Hippocratis Aphorismi

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by Hippocrates

The physician Hippocrates of Cos lived sometime between 450 BCE to 380 BCE and is traditionally regarded as the father of medicine.[1] "The writings of the Corpus Hippocraticum provide a wealth of information on biomedical methodology and offer one of the first reflective codes of professional ethics."[2] The writings were most likely composed by multiple men; even the "Hippocratic Oath" is believed to be the work of someone other than Hippocrates.[3] Yet, "[u]ndoubtedly, Hippocrates was a historical figure, a great physician who exercised a permanent influence on the development of medicine and on the ideals and ethics of the physician."[4] Both Plato and Aristotle specifically mention Hippocrates in their own works.[5] Regarding the Corpus Hippocraticum, "[o]n the biomedical methodology side, these writings provide the most detailed biomedical observations to date in the Western world. They also offer causal speculations that can be knitted together to form a theoretical framework for diagnosis and treatment. On the ethical side, their code of professional ethics is so well structured that it continues to stand as a model for other professions."[6]

Within the Corpus Hippocraticum, the Aphorismi, is "a collection of 412 short counsels regarding diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment."[7] The term "aphorism" was first used in connection with the work of Hippocrates.[8]

Bibliographic Information

Author: Hippocrates

Title: Hippokratous Aphorismoi = Hippocratis Aphorismi: Hippocratis et Celsi Locis Parallelis Illustrati

Publication Info: Parisiis: Apud Theophilium Barrois Juniorem, 1784.


Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed on the Jefferson Inventory as Hippocratis Aphorismata. p.f. and given by Thomas Jefferson to his son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph. Later appears on Randolph's 1832 estate inventory as "'Aphorisms of Hypocrates' ($3.75 value)." We cannot determine the precise edition Wythe owned from the information available. Brown's Bibliography[9] lists a 1736 octavo edition published in Edinburgh. George Wythe's Library[10] on LibraryThing includes no specific edition and indicates "Probably a portion of the work only. Precise edition unknown." Since single volume editions of the aphorisms were published, it seems likely that Wythe owned the one of these. The 12-centimeter, 1784 edition chosen by the Wolf Law Library is a good potential candidate as it more closely corresponds to Jefferson's indicated size of "p.f." (petit folio) than the octavo suggested by Brown.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in red morocco, covers with three gilt rules around the sides, edges and turn-ins gilt. Spine has triple rules dividing the panels which are decorated in gilt and a black gilt label.

View this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

External Links

Google Books


  1. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, s.v. "Hippocrates," (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Brtannica, Inc, 2007), 5:939.
  2. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, s.v. “Hippocrates”, accessed October 30, 2013.
  3. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, s.v. "Hippocrates."
  4. Ibid.
  5. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, s.v. "Hippocrates", accessed November 11, 2013.
  6. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Hippocrates".
  7. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, s.v. "Hippocrates."
  8. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, s.v. "Aphorism," (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Brtannica, Inc, 2007), 1:481.
  9. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433
  10. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on November 11, 2013, http://www.librarything.com/profile/GeorgeWythe