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Internal and Emergency Medicine

, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp 1135–1136 | Cite as

Malarial fevers in the fourteenth century Divine Comedy

  • Raffaella Bianucci
  • Philippe Charlier
  • Antonio Perciaccante
  • Otto Appenzeller
  • Donatella Lippi
CE - LETTER TO THE EDITOR
  • 62 Downloads

Mal’aria (from the Italian word “bad air,”) was widely recognized in Greece by the 5th century BCE. Hippocrates (460–370 BC) was the first to clearly describe the different types of malaria depending upon the periodicity of the fever (tertian and quartan fever patterns) and the “malarial paroxysm” (chills → fever → sweats → exacerbation). He identified the relationship of malaria to the summer/fall and marshy areas, and appreciated the diagnostic significance of splenomegaly in patients affected by malaria [1].

Widespread in Sicily, Sardinia and southern Italy, malaria spread northward toward the central western region of the Peninsula, and had devastating epidemic effects on its ancient populations (i.e., Etruscans, ancient Romans) [2]. Molecular signatures of falciparum malaria have been recently identified in two young adult males from Vagnari and Velia dating between the first and second century CE, thus, predating the identification of falciparum malaria in central Italy by...

Keywords

Malaria Dante Tuscany Literature and medicine 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement of human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

None.

References

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    Cunha CB, Cunha BA (2008) Brief history of the clinical diagnosis of malaria: from Hippocrates to Osler. J Vector Borne Dis 45:194–199PubMedGoogle Scholar
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    Sallares R, Bouwman A, Anderung C (2004) The spread of malaria to southern European antiquity: new approaches to old problems. Med Hist 48(3):311–328CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
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    Marciniak S, Prowse TL, Herring DA, Kuch M, Duggan AT, Bondioli L, Holmes EC, Poinar HN (2016) Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1st–2nd century CE in southern Italy. Curr Biol 26:R1205–R1225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Alighieri D (1918) The divine comedy, vol. 1. Translator: Courtney Langdon, Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
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    Anglicus B (1481) De Proprietatibus Rerum VII, 32–42 edn. Johann Koelhoff der Altere, CologneGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© SIMI 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raffaella Bianucci
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Philippe Charlier
    • 4
    • 5
  • Antonio Perciaccante
    • 6
  • Otto Appenzeller
    • 7
    • 8
  • Donatella Lippi
    • 9
  1. 1.Legal Medicine Section, Department of Public Health and Paediatric SciencesUniversity of TurinTurinItaly
  2. 2.Warwick Medical School, Microbiology and Infection UnitThe University of WarwickCoventryUK
  3. 3.Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Bio-culturelle, Droit, Etique and Santé (Adés), Faculté de Médecine de MarseilleUMR 7268MarseilleFrance
  4. 4.Section of Medical and Forensic Anthropology (UVSQ DANTE Laboratory EA 4498)Montigny-Le-BretonneuxFrance
  5. 5.CASH and IPESNanterreFrance
  6. 6.Department of MedicineSan Giovanni di Dio HospitalGoriziaItaly
  7. 7.New Mexico Health Enhancement and Marathon Clinics Research FoundationAlbuquerqueUSA
  8. 8.New Mexico Museum of Natural History and ScienceAlbuquerqueUSA
  9. 9.Department of Experimental and Clinical MedicineUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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