Skip to main content

Zoom Text:


There are few references to disabilities, and nowhere in writing did the Ancients ever ponder what could be done to make living with a disability more bearable or acceptable. The Greeks referred to people with intellectual deficiencies as idiots .


Around the fourth century B. C., new, rational explanations were offered for the physical world – including rational explanations for the causes of disabilities.

Until this time, people who had seizures, or "fits" as they were called, were often said to be "touched by the finger of god" and considered sacred. Hippocrates (460-357 B. C.), the "Father of Medicine," challenged this notion by speculating that seizures were the result of physical causes, not divine intervention .

As to the cause of epilepsy, Hippocrates wrote "It is not, in my opinion, any more divine or more sacred than any other disease, but has a natural cause, and its supposed divine origin is due to man's inexperience and to their wonder at its peculiar character." For Hippocrates, care of the body was in the hands of man rather than the gods.