Su epidemia e malinconia tra Medioevo e Rinascimento = On epidemic and melancholy between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance


The essay presents some links between the concepts of epidemic and melancholy between the mid-fourteenth and the early seventeenth centuries. Starting with the terrible upheaval caused by the plague of 1348, I consider some medical treatises which, in proposing remedies for the plague, on the one hand, invite patients, among other things, to avoid melancholy but, on the other hand, consider black bile the strongest humor against the "poisonous vapors". After the analysis of the concept of melancholy in this period, through themes and problems that constantly arise on the border between different disciplines, the meaning of the terms "disease" and "madness" is questioned. Finally, the hypothesis of the contagiousness of melancholy, as well as the plague, appears not only as a form of explanation philosophically consistent with the principles of Renaissance physics, but also as the ultimate outcome of a centuries-old history that has its roots in the theories on air poisoning.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i18285368aXXXVIn102p192

Keywords: Plague; Melancholy; History of Medicine; Medieval Philosophy; Renaissance Philosophy

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