Certain human recipients of the bite of a tarantula local to southern Italy fall into states of confused torpor. The spider’s venom strains victims’ respiration and blackens their hands and faces. Untreated, the spider bite results in death. Fortunately, there is a treatment, which constitutes the object of our attention here. Francesco Cancellieri summarizes the cure in an 1819 epistolary treatise on the ailment: “Sweat and antidotes relieve the sick, but the sovereign and the only remedy is Music.”†

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