2. The Hippocratic Collection
We are now in a position to attempt a brief
analysis of the Corpus Hippocraticum. For the
moment the external evidence of Galen and other
ancient commentators, for or against the authenticity
of the various treatises, will be passed over. This
evidence is of great importance, but may tend to
obscure the issue, which is the mutual affinities of
the treatises as shown by their style and content.
In the first place the heterogeneous character of
the Corpus should be observed. It contains :--
(1) Text-books for physicians ;
(2) Text-books for laymen ;
(3) Pieces of research or collection of material for
(4) Lectures or essays for medical students and
(5) Essays by philosophers who were perhaps not
practising physicians, but laymen interested in
medicine and anxious to apply to it the methods of
(6) Note-books or scrap-books.
Even single works often exhibit the most varied
characteristics. It is as though loose sheets had
been brought together without any attempt at coordination
or redaction. Epidemics I., for instance,
jumps with startling abruptness from a " constitution "
of the diseases prevalent at one period in
Thasos to the function of the physician in an illness,
passing on to a few disjointed remarks on pains in the
head and neck. Then follows another " constitution,"
after which comes an elaborate classification of the