A preeminent classics scholar revises the history of medicine.
Medical thinking and observation were radically changed by the ancient Greeks, one of their great legacies to the world. In the fifth century BCE, a Greek doctor put forward his clinical observations of individual men, women, and children in a collection of case histories known as the Epidemics. Among his working principles was the famous maxim “Do no harm.” In The Invention of Medicine, acclaimed historian Robin Lane Fox puts these remarkable works in a wider context and upends our understanding of medical history by establishing that they were written much earlier than previously thought. Lane Fox endorses the ancient Greeks’ view that their texts’ author, not named, was none other than the father of medicine, the great Hippocrates himself. Lane Fox’s argument changes our sense of the development of scientific and rational thinking in Western culture, and he explores the consequences for Greek artists, dramatists and the first writers of history. Hippocrates emerges as a key figure in the crucial change from an archaic to a classical world.
Elegantly written and remarkably learned, The Invention of Medicine is a groundbreaking reassessment of many aspects of Greek culture and city life.