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Issues of DeathMortality and Identity in English Renaissance Tragedy$
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Michael Neill

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198183860

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198183860.001.0001

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The Stage of Death: Tragedy and Anatomy

The Stage of Death: Tragedy and Anatomy

(p.102) 2 The Stage of Death: Tragedy and Anatomy
Issues of Death

Michael Neill

Oxford University Press

The trauma of epidemic disease was by no means the only factor contributing to the early modern reinvention of death. Of particular importance, in educated circles at least, was the reinvigorated science of anatomy which, from the mid-sixteenth century, helped to produce an entirely new understanding of the human body and its processes of morbidity. The bible of this revolutionary science was the magnificent De Humani Corporis Fabrica, written by the Flemish physician Andreas Vesalius. Within half a century of the publication of Vesalius' masterpiece in 1543, the classically derived pieties that had ruled scholastic anatomy for several hundred years had been utterly displaced. Vesalius insisted on restoring the investigative, exploratory role of dissection, which the anatomist must now perform in person.

Keywords:   death, anatomy, human body, morbidity, Humani Corporis, Andreas Vesalius, dissection

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