Medicine in Ancient Greece

People in ancient Greece had a major influence on how we live today in many ways, including in the areas of science, math, philosophy, astronomy, literature, theater, and medicine. The Greeks are known for the questions they asked about science and their ability to apply logic to find answers. Hippocrates was a Greek doctor who lived during ancient times, and he had a major influence on the development of medicine. He wrote many arguments and reports about diseases, and his recommended treatments have formed the foundation of medical practices today.

Math, Science, and Medicine

The ancient Greeks placed a strong emphasis on numbers because they thought that specific numbers had meanings. Alcmaeon was a scientific philosopher who connected illnesses with people’s lifestyle, nutrition, and even the environment. Greek people had enough money to give them the freedom to enjoy entertainment, culture, and impressive architecture in their buildings. Greeks were also very interested in the sciences and mathematics, and they wanted to understand these concepts. As philosophers considered matter and elements, Greek doctors began to delve into the possibility that medicine and religion were not intricately connected, as the Egyptians believed they were. Instead of focusing on repelling evil spirits to heal the sick, doctors began looking at physical cures to help their patients.


Ancient Greek doctors performed some surgical procedures on patients. A doctor might set a broken bone, amputate an arm or a leg, drain fluid from the lungs, or perform a procedure known as bloodletting. Bloodletting involved the draining of blood from a patient; doctors thought that having too much blood contributed to illness. Ancient surgeries were often performed as a result of war as doctors tried to save the lives of those involved in battles.


Hippocrates was a Greek doctor who made many contributions to medicine. He founded the first school of medicine, which was the first place where medicine was separated from philosophy and religion. Instead of believing that illness happened as a punishment from the gods, Hippocrates suggested that people got sick because of how or where they lived. Although Hippocrates did not understand a lot about anatomy and physiology, he believed in the importance of careful attention and technique as doctors treated their patients.