Shakespeare's Writings Indicate He May Have Had Syphilis
Shakespeare's name usually inspires thoughts of kings, fairies, lovers, wars and poetic genius--not syphilis.
Infectious Diseases Society of America - However, some passages in his plays and sonnets indicate that the Bard may have suffered from one or more venereal infections, according to an article in the Feb. 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online.
Although syphilis is relatively uncommon now, it was rampant five centuries ago, transmitted from country to country by sailors, soldiers and merchants. Symptoms of syphilis can include genital lesions; rashes on the torso, palms, and soles of the feet; neurological problems; and destroyed facial tissue. Shakespeare alluded to sexually transmitted disease (STD) symptoms--and treatments--in several of his plays and poems, including Troilus and Cressida, As You Like It, and Sonnets."