Did Avicenna kill himself by having too much sex?

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I have just read an interesting piece about the story in Avicenna's biography, by his student al-Juzjani. As you might remember from my podcast on his life, the biography says that Avicenna self-diagnosed himself with colic and realized that he should refrain from sex. But he couldn't manage to do this, and died. A very convincing case has now been made, in this article:

J. Lameer, “Avicenna’s Concupiscence,” Arabic Sciences and Philosophy 23 (2013), 277-89.

that this part of the story is a later addition by someone who was trying to besmirch Avicenna's reputation. The part about not being able to refrain from sex is missing from the earliest manuscript. It does look as though al-Juzjani said that Avicenna was a sensual man and particularly given to sexual activity, but nothing about sex was mentioned in the account of his last days.

Yannick Kilberger on 2 September 2013

He should have listened to

He should have listened to Pythagoras' advice : "only during winter and never during summer, with moderation in spring and fall, though at any time it proves bad for health". How bad was winter in Crotone? And just how unhealthy the women there?!

University2020 on 20 March 2016

I am from the place where

I am from the place where Avicenna was born, it is nowadays Uzbekistan. I have read enough about his life and I can assure you that sex has nothing to do with his death. Whoever wrote that nonsense is going to make false statement about him. He actually had so many hardships during his life because those times- 10-11th centuries were very dangerous for the prosperity of medicine. He had to travel from country to country in order to contribute to the improvement of medicine.




Fanaa on 11 April 2021

Ibn-Sina was from Afghanistan ( Balkh province)

 One thing I want to mentioned that I dont know why people are making to much fake statement about the islamic schoolers,  Its totally wrong that he passed away from to much sex, it disrespectful comments about the Great scholar . He had a lot of knowledge about islam. And other thing that is very important is about him. He was born in BALKH which is one of the Province of Afghanistan. And still their home exist . The Government of Afghanistan is building it soon. 

In reply to by Fanaa

Peter Adamson on 11 April 2021


Well, this story about the overindulgence in sex is definitely found in some manuscripts of the biography of Avicenna written by his student Juzjani; but as I say here, this looks to be a medieval addition. The point is that the "fake statement" goes back to the late medieval period, it isn't a modern invention.

And yes you're right, he was from modern day Afghanistan. Often you will see it stated that he was "Persian" or from "Persia" which is true but in the broader sense that a bigger area than modern-day Iran counted as Persia in the medieval period. In particular Persian would have been his native language, though he mostly wrote in Arabic.

In reply to by Peter Adamson

David farsaad on 27 September 2022


I believe historians now use the term "Persianate world" to describe "the broader sense that a bigger area than modern-day Iran counted as Persia in the medieval period." Also, I love your work on Muslim philosophy. Thank you. 

In reply to by David farsaad

Peter Adamson on 28 September 2022


Thanks very much! Yes, I have come across that expression too, sort of like the term “Islamicate”. 

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