The whole of this volume has been entrusted to Dr. E. T. Withington, of Balliol College. Only a trained surgeon can explain the surgical treatises of the Hippocratic Collection.

The fourth (and last) volume will contain Aphorisms, Humours, Nature of Man, Regimen in Health I–III, and Dreams. The text of all these works has to be worked out from the manuscripts themselves, as Littré’s text is here very imperfect.

W. H. S. J.

General Introduction

When Marcus Aurelius Severinus gave the title Dc efficaci Medicina to his work on surgery he probably expected to annoy the professors of what was then considered a much higher branch of the healing art, but when he goes on to say that surgery is obviously a strenuous, potent and vital method of treatment, few who have been actively or passively concerned with broken bones, dislocated joints or bleeding wounds will venture to disagree with him. He was doubtless also thinking of Celsus, who had long before declared that the part of medicine which cures by hand has a more directly obvious effect than any other.1 He adds that this is also the oldest part of medicine and, indeed, it must have been recognised from the dawn of reason that, in such common emergencies as those just mentioned, something has to be done, primarily with the hand, and that anyone who can do it quickly, effectively and without causing extreme pain is, for a time at least, “worth many other men.”

So says Homer2 of the army surgeon, and both he and his hearers were well qualified to judge. As a great authority puts it, “Homer was not content to recite in general terms the wounds of the warriors as mere casual slashing; he records each stab with

  • 1VII. 1.
  • 2Il. XI. 514.