Mediaeval Arabic Mineralogy: Galen vs Pseudo-Aristotle
(Freie Universität Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
This paper compares the structure and the contents of the Arabic translation of the IX book on minerals in the ‘De Simplicium Medicamentorum’ by Galen, with the Pseudo-Aristotle ‘On Stones’, outlining two complementary tendencies in Mediaeval Arabic mineralogy.
Paper long abstract:
In the 9th century Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq translated from Greek into Arabic 'The Book on the Properties of Simple Drugs' by Galen. The IX Book contains the discussion and the description of earths, precious stones, and metals, together with biographical notes on Galen's research. Although the quotations from this book in later medical works are quite scanty, the manuscript tradition places it in the center of the scholarly attention in 11th-10th century al-Andalus. In the same century, the 'Book On Stones' was composed in Arabic and attributed to Aristotle, therefore presented as a translation from Greek. This not only contains the description of many more stones and minerals in comparison to Galen, but it has also a more compilative and literary character. Some selected passages will show how these works are representative of two different streams of tradition in the Mediaeval Arabic mineralogy. This paper is intended to link up with Matteo Martelli's—on the pharmacological properties of Galen in Greek—in a comparative approach, to show how the Arabic tradition interpreted the Greek one, in parallel with its original contributions.
Medical knowledge in motion: exchange, transformation and iteration in the medical traditions of the Late Antique Mediterranean world