Contributor(s)University College of London [London]
Ishâq ibn Imran
Rufus of Ephesus
[SHS.LITT] Humanities and Social Sciences/Literature
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This article discusses the ways in which Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) inherited and transformed the various European traditions of thinking about melancholy. It divides these traditions into four categories—medical, natural-philosophical, moral-philosophical, and theological—and surveys their conceptual contents from antiquity to the late Renaissance. Whilst the Anatomy summarises these traditions, it also modified them in notable ways, fusing medical and moral theory, but also extending the reach of medicine into the religious domain. Paradoxically, however, Burton’s medicalisation of the moral and theological traditions of melancholy gave them a conceptual coherence which they had previously lacked, and contributed to their persistence beyond the seventeenth century.
DOI : 10.4000/babel.2078