Ole Worm

Ole Worm
Ole Worm

Ole Worm (pronounced "Olə Vorm") (13 May 1588 – 31 August 1655), who often went by the Latinized form of his name Olaus Wormius, was a Danish physician and antiquary.



Worm was the son of Willum Worm who served as the mayor of Aarhus, and was made a rich man by the inheritance from his father. Ole Worm's grandfather Johan Worm, a magistrate in Aarhus, was a Lutheran who had fled from Arnhem in Gelderland while it was under Catholic rule. He married Dorothea Fincke, the daughter of a friend and colleague, Thomas Fincke, a mathematician who invented the terms 'tangent' and 'secant'.

Ole Worm was something of a perpetual student: after attending the grammar school of Aarhus, he continued his education at the University of Marburg in 1605, received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Basel in 1611, and received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Copenhagen in 1617. The rest of his academic career was spent in Copenhagen, where he taught Latin, Greek, physics, and medicine. He was personal physician to King Christian IV of Denmark. Somewhat remarkable for a physician of the time, he remained in the city of Copenhagen to minister to the sick during an epidemic of the Black Death.

Scientific and cultural significance

Worm's illustration of the Runamo inscription, where he could read the name Lund. The "inscription" was later found to be natural formations in the rock.

In medicine, Worm's chief contributions were in embryology. The Wormian bones (small bones that fill gaps in the cranial sutures) are named after him.

Worm is also known to have been a collector of early literature in the Scandinavian languages. He also wrote a number of treatises on runestones and collected texts that were written in runic. Worm received letters of introduction to the bishops of Denmark and Norway from the King of Denmark due to the King's interest and approval. In 1626 Worm published his Fasti Danici, or "Danish Chronology," containing the results of his researches into runic lore; and in 1636 Runir seu Danica literatura antiquissima, "Runes: the oldest Danish literature," a compilation of transcribed runic texts. In 1643 his Danicorum Monumentorum[1] "Danish Monuments" was published. The first written study of runestones, it is also one of the only surviving sources for depictions of numerous runestones and inscriptions from Denmark, some of which are now lost.

"Musei Wormiani Historia," the frontispiece from the Museum Wormianum depicting Wormius' cabinet of curiosities.

As a natural philosopher, Worm assembled a great collection of curiosities, which ranged from native artifacts collected from the New World, to taxidermed animals, to fossils, on which he speculated greatly. Worm compiled engravings of his collection, along with his speculations about their meaning, into a catalog of his Museum Wormianum, published after his death, in 1655. As a scientist, Worm straddled the line between modern and pre-modern. As an example, in a very modern, empirical mode, Worm determined that the unicorn did not exist and that purported unicorn horns were really simply from the narwhal. At the same time, however, he then wondered if the anti-poison properties associated with a unicorn's horn still held true, and undertook experiments in poisoning pets and then serving them ground up narwhal horn (his poisoning must have been relatively mild because he reported that they did recover).

His other empirical investigations included providing convincing evidence that lemmings were rodents and not, as some thought, spontaneously generated by the air (Worm 1655, p. 327), and also by providing the first detailed drawing of a bird of paradise proving that they did, despite much popular speculation to the opposite, indeed have feet like regular birds. Worm's primary use of his natural history collection was for the purpose of pedagogy.

Worm in popular literature

In more recent years, the real Worm (and his various accomplishments) have been supplanted to many by a fictional character with his name. H. P. Lovecraft in a fictional history of his notorious fictional grimoire, the Necronomicon, ascribes the Latin translation to an Olaus Wormius, but misplaces him in the thirteenth century.[2]


  1. ^ Danicorum Monumentorum is viewable via the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz website here: [1]
  2. ^ History of the Necronomicon: http://www.necfiles.org/nechisto.htm

External links

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См. также в других словарях:

  • Ole Worm — ou Olaus Wormius (né le 13 mai 1588 mort le 31 août 1654) était un médecin et un collectionneur danois. Il est le fils de Willum Worm, maire de la ville d Århus, qui lui lègue à sa mort une grande fortune. Ole Worm reste, en quelque so …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ole Worm — Ole Worm, nach einem Gemälde von Carl van Mandern Olaus Wormius, latinisiert für Olaf Wurm (* 13. Mai 1588; † 31. August 1654), war der Reichs Antiquar von Dänemark und gilt als einer der Begründer der skandinavischen Archäologie. Er war der Sohn …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ole Wormius — Ole Worm Ole Worm Ole Worm ou Olaus Wormius (né le 13 mai 1588 mort le 31 août 1654) était un médecin et un collectionneur danois. Il est le fils de Willum Worm, maire de la ville d Århus, qui lui lègue à sa mort une grande fortu …   Wikipédia en Français

  • OLE — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. {{{image}}}   Sigles d une seule lettre   Sigles de deux lettres > Sigles de trois lettres …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Worm (disambiguation) — Worm is an elongated soft bodied invertebrate animal.Worm may also refer to:* Computer worm, a self propagating piece of malicious software * Write Once Read Many, or WORM , a characteristic of data storage media * Worm (marketing), a market… …   Wikipedia

  • Ole — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Prénom Ole est un prénom scandinave : Ole Beich (1955 1991), musicien (Guns N Roses) Ole Einar Bjørndalen, biathlète Ole Bremseth, né en 1961, skieur …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Worm — Ole, Danish anatomist, 1588–1654. See wormian bones, under bone. * * * write once read many times * * * worm wərm n 1) any of various relatively small elongated usu. naked and soft bodied parasitic animals (as of the phylum Platyhelminthes) 2)… …   Medical dictionary

  • Worm — Worm, Ole oder Olaf, lat. Olaus Wormius, gelehrter Däne, geb. 13. Mai 1588 in Aarhus, gest. 31. Aug. 1654 in Kopenhagen, studierte erst Theologie in Marburg und Gießen, dann Medizin in Straßburg und Basel, bereiste Italien, Frankreich, England… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • palmer worm —    Ūhini hulu ole …   English-Hawaiian dictionary

  • Olaus Wormius — Ole Worm. Olaus Wormius (13 de mayo de 1588–31 de agosto de 1654), su nombre a veces aparece, sin latinizar, como Ole Worm; fue un médico y anticuario danés. Contenido 1 …   Wikipedia Español

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