Physician, heal thyself

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Physician, heal thyself (Greek: Ἰατρέ, θεράπευσον σεαυτόν, Iatre, therapeuson seauton), sometimes quoted in the Latin form, Medice, cura te ipsum, is an ancient proverb appearing in Luke 4:23. There, Jesus is quoted as saying, "Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, 'Physician, heal thyself': whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country."[1] Commentators have pointed out the echo of similar skepticism in the taunts that Jesus would ultimately hear while hanging on the cross: "He saved others; himself he cannot save".[2][3] The shortened Latin form of the proverb, Medice, cura te ipsum, was made famous through the Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, and so gained currency across Europe.


Similar proverbs with a medical theme appear in other Jewish literature.[4] For example, "Physician, physician, heal thine own limp!" (Imperial Aramaic: אסיא אסי חיגרתך) can be found in Genesis Rabbah 23:4 (300–500 CE).[5][6] Such proverbs also appear in literary Classical texts from at least the 6th century BCE. The Greek dramatist Aeschylus refers to one in his Prometheus Bound, where the chorus comments to the suffering Prometheus, "Like an unskilled doctor, fallen ill, you lose heart and cannot discover by which remedies to cure your own disease."[7]


The moral of the proverb in general, containing within itself also a criticism of hypocrisy, is to attend to one's own defects before those in others.[8] This meaning is underlined in the fable of The Frog and the Fox that was attributed to Aesop.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ KJV, Luke 4:23.
  2. ^ Isaac Williams, The Gospel Narrative of Our Lord's Nativity Harmonized, London 1844, p.384. The quoted biblical passage is from Matthew 27:42.
  3. ^ Vincent, Marvin Richardson (1887). Word Studies in the New Testament (2 ed.). C. Scribner's sons. p. 293. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  4. ^ Nolland, J. (1979). Classical and Rabbinic Parallels to "Physician, Heal Yourself". pp. 193–209.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Freedman, H.; Simon, Maurice (1939). Midrash Rabbah, Translated into English. Vol. 1. p. 195.
  7. ^ Herbert Weir Smyth, LCL, Theoi Classical Texts Library, lines 473–5.
  8. ^ E. D. Hirsch, Jr.; Joseph F. Kett; James Trefil, eds. (2002). "Physician, heal thyself". The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-22647-8. OCLC 50166721. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
Physician, heal thyself
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