1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fracastoro, Girolamo

FRACASTORO [Fracastorius], GIROLAMO [Hieronymus] (1483–1553), Italian physician and poet, was born at Verona in 1483. It is related of him that at his birth his lips adhered so closely that a surgeon was obliged to divide them with his incision knife, and that during his infancy his mother was killed by lightning, while he, though in her arms at the moment, escaped unhurt. Fracastoro became eminently skilled, not only in medicine and belles-lettres, but in most arts and sciences. He studied at Padua, and became professor of philosophy there in 1502, afterwards practising as a physician in Verona. It was by his advice that Pope Paul III., on account of the prevalence of a contagious distemper, removed the council of Trent to Bologna. He was the author of many works, both poetical and medical, and was intimately acquainted with Cardinal Bembo, Julius Scaliger, Gianbattista Ramusio (q.v.), and most of the great men of his time. In 1517, when the builders of the citadel of San Felice (Verona) found fossil mussels in the rocks, Fracastoro was consulted about the marvel, and he took the same view—following Leonardo da Vinci, but very advanced for those days—that they were the remains of animals once capable of living in the locality. He died of apoplexy at Casi, near Verona, on the 8th of August 1553; and in 1559 the town of Verona erected a statue in his honour.

The principal work of Fracastoro is a kind of medical poem entitled Syphilidis, sive Morbi Gallici, libri tres (Verona, 1530), which has been often reprinted and also translated into French and Italian. Among his other works (all published at Venice) are De vini temperatura (1534); Homocentricorum (1535); De sympatha et antipathia rerum (1546); and De contagionibus (1546). His complete works were published at Venice in 1555, and his poetical productions were collected and printed at Padua in 1728.