Diocles of Carystus

Diocles of Carystus (in Greek Διοκλης o Καρυστιος; lived 4th century BC), a very celebrated Greek physician, was born at Carystus in Euboea, lived not long after the time of Hippocrates, to whom Pliny says he was next in age and fame.1

ot much is known of his life, other that he lived and worked in Athens, where he wrote the first medical treatise in Attic and not in Ionic as was abitual in Greek medical writings. His most important findings were in practical medicine, but he also wrote the first systematic text-book on animal anatomy.

He belonged to the medical sect of the Dogmatici2, and wrote several medical works, of which only the titles and some fragments remain, preserved by Galen, Caelius Aurelianus, Oribasius, and other ancient writers. The longest of these is a letter to king Antigonus, entitled A Letter on Preserving Health (Επιστολη Προφυλακτικη), which is inserted by Paul of Aegina at the end of the first book of his medical work, and which, if genuine, was probably addressed to Antigonus II Gonatas, king of Macedonia, who died 239 BC, at the age of eighty, after a reign of forty-four years.3 It resembles in its subject matter several other similar letters ascribed to Hippocrates, and treats of the diet fitted for the different seasons of the year. Some persons attributed in the past to Diocles the honour of first explaining the difference between the veins and arteries; but this does not seem to be correct, nor is any great discovery con­nected with his name.

His fragments have been recently collected and translated in English by Philip van der Eijk, with a commentary in a separate volume.


  • Van der Eijk, Philip; Diocles of Carystus, Leiden, (2000)
  • Smith, William (editor); Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, "Diocles Carystius", Boston, (1867)


  • 1 Pliny, Natural History, xxvi. 6
  • 2 Galen, De alimentis facultatibus, i. 1
  • 3 Paul of Aegina, Medical Compendium in Seven Books, i


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1867).

The Spoon of Diocles (Diocleus cyathiscus) (κυαθίσκος του Διοκλέους )

Image Source


Ancient Medical Instruments

Bernd Karger, Hubert Sudhues, Bernd Brinkmann, Arrow Wounds: Major Stimulus in the History of Surgery, World Journal of Surgery 25, Number 12 2001 , 1550 - 1555, Springer (PDF File for subscribers)

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