The Invention of Medicine : From Homer to Hippocrates - Robin Lane Fox

The Invention of Medicine

From Homer to Hippocrates

By: Robin Lane Fox

Paperback | 5 October 2022 | Edition Number 1

At a Glance


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A striking reappraisal of the beginnings of medicine, by one of the world's leading ancient historians

Medicine is one of the great fields of achievement of the Ancient Greeks. Hippocrates is celebrated worldwide as the father of medicine and the Hippocratic Oath is admired throughout the medical profession as a founding statement of ethics and ideals. In the fifth century BC, Greeks even wrote of medicine as a newly discovered craft they had invented.

Robin Lane Fox's remarkable book puts their invention of medicine in a wider context, from the epic poems of Homer to the first doctors known to have been active in the Greek world. He examines what we do and do not know about Hippocrates and his Oath and the many writings that survive under his name. He then focuses on seven core texts which give the case histories of named individuals, showing that books 1 and 3 belong far earlier than previously recognised. Their re-dating has important consequences for the medical awareness of the great Greek dramatists and the historians Herodotus and Thucydides. Robin Lane Fox pieces together the doctor's thinking from his terse observations and relates it in a new way to the history of Greek prose and ideas.

About the Author

Robin Lane Fox is Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford, and taught Ancient History at Oxford University from 1977 to 2014. He is the author of Pagans and Christians (1986), The Unauthorized Version (1992) and many books on classical history, all of which have been widely translated, including Alexander the Great (1973), The Classical World (2005), Travelling Heroes (2008) and Augustine- Conversions to Confessions (2015) which won the Wolfson Prize for History. He has been the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times since 1970.

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