Julius Caesar's Disease

A New Diagnosis

Francesco Maria Galassi, Hutan Ashrafian

Date Published :
March 2017
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781473870789
Pages : 192
Dimensions : 9.5 X 6.5 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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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.

About The Author

Francesco Maria Galassi MD qualified as a doctor at the University of Bologna in his native Italy in 2014 and is currently on a postdoctoral internship at the University of Uttrecht in the Netherlands. He has also attended courses at Imperial College London, Oxford, Cambridge and New York universities. Alongside his medical qualifications, he has a deep interest in ancient history and particularly the history of medicine. He is proficient in both Latin and Ancient Greek as well as English, French, German, Dutch and Spanish.

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.


"Irrespective of whether one agrees with the authors' conclusions, this books is thoroughly researched and referenced, well-presented, and will be of interest to anyone with a keen eye into the past, especially to historians of medicine."

- British Society for the History of Medicine

"Dr Galassi is a paleopathologist at Zurich University; Hutan Ashrafian is a surgeon and paleopathologist at Imperial College London. Both men are perfectly well qualified to re-examine Caesar's symptoms and to offer an alternative diagnosis to the well accepted one of epilepsy...  I am of course not qualified to comment on their findings or proposed diagnosis, but I found the book to be both readable and informative, and a worthy addition to the various biographies of the great man, most of which concentrate on his military prowess and politics. A most fascinating read."

- Books Monthly

We will never know for sure whether Caesar actually suffered from TIA, which the authors themselves acknowledge, but thanks to them a thorough biomedical profile has finally been made available for paleopathologists, historians, philologists and neurologists alike, who will then be able to expand their researches on the matter. For the ordinary history lovers, however, this book allows them to feel closer to Caesar, the real man who lived before his myth, and like him perhaps dreaming of eternity.

- Academic Journal of Neurological Sciences

"Using their medical knowledge and expertise, they examine the several possible reasons for Caesar's poor health, hoping to explain his many symptoms which included "faints, dizziness, psychomotor changes, headache, nightmares, choleric outbursts, etc.""

- United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV)

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