"Message from the Director" in the order of publication from the present to the past, for one year . The contents will be updated gradually.

 

2024年

2月

29日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 41: Florence, Part 21

March 1, 2024

 

Uffizi Gallery

5. Hermes (Continued)

Zeus, to aid Io, commanded Hermes to slay the monstrous giant Argus.

Hermes possessed the power to "put to sleep" any being.

He played his skillful reed pipe and lulled Argus with hundred eyes into a deep slumber.

One by one, he closed the monster's eyes until all were asleep.

Swiftly, Hermes beheaded Argus and liberated the heifer Io.

Enraged by the death of her trusted follower Argus, Zeus's wife Hera sought revenge.

This time, she tormented Io by driving a gadfly into her ear.

Disturbed by the buzzing of the fly and incessant stings, Io wandered madly across various lands.

Io crossed the Bosporus Strait from Greece to Turkey, and finally reached Egypt.

Here, Hermes, acting on Zeus's command once again, appeared, plucked the gadfly from Io's ear, and restored her to her human form.

In Latin, "cow" is called "bos," and in Greek, "to carry" is "phoros."

Because Io, in the form of a cow, crossed the strait, it is called the Bosphoros (cow's crossing) Strait, known as the Bosporus in English.

It separates the European and Asian parts of Turkey.

It is in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople).

It serves as a cultural crossroads between East and West.

It connects the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea.

It is also known as the Istanbul Strait.

Historically, it has been a crucial location, crossed by figures such as Alexander the Great (4th century BCE, hero of Macedonia/Greece), Muhammad (7th century, founder of Islam), and Genghis Khan (13th century, the first emperor of the Mongol Empire).

 

Hera mourned the loyal Argus's death and adorned the peacock's feathers with his hundred eyes.

The pattern on the peacock's feathers represents the hundred eyes of the monster Argus.

During the breeding season, male peacocks spread their long and beautiful decorative feathers to attract the attention of females.

Female feathers are short, brown, and their patterns are not very noticeable.

Moreover, as the feathers molt and regenerate, in Christian society, the peacock is considered a symbol of resurrection.

   Zeus and his lover Io still maintain a deep relationship even now that they have become stars.

The first (the closest or the most internal) satellite of Jupiter (known as Zeus in Greek mythology and Jupiter in Roman mythology) is named Io.

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2024年

1月

28日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 40: Florence, Part 20

February 1, 2024

 

Uffizi Gallery

5. Hermes

In the column of September 1, 2023, I wrote about the all-powerful god Zeus mating with the goddess Maia and the birth of their son, Hermes.

In Greek mythology, Hermes is the "messenger" of Zeus and also the god of "thievery."

As an example, let me share the following story:

Zeus’s wife Hera had a priestess named Io, a pure and beautiful maiden.

Given Io's virtues, it was impossible for the heavenly Zeus to overlook her.

Zeus promptly approached Io, and surrounded by golden clouds, they became enamored with each other.

One day, the jealous Hera descended from the heavens.

Xeus panicked and transformed Io into a white cow, attempting to deceive Hera.

However, Hera saw through the ruse, took the cow forcefully from Zeus, and set the giant Argus, with a hundred eyes that never slept, to watch over her.

Witnessing Io's constrained life in her bovine form, Zeus felt compassion.

To at least make the grass Io ate delicious, Zeus caused violets of a beautiful purple color to bloom all around her.

Furthermore, Zeus dispatched Hermes to kill the giant Argus and liberate Io (the cow).

Afterward, Io roamed the world, stung by the gadfly sent by Hera.

Finally, in Egypt, she regained her human form, gave birth to her son Epaphus, and came to be revered as the goddess Isis by the Egyptians.

 

In ancient Greece, the violet was named "ion" after Io's flower.

In the 19th century, a French chemist discovered iodine.

When heated, iodine produces beautiful purple vapor.

The chemist named it "iodine" by combining "ion" (like a violet) and "eidos" (similar to) because the vapor resembled the flower of a violet.

Iodine is an essential element for synthesizing thyroid hormones, so it is indispensable for humans.

Additionally, iodine is commonly used as a disinfectant.

An alcoholic solution of iodine is known as iodine tincture.

Dissolving iodine and potassium iodide in glycerin produces Lugol's solution, applied to the throat.

The complex of iodine and povidone is called povidone-iodine, well-known as the gargle solution “Isodine Gargle.”

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2024年

1月

01日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 39: Florence, Part 19

January 1, 2024

 

Uffizi Gallery

4. The God of Medicine, Asclepius

We have previously mentioned the God of Medicine, Asclepius, in the Venice Edition dated August 1st, 2021, and the Florence Edition dated October 1st, 2022.

In this edition, we will delve into his story in more detail.

In Greek mythology, the sun god Apollo was also known as the "god of archery."

