When the emergency medical hologram (EMH) said, "Now I know how Epocrates felt when the king needed him to trim a hangnail?" What did he mean? Is there a story behind this? When I look Epocrates up in Google it shows me Viagra ads. :(

Correction: Hippocrates not Epocrates. The actual quote is, "Now I know how Hippocrates felt when the king needed him to trim a hangnail?"


1 Answer 1


It was Hippocrates, one of the most famous physicians ever and widely considered "father of medicine" (as in Hippocratic oath)

The hangnail remark from EMH meant that he was an advanced super-doctor and got asked to do something completely beneath his skillset (specifically, he was asked for soil samples in that episode).

Hippocrates was mentioned a couple of times in Star Trek canon.

The phrase served as both a comedic quip, AND a character building device, reinforcing The Doctor's tendency towards snobbishness and his total lack of self-esteem issues.

  • OK. That makes more sense. How come I heard "Epocrates"? If a EMH were real I could get my ears checked. Commented May 2, 2014 at 17:01
  • @1.21gigawatts There's a natural tendency when speaking the english language to pause just before pronouncing a soft "h" sound...it has a name, but I can't remember what it is. That's probably why you heard it as "ep" rather than "hip"
    – Zibbobz
    Commented May 2, 2014 at 17:26
  • In the final scene of ST:VOY 3x18 "Darkling", he actually recites (something akin to) the Hippocratic Oath: "I swear this oath by Apollo [the] physician, by Aesculapius, by Health, and by all the Gods and Goddesses: in whatsoever place that I enter, I will enter to help the sick and heal the injured. And I will do no harm." Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 9:31

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