Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE BOOK OF APHORISMS. - The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
THE BOOK OF APHORISMS. - Hippocrates, The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen 
The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen. Epitomised from the Original Latin translations, by John Redman Coxe (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1846).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
THE BOOK OF APHORISMS.
This book of Aphorisms,a the most extensively known perhaps, and that which has probably been more frequently given to the world in an isolated form than any of the other writings that have reached us under the imposing title of Hippocrates, is divided under seven sections, by Fœsius, Haller, and others. C. J. Sprengel, in the English dress he has given to it, more than a century ago, (London, 1708,) has given it in eight sections, and has apparently added several aphorisms from other of the books that have heretofore been noticed. De Gorter has done the same, (Amsterdam, 1742,) and both accompanied with copious explanations and references. I have made a concise table of these different divisions, as in some respects they may be useful in reference.
At the beginning of the eighth section, Sprengel remarks, that “A great many have omitted this eighth section; some have only added six aphorisms of it to the foregoing; but others have added the whole section as we have done here. For there are several of them that ought not to be despised.”
De Gorter, at page 886, gives the residuary aphorisms (405 to 418) under the title of Aphorismi interjecti;—with some slight explanation, not very dissimilar from Sprengel, of the circumstances leading to the diversity of different editors.
“We might, (says Gardeil in concluding the book, and arranging the sections after Fœsius,) here remark, that in some editions, other aphorisms have been added that are not to be found in Fœsius; and we might augment the number of them, exclusively of those tracts that are written aphoristically, such as the Prognostics, Humours, Predictions, &c., by a variety of aphoristic sentences, especially from the books on Epidemics, and De Locis in Homine; but confining myself strictly to the Aphorisms really of Hippocrates. Those under the name of Coacæ, can scarcely be so regarded, although highly esteemed by ancient physicians, and which are truly a collection of Aphorisms, unaccompanied either by discussions or reasoning,—appearing to constitute a part of those writings that have been ascribed to Thessalus or Polybius,—or perhaps to some physicians of the celebrated school of Cos; though whether prior to, or after Hippocrates, is not fully settled.”
In what may be deemed a preface to this book, Gardeil says, “The Aphorisms of Hippocrates are to be esteemed as general maxims, which he attempted to constitute from his practice, in proportion as the observation of the progress and issue of diseases presented various results. Certainly he could not consider all his Aphorisms as rules with no exceptions; but merely as facts of sufficient extent to deserve to be collected together; and every man endowed with a portion of genius and sagacity, in any profession, will be led by many circumstances to act like him. We all can judge that such a collection could never end, for it would be unceasingly augmented and corrected to the close of life. All admit, that in publishing this work in advanced life, he thought that it needed to be reviewed and corrected;—and we find scattered throughout the writings that appear under his name, many of such medical sentences, that could without difficulty be transferred to the close of this one.”
Haller, in noticing this treatise, says, “That from time immemorial, it has been considered genuine, and as having been written by Hippocrates in advanced life and maturity of judgment. Yet it must be admitted by the lover of truth, that it was loosely performed, and handed to posterity; since many aphorisms are twice repeated, and some are contradictory to each other, (which are all casually noticed by Gardeil.) The best parts are those that refer to the symptoms and termination of acute diseases; the worst are the physiological; some being false, respecting the fœtus, the signs of conception and of fruitfulness, as likewise of abortion from venesection.” He here makes reference to the eighteen spurious aphorisms of some editions, and then indicates the character of those in each section.
The first and second sections consist chiefly of aphorisms that have reference to regimen and evacuations both in sickness and in health. The third, to the influence of different seasons, and the diseases incident to the various ages of life. The fourth, considers the subject of purgatives and the nature of the stools; though after the twenty-eighth, a variety of different ones are introduced, and from forty-one to sixty-seven, a succession of aphorisms in respect to fever; and on urines, from thence to the end of the section. The fifth, relates to the female sex, at least after the twenty-ninth aphorism to the sixty-third. The others are various, and appertain to convulsions, phthisis, heat, cold, &c. There is but little order in the distribution of the various aphorisms of the sixth and seventh books. They refer chiefly to the signs and presages of disease and health, &c., as deduced from different circumstances; and much is suspicious as to the authority from whence derived. Some are of trifling importance, others but repetitions or coincidences of some of the other sections, or even of the same one.
