Dear Dr. Faria,
Thank you for your letter of August 3. I doubt I will be able to meet the deadline of September 15 for my paper on the Hippocratic Oath for Medical Sentinel as I will leave for Greece (to attend the International Congress for the History of Medicine) toward the end of this month and I will not return until close to the middle of September. It was to the same congress in Glasgow two years ago, by the way, that I presented the paper on the [Hippocratic] Oath that was subsequently published by Medical Hypotheses and by the Proceedings of the Congress.
I appreciate the information that the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Roe v. Wade decision, took into account the claim that the Oath was a Pythagorean document...[and it is very interesting that] in Evans v. Romer, the Colorado Court took into account the alleged common acceptance of homosexuality in ancient Greece.
Concerning the translation of Scribonius Largus’ humanitatis, I assume you refer to the passage: ...medicis, in quibus nisi plenum misericordiae et humanitatis animus est secundum ipsius professionis voluntatem, omnibus diis et hominibus invisi esse debent. I agree with you that to translate humanitatis with humanism may lead to confusion and that humanitarianism, or compassion, would be more appropriate. In my forthcoming book on Roman Medicine (the third volume of my History of Medicine), in fact, I translate the passage as follows: “All men and Gods, in fact, should despise any physician whose heart is not full of humanity and mercy according to the purpose of his profession.” I am sorry I cannot comment on this subject as discussed in your book because I do not have a copy of it and our library does not have one either. I will get one, however, and I am looking forward to reading it...
Plinio Prioreschi, MD, PhD
Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1997;2(1):1.