TitleDante and the medical science
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsPanetto, Monica
Secondary TitleAudiologia e Foniatria
Date Published11/2021
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2531-7008
KeywordsDante, medicine, The Divine Comedy

La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) is plenty of references related to the field of medicine and the author, Dante Alighieri, demonstrates a certain knowledge of the subject. So, where did the writer acquire these skills? Was he perhaps a doctor? There are specific biographical elements that highlight Dante’s relationship with medical environments of the time. Alighieri was enrolled in the Guild of Physicians and Apothecaries. It also seems that he had attended the lessons of Taddeo Alderotti, at the University of Bologna, and probably he met Pietro d’Abano in Padova. Alighieri loved Beatrice Portinari, whose father founded the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Firenze. Beatrice’s nurse, then, was Monna Tessa, the first oblate, who consecrated her life to the caring of the sick. In The Divine Commedy Alighieri quotes classical authors and contemporary physicians; he describes pain and disease; he demonstrates knowledge of the anatomy of the human body; he refers to some of the hospitals of the time. Dante’s works, therefore, reveal a knowledge of medical authors and an ability to describe and discuss medical matters that a layman could hardly have possessed: Alighieri was not a “medical man” but he was certainly familiar with medicine.