For Dante’s Divine Comedy, French illustrator Gustave Doré (1832 to 1883) depicted the souls of dead traitors as frozen into the Greco-Roman Underworld’s River of Lamentation—the Cocytus (above). The poets walking across the icy Cocytus are Virgil and the shorter Dante. With the poetic license exercised by Dante, Hade’s rivers Lethe, Styx, and Acheron can be understood to supply amnesia, hypnosis, and analgesia, respectively—later considered as hallmarks of general anesthesia. By immobilizing traitors in ice, the Cocytus, a fourth plutonic river, reflected akinesia, a fourth property of general anesthesia. A little more than a century after Doré published this image, immobility helped define the minimum alveolar concentration or MAC of anesthetic vapors. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

For Dante’s Divine Comedy, French illustrator Gustave Doré (1832 to 1883) depicted the souls of dead traitors as frozen into the Greco-Roman Underworld’s River of Lamentation—the Cocytus (above). The poets walking across the icy Cocytus are Virgil and the shorter Dante. With the poetic license exercised by Dante, Hade’s rivers Lethe, Styx, and Acheron can be understood to supply amnesia, hypnosis, and analgesia, respectively—later considered as hallmarks of general anesthesia. By immobilizing traitors in ice, the Cocytus, a fourth plutonic river, reflected akinesia, a fourth property of general anesthesia. A little more than a century after Doré published this image, immobility helped define the minimum alveolar concentration or MAC of anesthetic vapors. (Copyright © the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology.)

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George S. Bause, M.D., M.P.H., Honorary Curator and Laureate of the History of Anesthesia, Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Schaumburg, Illinois, and Clinical Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. UJYC@aol.com.