Notes on Joints LXXX

We have seen that, according to Galen, Chapter LXXVIII is the ὕστατος λόγος, or “final discourse,” of Joints. His commentary ends rather abruptly in the middle of it, but he has already intimated that he is not going to say much, and he can hardly have gone beyond, though some manuscripts contain the rest of the Hippocratic treatise. Of this appendix the most interesting part is Chapter LXXX. It looks like, and has always been considered, the original Hippocratic account of finger-joint dislocation, which somehow got displaced and replaced by the very poor substitute, Chapter XXIX, identical with Mochlicon XIX.

But there are difficulties in this view. No ancient writer, till we get back to Diocles, early in the fourth century b.c., seems aware of its existence. Galen excludes it from Joints, but had he known that Hippocrates anywhere mentioned “lizards” as surgical instruments he would surely not have left them to puzzle succeeding generations till Diels happened to visit a toy shop. He would have explained it in his Hippocratic Glossary. Even Erotian, who tells us twice over that σειρά in Hippocrates means ἱμάς (strap), would hardly have left σαύρα unexplained. The analogous but less peculiar use of τύρσις (Joints XLIII) is explained twice over both by Erotian and Galen.

Apollonius obviously knew nothing about it. He apologises for the poverty of XXIX, and supplements it by an extract from Diocles, but seems quite unaware that this extract is an abbreviation of the genuine Hippocratic account. Apollonius was the chief Alexandrian surgeon of his day (first century b.c.), so we may safely conclude that the chapter was not in the Alexandrian edition of Hippocrates.