Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

Marginalia, no.286

When Vesalius demonstrated that the head of the human femur is not flared, stating that the ancient Greek master had used a quadruped’s hip for his descriptions, his opponents responded that Galen had not lied and, if the human hip did not conform to his description, it was because men’s anatomy had changed. This, they claimed, was due to centuries of wearing tight trousers instead of loose-fitting tunics and togas, as the ancients had done.

~ F. Gonzalez-Crussi, A Short History of Medicine

Mr. Poe may well sigh for “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome.” I see it too, as, from barbarian regions of tight trousers, the weary, way-worn wanderer returns to his own native shore, and to dear Helen’s hyacinthine something-or-other. Surely, at such a moment, not even the Nicean barking of the neighbor’s dog in the filth-ridden alley below can spoil the consolation of having preserved a flared femur. Thank the gods for superior-quality traveling togas.

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