In the shadow of Hippocrates
9 September 2005
A spindly young plane tree planted at the School of Rural Health in Dubbo provides a direct link back to Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician regarded as the father of medicine.
Hippocrates taught his students under the spreading branches of a plane tree, Platanus orientalis, on the island of Kos. Legend has it that the original tree still exists 2,400 years later, and the cutting at Dubbo is a seedling from the tree brought to Australia under a special licence.
The official planting ceremony was presided over by John Anderson, Federal Member for Gwydir and the NSW Minister for Health John Hatzistergos. The Hippocratic Oath was read aloud in Greek and English, and guests enjoyed a feast of Greek food.
“The Greek community has taken the story to heart, and our particular interest in a medical symbol has extended into a beautiful cultural event,” said Professor Bruce Harris. “The story of Hippocrates is pretty fundamental in our field, and this tree is a serious acknowledgement of medicine’s finest traditions."