Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options Skip directly to A-Z link Skip directly to A-Z link Skip directly to A-Z link
Volume 18, Number 6—June 2012
Etymologia

Etymologia: Syphilis

Cite This Article

Syphilis [′si-f(ə-)ləs]

From Syphilis sive morbus gallicus (“Syphilis or the French disease”) (1530) by Italian physician and poet Girolamo Fracastoro. The poem tells of Syphilus, a shepherd who insulted the sun god of Haiti. In retaliation, the god sends a plague to Haiti, and Syphilus is the first victim.

The first recorded syphilis epidemic was in 1495, during the First Italian War. After the French captured Naples, disbanded soldiers spread syphilis across Europe. For nearly 500 years, scholars have argued whether Columbus brought syphilis to Europe from the New World. Recent research supports Fracastoro’s New World origin for the disease.

Top

References

  1. Franzen C. Syphilis in composers and musicians—Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini, Shubert, Schumann, Smetana.Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2008;27:11517. DOIPubMed
  2. Harper KN, Zuckerman MK, Harper ML, Kingston JD, Armelagos GJ. The origin and antiquity of syphilis revisited: an appraisal of Old World pre-Columbian evidence for treponemal infection.Am J Phys Anthropol. 2011;146(Suppl 53):99133. DOIPubMed
  3. Quetel C. The history of syphilis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press; 1990.

Top

Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid1806.et1806

Related Links

Top

Table of Contents – Volume 18, Number 6—June 2012

Page created: October 19, 2012
Page updated: October 19, 2012
Page reviewed: October 19, 2012
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
file_external