Apollo fell in love with the beautiful maiden Coronis in the Thessalian region of Greece, and she became pregnant with his child.

But, men couldn't resist Coronis's beauty, and she gave in to the advances of a young man while carrying Apollo's child.

Apollo, who had placed a crow as a lookout, was informed of Coronis's infidelity.

Enraged, he shot an arrow through her heart with his bow.

However, Apollo soon regretted his impulsive act of violence.

He despised the crow, which had reported to him, and made its pure white feathers turn jet black, condemning it to mourn Coronis for all eternity.

This is why the crow's feathers are black.

Unable to give up on Coronis, Apollo approached her as she neared death, and she confessed that she was carrying Apollo's child.

Apollo, amidst the fiery flames, opened her abdomen and extracted the unborn child.

Thus, their son Asclepius was born, and Apollo entrusted his upbringing to the wise centaur Chiron, who was part human and part horse.

Chiron excelled in the art of medicine.

Recognizing that Asclepius inherited Apollo's divine blood and was exceptionally talented in medicine, Chiron fervently educated him.

Asclepius became a renowned physician, capable of curing any severe illness.

After receiving some of Medusa's blood from the goddess Athena, he could even resurrect the dead.

On the other hand, human being is meant to die.

The almighty god Zeus, angered by Asclepius's manipulation of human life and death, struck him down with a bolt of lightning and burned him to ashes.

Apollo, grieving the loss of his beloved son, lamented.

Zeus, showing sympathy for Apollo, elevated Asclepius to the heavens and made him a member of the divine pantheon.

From then on, Asclepius, known as the "god of medicine," delivered humans from the suffering of diseases.

The staff entwined with a snake that he carried became a symbol of medicine.

Snakes can survive for long periods without food and repeatedly shed their skin while growing.

Therefore, in ancient Greece, snakes were seen as symbols of health, longevity, and regeneration.

This is why Asclepius's staff is still featured in the Rod of Asclepius depicted on the body of Fujisawa City's ambulance, logos of various organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association (AMA), the Japan Medical Association, and many emergency medical service vehicles around the world.

Every summer night in the southern sky, the constellations of Ophiuchus and Serpens shine.

The god of medicine, Asclepius, became a constellation alongside the snake, symbolizing medicine.

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2023年

11月

30日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 38: Florence, Part 18

December 1, 2023

 

Uffizi Gallery

3. Marsyas, the Flayed Satyr

In Greek mythology, the "goddess of craftsmanship," Athena, crafted a beautiful flute that produced enchanting melodies and played it at a divine feast.

However, Zeus's wife, Hera, and the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, mocked Athena, saying that her puffed-up cheeks looked ridiculous.

Enraged, Athena threw the flute away, which was then picked up by Marsyas, a forest spirit with goat horns and hooves.

Marsyas soon mastered the flute skillfully and captivated all the inhabitants of the forest, from birds to wild animals.

He became arrogant and believed himself to be the greatest musician in the world.

In his hubris, he challenged Apollo, the "god of music" and the "sun god."

Apollo accepted the reckless challenge with the condition that the winner can treat the loser as he wish.

Marsyas played his flute skillfully, trying to compete with Apollo's lyre, but there was no way he could match a god.

The musical contest ended with Apollo's overwhelming victory.

Apollo, who embodied the ideals of a god with excellence in heart, skill, and body, shone brilliantly.

However, he was also a frightening god who mercilessly punished those who acted recklessly with excessive pride.

Apollo bound Marsyas to a pine tree and flayed him alive, making him pay a cruel price for his arrogance.

Marsyas finally died.

The tears shed by Marsyas's music-loving companions became the Marsyas River in Phrygia (modern-day Turkey).

To this day, this river is known for its crystal-clear water, which is said to produce beautiful melodies in its flow.

 

In his work "Rhetoric," the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle stated, "Young people and the wealthy are prone to arrogance because behaving arrogantly gives them a sense of superiority."

David Owen, a British psychiatrist, has also proposed the concept of "hubris syndrome" as a form of personality disorder.

The word of Greek origin “hubris” means “arrogance.”

David Owen said:

“When hubris takes hold of a person, it fosters ambitions beyond their limits, ultimately leading to their downfall.

Those with a strong sense of self-love are more prone to arrogance.

When arrogance takes over, it inflates their desire for self-display, power, and wealth.

This personality disorder often affects individuals who have worked hard to achieve their desired positions.”

Leaders such as R. President V. P., C. President X. J., and N. K. leader K. J. are typical examples of this personality disorder.

It serves as a reminder for us to engage in self-reflection, prioritize etiquette, and conduct ourselves with humility.

Interestingly, the English and Greek word "hubris," is also the origin of the English word "hybrid," which means "mixture" or "combination."

"Hybrid" is a word often associated with high functionality in modern contexts, such as hybrid cars or hybrid computers.

From the perspective of ancient people, "high functionality" might indeed be seen as a form of "arrogance."

