Latin translations of the 12th century

Latin translations of the 12th century

The Renaissance of the 12th century saw a major search by European scholars for new learning, which led them to the Arabic fringes of Europe, especially to Islamic Spain and Sicily. A typical story is that of Gerard of Cremona (c. 1114-87), who was described as having [C. Burnett, "Arabic-Latin Translation Program in Toledo", p. 255.]

Unlike the interest in the literature of classical antiquity found in the Renaissance, 12th century translators sought new scientific, philosophical and, to a lesser extent, religious texts. The latter concern was reflected in a renewed interest in translations of the Greek Church Fathers into Latin, a concern with translating Jewish teachings from Hebrew, and most significantly, an interest in the Qur'an and other Islamic religious texts. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 426-33]

Translators in Italy

Just before the burst of translations in the 12th century, Constantine the African, a Christian from Carthage who studied medicine in Egypt and ultimately became a monk at the monastery of Monte Cassino in Italy, translated medical works from Arabic. Constantine's many translations included Ali ibn Abbas al-Majusi's medical encyclopedia "The Complete Book of the Medical Art" (as "Liber pantegni"),Jerome B. Bieber. [ Medieval Translation Table 2: Arabic Sources] , Santa Fe Community College.] the ancient medicine of Hippocrates and Galen as adapted by Arabic physicians, [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 422-6] and the "Isagoge ad Tegni Galeni" by Hunayn ibn Ishaq (Johannitius) and his nephew Hubaysh ibn al-Hasan. [D. Campbell, "Arabian Medicine and Its Influence on the Middle Ages", p. 4-5.] Other medical works he translated include Isaac Israeli ben Solomon's "Liber febribus, Liber de dietis universalibus et particularibus" and "Liber de urinis"; Ishaq ibn Imran's psychological work "al-Maqala fi al-Malikhukiya" as "De melancolia"; and Ibn Al-Jazzar's "De Gradibus, Viaticum, Liber de stomacho, De elephantiasi, De coitu" and "De oblivione".citation|last=Jacquart|first=Danielle|contribution=The Influence of Arabic Medicine in the Medieval West|page=981 in Harv|Morelon|Rashed|1996|pp=963-84]

Sicily had been part of the Byzantine Empire until 878, was under Muslim control from 878-1060, and came under Norman control between 1060 and 1090. As a consequence the Norman Kingdom of Sicily maintained a trilingual bureaucracy, which made it an ideal place for translations. Sicily also maintained relations with the Greek East, which allowed for exchange of ideas and manuscripts. [C. H. Haskins, "Studies in Mediaeval Science," pp 155-7]

A copy of Ptolemy's "Almagest" was brought back to Sicily by Henry Aristippus, as a gift from the Emperor to King William I. Aristippus, himself, translated Plato's "Meno" and "Phaedo" into Latin, but it was left to an anonymous student at Salerno to travel to Sicily and translate the "Almagest", as well as several works by Euclid from Greek to Latin. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 433-4] Although the Sicilians generally translated directly from the Greek, when Greek texts were not available, they would translate from Arabic. Admiral Eugene of Sicily translated Ptolemy's "Optics" into Latin, drawing on his knowledge of all three languages in the task. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," p. 435] Accursius of Pistoja's translations included the works of Galen and Hunayn ibn Ishaq.D. Campbell, "Arabian Medicine and Its Influence on the Middle Ages", p. 3.] Gerard de Sabloneta translated Avicenna's "The Canon of Medicine" and al-Razi's "Almansor". Fibonacci presented the first complete European account of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system from Arabic sources in his "Liber Abaci" (1202). The "Aphorismi" by Masawaiyh (Mesue) was translated by an anonymous translator in late 11th or early 12th century Italy.citation|last=Jacquart|first=Danielle|contribution=The Influence of Arabic Medicine in the Medieval West|page=982 in Harv|Morelon|Rashed|1996|pp=963-84]

