Girolamo Fracastoro


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Fracastoro, Girolamo

 

Born 1478 in Verona; died there Aug. 8, 1553. Italian Renaissance physician, astronomer, and poet.

In 1502, Fracastoro graduated from the university in Padua and subsequently became a professor there. His first scientific works dealt with geology (the history of the earth), geography, optics (light refraction), astronomy (observation of the moon and stars), philosophy, and psychology. In 1530 he published the scientific didactic poem Syphilis sive morbus Gallicus (Syphilis, or the French Disease), from which the disease received its name.

In his major work, De contagione et contagiosis morbis et curatione (On Contagion, Contagious Diseases, and Treatment; 1546), which has been repeatedly reprinted in many countries, Fracastoro presented his theory for the nature, transmission, and treatment of contagious diseases. He described three pathways of infection: (1) through direct contact, (2) through objects known as fomites, (3) over a distance, by way of imperceptible seeds of contagion, which he called seminaria. According to Fracastoro, an infection has a material basis (“contagion is corporal”). Fracastoro was the first to use the term “infection” in the medical sense. He described smallpox, measles, bubonic plague, consumption, rabies, leprosy, and typhus. In the development of his views of the contagious nature of infections, he partially retained (in regard to syphilis) earlier concepts of the transmission of these diseases through a miasma.

Fracastoro’s works laid the foundations for epidemiology and the clinical treatment of infectious diseases.

WORKS

Opera omnia. Venice, 1584.
In Russian translation:
O kontagii, kontagioznykh bolezniakh i lechenii, fascs. 1–3. Introductory article by P. E. Zabludovskii. Moscow, 1954.
O sifilise. Moscow, 1956.

P. E. ZABLUDOVSKII

References in periodicals archive ?
The scholarly interest in the Italian poet, physician, and astronomer Girolamo Fracastoro (1478-1553) has been steadily, but not unsurprisingly, rising in the past years.
Explaining Plague in Early Modern Europe: The Role of Contagion in the Theories of Girolamo Fracastoro and Thomas Willis.
One of Biow's finest chapters is given to the most important humanist physician of the sixteenth century, Girolamo Fracastoro (1478-1553) of Verona, the pioneer of epidemiology in De contagione et contagiosis morbis (On contagion and pestilent fevers) (1546), and the author of the Lucretian medical poem Syphilis sive morbus Gallicus (Syphilis or the French disease) (1530).
One of these was Girolamo Fracastoro, who had coined the word syphilis (see 1495).
Coincidentally Girolamo Fracastoro (1476/8-1553) was also a physician-poet like Giovio, but unlike Notable Men and Women, which has attracted little scholarly and editorial attention until lately, Fracastoro's corpus includes one work that has been printed and discussed continuously since its composition, Syphilis.
The more exciting claims of this book include that early sixteenth century medical authors such as Girolamo Fracastoro and Jean Fernel were influenced by Ficino's theory of seeds--which ultimately derived from Plotinus--and that Gassendi's usage of the concept of seed derived as much from seventeenth-century alchemical writers as it did from the ancient atomists.
Nearly half a century later, an Italian astronomer, Girolamo Fracastoro (ca.
Girolamo Fracastoro was a physician deriving from a family of solicitors and merchants from Verona, with close ties to the Scaligers since the thirteenth century, then landowners during the Venetian Period, although without any medico-scientific background.