Notable Notes
Sep 2011

Relationship Between the Etymology of the Term Syphilis, Sexual Transmission, and Some Clinical Aspects of the Eponymous Disease

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Mangone (Cosenza), Italy.

Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(9):1096. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2011.186

Syphilis, as a term representing a new disease, was used for the first time in Syphilis sive morbus gallicus (Verona, 1530), a poem written by Girolamo Fracastoro (1476/1478-1553). Fracastoro very likely used the story of Niobe and, more precisely, that of her oldest son, Sipylus1 (in the Middle Ages written as Syphilus or Siphylus). Some of the Greek derivations linking sexual transmission and some clinical aspects of syphilis are provided below:

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