Democedes

~ 500 BC
Civilization: Greek — Croton
   Field of Renown:  science — medicine
Era:  Persian War
10
AESCULAPIUS, FROM THE VATICAN GALLERY

Democedes was a Greek native of the town of Crotona in Italy. He left his home and lived for a time on the island of Aegina, where he established a great reputation for himself as a physician. His talents brought him job offers from Athens, and eventually Samos, where he worked for many years at the court of Polycrates. Unfortunately, he accompanied Polycrates on his mission to Oretes, and was taken prisoner when Polycrates was killed. From there he eventually was sent to Susa. It so chanced that he was recognized there as a famous physician, and called upon to fix a broken ankle of Darius. His success brought him great riches and privileges, but Darius would still not allow him to return to Greece. He conceived of an elaborate plot and with the help of Atossa, the wife of Darius, he volunteered to go on a reconnoitering mission to Greece to help lay the groundwork for an invasion. His sole purpose in doing this was to return to Greece. He therefore escaped from his Persian keepers and was treated as a hero in his home town of Crotona. He later married the daughter of the famous wrestler, Milos of Croton.


Key events during the life of Democedes:


Year
Event
532
Establishes reputation as very talented physician on the Island of Aegina.
530
Practices medicine in Athens.
529
Accepts a position in the court of Polycrates.
522
Accompanies Polycrates on his ill-fated visit to Oretes of Sardis. Is captured and enslaved.
521
Sent as a slave to Susa.
520
Is recognized as a physician and is called to fix the broken ankle of Darius.
518
Cures a tumor on the breast of Atossa, wife of Darius.
518
Is allowed to go on a reconnoitering mission to Greece. Escapes to Crotona.
517
Marries the daughter of the wrestler, Milos of Crotona.

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Reconnoitering of Greece in  Darius the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Hippias Visits Darius  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Adventures of Democedes  in  Historical Tales: Greek  by  Charles Morris


Contemporary
Short Biography
Darius the Great With six conspirators seized the throne of Persia, primarily through craft rather than force.
Polycrates Prosperous king of Samos who was overthrown by Oretes, his enemy from Asia Minor.
Pythagoras Philosopher and mathematician; invented the Pythagorean Theorem.
Atossa Daughter of Cyrus the Great, wife of Darius, mother of Xerxes
Milos of Crotona Famous wrestler of great strength. Won championships at six Olympiads.