A statue of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was unveiled in his hometown on the island of Kos in Greece over the weekend.
The statue adorns the small park on Kos where the Tree of Hippocrates is located. The plane tree under which, according to legend, Hippocrates taught his pupils the art of medicine.
Mayor Theodosis Nikitaras said that locals and visitors “will be able to admire his unique work, which will be a point of reference and a legacy for future generations. With a delay of decades, the statue of Hippocrates was unveiled, for the first time in a public space on our island.”
The mayor thanked Greek-American Dimitris Tassios, with roots in Kos, who financed the statue.
Hippocrates’ statue at Platía Platanou on Kos
Hippocrates’ statue now resides next to the Hippocrates’ tree on the Platía Platanou, in front of the Castle of Knights and next to the Gazi Hassan Mosque (erected in 1776) in the center of Kos town.
The current tree is only about 500 years old, but may possibly be a descendant of the original tree which allegedly stood there 2400 years ago, in Hippocrates’ time. The tree has become hollowed out over the years, and some branches are supported by metal scaffolding.
Seeds or cuttings from the tree have been spread all over the world. Many medical colleges, libraries or institutions have, or claim to have, trees cut or seeded from the original tree in Kos.
Hippocrates was the first physician to identify cancer
Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine, as he was the first known physician who believed that diseases were caused by some type of natural action instead of being instigated by spirits or gods.
In addition to recognizing that disease is not caused by supernatural forces, Hippocrates invented clinical medicine and what we know today as the doctor-patient relationship.
Perhaps most amazingly of all, he was the first known physician to recognize that thoughts and emotions arise in the brain rather than the heart.
Hippocrates was also the medical practitioner who created an oath of conduct for physicians which has remained influential for 2,500 years.
Hippocrates was the first physician to identify and name cancer (karkinos, Greek for crab). The word stems from the appearance of the cut surface of a solid malignant tumor with the veins stretched on all sides as crab’s feet.
Hippocrates’ conception of cancer was the humoral theory, as he believed that the body contained four humors (body fluids)—namely blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile.
Hippocrates treated and healed many people, and his dedication became apparent when he fought the plague in Athens for three years, from 430 to 427 BC. However, the peak of his medical career occurred during the time of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC).