Alessandro Benedetti

Alessandro Benedetti was born in Parma, traveled and worked extensively in Greece and Crete, and worked as surgeon general of the Venetian army. His “Anatomice, or The History of the Human Body” is a descriptive anatomy in the style of Mundinus. It concludes with a final chapter on the praise of dissection. He expresses the need for a clinical examination rather than uncritical trust in the authorities “since in it we see the truth and contemplate its revelations as the works of nature lie under our eyes… but those who trust only the monuments of literature… are often deceived and entrust opinion rather than truth to their minds.” He later describes a postmortem examination of a woman who had died of syphilis and the disease’s effects on her bones. Benedetti critiqued those anatomists who trusted in the authorities more than their own experience: “Aristotle has had so much authority for so many centuries that even those things which [physicians] have not seen they will affirm to exist, even without experiment.” Benedetti valued personal observation over blind trust in the authorities and even, shockingly for the time, corrected Aristotle.