Opera omnia: in unum proxime post illius mortem collecta ... accessit index locupletissimus (1574). Second edition.

Girolamo (Hieronymus), Fracastoro (1476-1553)

     

Opera omnia

   

     

Girolamo (Hieronymus), Fracastoro (1476-1553)

Girolamo Fracastoro, an Italian physician and poet, was born to Paulophilippo Fracastorio and Camilla Mascarelia in a noble family in Verona. He studied philosophy and medicine in Padua and, at age 19, was appointed professor of medicine at the same university. He was described as small with broad shoulders, long hair, a round face, and black eyes. He lived and practiced in Verona, where a statue was erected in his memory today.

The current collection includes his influential edition on disease contagion: De Contagione et Contagiosis Morbis (On Contagion and Contagious Diseases), published in 1546, and the 1530 publication on Syphilis (Syphilis sive morbus gallicus ("Syphilis or The French Disease"). In the first description of the disease, a shepherd named Syphilis insults the god of the Sun, who punished him with a horrible disease. The description is in the form of a poem and suggests using mercury and guaiaco as a cure. The current collection of Fracastoro's work was first published in 1555. Our copy is the second edition.

In his book on contagion, for the first time, he suggests transmission of disease by chemical spores, similar to fungi. He called these spores "fomites" [from the Latin fomes, meaning "tinder fungus"]. He thought that clothes, linen, "which although not themselves corrupt, can nevertheless foster the essential seeds of the contagion and thus cause infection." These ideas were quite powerful and influenced thinking for the next three hundred years before the microbial nature of disease took shape.

Editorial notes by Andrew I Spielman.

Digital Versions

Opera omnia: in unum proxime post illius mortem collecta ... accessit index locupletissimus (1574). Second edition. >>>