With this we terminate the seventh section, venturing the remark, that, although so often quoted and spoken of, as a whole, the Aphorisms, collectively taken, add nothing to the celebrity of Hippocrates.—Ed.
Besides the articles here mentioned, as found in the eighth section of Fœsius, accompanied with the Greek version; we find in Haller’s edition (8vo. Laus., vol. iv. p. 199, et seq.) sundry other small tracts, and which, after those from Fœsius, I shall introduce among the εξωτιϰα,a as probably their most appropriate location. How Haller comes by them, I do not altogether comprehend; nor how it is that Fœsius makes no mention of them, or at least of only two or three which are intermingled with the letters. I enumerate the letters as I find them in Fœsius, without reference to their contents.—Ed.
Haller, as a preface to these letters, says, they are very ancient, since Cato alludes to the one in which Hippocrates refuses his assistance to Artaxerxes. Many of them, however, are deemed problematical. The honorarium of ten talents from the Abderites to Hippocrates, was far beyond their means. The dream is unworthy of the gravity of Hippocrates, and the collection of letters appears to be rather the production of some sophist, than of that eminent man. Cratevas is manifestly of a different era; and the account of the plague cured by Hippocrates, can scarcely be reconciled with the narration of Thucydides; neither is it any where cited by Galen.
1. Artaxerxes to Pætus, respecting the plague in his army.
2. Pætus to Artaxerxes, recommending Hippocrates to him.
3. Artaxerxes to Hystanides, præfect, offering high rewards for the services of Hippocrates.
4. Hystanides to Hippocrates, announcing this to him.
5. Hippocrates to Hystanides, refusing his services to an enemy.
6. Hippocrates to Demetrius.
7. Hystanides to Artaxerxes.
8. Artaxerxes to the Coans, threatening them if Hippocrates is not sent.
9. The Coans, in reply, refusing his demand.
10. The Abderite senate and people, to Hippocrates, in behalf of Democritus.
11. Hippocrates, in reply.
12. Hippocrates to Philopæmon.
13. Hippocrates to Dyonisius.
14. Hippocrates to Damagetus.
15. Hippocrates to Philopæmon.
16. Hippocrates to Cratevas.
17. Hippocrates to Damagetes, a long letter in relation to Democritus.
18. Democritus to Hippocrates.
19. Hippocratis de Insania scriptum.
20. Hippocrates to Democritus.
21. Hippocratis de Veratri usu libellus.
22. Hippocrates to his son Thessalus.
23. Democritus to Hippocrates, de natura humana.
24. Hippocrates to King Demetrius.
25. Decree of the Athenians in favour of Hippocrates and the Coans.
26. Oration of Hippocrates before the altar of Minerva.
27. Oration of Thessalus, his son, to the Athenians.
These letters are followed by an account of the life, family, and writings of Hippocrates, from Soranus, and Vander Linden, with numerous testimonials from various sources; the last of which is taken from the “Itinerary of John Mandevyle,” chap. 6, and is entitled, “De filia Hippocratis mirabile.” A curious relation, from a curious traveller!
Subsequent to these testimonials, we find in Haller, vol. iv. p. 345 to 367, a collection of what he denominates, “Fragmenta et Elogia” ex eodem Lindenio, from numerous ancient writers,—Plato, Aristotle, &c., down to Ulpian and Bartolus. Following which, appear the “Consentientia ex Galeno,” from various authors, p. 367 to 398; and lastly, a division entitled “Contradicta et Defensa,” p. 399 to 414, with which the edition of Haller terminates.
A few short treatises, introduced by Haller under his division of “Hippocrati adscripta opera spuria,” vol. iv. p. 127, require to be here noticed, as some of them do not appear in Fœsius; and they are therefore here added to complete the object of the editor.
[a ]“Aphorismus.—αφορισμος, est oratio, quæ omnez rei proprietates brevissimis verbis circumscribit.”—Castelli Lexicon.
[a ]This section contains in the arrangement of Fœsius (p. 1271), under the title of τα εξωτιϰα, hoc est externa, the following articles: Epistolæ aliquot;—Atheniensium Senatus-consultum;—Oratio ad Aram;—Thessali Legati oratio;—Genus et Vita Hippocratis secundum Soranum.