Is there a relationship between Dante Alighieri and narcolepsy?

Authors

  • Roberto Pereira Santos
  • Nathalia Carmo Borges
  • Larissa Leal Souza
  • Marleide da Mota Gomes

Keywords:

Italian, Narcolepsy, association, / Italiano, Narcolepsia, associação

Abstract

Dante Alighieri is the greatest Italian poet whose Divine Comedy is one of the classics of the world literature. It has been 700 years since his death (1265-1321) and a question recently rised remains unclear: did he have narcolepsy? In his major work1 he described in detail many of it’s cardinal symptons of excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnogogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and disrupted nocturnal sleep (narcolepsy pentad)2.

Narcolepsy, from the Greek narke¯, falling asleep; lepsis, attack, was first described by Gélineau in 18803, from the observation of a condition of sudden sleep attacks followed by falls. The association with triggers of strong emotions, such as laughter, anger, was described by Loewnfeld at the beginning of the 20th century 4,5.

Currently, it is estimated a prevalence of 45-84 cases per 100,0004, affecting individuals aged 20 to 40 years5. Despite the scarcity of supporting biographical material about the author having narcolepsy, the richness of details in his works does not seem to be the result of mere chance6.

Published

2021-11-23