 

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2023年

10月

30日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 37: Florence, Part 17

 

 November 1st, 2023

 

Uffizi Gallery

2. "The Birth of Venus" (15th century) – Continued

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of love and beauty, is also the protector of romance, infidelity, and prostitutes.

Even after her marriage to Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths, she had numerous affairs with both gods and mortals, giving birth to as many children as her partners.

   Aphrodite had a union with the god of wine, Dionysus (Bacchus in Roman mythology), and their offspring was Priapus.

Priapus, born from this union, is said to have been endowed with a grotesquely large phallus due to an intervention by Zeus's wife, Hera, during Aphrodite's pregnancy.

Priapus, possessing an enormous penis, was abandoned by his mother Aphrodite due to his unusual appearance.

 However, he was found by a shepherd and grew up to symbolize fertility, reproduction, and procreation.

He became a guardian deity of fields, orchards, and livestock, revered by farmers and shepherds.

By the way, the medical condition where the penis remains erect for an extended period without sexual arousal is known as "priapism," derived from the god of procreation, Priapus.

While some men might jest about being in a perpetually erect state, this condition is a severe one that involves intense pain and can lead to tissue necrosis (decay) of the penis a few hours later.

The primary cause is the coagulation of blood in the erectile tissue and veins within the penis, often associated with conditions like leukemia or spinal disorders.

 

Aphrodite also had a union with Hermes, the god of travel, commerce, wisdom, and messenger of the gods, resulting in the birth of their child Hermaphroditos.

Combining both parents' names, the child was called Hermaphroditos.

As he grew into a beautiful young man, he caught the attention of the nymph Salmacis while resting by a clear spring.

Salmacis, infatuated with Hermaphroditos, attempted to seduce him with a sudden kiss, but he rejected her advances.

Unwilling to give up, Salmacis clung to him as he swam in the spring and prayed to the gods that they would never be separated.

Her wish was granted, and they merged into a single being, possessing both male and female attributes.

So, the body was indistinguishable between the sexes.

   Individuals or animals possessing both male and female genitalia are referred to as "intersex" in English, but it's also called "hermaphrodite" based on Greek mythology.

 

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2023年

9月

30日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 36: Florence, Part 16

October 1, 2023

 

Uffizi Gallery

2. "The Birth of Venus" (15th century)

Similar to "Primavera," this is a masterpiece from Botticelli's peak period.

Both of these works were created in memory of Giuliano, the assassinated young prince.

He was Lorenzo de' Medici's brother and a playboy.

Lorenzo had contributed to the height of the Medici family's power.

The goddess of beauty, Venus, depicted in both paintings, was modeled after a woman named Simonetta, whom Giuliano loved.

Both paintings were treasured by the Medici family for over 300 years and kept away from public view.

They were first displayed in the Uffizi Gallery in the 19th century.

"Venus" refers to the English name of the Roman mythological goddess of love and beauty, "Venus" (meaning "charm" in Latin).

In Greek mythology, she is known as "Aphrodite."

The planet of Venus in modern astronomy and copper in alchemy are associated with the name "Venus."

 

In Greek mythology, numerous children were born from the union of the sky god Uranus and the earth goddess Gaia.

However, due to Uranus' mistreatment of his children, the youngest son, Cronus, conspired with his mother Gaia to seek revenge against his father Uranus.

At the moment Uranus tried to have intercourse with Gaia, Cronus used a giant sickle to cut   Uranus’s penis off and threw it into the sea.

From the semen that flowed from Uranus' penis, a white "foam" (called "Aphros" in Greek) emerged and floated on the sea.

Eventually, the goddess of unparalleled beauty, "Aphrodite (Venus)," was born from this foam.

The god of west wind with large wings, Zephyrus, and the flower goddess, Flora, intertwined together and blew a blessing onto Venus, who rode on a scallop shell, causing roses to fill the sky.

Venus, carried by the waves, drifted to the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea.

During the Greek and Roman eras, a bivalve was often used as a symbol for the female genitalia, which is why the scallop shell is depicted in "The Birth of Venus" as if Venus was born from it.

The goddess of the seasons, Horae, is depicted attempting to drape clothing on the freshly born Venus.

  In Cyprus, there was a king named Cinyras, who had a daughter named Myrrha.

Trouble arose when Cinyras' wife (Myrrha's mother) claimed that her daughter Myrrha was more beautiful than the goddess Aphrodite (Venus.)

Because of the audacity that Cinyras' wife didn’t fear even the goddess, Aphrodite took action.

In punishment of Cinyras' wife (Myrrha's mother), Aphrodite caused Myrrha to fall in love with her father, Cinyras, leading to a forbidden union.

Overwhelmed by the sin of incest, Myrrha transformed into a fragrant tree.

Her tears turned into aromatic resin, known as "myrrh."

