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(597 words)

Author(s): Rütten, Thomas
[German Version] (c. 460 bce on Cos – c. 370 bce). The Greek physician Hippocrates, mentioned by Plato and Aristotle, became known primarily for an eponymous corpus of some 70 texts of highly diverse genres (including speeches and the Hippocratic Oath), diverse periods of origin (from the second half of the 5th century bce to the 1st century ce), and from an equally diverse range of medical traditions. The Corpus Hippocraticum, extant in six independent textual witnesses and in a number of papyrus fragments, led immediately to Hippocratic exegesis (Herophilus); as…


(977 words)

Author(s): Rütten, Thomas
[German Version] The glorification of the physician ( locus classicus: Hom. Il. 11.514) and his demonization (e.g. as mixer of poisons and unpunished murderer, Luc. Philopseudes) are the two poles at each end of the scale of public opinion. The sworn physician’s virtues (modesty, unselfishness, sense of responsibility), and complaints of physicians’ cardinal sins (pride, greed, irresponsibility), have remained more or less constant for thousands of years. They relate to one another in a complementary manner, so that pos…

Sickness and Healing

(3,297 words)

Author(s): Rütten, Thomas | Neu, Rainer | Ebner, Martin | Kaiser, Jochen-Christoph | Wiesing, Urban | Et al.
[German Version] I. Medicine Sickness and healing are basic phenomena of human life and core concepts of any anthropology. Nevertheless defining them and the relationship between them still raises problems, not least because each is a collective term. There is debate within medicine over whether sickness and healing can be neutral categories, purely descriptive and empirical, with their meaning determined by the evolutionary function of the body and its organs. Other positions, mindful of historical…