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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2019

P.E. Pormann*
University of Manchester


Rufus of Ephesus (fl. c. a.d. 100) wrote a large body of works on a variety of medical topics. Generally speaking, the Arabic tradition is particularly important for the reconstruction of much of his œuvre. In the present article, I am going to present four new fragments of Rufus’ On Melancholy and a fragment from an otherwise unknown monograph On Preferring Fresh Poppies. These new fragments provide fascinating new insights into Rufus’ approach to recording case histories.

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 2019 

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This article is a product of the ERC-funded project ‘Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms’ (ARABCOMMAPH, ERC-2011-StG_20101124). The author would like to thank all the team members and, in particular, Kamran I. Karimullah, Taro Mimura and Hammood Obaid.


2 See Sideras, A., ‘Rufus von Ephesos und sein Werk im Rahmen der antiken Welt’, ANRW 2.37.2 (1994), 1080–253Google Scholar.

3 Ullmann, M., ‘Die arabische Überlieferung der Schriften des Rufus von Ephesos’, ANRW 2.37.2 (1994), 1293–349Google Scholar.

4 Pormann, P.E., Rufus of Ephesus, On Melancholy (SAPERE 12) (Tübingen, 2008)Google Scholar.

5 Fischer, K.-D., ‘De fragmentis Herae Cappadocis atque Rufi Ephesii hactenus ignotis’, Galenos 4 (2010), 173–83Google Scholar, at 180–3.

6 Pormann, P.E., ‘New fragments from Rufus of Ephesus’ On Melancholy’, CQ 64 (2014), 649–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 For a recent study of Rufus’ technique to interact with patients and question them, see Letts, M., ‘Rufus of Ephesus and the patient's perspective in medicine’, British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (2014), 9961020CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and ead., ‘Questioning the patient, questioning Hippocrates: Rufus of Ephesus and the pursuit of knowledge’, in G. Petridou and C. Thumiger (edd.), Homo Patiens – Approaches to the Patient in the Ancient World (Leiden and Boston, 2016), 81–103.

8 E.g. Pormann, P.E., ‘Medical epistemology and melancholy: Rufus of Ephesus and Miskawayh’, in Harris, W.V. (ed.), Mental Disorders in the Classical World (Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition 38) (Leiden, 2013), 223–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 For a survey of the whole tradition, see Pormann, P.E. and Karimullah, K., ‘The Arabic commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms: introduction’, Oriens 45 (2017), 152CrossRefGoogle Scholar, updating and expanding Pormann, P.E. and Joosse, N.P., ‘Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms in the Arabic tradition: the example of melancholy’, in Pormann, P.E (ed.), Epidemics in Context: Greek Commentaries on Hippocrates in the Arabic Tradition (Scientia Graeco-Arabica 8) (Berlin, 2012), 211–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 Ullmann (n. 3), 1316.

11 Ed. and transl. Pormann (n. 4), 42–3.

12 I have here revised my earlier translation, as I misunderstood the antecedent of ‘innahā (‘it is’); it must refer to the fire.

13 Greek text edited by C. Magdelaine, ‘Histoire du texte et édition critique, traduite et commentée, des Aphorismes d'Hippocrate’, 3 vols. (Diss., Université Paris-Sorbonne, 1994), 2.466–7.

14 Pormann and Karimullah (n. 9), 18–19.

15 Edition by P.E. Pormann et al., ‘Al-Maqāla al-sābiʿa min Šarḥ Fuṣūl Abuqrāṭ li-bn Abī Ṣādiq’, University of Manchester, Manchester. DOI: 10.3927/51932414. CB1: fol. 216a, line 10 – fol. 217b, line 6; V1: fol. 87a, line 24 – fol. 87b, line 1.

16 وأیضاً فإنّ .قالھ كاذب …الروح الحسّاس] CB1: om. V1.

17 جسواً] V1: om. CB1.

18 Edition by P.E. Pormann et al., ‘Al-Maqāla al-sābiʿa min Kitāb Taysīr al-wuṣūl ilā tafsīr al-Fuṣūl li-Abuqrāṭ li-l-Sinǧārī’, University of Manchester, Manchester. DOI: 10.3927/52132613. The text is edited on the basis of two extant manuscripts: Aleppo, Fondation Salem, MS Ar. 1037 (henceforth G), fol. 126a, line 14 – fol. 127a, line 2; and London, Wellcome Library, MS Or. 43 (henceforth W), fol. 74b, line 8 – fol. 75a, line 1.

19 أنّه شاهد] G: وشاهدW.

20 حتى طال زمانها في النار] W : في النار طال زمانها G

21 زدني] G: شيW.

22 لمّا] G: حتىW.

23 لغلظها] G: لغاضهاW.

24 من أن يعبّرها] coni.: من أن يغيّرها W: om. G.