The resin myrrh is highly valued not only as an incense but also as an antiseptic, sedative, pain reliever, and even a preservative for dead bodies.

When Myrrha transformed into the fragrant tree, she was already pregnant with her father Cinyras' child.

Ten months later, the tree bark split, and a beautiful baby boy emerged, emitting an alluring fragrance.

This boy grew up to be the exquisite youth named Adonis.

Aphrodite, in spite of the goddess of love who could awaken desire in anyone, fell herself for this beautiful youth and made him her lover.

However, their love story was short-lived.

While hunting, young Adonis was attacked, stabbed with tusks and killed by a wild boar.

Aphrodite mourned his death.

Then red roses bloomed from her tears.

And from the ground stained with Adonis' blood, deep-red flowers resembling blood also grew.

But, these deep-red flowers had a fleeting life; a gentle breeze would make their petals scatter.

 

Therefore, these delicate flowers were named "Anemone," derived from the Greek word for wind, "Anemos."

 

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2023年

8月

31日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 35: Florence, Part 15

September 1, 2023

 

Uffizi Gallery

1.      "Primavera" (Spring) (15th century) – Continued

On the far left, wearing a hat with wings and shoes with wings, and holding a staff in his right hand, is Hermes, the son of Zeus.

He is one of the twelve gods of Olympus.

Zeus desired a clever and resourceful child who would be useful to him.

While his wife Hera was asleep, Zeus had an affair with the beautiful goddess Maia and fathered Hermes.

Delighted that a clever child was born according to his wishes, Zeus welcomed Hermes into the company of the gods of Olympus, making him one of the twelve gods.

He appointed Hermes as his "messenger."

During his childhood, Hermes went on a "journey" and "stole" the cattle belonging to Apollo, the sun god.

When Apollo came to retrieve his cattle, Hermes told him a "lie" by denying any involvement in the theft.

As per Zeus's command, Hermes returned the herd of cattle to Apollo and as a gesture of apology, he presented Apollo with a lyre, an instrument he had invented.

In return, Apollo gave Hermes a magical golden "staff."

The staff had two snakes coiled around it, symbolizing wisdom, and wings on top for swift movement.

Hermes, who went on a "journey," committed "theft," told "lies," and made a “mutually beneficial exchange” with Apollo, became the patron god of “travel,” “theft,” “eloquence,” and “commerce.”

In Latin, commerce is referred to as "merx," so in Roman mythology, Hermes is known as "Mercurius."

When mercury (quick silver) was discovered in the 6th century and observed to form quicksilver drops that rapidly dispersed when dropped on the floor, it was named "Mercury" due to its resemblance.

The property of easily changing states—solid, liquid, and gas—reflected the unpredictable movements of Mercurius, from the realm of the gods on Mount Olympus to the human world and the underworld.

 For the same reason, the planet closest to the sun, which quickly disappears from view, is called “Mercury,” and someone with a fickle personality is described as "mercurial."

A messenger and a "matchmaker" in love are also called “Mercury”.

The French brand "Hermès" was originally a travel goods company, so they named it after the god of travel, Hermes (Mercurius).

Their logo depicts the “Staff of Hermes” at the 2 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 8 o'clock, and 10 o'clock positions, as if indicating the time on a clock.

Likewise, the emblem “Mercury” of Hitotsubashi University, a business school in Japan, features the "Staff of Hermes," the symbol of the god of commerce, Hermes.

The “Staff of Hermes” possesses magical powers to guide the dead to the underworld and sometimes even to revive them.

Therefore, it is often confused with the "Rod of Asclepius," which is a symbol of Western medicine and believed to have the power to resurrect the dead.

In particular, in North America, the “Staff of Hermes” is frequently used mistakenly as a symbol for medical organizations.

Surprisingly, the emblems of the National Defense Medical College and St. Luke's International University in Japan also feature the "Staff of Hermes."

However, it is clear that the "Rod of Asclepius" is distinct as it has only one coiled snake and lacks wings, unlike the "Staff of Hermes."

The "Staff of Hermes" is absolutely not a symbol of medicine.

 

Please refer to the August 1, 2021 edition and October 1, 2022 edition for more information on the Rod of Asclepius.

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2023年

7月

30日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 34: Florence, Part 14

August 1, 2023

 

Uffizi Gallery

In the 15th century, Cosimo de' Medici, a member of the Medici family who amassed wealth through banking, gained control of the Republic of Florence ( Repubblica di Firenze ).

The Republic of Florence further expanded in the 16th century and became the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (Granducato di Toscana ).

The first Grand Duke (ruler) of Tuscany was also a member of the Medici family, Cosimo I de' Medici.

Cosimo I de' Medici in the 16th century was a different person from Cosimo de' Medici in the 15th century.

Cosimo I consolidated the administration, judiciary, and legislative functions into one place, which is now known as the Uffizi Gallery.

