Cutting those who labor under the stone (Hippocrates)

A question for the classicists:

During our seemingly interminable orientation session today, a professor was discussing the Hippocratic Oath. I was wondering about the part that says something to the effect of “I will not cut those who labor under (or suffer) the stone”–what does that refer to?

This professor said something about kidney stones, and how this meant only a surgeon should cut them out–not a doctor. I can’t even begin to describe what’s wrong with that.

Can anyone shed some light?

Dr. J

Well,Doc here’s a translation I found on the net.

It seems to back up what your professor said, but maybe it’s all a part of the Great Masonic Conspiracy :wink:
What is wrong with your prof.'s opinion?

My thought (although perhaps totally off) was that there was little distinction between “doctor” and “surgeon” at that time. I also have a hard time imagining them cutting out a kidney stone in those days.

I guess she may not be as far off as I thought she was. I had heard a totally different explanation for it a while back, but I can’t remember what it was. (Then again, that one may have been mistaken as well.)

Dr. J

Some sites translate the line as “laboring under stone…” This site suggests that “cutting for stone” means “cutting for money”.

Perhaps it means “I won’t perform surgery just so I can pad the bill. I’ll leave that to the specialists…” :slight_smile:

When you include the line before it (“But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art.”) it seems to suggest that the future doctor would be swearing that he’s not “in it for the money”.

[Edited by Alphagene on 07-31-2000 at 11:09 PM]