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Headword: Δημοκήδης
Adler number: delta,442
Translated headword: Demokedes, Democedes
Vetting Status: high
[Son] of Kalliphon (a priest of Asklepios born in Knidos); a Krotoniate,[1] a doctor. He practised medicine in Aigina [Myth, Place], where he married, and he also acted as physician to Polykrates, the tyrant of Samos, for two gold talents; and he was summoned by Dareios the Persian and stayed with him for a considerable time. He wrote a medical book.
When Dareios the king was out hunting he twisted his foot while dismounting from his horse, and did so rather violently; for the astragal[2] came out from the joint. He first summoned the Egyptian doctors he had around him, considered to be the foremost, skilled in medical arts. They treated him, but, by twisting and stretching the foot they caused major damage. For seven days and seven nights Dareios could not sleep because of the hurt he was experiencing; but on the eighth day of his affliction someone who had heard, before leaving Sardis, of the skill of Demokedes of Kroton informed Dareios, who ordered [Demokedes] to be brought to him as soon as possible. Finding Demokedes utterly neglected somewhere among Oroetes' slaves, they brought him forward, dragging his chains and dressed in rags. As he stood there on public view, Dareios asked him whether he knew the skill [of a doctor]. Demokedes denied this, fearful that if he revealed himself he would not be able to return to Greece again. It was clear to Dareios that he was trying to trick him by craftiness, and he ordered the men who fetched him to step forward with whips and goads. So then, of course, Demokedes came clean, while maintaining that his learning was imprecise; he had, though, kept company with a physician and thereby picked up some insufficient knowledge of the art. But later Dareios entrusted himself to Demokedes, who with the use of Greek remedies and gentle rather than forcible means -- after such procedures had been tried by others -- succeeded in getting Dareios his sleep and, after a while, healed him completely, though he had lost hope of having the proper use of his foot again. So says Herodotus the historian. [He also says] that Atossa, Kyros' daughter and the wife of Dareios, found an abscess growing in her breast which broke and spread further. As long as it was small, she hid it because of shame and did not tell anyone about it; but when it turned for the worse she sent for Demokedes and showed it to him. He said that he could heal her but made her swear that she would do him any service he asked for in return, saying that he would not ask for anything that was shameful. And what he asked for was his return to Greece.[3]
Greek Original:
Δημοκήδης, Καλλιφῶντος, ἱερέως ἐν Κνίδῳ γενομένου Ἀσκληπιοῦ, Κροτωνιάτης, ἰατρός: ὃς ἐν Αἰγίνῃ ἰάτρευσέ τε καὶ ἔγημε καὶ Πολυκράτην τὸν Σάμου τύραννον ἰάτρευσεν ἐπὶ χρυσίου ταλάντοις δύο: καὶ ὑπὸ Δαρείου τοῦ Πέρσου μετεπέμφθη καὶ συνεγένετο αὐτῷ χρόνον ἱκανόν. ἔγραψεν ἰατρικὸν βιβλίον. ὅτι Δαρεῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐν ἄγρῃ θηρῶν ἀποθρώσκων ἀπὸ ἵππου ἐστράφη τὸν πόδα καί κως ἰσχυροτέρως: ὁ γάρ οἱ ἀστράγαλος ἐξεχώρησεν ἐκ τῶν ἄρθρων. νομίζων δὲ καὶ πρότερον περὶ ἑωυτὸν ἔχειν τοὺς δοκέοντας Αἰγυπτίων εἶναι πρώτους τὴν ἰατρικὴν τούτοισιν ἐχρῆτο. οἱ δὲ στρεβλοῦντες καὶ βιώμενοι τὸν πόδα κακὸν μεῖζον ἐργάζοντο. ἐφ' ἑπτὰ μὲν δὴ ἡμέρας καὶ ἑπτὰ νύκτας ὑπὸ τοῦ παρεόντος κακοῦ ὁ Δαρεῖος ἀγρυπνίησιν εἴχετο: τῇ δὲ δὴ ὀγδόῃ ἡμέρῃ ἔχοντί οἱ φλαύρως παρακούσας τις πρότερον ἔτι ἐν Σάρδισι τοῦ Κροτωνιήτεω Δημοκήδεος τὴν τέχνην ἀγγέλλει τῷ Δαρείῳ: ὁ δὲ ἄγειν μιν τὴν ταχίστην παρ' ἑωυτὸν ἐκέλευε. τὸν δὲ ὡς ἐξεῦρον ἐν τοῖσιν Ὀροίτεω ἀνδραπόδοισιν ὅκου δὴ ἀπημελημένον, παρῆγον εἰς μέσον πέδας τε ἕλκοντα καὶ ῥάκεσιν ἐσθημένον. σταθέντα δὲ ἐς μέσον ἠρώτα ὁ Δαρεῖος, τὴν τέχνην εἰ ἐπίσταιτο. ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἀπεδέκετο, ὀρρωδέων μὴ ἑωυτὸν ἐκφήνας τοπαράπαν τῆς Ἑλλάδος ᾖ ἀπεστερημένος. κατεφάνη τε τῷ Δαρείῳ τεχνάζειν ἐπιστάμενος: καὶ τοὺς ἀγαγόντας αὐτὸν ἐκέλευσε μάστιγάς τε καὶ κέντρα παραφέρειν εἰς τὸ μέσον. ὁ δὲ ἐν ἑωυτῷ δὴ ὦν ἐκφαίνει, φάς, ἀτρεκέως μὲν οὐκ ἐπίστασθαι, ὁμιλήσας δὲ ἰητρῷ φλαύρως ἔχειν τὴν τέχνην. μετὰ δέ, ὡς ἐπέτρεψεν, Ἑλληνικοῖσι ἰήμασι χρεώμενος καὶ ἠπιάματα τὰ ἰσχυρὰ προσάγων ὕπνου τε μεταλαγχάνειν ἐποίεε καὶ ἐν χρόνῳ ὀλίγῳ ὑγιέα μιν ὄντα ἀπέδεξεν, οὐδαμὰ ἔτι ἐλπίζοντα ἀρτίπουν ἔσεσθαι. οὕτω φησὶν Ἡρόδοτος ὁ λογοποιός. ὅτι καὶ Ἄτοσσα, ἡ Κύρου μὲν θυγάτηρ, Δαρείου δὲ γυνή, ἐπὶ τοῦ μαστοῦ ἔσχε φῦμα, μετὰ δὲ ἐκραγὲν ἐνέμετο πρόσω. ὅσον μὲν δὴ χρόνον ἦν ἔλασσον, ἡ δὲ κρύπτουσα καὶ αἰσχυνομένη ἔφραζεν οὐδενί, ἐπείτε δὲ ἐν κακῷ ἦν, μετεπέμψατο τὸν Δημοκήδην καί οἱ ἐπέδειξεν. ὁ δὲ φὰς ὑγιέα ποιήσειν ἐξορκοῖ μιν ἦ μέν οἱ ἀντυπουργήσειν ἐκείνην τοῦτο, ὃ ἂν αὐτῆς δεηθῇ: δεήσεσθαι δὲ οὐδενὸς τῶν ὅσα ἐς αἰσχύνην φέρει. καὶ ᾐτήσατο τὴν εἰς Ἑλλάδα ἄφιξιν.
C6 BCE; OCD(4) 434 'Democedes'. See generally Herodotus 3.125.1 (web address 1) and esp. 129-137, the ultimate source -- and named as such -- of most of the material in the present entry. See also delta 74, iota 58, and further cross-references below.
[1] i.e. a citizen of Kroton (in the 'toe' of Italy), to which, presumably, Kalliphon had emigrated.
[2] The ball of the ankle joint, Lat. talus, the biggest of the tarsal bones articulating with the leg bones. This clause is repeated at epsilon 1685; and cf. also alpha 4375.
[3] An heroic abbreviation of the many machinations in the story of Demokedes' return as a guide to the Persians, his flight back to Kroton, etc.
Diels-Kranz, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker 1:110-112
J.P.Dumont, Les présocratiques, Paris 1988, pp. 82-85
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; economics; geography; historiography; history; medicine; religion; women
Translated by: Carl Widstrand on 8 January 2000@13:28:08.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (supplied headword; modified translation; added keywords; cosmetics) on 24 January 2001@08:14:38.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics, link, keywords) on 8 June 2004@11:41:53.
Catharine Roth (added cross-reference) on 1 July 2007@01:41:18.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords) on 1 July 2007@09:03:27.
David Whitehead (more x-refs) on 2 July 2007@09:48:37.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 26 June 2012@06:05:10.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note) on 22 August 2013@20:34:36.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 3 August 2014@04:47:11.
David Whitehead on 17 October 2015@09:49:04.


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