Since this location was government district ( “Uffici“ in Italian, "offices" in English ), it is called the Uffizi Gallery.

 

1. "Primavera" (Spring) (15th century)

This is Botticelli's masterpiece.

It is filled with goddesses dancing gracefully in veils, women adorned with flowers, an orange-bearing forest, and plants at their feet.

They are all representing a hymn to spring.

Oranges, known for bearing abundant fruit, also symbolize fertility and prosperity.

 

Certainly, standing in the center and particularly conspicuous is the goddess of beauty, Venus.

On the right side, Zephyrus with wings and in blue-green color is blowing the wind calling  forth spring to the nymph Chloris.

Zephyrus is the Greek god of the west wind.

To the Greeks, the wind blowing from the west is the wind of spring that brings forth flowers and greenery.

That's why Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, is depicted in blue-green.

Zephyrus, after kidnapping Chloris, grants her the ability to make flowers bloom.

Flowers are beginning to bloom out of her mouth.

Standing next to Chloris is Flora, who ascended to divinity after Zephyrus regretted his own  crime of kidnapping her.

Flora is now the goddess of spring and flowers.

Zephyrus gave Flora a garden, heralding the arrival of "spring."

Here we can see the theory of the four elements.

Empedocles in ancient Greece believed that the world was made up of four elements (earth, water, fire, and air) and that they combined to form the appearance of the universe.

According to his interpretation, the ever-changing nature of the universe is due to two forces: the “force that binds the elements together”, namely love and the “force that separates them”, namely strife.

The theme of this artwork is that the element of "air" (wind) called forth "spring" through love.

 

Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, not only blew warm winds but also committed a terrible crime.

He had feelings for the beautiful youth Hyacinthus, who was the son of the Spartan king, as did the sun god Apollo.

In ancient Greece, adult male relationships with young boys were considered a symbol of trust and bonds, and they were valued more than love for women.

The two male gods competed for the love of the youth, but Hyacinthus chose Apollo, driving Zephyrus into a jealous rage.

One day, Zephyrus saw Apollo and Hyacinthus playing discus, then he blew a gust of wind at Apollo's thrown discus, causing it to strike the youth in the forehead.

The youth bled bright red blood and perished.

Apollo lamented his death, crying out "Accept my love and be reborn as a flower!"

Apollo's tears fell onto the grass stained with blood, and a beautiful flower bloomed.

This flower came to be known as the "hyacinth," named after the youth

This flower came to be known as the "hyacinth," named after the youth Hyacinthus.

This story has become the origin, so the flower language of the hyacinth is considered to be "love that transcends sorrow."

This is a sad but romantic myth, isn’t it?

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2023年

6月

29日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 33: Florence, Part 13

July 1, 2023

 

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was born in 1820, about 200 years ago .

In honor of her birthday, "International Nurses Day" is celebrated every year on May 12th.Both of her parents came from wealthy British aristocratic families and they went on a honeymoon trip that lasted for three years long!

It was during this trip that Florence Nightingale was born in Firenze, Italy.

Because she was born in Firenze, she was named "Florence" in English.

Her education-focused father taught her not only English but also Italian, Greek, philosophy, history, and even mathematics, which was considered unnecessary for women in those days.

She grew up to a beautiful and highly educated lady and became a prominent figure in society.

However, after turning 30, she abandoned her engagement and inheritance to become a nurse at a hospital in London, despite nursing being a disrespected and unqualified profession at that time.

Then, in 1853 the Crimean War broke out and she was assigned along with her fellow nurses to the Scutari Army Hospital located in present-day Istanbul.

The hospital appeared luxurious but was built on top of a sewer filled with filth, making it highly unsanitary.

Furthermore, Nightingale and her colleagues were treated as nuisances by the medical staff on site.

Because the chief of the medical staff had reported to his home country England that there were no problems, they did not want Nightingale and her colleagues to carry out their activities and reveal the actual conditions.

Moreover, the military's chain of command was so inefficient that Nightingale had to go out of the way to report the commander of England in order to let the local commander know the shortage of medical supplies.

Therefore, Nightingale stood up against male-dominated structure which was bureaucratic,   apathetic and irrational.

Starting with tasks like cleaning the toilets that no one wanted to do, she gradually expanded her privilege.

Occasionally, she disagreed with her superiors and then smashed open many boxes with her fists and took out the medications and other supplies.

She reported the situation to The Times newspaper.

She also appealed directly to Queen Victoria for donations and even used her personal funds to secure supplies of drugs, foods and medical products.

Thanks to her energetic efforts to improve the environment, the mortality rate of wounded soldiers decreased from 42% to 2% in six months.

Because she visited wounded and sick soldiers with the light of a lamp at every night, they called her with gratitude the “Lady with the Lamp.”

After her return home, Nightingale analyzed the causes of deaths of the soldiers and submitted a report to the government spanning 900 pages.

