8. Hippocrates

8. HIPPOCRATES: FOOTNOTES

1 lynage, lineage.

5 alweis, always.

6 myddes, middle.

7 yles, islands.

8 tother, other.

9 fysyk, physic (medicine).

11 fesisian, physician.

14 dispreised, denounced; To, Too.

15 feete, feat.

17 toon, one.

23 brente, burned.

29 leete, let; seere, cauterize.

30 yghen, eyes.

31 boonys, bones.

36 parfite, perfect.

40 chase, chose; connynge, learning.

43 dampned, denounced.

44 soonys, sons.

45 maistres, masters; teche, teach.

46 covenable, appropriate.

48 dured, endured.

50 Perce, Persia.

52 besauntes, bezants.

54 trewage, tribute.

65 crokebacked, hunchbacked; passinge pensyf, very pensive.

67 fleeme, surgical lancet; holsome, wholesome.

73 wole, will.

74 meetis, meats.

75 noyeth, annoys; encres, increase.

79 covetyses, coveted things.

80 slee, slay.

82 folye, folly.

83 goth, goes; seurté, surety.

87 nerre, nearer.

92 feste, feast.

97 peas, peace.

101-02 speryte, spirit.

102 cunnynge, wisdom.

8. HIPPOCRATES: EXPLANATORY NOTES

ABBREVIATIONS: B = Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Bühler (1941); CA = Gower's Confessio Amantis; CT = Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; G = Pierpont Morgan Library MS G.66; MED = Middle English Dictionary; OED = Oxford English Dictionary; S = Scrope, Dicts and Sayings of the Philosophers, ed. Schofield (1936).

These explanatory notes cannot hope to provide a complete accounting for the source of every proverbial statement in Dicts and Sayings. That task would be a separate book in its own right. Instead, I have attempted to contextualize this rather heterogeneous body of lore by identifying the people and places named in the text, as well as noting points that may be of interest to students and general readers. Those interested in tracing the source of particular quotations should begin by consulting Whiting's Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases From English Writings Mainly Before 1500. Readers are also invited to consult the thorough notes to Knust's Bocados de Oro, the Spanish translation of the original Arabic ancestor of Dicts and Sayings.

1 Ipocras. The Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460-c. 377 BC), whoever this shadowy, quasi-historical figure may have been, is regarded as the father of medicine. His work (and that of his disciples, much of which was attributed to him) remained popular throughout the Middle Ages.

Esculapius the secunde. Although the chronology would be off considerably, I would tentatively identify this character with Asclepiades of Bithynia; see the explanatory note for Galen, line 4.

Esculapius the firste. The family of Hippocrates claimed descent from the mythological Aesculapius. See the explanatory note for Zalquaquine, line 1.

7 the ile of Chau. Cos, the island on which Hippocrates was born.

11 Ancyas. Possibly Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (c. 475-525 AD), the Roman politician and Neoplatonic philosopher who wrote his great treatise The Consolation of Philosophy while awaiting execution for charges of treason against the city's Germanic overlord, Theodoric. Boethius remained a towering intellectual figure throughout the Middle Ages, and his work is arguably the major philosophical influence upon the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer.

14 Bramaydes. I have been unable to ascertain his identity.

20 Platon. See the explanatory note for Plato, line 1.

50 Dasser. This is most likely Darius II (d. 404 BC), who reigned during Hippocrates' life and increased Persia's influence in Greece during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.

51 Pillate. Here the king of the island of Cos, but otherwise unknown to me. The name and the narrative context (a ruler being asked to give up a man in his custody) suggest the author is invoking the biblical Pontius Pilate in this tale.

62 Nabugodonosor. Nebuchadnezzar (d. 562 BC), king of Babylonia, known as much for his warlike ways as for his construction of the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The medieval traditions of Nebuchadnezzar, derived from the Book of Daniel, cast this ruler as an arrogant tyrant.

64 Galyen. See the explanatory note for Galen, line 1.

71 the lyffe is shorte and the peyne is longe. See Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls, line 1: "The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." This maxim is, in fact, attributed to Hippocrates, and is often quoted in Latin: ars longa, vita brevis.

