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Medicine in the time of Shakespeare

Medicine in the time of Shakespeare

An exhibit in the Historical Library explored medical theory and practice in 16th-century London.

“A plague o’ both your houses,” the dying Mercutio cries in Romeo and Juliet. “Hysterica passio, down, thou climbing sorrow,” exclaims the mad king in King Lear, referring to an affliction of the womb. And in The Winter’s Tale, Camillo presents the visionary notion that a person can carry and spread a disease without showing signs of illness.Medical references are rife in the Bard’s oeuvre, garnering attention from literary scholars and medical historians alike. A recent exhibit organized by the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library highlighted themes from Shakespeare’s works, including plague, midwifery, domestic medicine, herbal remedies, astrological medicine, surgery, and other medical topics from the period...

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