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Diocles


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Physician from Carystus on Euboea; in several ancient medical canons (e.g. Vindicianus, De med. 2, fr. 2 Wellmann) he is placed second in fame only to Hippocrates. His writings survive only in quotations, and there are serious problems of attribution in the case of certain fragments. Diocles was perhaps a contemporary of Aristotle (c.384–322bc) but his dates are highly controversial and the nature of his intellectual relationship to Aristotle and the Lyceum even more so. Galen claims that he wrote the first anatomical handbook (2. 282 Kühn, fr. 23 W); he also wrote influential works on physiology, aetiology, medical semiotics and prognostics, dietetics, and botany. His practice was no less famous than his theory; a type of bandage for the head was named after him, as was a cunning spoon-like device for the removal of arrowheads. The relative sophistication of Diocles' method is evident in an unusual fragment preserved by Galen (6. 455 Kühn, fr. 112 W), where he seems to be arguing for more flexibility in the assignment of pathological effects to given causes on the ground that the mere presence of a certain smell, substance, or other quality does not necessitate uniform reactions in all parts of the body or in all patients. Galen praises him for his appreciation of the importance of practical experience, even in the light of his commitment to theory—a theory which advocated a cardiocentric view of intelligence, and attributed the management of the body to the interactions of the four qualities hot, cold, dry, and moist (fr. 8 W).

J. T. Vallance

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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