The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (2)

Continued from “The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (1)

The second reminder of the presence of Andreas Vesalius in the Zakynthos Island is a street in the west side of the city of Laganas, “ΟΔΟΣ ΑΝΔΡΕΑ ΒΕΖΑΛ” or” Andrea Vesalius Street”. It is relatively short, narrow and windy, and it has several restaurants and hotels as you get closer to the sea where it ends at the beach. At this point there is a monument that honors Andrea Vesalius. This monument was erected in 1965. It has inscriptions in Greek, and Latin. This is the third memento to Vesalius in Zakynthos.

This monument was erected in Laganas following a legend that Vesalius had shipwrecked and he was found at the beach. Another legend says that Vesalius was left at the beach at Laganas to die as he was very sick. One of the presentations at the 2014 Vesalius Continuum meeting by Dr. Mauritz Biesbrouck disputed these legends with recently found letters by George Boucher to Johanes Metellus. George Boucher was a German jeweler that traveled with Vesalius back from Jerusalem and paid for Vesalius’ burial and monument at the church of Santa Maria della Grazie. These letters were authenticated and analyzed, bringing light to Vesalius’ place of disembarkment in Zakynthos. The Laganas monument, although correct in content, should be moved to the port of Zakynthos, to the point where the old city walls were found, the place where Vesalius collapsed and died.

The monument has a legend in both Greek and Latin. It reads as follows:

ΕΙΣ ΜΝΗΜΗΝ ΤΟΥ
ΑΝΔΡΕΑ ΒΕΖΑΛ
ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΒΕΛΓΟΥ ΑΝΑΤΟΜΟΥ
ΘΑΝΟΝΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΖΑΚΥΝΘΩ ΤΟ 1564
Η ΕΝΩΣΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΔΙΠΛΜΑΤΟΥΧΩΝ ΤΩΝ
ΠΑΝΕΠΙΣΤΗΜΙΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΑΝΩΤΑΤΩΝ ΣΧΟΛΩΝ
ΤΟΥ ΒΕΛΓΙΟΥ, ΤΗΝ ΣΧΟΛΩΝ
ΑΝΗΓΕΙΡΕΝ ΤΘ 1965

IN MEMORIAM

ANDREAE VESALII BRUXELLENSIS
TUMULUS
QUI OBIIT IDIBUS OCTOBRIS ANNO MDLXIV
AETATIS VERO SUAE L
QUUM HIEROSOLYMIS REDISSET

Vesalii cineres venerandaque gentibus ossa
quisquis remota conteueris insula
qua jacer incultis memorosa Zakynthos arenis
gradum, viator et laborem sistito
naturae genium finemque extre maque rerum
vidisse credens coetera insanus labor

The first part is in Greek and reads: ”Here died the great Belgian humanist Andre Vesal. This stone was erected in 1965 by the union of Greeks who gained their qualifications in Belgian Universities” (Dirix, 2014)

The second part is Latin and is a copy of the original epitaph found on Vesalius’ grave as recorded in several manuscripts. It reads:

IN MEMORY
GRAVE OF
ANDREA VESALIUS FROM BRUSSELS
WHO DIED IN OCTOBER OF THE YEAR 1564
AT THE AGE OF 50
DURING HIS RETURN FROM JERUSALEM

Vesalius street sign in Laganas

Directions to the Vesalius monument in Laganas

Vesalius Monument in Laganas

Vesalius Monument in Laganas, Zakynthos Island

The rest is a poem in Latin that is translated as:

“The ashes and bones of Vesalius, sacred to the world
whoever finds then on this isolated island passing by the wild shores of Zakynthos,
should hold his tired steps, and believe that it is here that Vesalius met the ultimate goal of nature
and understood that striving for anything else is pointless” (Stouffis, Z, 1990)

When I visited this spot it was raining very hard and while I waited to take these pictures I looked out at the dark sea almost believing that maybe this was the spot where Vesalius came to land in Zakynthos. Now we know that it is not, but the moment was poignant and made me feel closer to the great anatomist.

On a more mundane note, in this area of Laganas because of the street name there are several businesses named "Vezal", a hotel, a supermarket and a taverna! I could not bring myself to post images of those places.

Continued in  "The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (3)"