Gender and Healing in the Hippocratic Corpus
Hippocratic physicians sought to establish themselves as medical authorities in ancient Greece. An examination of the deontological texts of the Hippocratic corpus reveals that the Hippocratics created a medical authority based on elite male characteristics. The key quality of the Hippocratic physician was sōphrosunē, a quality closely associated with men and used in the differentiation of genders in the Greek world. Women were not believed to innately possess this quality and so their healing activities were restricted within the Hippocratic framework. Women’s healing activities are only mentioned in the corpus when women are involved in the treatment of other women or self-treatment. The Hippocratic construction of medicine as a male domain fit within a Classical cultural framework, as the cultural anxiety concerning women healers and women’s use of pharmaka are evident in both Greek myth and literature.