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Your Beatin' Heart


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Cecil Adams in his fine answer about the heart [Straight Dope, February 16] credits William Harvey with the discovery of blood circulation. Along with a million other attributes to the bard, the honor goes to Shakespeare. As long ago as the 400th anniversary of his birth, in 1964, and in many repetitions since, I have had letters explaining why he anticipated Harvey.

In Brutus's superb tribute to Portia, he wrote: "You are my true and honourable wife, / As dear to me as are the ruddy drops / That visit my sad heart."

Undoubtedly "visit" was used in the sense "to make frequent or regular visits," which showed his recognition of the fact of circulation.

The play Julius Caesar was first performed in 1599. It was not until 1616, the year Shakespeare died, that Harvey began his course of lectures at the college of physicians in which he first brought forward his views on the movements of the heart and blood.

Could Harvey have seen the play at the Globe?

Hank Oettinger

W. Grace

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