8. HIPPOCRATES: TEXTUAL NOTES

25 he. I follow B in adding.

 
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Ipocras was dyssiple to Esculapius the secunde, and was of the lynage of Escu-
lapius the firste, of the whiche lynage were two kingis. And of the seid Ypocras
began firste the science of medicyne, the whiche he shewed and taught to his
children, and commaunded hem that thei shulde nat shewe it to no straungiers,
but oonly fro the fadir to the sone, and so it shulde alweis abide in hem. And
commaunded hem that thei shulde dwelle alwey in the myddes of Greece, in thre
yles, and Ypocras was of the ile of Chau, for thanne was loste the studye of the [fol. 11r]
tother two iles in his tyme. And the oppynyon of the first Esculapius was that men
shulde use fysyk by experience oonly, and seide that fesyk was never founden but
by experience; and in that wyse, fesyk was used nine yere, unto the tyme that there
came anothir fesisian, whiche was called Ancyas, and helde an oppynyoun that
experience withoute reasoun shulde do grete harme. And were used bothe their
two oppynyons seven hundred yer, unto the tyme that there came anothir fesysyan,
whiche was named Bramaydes, whiche dispreised experience, seyenge: "To moche
harme myght come therof." And seide that as in the feete of medycyne, men
shulde use by reasoun oonly. And lefte behynde him thre dyssiples, whiche thre
weren of diverse oppynyons; for the toon used his crafte by experience oonly, and
the tothir used by reason oonly, and the thridde by subtilté and enchauntement.
And this was used seven hundred yere unto the tyme that there came anothir
fysysyan, whiche was named Platon, whiche serched diligently the seyengis of his
predecessours in that science, and knewe wele and cleerly that experience oonly
was nat good, and also that reasoun oonly suffysed nat. And thanne he toke the
bookis of alle the oppynyons aboveseide and brente hem that were made of subtilté
and enchauntementes, and the bookis that were made of experience only -- and
the bookis that were made of reason and experience togedre, he withhelde hem
and kepte hem and commaunded that thei shulde be used. And aftir that, this
Platon dyed and lefte the crafte of medycyne with fyve of his dyssiples, of the which
he ordeigned oon for to heele men that had seeknesse in the body, and anothir he
taught for to leete blood and for to seere, and the thirde he taught for to heele
woundys and clense hem, and the fourth he taught for to heele soore yghen, and
the fyfte he taught to sette togedir boonys whanne thei were broken. And aftir
these men came the secunde Esculapius, whiche serched diligently alle these
oppynyons and in especial the oppynyons of Platon, the whiche he used and helde
for true and resonable. And lefte aftir him thre dyssiples, that is for to seye: Y-
pocras and two othir. Of the which tweyne of hem deyed and lefte noone alyve but
Ypocras, whiche was in his tyme a parfite man in vertues, and used experience and
reasoun togedir. The whiche Ypocras, whanne he sawe that the science of med-
ecyne was lyke to have be loste, in as moche as his two fellaws wer deede, whiche
were wonte to dwelle in the two iles aboveseide, and that he was lefte al aloone in
the ile of Chau, chase for the moste profitable thinge the connynge of experience
and reason togedir and wolde [fol. 11v] that it were shewed and taught nat oonly to his
children and frendis, but generally to alle these that were apte for to lerne it. And
dampned certeigne oppynyons of the same science, and he compiled certeigne
thingis therto in shorte wordes, and commaunded his two soonys, whiche were at
that tyme maistres of the same science, that thei shulde teche it generally, seyenge
that it were more covenable thinge to shewe the same science to straungiers that
were able thanne to her frendys that wer unable. And as he commaunded hem, so
was it done, and that hath dured unto this daye. And durynge his lyfe, he taught
many straungiers that same cunnyng, takinge their assuraunce. It happened upon
a tyme that a kinge of Perce, whos name was Dasser, sente to the kinge of the ile
of Chau, whos name was Pillate, praynge him that he wolde sende him Ypocras,
and sente him worde that he wolde geve him an hundred besauntes of golde. And
at that tyme, the cuntré of Greece was devyded into many realmes, of the whiche