In this medical report, she used graphs for the first time in the world, and so she is called a “pioneer in statistics.”

She established modern nursing and, at the age of 60, founded a nursing school called the "Nightingale School."

It was the first non-religious nursing school in the world.

Afterward, she came to be known as the "Angel of Crimea" and eventually, nurses were referred to as "angels in white."

However, she disliked this designation and stated, "An angel is not someone who just hand out beautiful flowers, but someone who fights for the sake of the sick."

She continued to dedicate her life to nursing and hygiene and finally passed away at the age of 90, surrounded by her students and cats.

In commemoration of Nightingale, who was baptized at the Santa Croce Church, there is a statue of the "Lady with the Lamp" on the wall facing the courtyard of church.

The pedestal of the statue is inscribed with the Latin phrase "HORAM NESCITIS" (meaning "Unaware of time").

It succinctly expresses her extremely dedicated nature, tirelessly caring for and nursing patients day and night.

2023年

5月

30日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 32: Florence, Part 12

June 1, 2023

 

Santa Croce Church ( Basilica di Santa Croce )

Santa Croce means “Holy Cross.”

This church was built in the 13th century as the center of the Franciscan church in Florence.

It is a representative example of Gothic architecture and embodies the essence of the Renaissance.

Many famous people such as Galileo and Michelangelo are buried here, so it is known as the "glorious temple of all the gods".

 

Galileo Galilei: "Do not doubt the truth, but doubt the common knowledge"

Galileo Galilei was born in the late 16th century.

When considering issues related to astronomy and physics, he did not blindly accept existing theories of Aristoteles or other scholars and philosophers.

He also did not easily trust beliefs supported by the majority, such as the Roman Catholic Church.

 Instead, he conducted his own experiments, observed actual phenomena with his own eyes, and analyzed the results mathematically, resulting in various discoveries.

Therefore, he is called the "father of science" for his contribution to separating science from philosophy and religion.

His discoveries are countless, including the isochronism of the pendulum, the law of falling bodies, and the law of inertia.

Notably, as soon as he heard of the invention of the telescope in the Netherlands in the early 17th century, he quickly improved it and used it for astronomical observations.

Galileo discovered that there are four satellites orbiting Jupiter.

In gratitude to the Medici family, especially Cosimo who protected him, Galileo named the four satellites "Cosimo's Stars" that he later renamed "Medici's Stars."

He also observed the phases of Venus and the Moon.

The conclusion he drew from observing celestial bodies through a telescope directly contradicted the geocentric model that had been believed for 2,000 years since ancient Greece, which held that "all celestial bodies revolve around the Earth."

Copernicus, who had died before Galileo was born, wrote in his book "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres" that "Venus should have phases," and he advocated the heliocentric model. Galileo actually proved Copernicus's heliocentric model through astronomical observations.

The Catholic Church and some astronomers criticized Galileo, saying that "the world seen through a telescope is only an illusion."

Nevertheless, the Catholic Church claimed that "it is heretical to believe in the heliocentric model " and brought Galileo to trial.

As a result of the controversy, the judge warned and advised Galileo not to advocate the heliocentric model.

However, he continued to study the heliocentric model and wrote a book called "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems."

Although he published this book during a period of confusion in the papacy, he was ordered to appear in Rome the following year.

He was then tried for the second time.

Finally, he was pronounced guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, although he escaped the death penalty.

It is very famous that he muttered "and yet it moves" at that time.

Galileo eventually went blind, allegedly due to excessive use of the telescope.

However, he continued his research and achieved further results.

He dictated his findings to his disciples and his son.

In the mid-17th century, at the age of 77, Galileo passed away in the outskirts of Florence.

But, due to being considered a criminal, he was not allowed to have a proper burial. It took 95 years after his death to finally be laid to rest in the Santa Croce Church.

Furthermore, in 1992, after 350 years had passed, Pope John Paul II publicly acknowledged and apologized for the wrongful conviction of Galileo.

This is still fresh in our memory. 

 In the center of his tomb, Galileo sits holding a telescope, with sculptures of women representing astronomy and physics on either side.

Proudly engraved in the center are the four moons of Jupiter, those Galileo himself discovered. 

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2023年

5月

01日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 31: Florence, Part 11

May 1 2023

 

Santa Maria Nuova Hospital

 Santa Maria Nuova Hospital is the oldest hospital in Florence and the largest one in the Tuscany Region.

This hospital is located right behind the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.

It has been functioning as a magnificent hospital for 700 years in the same building, which is very typical of Florence.

 In the 13th century, it was founded by a banker named Folco Portinari, who was the father of Beatrice.

Beatrice was loved by Dante Alighieri, the famous poet who wrote "The Divine Comedy" . 

He decided to build the hospital after being convinced by his housekeeper Mona Tessa. 

Her tomb is still in the hospital's courtyard.

