Internal and Emergency Medicine

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

Malarial fevers in the fourteenth century Divine Comedy

  • Raffaella BianucciEmail author
  • Philippe Charlier
  • Antonio Perciaccante
  • Otto Appenzeller
  • Donatella Lippi

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...


Malaria Dante Tuscany Literature and medicine 


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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

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Copyright information

© SIMI 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raffaella Bianucci
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • 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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