Curing Melancholia in Sixteenth-Century Medical Consilia Between Theory and Practice

Monica Calabritto


In this essay I analyze the development of the genre of the consilium at the end of the sixteenth century based on recent scholarship regarding the genres of early modern medical consilia and observationes. It is my conviction that for some late sixteenth-century physicians the consilium was becoming a hybrid genre in which elements of the already existing observatio were inserted into the structure of the consilium. To prove this point, I will consider the consilia of three physicians Giambattista Da Monte, Girolamo Capivacci and Cristoforo Guarinoniand a specific illness, melancholy. I intend to show that while the diagnosis of symptoms, signs and causes of melancholy did not change for them, the attitude of these physicians toward the patient altered in the direction of a larger interest in the individual.

Key words: Melancholy - Medical consilia - Cristoforo Guarinoni - Giambattista Da Monte - Girolamo Capivacci 

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