Most people have heard of this sexually transmitted disease but relatively few know that the word was coined in 1530 by an Italian physician and poet, Girolamo Frascatoro. He wrote an epic poem in Latin titled Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus, which means ‘Syphilis or the French Disease’. The principal character in Frascatoro’s epic was a shepherd called Syphilus who was punished by the god Apollo with the disease, which Frascatoro then named syphilis in a treatise he wrote on contagious diseases. In the 16th century, the Italians called the disease ‘the French disease’ and the French called it ‘the Italian disease’ in retaliation. In the Netherlands, the Dutch called it ‘the Spanish disease’ and much later, the Tahitians called it ‘the English disease’. Communities around the world named the disease after the people who were perceived as transmitting it. It was also known as ‘the great pox’ to distinguish it, somewhat ironically, from the far more deadly ‘small pox’.