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Master Thesis

Claude et Britannicus : regard médical moderne sur deux morts suspectes de l'Antiquité, circonstances et hypothèses étiologiques

Abstract : Deaths of Emperor Claudius and his son Britannicus have long been synonymous with poisoning. From a medical modern view angle on antique works, their way of life, their health problems, as well as those of the Julio-Claudius dynasty are considered in order to formulate the diagnostic hypotheses that could explain their death. Although when reading ancient texts, poisoning with mushrooms (amanita phalloides) appears to be the reason of Emperor Claudius death, arsenic seems, nevertheless, more in line with the initial descriptions. However, complications resulting from food and alcohol excess could very well be the reason of his death. We think that the rupture of a pancreas haemorrhaging cyst in a context of chronic alcoholic pancreatitis could be responsible for his death. Regarding Britannicus, no poison could have caused such a sudden death. The case of cyanide remains, although initially rejected: lethal doses in hydrocyanic acid are reached by a distillation of cherry laurel. However, a somatic etioligy seems also the best adapted explanation to his death: a sudden and unexplained death in epilepsy.
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Nicolas Penchet. Claude et Britannicus : regard médical moderne sur deux morts suspectes de l'Antiquité, circonstances et hypothèses étiologiques. Médecine humaine et pathologie. 2019. ⟨dumas-02490231⟩

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