 In the 14th century, a detailed regulation consisting of 34 articles was created to manage and operate the hospital.

This regulation is considered a model for today's hospital organizations. 

 Over time, the hospital became rich through donations and gifts.

It has been decorated by Florence's artists.

In the 15th century, Pope Martin V visited the hospital.

 During the outbreak of the plague (black death), the isolation ward was established.

It was the first one in the world.

A swaddled doll of a child is also on display.

 In the underground of the adjacent church, there is a room where Leonardo da Vinci conducted dissections in the 16th century, and the "bathtub" where he washed dead bodies.

 As mentioned in the "Milan" edition in February 2021, Leonardo da Vinci was born in the village of Vinci near Florence in the 15th century.

He left remarkable achievements in various fields.

He is most admired as a painter of "The Last Supper" and "Mona Lisa".

 However, it should not be forgotten that he was also a great anatomist. 

At the time, the Church prohibited dissections, but Leonardo, who believed that anatomy was essential for studying painting and sculpture, performed 32 dissections himself.

He is the founder of modern anatomy.

He performed dissections in hospitals in Milan and Rome.

In Florence, he also dissected bodies that had been brought to this underground room at Santa Maria Nuova Hospital.

 

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2023年

3月

31日

Exploring the History of Medicine , Part 30: Florence, Part 10

April 1, 2023

 

Children's Hospital (Orphanage)

 

 A short distance north of the Cathedral, you will find an old children's hospital.

It was built in the 15th century with donations from silk merchants.

Originally, its purpose was to provide relief for orphans and abandoned children, hence it was called the "Orphanage."

It is the oldest orphanage in Europe.

In Florence, such charitable works were actively pursued, and there were also facilities for unmarried mothers located beside the Cathedral.

 The orphanage, like the dome of the Cathedral, is one of the earliest examples of Renaissance architecture in Florence designed by Brunelleschi.

Columns have once again become an important element in architecture after a long time since ancient Greece.

 The front of the first floor features a long corridor with columns and nine large arches.

Beautiful blue ceramic medallions are embedded at the top of each column.

These medallions, designed by Antonio della Robbia, depict infants swaddled in white cloth.

 In medieval times, there was a custom of wrapping newborns with bandages to protect them from harm, known as swaddling.

This practice was advocated by Soranus of Ephesus, renowned as the founder of obstetrics, and recommended by the famous Roman physician Galenus during the Roman era.

This harmful practice continued widely throughout the Middle Ages until the early 19th century.

 The term "swaddling" is still used today, but it refers to clothing for newborns or "swaddling clothes" rather than bandages.

 

 Furthermore, at the end of the corridor, there is a "revolving door" where mothers could abandon their children without being seen by others, which is still present and evokes a sense of sadness.

 Facing the beautiful courtyard surrounded by the colonnade, there is a colored terracotta

"Annunciation" depicted.

This is also a work by Antonio della Robbia.

 

 The Annunciation is a famous event mentioned in the Christian New Testament.

The angel Gabriel descended from heaven to appear before the Virgin Mary and informed her that she had conceived a child by the will of God.

The angel instructed her to name the child Jesus.

Although Mary was initially confused, she accepted by saying, “I am the Lord's servant.

Let it be to me according to your words.”

This theme recurs in artistic works within the Christian cultural sphere.

 

 A detailed explanation of the Annunciation will be provided in the section of the Uffizi Gallery.

 

 

 

 

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2023年

3月

01日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 29: Florence, Part 9

March 1, 2023

 

National Academy of Fine Arts, Florence

(Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze)

 

This place used to be a monastery that also served as a sanatorium.

In the late 18th century, Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo of Tuscany consolidated several art schools in Florence and established a public art school and an affiliated art museum in the present location.

This marked the beginning of the Florence Academy of Fine Arts and the Accademia Gallery.

Naturally, the art school and the art museum are connected within the same building, so we can come and go freely between them.

The art school, much like the Accademia Gallery, displays numerous interesting artworks.

For instance, there are various exhibits such as a relief sculpture depicting a deathbed scene, "Sigismund Krasiński (poet) in his childhood and the death of his mother Maria," a mourning female statue accompanying the Pisa Cemetery, and a statue of the goddess Athena, representing wisdom, justice, and the battle.

Athena was born as the daughter of the almighty god Zeus and the goddess Metis of the Titans.

Moreover, she emerged from Zeus's head, fully armed with a spear and wearing a helmet.

With a father who was an all-powerful god and a mother known as a wise goddess, Athena became the "goddess of wisdom and justice."

She is one of the twelve Olympian gods and goddesses.

Athena is not only a "goddess of war," but unlike the brutal, bloodthirsty war god Ares, she presides over the intellectual domains of strategy and tactics, inventing war chariots and weaponry.

Athena generously bestowed her wisdom to make humanity wiser and to advance civilization.

