Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed]

HIPPOCRATES.

GIRODET.

HIPPOCRATES was born about the year 460 B. C. in the island of Coos, which is indebted to him for its celebrity; and where, to this day, are venerated the ruins of a house which is conceived by the inhabitants to be that of this celebrated physician. His ancestors had practised physic with much success, and distinguished themselves no less by their virtues than their knowledge. Hippocrates, worthy of following such examples, conceived so high an idea of his profession, that he would not exercise it until he had made himself master of its theory, and had studied all the sciences that could in any manner instruct him in an art which ignorance had rendered frequently fatal. At that time surgery and pharmacy were not divided : but it appears, that the person who undertook to assist in these sciences combined, had been exposed to the sarcasms of the incredulous.- Of this Hippocrates very justly complained. If he committed some errors, which he candidly confesses in his works, he rendered such eminent services to humanity, that he should ever be held in public veneration. The Greeks, therefore, loaded him with honours almost divine. The Athenians, long afflicted with a pestilence, which seemed to defy all human skill, owed to him their deliverance, and gave him the most striking proof of their gratitude. He displayed, on all occasions, a temperate philosophy and consummate skill. The inhabitants of Abdera, judging the continual laughter of Democritus an evidence of his folly, called in Hippocrates to effect his cure. He had no sooner been introduced into the presence of this philosopher, than he was convinced of the error of the Abderites, and gave them to understand that they were infinitely more deranged than Democritus. Hippocrates died at Larissa, in Thessaly, at the age of ninety-nine.

The trait which reflects the greatest honour on the inemory of Hippocrates, is that which furnished M. Girodet with the subject of his picturé. A destructive pestilence devastating Persia, somé envoys from the court of the Persian moriarch supplicated Hippocrates to transport himself into their country, to put an end to so great a calamity; but perceiving, by the direction of the wind, that Greece would most probably be afflicted with the same scourge, notwithstanding the presents and distinctions that were offered to him by Artaxerxes, he refused to devote his talents to the benefit of the enemies of his country.

The picture of M. Girodet is one of the finest of the modern school. The variety--the truth of expressionsthe propriety of the costume--the fine arrangement of the draperies--and the skilful disposition of the groups, merit the highest praise. Nor is this chef d'æuvre less admirable in point of colouring, than in correctness of design.

« PreviousContinue »