Steri's Graffiti of Palermo and Medical Knowledges

Renato Malta, Alfredo Salerno


The graffiti left by prisoners in the Inquisition gaols of Palermos represent a testimony of the historical period between 1600 to 1793. In that period, by order of the viceroy Caracciolo, all the testimonies were removed at the same time in which the Inquisition court was suppressed. In this work the historical subdivision between sacred and profane themes is analyzed with the purpose to study human body in an anthropological key as a language in condition of limited freedom and under torture. Many of the profane graffiti are devoted to medical knowledge suggesting that doctors were involved in the activities of this religious court likewise happened in civil courts. Giovanni Filippo Ingrassia, the well-known proto-medical physician of the kingdom, in his treatise, wrote in 1578 and entitled Methodus dandi relationes reports many examples of the role of medical doctors in attesting fitness to torture of inquired people or the necessity of graduating torture when they were hill or in a morbid conditions.


Key Words:Palermo - Graffiti - Inquisition - G. F. Ingrassia

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