somme of hem payed trewage to the kinge of Perce, and namely the isle of Chau;
for the which the seide Pillate commaunded Ypocras that he shulde go to the king
of Perce, for to heele the people of the pestilence that regned amonge hem. Ande
also for the grete hurte that myght falle to him and to his ile in caas that he wente
nat, and also that the seid Pillate had no power to withstande the kinge of Perce.
To the whiche Ypocras aunsuered that he wolde never goo to heele the enemyes
of Grece; and also the people of the towne that he dwelled inne seyden to the
kinge Pillate that thei hadde lever dye thanne Ypocras shulde go from hem. And
Ypocras was aftir Nabugodonosor an hundred forty-six yere, and made many
bookis of fesyk, of the whiche we have thirti, and thei muste be studied by ordre;
we have othir bookis also that Galyen compiled. And Ypocras was but litil of body,
crokebacked, and had a grete hed and was passinge pensyf, and of litil language,
and loked moche downewarde to the erthe, and helde allweys in his hande a
fleeme for to lete blood or ellis a braunche which was holsome for the yghe sight.
And leved eighty and iftene yere, of the whiche he emplied in studye sevenetene
yer and alle the remanent of his yeris he was maistir. And heraftir followen a partie
of his seyengis. Ande seith: "Suretee in poverté is more worth thanne feere in
ricches." And seith that the lyffe is shorte and the peyne is longe, experience is
perylous and jugement is daungerous. And seith that the helthe of body is in hem
that wole nat be ydell, but putte hemself in excercyse of doynge goode dedis, and
that he shulde nat fylle his body with superfluyté of meetis and drynkes. And seith:
"A man is bettir [fol. 12r] to make lasse a thinge that noyeth thanne to encres a thinge that
helpith." And seith that the herte is turmented with two passyons, that is to seye
with sorowe and thought, for sorowe is a passyon that toucheth thingis that bene
passed, and thought is dreede of thingis that bene for to come. And seith: "That
soulle is loste that hath none othir joye but upon the covetyses of this worlde." And
seith: "Ho that wol have the lyffe of his soulle, he muste turmente it and slee it in
this worlde." And seith that true love maye be wel between two wysemen, but never
betwene two foolys, natwithstandinge that thei be lyke in folye, for the wysdame
goth by ordre and maye accorde in oon maner of seurté but in foly is none orde-
naunce, and therfore fooles maye never accorde in love. And seith: "A man shulde
nat swere for thingis but by ye and by naye." And seith: "Holde you contente with
that that aught suffyce you, and so shal ye never have surfeete; for by that maner,
thu shalt be the nerre unto God, for God hath no surfeet; and thanne the more
that thu holdeste thee content, the more thu shalt be withdrawen from malices and
evell dedis. Also withdrawe you fro synne and seche the ende of vertues and good-
nesses." And seith: "Ho that will be free, coveyte nat that thu mayste nat have or
ellis thu shalt be bonde." And seith that a man shulde be in this worlde as a shame-
faste man at a grete feste, of the which whanne a man offreth him the cuppe, he
resceiveth it, and yf it be nat geven him, he taketh it not ne askith it not. And seith:
"Yf thu wilt have that that thu coveyteth, loke thu coveyte nat that thinge that thu
mayste nat have." And oon asked him a questyoun of evell and foulle thingis, to the
which he aunsuerd nothinge. And thanne it was asked him whi he aunsuerd nat,
and he seide that the aunsuer of suche thingis is not ellis but "holde his peas." And
seith that this worlde is nat perpetuel and abidynge, "and therfore loke ye deferre
not in any wyse for to do goode deedis and in lyke wyse for to gete you a good
name." And seith: "He that knoweth nat trouth is bettir excused yf he do it not,
thanne he that is wel enfourmed of trouth." And seith that cunnynge is lyke a sper-
yte and werke is lyke the body; and cunnynge is lyke the roote of a tree and the
deede is like the braunchis; and cunnynge is lyke a thinge that is engendred. And
seith: "Take a litell cunnynge at a tyme, to that entente that thu mayste come to
more, for yf thu woldest take more at the firste thanne thy witte wolde suffyse, it
myght gretly hurte thee."


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