Authorship in the Popular "Problemata Aristotelis"
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CitationBlair, Ann. 1999. “Authorship in the Popular ‘Problemata Aristotelis.’” Early Science and Medicine 4 (3) (January 1): 189–227. doi:10.1163/157338299x00148.
AbstractWhy does red hair turn white sooner than other hair? Why does a man yawn when he sees another yawn? Why is it a good custom to eat cheese after dinner? Why is there such delight in the act of venery? Why do birds not piss? These and some 380 other questions, divided into 34 topical sections and complete with causal explanations, circulated widely in over one hundred editions in early modern Europe, under the title (and its vernacular equivalents) of "Problemata Aristotelis ac philosophorum medicorumque complurium." As I have argued elsewhere, this text is the most popular (both in the kind and in the size of its circulation) in what can be identified as a long-lived natural philosophical genre imitated from ancient models attributed to Aristotle and Alexander of Aphrodisias and that consisted in a collection of causal questions and answers, mostly about natural and medical topics. Despite its having been confused with the ancient pseudo-Aristotelian problems, perhaps in its own day and certainly since, these "problemata Aristotelis" have nothing in common with the 900-odd problems found in classical editions of Aristotle's Problems beyond the form of the "problema" and the short title that they share. These problems were composed anonymously in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries and circulated in manuscript before being more widely diffused through print. Following Brian Lawn, who first discussed this text as a separate work, I will also designate it by its incipit: "Omnes homines," from the Aristotelian tag "all men naturally desire to know" with which its preface begins.
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