Mercury: A (no longer used) treatment for syphilis, which gave rise to the saying: 'spend one night with Venus and the rest of your life with Mercury.' Known to have been used by noted bohemian luminaries, such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, Maupassant, and Daudet. Brief History Mercury's use for syphilis has been traced back to 1496, when Giorgio Sommariva of Verona employed ore cinnabar, a form of mercury until then used as an ointment applied to skin lesions of lepers, to treat the bacteria. It was used in the form of ointments, taken orally, and also vapour baths. Jacopo Berengario da Carpi became famous in Italy soon after this first treatment for successfully administering mercury to syphilitic patients. Such treatments remained popular until the start of the 20th Century, with their use being extended to most skin ailments.