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Julius Caesar's Disease
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It is generally accepted as a historical fact that Julius Caesar suffered from epilepsy, an illness which in classical times was sometimes associated with divinely bestowed genius. The ancient sources describe several episodes when, sometimes at critical junctures, one of the most famous military commanders in history was incapacitated by his illness referred to as morbus comitialis. But does the evidence really fit with the diagnosis of epilepsy? And if it was not epilepsy that afflicted Caesar, then what was it? These are the questions that doctors Galassi and Ashrafian seek to answer by applying modern medical knowledge to the symptoms and circumstances described by contemporary historians and commentators of Caesar's life (which include the great man himself). The result is a fascinating piece of historical-pathological detective work that challenges received wisdom about one of the most famous men of all time.
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Francesco Maria Galassi, MD, is a paleopathologist at Zurich University's Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, where he serves as Assistant and Principal Investigator of the Italian Paleopathology Project. He graduated from the University of Bologna and has collected research experiences at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. Besides studying osteological remains and mummies, he specialises in the analysis of ancient texts in order to identify the historical presentation and evolution of diseases throughout history. Amongst his most acclaimed studies, the causes of death of Alaric I and Giovanni Boccaccio. Aged only 27, Francesco Galassi is one of the youngest palaeopathologists in the world and already an expert in the field of palaeomedicine. Francesco's studies have received worldwide attention in quality papers such Forbes Magazine, The Guardian, The Telegraph and he regularly features in the press and radio-TV programs as commentator of paleopathological research. Hutan Ashrafian, BSc Hons, MBBS, MBA, PhD, MRCS is a surgeon, historian, systems biologist, biostatistician, paleopathologist and philosopher. He is currently lecturer in surgery at Imperial College London and surgeon registrar at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. His historical and paleopathological work spans the era of Alexander the Great and the classical world, epistemology and the earliest world literature from the Ancient Near East, art and science in the renaissance focusing on the work of Leonardo da Vinci. As an Egyptologist, he has offered the first pathological analysis of the Great Sphinx and his analysis of the death of Tutankhamun was featured in documentaries on the BBC and the Smithsonian Channel. He is the founding president of the Institute of Polymaths.

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