As the goddess of various skills such as craftsmanship, medicine, navigation, spinning, architecture, and shipbuilding, she bestowed blessings upon the lives of humans.

Furthermore, Athena provided assistance, advice, and weapons to heroes, and sometimes accompanied them into battle.

For example, she assisted Perseus in slaying Medusa who was one of the three Gorgon sisters.

Besides, Athena was always present behind the scenes of Hercules' triumphs.

Needless to say, the name of Greece's capital, Athens, derives from its guardian deity, Athena.

I will also share another item related to Athena.

In Greek mythology, the armor given to Athena by Zeus is called the "Aigis."

The Aigis is adorned with snakes and possesses magical power that repels all misfortunes and evils.

The hero Perseus naturally borrowed it from Athena to defeat Medusa.

The English pronunciation of Aigis is "Aegis."

It is the origin of the name for the United States Navy's fleet defense system, the "Aegis System.”

It translates to a "solid shield" that defends against all attacks.

And by Athena's side, Nike always accompanied her.

Nike is the goddess of victory and she has a pair of wings.

The global sports brand "Nike" takes its name from the goddess of victory in Greek mythology.

The company's logo is inspired by the wings of this goddess.

In Roman mythology, the goddess of victory, Nike, is known as Victoria.

 

This, of course, is the origin of the English word "victory."

 

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2023年

2月

01日

Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 28: Florence, Part 8

February 1, 2023

 

 The Accademia Gallery

The Accademia Gallery is the affiliated art museum of the Florence Academy of Fine Arts.

It houses several sculptures by Michelangelo and Florentine Renaissance paintings from the 13th to the 16th century.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) was born in Florence and was an Italian Renaissance sculptor, painter, architect, and poet.

He left behind numerous outstanding works of art and, due to his versatility, he is often referred to as the "Renaissance Man," or “Universal Genius” just like Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo was 23 years younger than Leonardo and eight years older than Raphael.

These three men are named the "Three Great Masters of the Renaissance."

While Michelangelo himself downplayed painting, he created two highly influential frescoes that left a profound impact on the Western art world.

These are the ceiling fresco "The Genesis; The Creation of Adam" and the altar wall painting "The Last Judgment," both located in the Sistine Chapel of the San Pietro Cathedral in Vatican City.

On the other hand, sculpture held the greatest importance for Michelangelo, and his most famous masterpiece is the "Pieta" (the Virgin Mary holding the crucified Jesus Christ in her arms) at the San Pietro Cathedral and the “Statue of Davide” at the Accademia Gallery.

The statue of Davide was created by Michelangelo over a period of three years upon the commission of the Florentine citizens who had expelled the Medici family, specifically Piero II , a son of Lorenzo de' Medici.

Davide is a hero who appears in the Old Testament's "Book of Samuel" and lived around 1000 BC.

The English male name "David" is derived from his name “Davide.”

By the way, the Old Testament is a scripture of Judaism and Christianity, containing stories such as "The Creation of the World" and "Noah's Ark."

Saul, the first king of Israel, betrayed God's command.

The boy Davide, a shepherd, caught God's attention as the candidate for next king of Israel.

Davide was handsome and skilled in playing the harp, but he was also a brave warrior.

The Israelites led by Saul repeatedly fought against the Philistines.

When Davide happened to visit the battlefield, he was provoked by Goliath, the strongest giant warrior of the Philistines.

Davide stood before Saul with only a shepherd's staff and a bag of stones.

Davide threw a stone towards the charging Goliath, and it hit him in the forehead, causing Goliath to fall face down.

Davide pulled out Goliath's sword and cut off his head.

Witnessing this, the Philistine army fell into disarray, and the Israelite army emerged victorious.

Davide continued to play a crucial role in saving the nation and eventually became the second king of Israel.

He ruled the country for several decades.

His descendant, Joseph of Nazareth, was born about a thousand years later.

Joseph's wife, Mary, gave birth to Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, Davide's birthplace.

Since the 16th century, King Davide has been depicted on French and English playing cards as the King of Spades ().

Indeed, he is often portrayed holding the symbol of the harp.

The monumental marble statue, standing at 5.2 meters tall, depicts Davide aiming to throw a stone at the giant Goliath.

The muscles are well-defined, veins are visible, and the sculpture exudes tension.

His gaze is focused, his lips firmly closed, and his expression is rational.

The statue of a young boy confronting a giant represents both the republic that overthrows dictatorship and the symbol of Florence, a small state standing against surrounding countries.

Davide, being Jewish, should have been circumcised, but Michelangelo portrayed him with a foreskin.

This has sparked ongoing debates about whether this sculpture can be considered based on biblical accounts.

Additionally, Davide's testicles hang lower on the left side compared to the right.

This is consistent with the statistical fact that "more than half of men have the left testicle hanging lower than the right.”

Male readers! Please confirm this by looking in the mirror.

 

 

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