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The Nature of MelancholyFrom Aristotle to Kristeva$
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Jennifer Radden

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151657

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151657.001.0001

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Black Bile and Melancholia

Black Bile and Melancholia


(p.75) 4 Black Bile and Melancholia
The Nature of Melancholy

Jennifer Radden

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents Avicenna's discussion of melancholy. Avicenna is the Latinized form of the Arabic Ibn Sina, an abbreviation of Abu Ali al Husain ibn Abd, Allah ib Sina. Avicenna lived between 980 and 1037. He was born near Bukhara and was of Persian origin. Avicenna's masterpiece, written in Arabic, was the four-volume Canon of Medicine. The writing on melancholy in the Canon illustrates the way humoral theory and the symptom descriptions of melancholia traveled between ancient and medieval (western European) medicine by way of Arabic medicine. Arabic medical authorities such as Avicenna and his immediate influences Ishaq ibn Imran and Haly Abbas knew Greek medical lore, and, although there were also more direct sources through the Latin translations of the Greek works, were to a significant extent responsible for its return to western Europe to influence medieval medicine.

Keywords:   Avicenna, melancholy, melancholia, Canon of Medicine

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