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Hippocrates’ Oath 

Hippocrates’ Oath
Chapter:
Hippocrates’ Oath
Author(s):

T.A. Cavanaugh

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190673673.003.0003
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date: 31 October 2020

Chapter 2 (Hippocrates’ Oath) begins by extensively examining the grounds for attributing the Oath to Hippocrates, finding them reasonable. It then contextualizes, articulates, and explains the Oath, line by line. It presents the Oath within the ancient Greek custom of oath-taking, beginning with the first aspect of the Oath, the gods and goddesses by whom the juror swears. It then explains the contract incorporated within the Oath (which concerns the novel teaching of the medical art to unrelated males), presenting the motivations for and implications of Hippocrates’ extending medical education beyond the traditional boundary of physician-father educating son. Chapter 2 then proceeds to the oath-proper (which deals with a physician’s interactions with patients). In particular, closely following and explicating the Greek text, it shows that the prohibition of giving a deadly drug certainly concerns the giving of such a drug to the doctor’s patient (in contrast to alternative interpretations).

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