Sunday, January 14, 2007

Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564)

This was one Belgian that Galen most certainly wouldn’t have had breakfast with. He was a physician who spent years dissecting human bodies (nice thought that, right?) and proved that Galen’s ancient works on anatomy were based on the dissection (and sometimes vivisection~ fun stuff; especially when performed in front of a crowd) of ….drum roll please….apes. He compiled his findings into the texts De Humani Corporis Fabrica (if your Latin is a bit rusty that would be: On the Workings of the Human Body). This was a seven volume compendium that was based on his dissection of the human body. The volumes were artistically illustrated with a multitude of engravings that posed the corpse in a number of amusing and slightly ridiculous ways. The popularity of these revolutionary texts gave him enough fame that the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V ( He ruled Germany before it was German) appointed him as court physician. Like most men, he left his cushy job to go off on some midlife crisis. But this was the 1500s and instead of grabbing the nearest 20s something blonde secretary and high tailing it to Vegas he went to the Holy Land. Like most midlife crises it ended badly. In 1564, on his way home, his ship sunk off the coast of the island of Zacynthus.

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