The early editions are learned but uncritical,
being stronger on the medical side than in scholarship.
Special mention should be made of the
Oeconomia of Foes, a perfect mine of medical lore,
and it is supplemented by the excellent notes in
Foes' edition. Such a work could have appeared
only in an age when Hippocrates was a real force
in medical practice.
|This is in a way a defect. Foes, like Galen, is not
sufficiently "detached" from Hippocratic teaching to judge
The first scholarly edition was that of Littré, and
only those who have seriously studied the works of
Hippocrates can appreciate the debt we owe to his
diligence, or understand why the task occupied
twenty-two years. Unfortunately Littré is diffuse,
and not always accurate. His opinions, too, changed
during the long period of preparation, and the
additional notes in the later volumes must be consulted
in order to correct the views expressed in the
As a textual critic he shows much common sense,
but his notes are awkward to read, and his knowledge
was practically confined to the Paris MSS.
He is at his best as a medical commentator, and
he was the first to explain Hippocratic pathology
by proving that the endemic diseases of the Hippocratic
writings must be identified, not with the
fevers of our climate, but with the remittent forms
of malaria common in hot climates. It is not too
much to say that without keeping this fact in view
we cannot understand a great part of the Corpus.
It is curious to note that Hippocrates was a medical
text-book almost down to the time (about 1840)