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Surgeons of the Pantheon


Until the XVIII century the butchers had at "Piazza della Rotonda" and the neighboring streets their workshops where prepared and sold pigmeat; in their workshops not only they are preparing salamis and sausages, but also performed delicate surgery to remove cataracts.
The butchers were a rich and important brotherhood of craftsmen who in 1677 along with the merchants of big game, truffles and fish gave life to their "university"; a school in which their craft techniques were taught. In their universities it is also was teaching the "half medicine" because since the Middle Ages the butchers over to kill pigs and salt meat, were “cerusici”, or surgeons. In fact, although in Rome already in the sixteenth century was instituted a sort of medical school, the Academiae S. Spiritus in Saxia at the Santo Spirito Hospital near the Vatican, where it formed the doctors, these were engaged primarily bowel and blood circulation and so the sufferers for all vision problems, teeth and kidneys had to ask for butchers.
The ability of the butchers, also known in ancient Rome, was due to not only to the art of meat processing but, before that, also of the operation necessary for a successful breeding of pigs, or castration and teeth extraction .
The skills and techniques already connected the ancient times were used on men for minor surgery such as abscesses engrave or take away teeth or splint a few fracture, but also for more "invasive" as the 'removal of tumors or intervention for hernia and cataract, and the removal of kidney stones who even performed with different techniques, such as cutting (lithotomy) or through crumbling (lithotripsy).
These empirical surgeons then carried out operations of lithotomy, herniotomy, cataract and bloodletting for which they were authorized by a special "license to practice", and after obtaining a university degree. Many became famous and popular at the courts of Europe, a certain Scacchi in 1588 operated for cataract Queen Elizabeth I of England and was rewarded with a thousand shields of gold.
It was some time that Queen was living in fear of the shadows that were falling in his eyes and hers advisers were trying across Europe who could operate on her; it tried who have the knowledge and skills: the best was living in Rome and was Durante Scacchi the personal physician of Sixtus V, the Catholic Pope great enemy o the Queen. Durante Scacchi was asked to operate the Queen Elizabeth, he was flattered but he was afraid, did not want to create a diplomatic incident and suggested that to operate was another competent and skilled surgeon, her brother Cesare Scacchi. The surgeon left for London and for two weeks he met British doctors that examined his preparation and competence, and finally the operation was carried out in great secrecy because you did not know that Queen had risked blindness.
These surgeons was also appreciated for another type of operation that today seems cruel and terrifying: the castration of children who were initiaded to career of solo singers both in the courts choruses that of the churches of which the most famous is the children's choir the Sistine Chapel.





by M.L. ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (Ed 1.0 - 24/09/2016)