The literary origin of ‘Syphilis’

For centuries, people have dreaded the diagnosis of the STD Syphilis, but where did the name originate? Acording the the website Science Friday, Syphilus was the name of the hero of a epic poem written by Hieronymus Fracastorius in 1530.

In the poem, the shepherd Syphilus rejected the Sun God and was, as punishment, inflicted with the disease, which was brought to Europe from the New World by explorers and mercenaries. The poem was written in Latin, and the Italian author was possibly influenced by classical literature.