, and to prepare its diagnosis and treatment systematically expected, right -to-date (cf. evidence-based medicine). The importance of the medical history (anamnesis ), life circumstances and mental condition of the patient is fully recognized by modern medicine.

The Hippocratic Oath is the first known moral constitution of the medical profession. However, the oldest known source comes from the Christian era, the authorship is unknown.

The facies hippocratica (characteristic expression in dying or seriously ill patients) was already described by Hippocrates exactly.

Charles Plumier 1703 named a genus of the plant family of the spindle tree family ( Celastraceae ) in honor of Hippocrates of Kos Coa. Carl Linnaeus changed its name in 1737 in Hippocratea.