Poetry and Teratology: Lorenzo Mascheroni's "Invito a Lesbia Cidonia" in Anatomical Preparations


  • Carla Garbarino University Museum System, University History Museum, University of Pavia, I
  • Valentina Cani Neurological Institute IRCCS «C. Mondino », Pavia, I
  • Stefano Maretti University Museum System, Natural History Museum, University of Pavia, Pavia, I
  • Paolo Mazzarello Department of Nervous System and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, I


Università di Pavia, Lorenzo Mascheroni, Teratologia , invito a Lesbia Cidonia


 In 1793 Lorenzo Mascheroni, appointed to the chair of Mathematics at the University of Pavia and well-known poet, wrote “L’invito di Dafni Orobiano a Lesbia Cidonia”. In the poem he described the beauty of the University of Pavia and its wonders gathered in the scientific collections of the museums. From the beginning, one of the glass cases of the Museum for the History of the University of Pavia shows some of the preparations described in the Mascheroni’s verses. In addition to some fossils, human teratological preparations are also exposed: they recall the verses of the poem dedicated to the description of “monstrous” preparations. However, after a detailed scientific and historical research, the traditional association of the exposed anatomical preparations with the verses is questioned.