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40 years of active presence

Saturday, June 10, 2023

    INTELLECTUAL LIFE – Lazzaro de Mordo: the “Ionian Hippocrates”

    The doctor-philosopher Lazzaro de Mordo was born in Corfu in 1774, the scion of an old medical family, his grandfather, Lazarus, and father, Sabbetai, also being doctors. In his writings he refers to the traditional medicine practiced in years past on the island by folk healers. It seems that on Corfu at these times traditional medicine was widespread and people would only resort to “learned” doctors if the malady was acute and painful. Corfiots believed the old saying that “the patient is the doctor” and thus consulted mainly with other patients to find a cure.

    He studied medicine at the University of Padua and practiced in Corfu from a young age, being highly esteemed by his compatriots. He wrote tens of medical, philosophical papers and papers on literature, as well as epigrams. He served as professor of obstetrics in the Tenedos Monastery Higher School in 1803 and was a founding member of the Corfu Medical Association, founded in 1802 on the initiative of distinguished doctors of the island, as well as the later governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias. He was a member of many European academies and associations and a delegate to the first Ionian Academy. He also served as a rabbi and domestic chief medical officer of the administration.

    He was the first doctor to recommend to the Medical Association the introduction of vaccination for Corfiots against smallpox and was a member of the first vaccination committee. Following the principles of modern medicine, in his work Admonitions for the inhabitants of the country and the medicines for them […]”, published in Corfu in 1818, he devotes the first chapter to the prevention of disease, characteristically writing the Hippocratic “I want to reveal to you, that it is easier to prevent them, than to cure them”. He then gives practical advice on prevention. His work Nozioni Miscellanee Intorno a Corcira, dedicated to his friend Emmanuel Theotokis, offers important testimony on Corfu in 1808.