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Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Hippocratic Corpus

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 20 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d688
  1. Ivan Iniesta, consultant neurologist
  1. 1The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool L9 7LJ, UK
  1. Ivan.Iniesta{at}

Hippocrates: credited for many authors' work

Here is a term almost synonymous with “medical classic”—the Hippocratic oath. Attributed to contemporary or later generations of physicians rather than to Hippocrates (ca 5th century BC) himself, the oath forms an essential part of the Corpus Hippocraticum or Hippocratic Canon, which was first printed in Venice in 1526. The corpus comprises an eclectic, rather heterogeneous collection of about 70 medical treatises, largely gathered during the Alexandrian era (4th century BC), reflecting the teaching of the school of the Ionic island of Cos. The most famous Coan resident was, as Galen of Pergamum (AD 2nd century) put it, “the best of all physicians—Hippocrates—and the first …

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