Accompanied by Virgil, Dante visited all nine circles, where the irredeemable wicked are punished for eternity; but in the belly of that appalling place he found no trace of the disabled. And yet, at that time, they were considered bearers of the maximum sin, the physical and mental non-conformity to the paradigm of the human species, as to say to the image of God. The tenth circle is that piece of hell that must be sought on earth. Always being outside a norm is considered an attack on the natural order of things, a danger to be fought with all energy. The presence of characters that differentiate an individual from the majority of his peers is capable of producing a social disadvantage, a handicap and relegates him to the margins of the community to which he belongs, when he does not completely expel him. Over the centuries the meaning of disability has been much more akin to that of guilt and sin, or of uselessness; sometimes even of crime. The book illustrates how disability was defined at different times, and how it is defined and considered today.

Massimo Fioranelli is a cardiologist, chief of the Cardiology and Integrative Medicine Center of the Casa di Cura “Villa del Rosario” in Rome and is also Associate Professor of Physiology and Professor of the History of Medicine at the “G. Marconi” University of Rome. Fioranelli is author of Io Ippocrate di Kos (2008), I Medici eretici (2008), La Cura Incompiuta (2016) and over 200 scientific international publications.