Hippocratic Oath

The modern version of the Hippocratic Oath, just in case you have never read it:

    I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods, and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfil according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art–if they desire to learn it–without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken the oath according to medical law, but to no one else.

I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep myself holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfil this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

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6 Responses to Hippocratic Oath

  1. Charivari Rob says:


    A little quick Googling, and I see that a PBS site (NOVA) calls the version you’ve posted “the classical” and presents a different “modern” version (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/doctors/oath_modern.html).

    Wikipedia (yeah, I know, insert grains of salt here) has another version of the classic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath There are many more translations and updates.

    I think I like a version more, the more plainly it says “First, do no harm.”

    The bit about how some medical schools omit the Oath or excise the “no abortion” language these days is just so charming, isn’t it?

  2. Greg Smisek says:

    Charivari Rob: ‘I think I like a version more, the more plainly it says “First, do no harm.”’

    That wording doesn’t come from the Hippocratic Oath. See Wikipedia, “Primum non nocere“.

  3. rags says:

    I have a student who’s father is a doctor, and he told me that doctors are no longer required to take the oath.

    Can any doctors out there confirm or rebuke this for me?

  4. Charivari Rob says:

    Greg, thanks for the link. I had no idea of the different origin for that phrase. I still think the older version I linked (the Wikipedia link I posted): “…never do harm to anyone.” says it more plainly (and thus, better) than “… keep them from harm and injustice.”

    Rags, the same article indicates some schools modify or omit the Oath.

  5. Girgadis says:

    Reading paragraph 4, I’m amazed to see that even the pagan who composed this oath knew that it is wrong for a physician to take a life, whether in the womb or before natural death. I’ll have to point this out the next time a pro-abort tries to tell me that the pro-life movement is strictly a function of the Catholic Church and radical fundamentalist Christians.

  6. Trevor says:

    “I have a student who’s father is a doctor, and he told me that doctors are no longer required to take the oath.

    Can any doctors out there confirm or rebuke this for me?”

    I’m not a doctor, but I was formerly going to medical school, and have seen the oaths the graduating classes prepared. They do not recite the classical oath, and most classes prepare their own oath. They’re quite generic. All references to not performing abortions or God are removed. You can basically sum it up as “Be good.” ICEL could have wrote it.

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