On the death of Herod the Great

Ricardo Espinoza G, Cristian Sepúlveda T, Cynthia Vukusich V, Andrés Fantuzzi S, Mariano Serrano J, Magdalena Simian D

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific reviewpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Herod the Great was the founder of a dynasty that reigned on Judea for several generations. His birth date is estimated on year 73 AC and died at 70 years old. Descriptions of the final disease of Herod were obtained from the classical chronicles of Flavius Josephus, "The Jewish war" and "Jewish Antiquities". A medical explanation for his death is attempted. A parasitism caused by Schistosoma haematobium is suggested as the etiology for chronic renal failure (edema, halitosis and orthopnea) and a "gangrene of genitalia that engendered worms" in the words of Josephus. This would be explained by the formation of genital and urinary fistulae, observed in such disease. The asseveration that Herod was "attacked by black bilis" is also discussed, based on the concepts of the Hippocratic medicine of that time.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)569-572
Number of pages4
JournalRevista Medica de Chile
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2003


  • History of Medicine, ancient
  • Kidney failure, chronic
  • Schistosoma haematobium


Dive into the research topics of 'On the death of Herod the Great'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this