The anatomical description of the fifth cranial nerve ganglion lacked detail before the work of Antonius Balthazar Raymundus Hirsch (1744–1778). Hirsch used new dissection techniques that resulted in the most meticulous report of the trigeminal ganglion (the gasserian ganglion) to have been reported. In 1765, the 21-year-old published these findings in a thesis, Paris Quinti Nervorum Encephali Disquisitio Anatomica In Quantum Ad Ganglion Sibi Proprium, Semilunare, Et Ad Originem Nervi Intercostalis Pertinet [An anatomical inquiry of the fifth pair of the nerves of the brain, so far as it relates to the ganglion unto itself, the semilunar, and to the source of the intercostal nerve].
Hirsch wrote his thesis as a paean to his ailing teacher, Johann Lorenz Gasser, but Gasser died before Hirsch was able to defend his thesis. Thereafter, Hirsch applied to teach anatomy at his alma mater, the University of Vienna, but the university did not consider his application, deeming him too young for the position. Oddly, Hirsch died at the young age of 35. For the present paper, the library at the University of Vienna (Universität Wien), Austria, was contacted, and Anton Hirsch's thesis was digitized and subsequently translated from Latin into English. The authors here attempt to place the recognition of the fifth cranial nerve ganglion within a historical perspective and trace the trajectory of its anatomical descriptions.