Đuro Armeno Baglivi
Although he was aware of the increasing importance of atomism and breakdown of matter into smallest particles, Baglivi remained faithful to his ancient role-model – Hippocrates. He saw the body as a broken-down machine, but still a unit with a soul, that is located in the brain and balances the body. He was one of the important authorities in clinical medicine in 18th and 19th centuries, and his works were translated into almost all European languages. The family of Đuro Armeno (later Baglivi) originated from Armenia, and the grandfather of our doctor was probably the one who came to Dubrovnik. Đuro was born in 1668. His was a merchant family, however, according to historical sources his father fell into debt. In 1670, his mother died, followed soon after by his father. As orphans, dispossessed because of their father’s debts, Đuro and his brother were taken in by their uncle, and after his death, a former servant in the Armeno house. He was educated by the Jesuits, and Đuro turned out to be an extremely talented boy. Based on the request for adoption by the Italian physician Piero Angelo Baglivi, the Jesuits selected Đuro and he moved to Italy in 1684. Đuro developed a close relationship, mutual love and respect with his step-father. He started studying medicine probably under his influence, first in Naples, then in Salerno where he completed his doctoral studies. After graduation he went on a journey and visited Dubrovnik. At that time, he also travelled extensively around Italy, but decided to stay in Bologna and hear lectures of Marcello Malpighi, the founder of systematic microscopic anatomy and one of the greatest physicians of the time, who was conducting experiments. After Malpighi moved to Rome at the invitation of Pope Innocent XII, Baglivi himself, at Malpighi’s invitation, permanently moved to Rome in 1692. As a 28-year-old he became the professor of anatomy at the Sapienza. In 1696, he published his first major work, On the Practice of Medicine (De praxi medica). In it, Baglivi demonstrated the methods and tasks of clinical medicine, warning of the importance of clinical study of symptoms, anatomical sections, microscopic study and physiological experiments, instead of empty speculation of that time. In his second work De fibra motrice et morbosa (1700), he compared human and animal fibres on the basis of his microscopic study and concluded that the centre of physiological and pathological processes was in the living fibres, so he became one of the founders of the so-called fibrillar pathology. At the height of his career he was appointed professor of theoretical medicine at the Sapienza (1701). During his life he was a member of the most learned associations of his time; the London Royal Society, German Academia Caesarea Leopoldino-Carolina Naturae Curiosorum, Italian Accademia dei Fisiocritici and Roman Arcadia society. He was the personal physician to two Popes; Innocent XII and Clement XI. Baglivi died in Rome in 1707. In the document about the tarantula bite, he recommended an interesting form of treatment, which was – dancing to music. His patients had to dance for 10 hours a day. The point of this dancing marathon was simply heightened muscle activity, so with this combination of psychotherapy and detoxication the symptoms disappeared after 3 to 4 days.