Odious and Peculiar

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Saturday, March 24, 2012
 
On Things I did not Know Existed: An epic poem on syphilis. The author was apparently one of the more influential early proponents of the contagion theory of disease. My Latin does not permit me to translate; here you may find some englished excerpts.
Slowly a caries, born amid squalor in the body's shameful parts, became uncontrollable and began to eat the areas on either side and even the sexual organ. Then the symptoms of this defilement betrayed themselves more clearly. For as soon as the clean, kindly light of day had retreated and brought on the melancholy shades of night, and the innate heat, which at night usually makes for the deep internal parts, had abandoned the surface of the body, and no longer nursed the limbs now covered in a thick mass of humors, then the joints, arms, shoulder-blades and calves were tormented by intolerable pains.
It is worth remembering that syphilis dropped off sharply in virulence, kill rate, and agonizing pain after its initial introduction into Europe; previously, it certainly earned its name of the "Great Pox".

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