The Neurologist in Dante's Inferno

Michele Augusto Riva, Iacopo Bellani, Lucio Tremolizzo, Lorenzo Lorusso, Carlo Ferrarese, Giancarlo Cesana
2015 European Neurology  
The year 2015 marks the 750th birth anniversary of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri . It is less known that Dante had a sound level of medical knowledge, probably derived by his academic studies. In his works, medieval notions of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology (e.g. the connection between brain and spinal cord, function of optic nerve and peripheral nerves, knowledge of vegetative nervous system) and descriptions of neurological disorders (e.g. epileptic seizures, effects on nervous system by
more » ... metal intoxication, and narcolepsy) may be found, specially in the Inferno , the first part of his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy . These accurate descriptions have led some authors to believe that the poet himself may have suffered from a neurological disease (epilepsy or hypersomnia). Damned souls of the Inferno seem to be also afflicted by psychiatric disorders, such as melancholia and depression. The analysis of Dante's works confirms that poetry -as well as literature in general -may be an important source of information for historians of neurology.
doi:10.1159/000381541 pmid:25925207 fatcat:xeotj4rrrbeupfwf4ksmvkwwoa