M. Littre establishes, by convincing proofs, that the collection which we now possess, was not published as a whole until the foundation of the great libraries of Alexandria and Pergamos. Until then, there had been only
a few books put in circulation ; the major part of these writings had remained in the hands of the successors of Hippocrates, who had only communicated them to their disciples. This collection includes a small number of complete treatises, with a more considerable number of incomplete ones, extracts, fragments, notes, and detached thoughts, the imperfections of which prove, for some of them, at least, that they were not destined to be made public. It is composed of writings of several authors who succeeded each other, from Pythagoras until the death of Aristotle, extending over all the space comprehended by us in the philosophic period.
United to some fragments of Plato and Aristotle, the Hippocratic collection forms the most ancient authentic monument in medical science ; it is the first visible link of the chain that binds the doctrines and discoveries of ancient Medicine to the doctrines and discoveries of modern Medicine. Even on this account alone, it merits at once all our attention, by the correctness of the observations, the grandeur of the ideas. and the clear perceptions which adorn several portions of it.
History of Medicine by P.V. Renouard M.D.