25 Edition by P.E. Pormann et al., ‘Al-Maqāla al-sābiʿa min Kitāb ʿUmdat al-Fuḥūl fī šar ḥal-Fuṣūl li-l-Sīwāsī’, University of Manchester, Manchester. DOI: 10.3927/52136029. The text is edited on the basis of two extant manuscripts: Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, Şehid Ali Paşa, MS 20451, fol. 50b, last line – fol. 51a, line 4 (S4); and Istanbul, Beyazid Devlet Kütüphanesi, MS Veliyeddin Efendi 2509, fol. 162b, lines 2–7 (V4).

26 غلّظ] correxi: غلّظت S4, V4.

27 Edition by Magdelaine (n. 13), 2.387.

28 Edition by P.E. Pormann et al., ‘Al-Maqāla al-ṯāniya min Šarḥ Fuṣūl Abuqrāṭ li-bn Abī Ṣādiq’, University of Manchester, Manchester. DOI: 10.3927/51931994, based on CB1 and V1. The note begins on CB1, fol. 26b, line 4 from the bottom – last.

29 Istanbul, Süleymaniye Kütüphanesi, MS Nuruosmaniye 3527 (henceforth S2). The ‘alternate’ commentary occurs on fol. 27a, line 1 – fol. 27b, line 3.

30 Pormann and Karimullah (n. 9), 11–13.

31 Pormann et al. (n. 28); CB1, fol. 27b, lines 4–9 and S2, fol. 27a, line 2 from the bottom – fol. 27b, line 3. I have collated S2, not used by Pormann et al. (n. 28), in order to produce a more sound and secure text.

32 واحدا] CB1 : أحدا S8.

33 Ullmann, M., Rufus von Ephesus. Krankenjournale (Wiesbaden, 1978)Google Scholar; see also Savage-Smith, E., A New Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Volume I: Medicine (Oxford, 2011), no. 122 (pp. 471–5)Google Scholar.

34 See Ambjörn, L., ‘Book-titles mentioned in the 10th century medical encyclopedia Al-Muʿālajāt al-Buqrātịyya’, Galenos 5 (2011), 103–11Google Scholar and Pormann (n. 6), who collected new fragments from this source. On the author and treatise more generally, see now the very comprehensive assessment by Wakelnig, E., ‘Al-Ṭabarī and al-Ṭabarī: compendia between medicine and philosophy’, in Adamson, P. and Pormann, P.E. (edd.), Philosophy and Medicine in the Formative Period of Islam (Warburg Institute Colloquia 31) (London and Turin, 2017), 218–54Google Scholar.

35 Edited according to three manuscripts, namely 1) Teheran, Malik Millī Library, MS 4474, reproduced in facsimile by Sezgin, F., The Hippocratic Treatments: Al-Muʿālajāt al-Buqrāṭīya, 2 vols. (Frankfurt, 1990)Google Scholar (henceforth MS T), 1.259, lines 9–14; 2) Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Marsh 158, fol. 188b, lines 19–25 (henceforth MS O; see Savage-Smith, E., A New Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Volume I: Medicine [Oxford, 2011], item no. 48b, pp. 183–9Google Scholar); and 3) Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, MS Cod. arab. 810, fol. 305a (henceforth MS M), fol. 165b, lines 9–14.

36 فأويت إلى] O, T : فأويتا ليM.

37 وقمت] T : قمتM, O.

38 الكثير ] T : كثيراM, O.

39 نفعني] M, O : نفعتنيT.

40 See Ullmann (n. 3), 1317 with further literature.

41 Weisser, U., ‘Die Zitate aus Galens de Methodo Medendi im Ḥāwī des Rāzī’, in Kruk, R. and Endress, G. (edd.), The Ancient Tradition in Christian and Islamic Hellenism: Studies on the Transmission of Greek Philosophy and Sciences Dedicated to H.J. Drossaart Lulofs on his Ninetieth Birthday (Leiden, 1997), 278318Google Scholar; J. Bryson, ‘The Kitāb al-Ḥāwī of Rāzī (c. a.d. 900), Book One of the Ḥāwī on brain, nerve, and mental disorders: studies in the transmission of medical texts from Greek into Arabic into Latin’ (Diss., Yale University, 2000); Pormann, P.E., The Oriental Tradition of Paul of Aegina's Pragmateia (Leiden and Boston, 2004), 6091CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Kahl, O., The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources in the ‘Comprehensive Book’ of Rhazes (Leiden, 2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

42 al-Rāzī, Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyāʾ, al-Kitāb al-Ḥāwī fī l-ṭibb, 23 vols. (Hyderabad, 1 1955–70), 20.410, lines 7–15Google Scholar.

43 الإرَقلي] conieci (cf. ἡρακλεία) : الإرميلي ed.

44 Sideras (n. 1), 1218–25.

45 See Kritikos, P.G., Papadaki, S.P., ‘The history of the poppy and of opium and their expansion in antiquity in the eastern Mediterranean area’, Bulletin on Narcotics 19 (1967), 1738Google Scholar; Tibi, S., The Medicinal Use of Opium in Ninth-Century Baghdad (Sir Henry Wellcome Asian Series 5) (Leiden and London, 2006Google Scholar).