On Melancholy 978-3-16-156442-0 - Mohr Siebeck

Rufus of Ephesus

On Melancholy

Ed. by Peter E. Pormann. Introduction, Text, Translation and Interpretative Essays by Philip J. van der Eijk, Vivian Nutton, Peter E. Pormann, Thomas Rütten, Peter-Klaus Schuster, Simon Swain a.o.

[Rufus von Ephesus: Über die Melancholie.]

eBook PDF
ISBN 978-3-16-156442-0
Open Access: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Sponsored by: Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen
Published in English.
Rufus of Ephesus' (fl. ca. AD 100) On Melancholy deals with a medical condition oscillating between madness, depression, and bouts of great creativity. This collection of the Greek, Latin, and Arabic fragments makes this text easily available for the first time.
Rufus of Ephesus' treatise On Melancholy represents perhaps the most influential medical monograph from the late first century AD, since his notion of melancholy links two diverse aspects: black bile as a cause for madness and depression and as a sign of intellectual genius. Rufus combines concepts of melancholy developed in the Aristotelian philosophy with concepts of famous physicians such as Hippocrates and Diocles. His ideas strongly influenced subsequent generations of physicians, and especially Galen, and dominated discourses on the topic during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Moreover, the reception of Rufus' concepts was not limited to the Western world; in medieval Muslim culture, in particular, his work enjoyed great fame and favor, and many intellectuals read it eagerly.
In this volume, the Greek, Latin and Arabic fragments of this work, lost in the original, have been collected for the first time. Arabic sources in particular yield hitherto unknown fragments, thus allowing for new interpretations of this work. The English introduction, translation and commentary reconstruct the main arguments of this important treatise, enabling the interested scholar to obtain easy access to it. Leading scholars contributed interpretative essays which investigate Rufus and his ideas about melancholy in antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the early modern period from different vantage points, including history, philosophy, literature, art history and psychiatry.
Survey of contents
Simon Swain: Social Stress and Political Pressure: Rufus' Melancholy Patients and Their Time – Vivian Nutton: The Medical World of Rufus of Ephesus – Philip van der Eijk: Rufus' On Melancholy and Its Philosophical Background – Peter E. Pormann: Melancholy in the Medieval World: the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Traditions – Peter-Klaus Schuster, Jörg Völlnagel: Dürer and Rufus: Melencolia I in the Medical Tradition – Peter Toohey: Rufus of Ephesus and the Tradition of the Melancholy Thinker – Thomas Rütten: Rufus' Legacy in the Psychopathological Literature of the (Early) Modern Period

Rufus of Ephesus No current data available.

Peter E. Pormann is Wellcome Trust Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Warwick, UK.

Philip J. van der Eijk is Research Professor of Greek and Director of the Northern Centre for the History of Medicine at Newcastle University. He has published widely on ancient medicine, philosophy and patristics.

Vivian Nutton is Professor of the History of Medicine at University College London.

Thomas Rütten is a Reader in the History of Medicine at Newcastle University. He has published widely on ancient, early modern and modern medicine, notably on the history of melancholy, Hippocratism(s) and the representation of medicine in works of fine art and fiction.

Peter-Klaus Schuster studied Art History, German and Philosophy at the universities of Tübingen, Zurich, Frankfurt, and Göttingen. He was the director of the National Gallery (1994–97) and director general of the State Museums in Berlin (Prussian Heritage Trust; 1999–2008); he curated the exhibition ‘Melancholy, Genius and Madness’ in Paris (2005) and Berlin (2006).

Simon Swain is Professor of Classics at the University of Warwick.

Peter Toohey is a Professor in the Department of Greek and Roman Studies at the University of Calgary, Canada. He worked previously and for many years in his native Australia at the University of New England.

Jörg Völlnagel studied Art History and History, and has been since 2002 associate curator at the State Museums in Berlin (Prussian Heritage Trust). He co-curated the exhibition ‘Melancholy, Genius and Madness’ in Paris (2005) and Berlin (2006).


The following reviews are known:

In: Gnomon — 82 (2010), S. 686–690 (Gotthard Strohmeier)
In: Nederlands Dagblad — 2. Januar 2009, S. 4 (Beilage) (Herman J. Selderhuis)
In: Bryn Mawr Classical Review — http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2010/2010–06–17.html (06/2010) (Philippe Charlier)
In: Journal of Roman Studies — 101 (2011), S. 261–263 (David Konstan)
In: Journal of Semitic Studies — 55 (2010), S. 278–280 (Oliver Kahl)
In: Quaderni di Studi Indo-Mediterranei — 4 (2011 [2012]), S. 281–286 (Ephraim Nissan)