The Pagan Oath for Physicians

“I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygiea and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgement this oath and this covenant.”

The Hippocratic Oath is one of the oldest documents in the Western Civilization and it is also one of the oldest written expressions of Medical Ethics that we have. It has been steadily revised over the ages with many versions, including modern ones. The original version was written in Ionic Greek between the 5th and 3rd century B.C. Classically attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates, it forms parts of the Hippocratic Corpus; however, many modern scholars refute this attribution.

Note. This image of Hippocrates was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hippocrates_pushkin02.jpg

In its original form it reminded physicians to keep the “holy things” of medicine within the medical community, a precursor of the HIPAA guidelines in the USA. It also remarks the special position of the physician inside the community, which should make him respect vulnerable segments like women and young girls. It prohibits euthanasia, which was clandestinely practiced in Ancient Times, especially in the upper classes that had the sick pretension of choosing their right heirs by eliminating the “unworthy family members” like disabled children or baby girls.

Note. This image of a fragment of the Hippocratic Oath on the Third Century Papyrus Oxyrhincus was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

In its original form it reminded physicians to keep the “holy things” of medicine within the medical community, a precursor of the HIPAA guidelines in the USA. It also remarks the special position of the physician inside the community, which should make him respect vulnerable segments like women and young girls. It prohibits euthanasia, which was clandestinely practiced in Ancient Times, especially in the upper classes that had the sick pretension of choosing their right heirs by eliminating the “unworthy family members” like disabled children or baby girls.

One of the most surprising prohibitions is the use of poisons for criminal ends, something that happened when powerful rulers asked physicians to assassinate their political rivals or whomever was considered to be dangerous to the ruling powers. In the Middle Ages, the prevailing versions expressly condemned Abortion due to the grip the Catholic Church had on most European societies. In the more modern versions used in U.S. Medical schools that issue has been deleted from the oath.

In 1948, with the fresh memories of the war crimes committed by Nazism against large segments of the European populations and the Jewish people in particular, the World Medical Association (WMA) enacted the Declaration of Geneva. They were concerned that, given that the Hippocratic oath had fallen in disuse for the past few decades, many young physicians were not aware of the career’s ethics implications.

As a former student political activist that had fought in the streets the brutal Military Dictatorship of Uruguay in the 1970s. we are well aware that some “doctors” were supervising the hands of police and military personnel in order to prevent them to use excessive force when they interrogated us. Sadly, many physicians and nurses were accomplices of the criminals that carried the Dirty War.  They are traitors , not only to the democratic institutions of what used to be called the “Switzerland of the Americas” (sic), but also to the noble profession they had certainly pledged to defend after they had graduated from medical school. After democratic institutions were re-established in Uruguay and Argentina, many of the torturers and repressors were duly judged by civilian courts. Now that almost thirty years have passed from these tragic events, some are “asking for mercy.”

But did they show us any mercy when they beat us, they kicked us, they kept us in awful miserable conditions of detainment that harked back to the worst jails of the Ottoman Empire, and , most gravely, murdered thousands upon thousands of our comrades and make their bodies disappear? The drama of Los Desaparecidos is still seared in the memory of all of those who, with big and little gestures, tried to fight Fascism in the streets of Montevideo and other cities of South America.

Ni olvido ni perdón para todos los represores y torturadores ya juzgados y condenados.

Que se pudran en la cárcel !!!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think/ Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.