In 13th century Padua, Bonacosa translated Averroes' medical work "Kitab al-Kulliyyat" as "Colliget", and John of Capua translated the "Kitab al-Taysir" by Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) as "Theisir". In 13th century Sicily, Faraj ben Salem translated Rhazes' "al-Hawi" as "Continens" as well as Ibn Butlan's "Tacuinum sanitatis". Also in 13th century Italy, Simon of Genoa and Abraham Tortuensis translated Abulcasis' "Al-Tasrif" as "Liber servitoris", Alcoati's "Congregatio sive liber de oculis", and the "Liber de simplicibus medicinis" by a pseudo-Serapion

Translators on the Spanish frontier

As early as the end of the tenth century, European scholars travelled to Spain to study. Most notable among these was Gerbert of Aurillac (later Pope Sylvester II) who studied mathematics in the region of the Spanish March around Barcelona. Translations, however, did not begin in Spain for another century. [C. H. Haskins, "Studies in Mediaeval Science", pp. 8-10] The early translators in Spain focused heavily on scientific works, especially mathematics and astronomy, with a second area of interest including the Qur'an and other Islamic texts. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 429-30, 451-2] Spanish collections included many scholarly works written in Arabic, so translators worked almost exclusively from Arabic, rather than Greek texts, often in cooperation with a local speaker of Arabic. [C. H. Haskins, "Renaissance of the Twelfth Century," p. 288]

One of the more important translation projects was sponsored by Peter the Venerable, the abbot of Cluny. In 1142 he called upon Robert of Ketton and Herman of Carinthia, Peter of Poitiers, and a Muslim known only as "Mohammed" to produce the first Latin translation of the Qur'an (the "Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete"). [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," p. 429]

Translations were produced throughout Spain and Provence. Plato of Tivoli worked in Catalonia, Herman of Carinthia in Northern Spain and across the Pyrenees in Languedoc, Hugh of Santalla in Aragon, Robert of Ketton in Navarre and Robert of Chester in Segovia. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 444-8] The most important center of translation was the great cathedral library of Toledo.

Plato of Tivoli's translations into Latin include al-Battani's astronomical and trigonometrical work "De motu stellarum", Abraham bar Hiyya's "Liber embadorum", Theodosius of Bithynia's "Spherica", and Archimedes' "Measurement of a Circle". Robert of Chester's translations into Latin included al-Khwarizmi's "Algebra" and astronomical tables (also containing trigonometric tables). Abraham of Tortosa's translations include Ibn Sarabi's (Serapion Junior) "De Simplicibus" and Abulcasis' "Al-Tasrif" as "Liber Servitoris". In 1126, Muhammad al-Fazari's "Great Sindhind" (based on the Sanskrit works of "Surya Siddhanta" and Brahmagupta's "Brahmasphutasiddhanta") was translated into Latin. [G. G. Joseph, "The Crest of the Peacock", p. 306.]

The "Toledo School"

One of the sponsors of translations in Spain was Archbishop Raymond of Toledo, (1125-52), to whom John of Seville dedicated a translation in appreciation. Starting from this fragmentary evidence, nineteenth-century historians proposed that Raymond had established a formal translation school, but no specific evidence for such a school has emerged and its existence is now doubted. Many of the translators worked outside Toledo and those who did work in Toledo, worked after Raymond's episcopacy. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 444-7]

Toledo, however, was a center of multilingual culture, with a large population of Arabic speaking Christians (Mozarabs) and had prior importance as a center of learning. This tradition of scholarship, and the books that embodied it, survived the conquest of the city by King Alfonso VI in 1085. A further factor was that Toledo's early bishops and clergy came from France, where Arabic was not widely known. Consequently the cathedral became a center of translations, which were on a scale and importance that "has no match in the history of western culture". [C. Burnett, "Arabic-Latin Translation Program in Toledo", pp. 249-51, 270.]

Among the early translators at Toledo were an Avendauth (who some have identified with Abraham ibn Daud), who translated Avicenna's encyclopedia, the "Kitāb al-Shifa" ("The Book of Healing"), in cooperation with Domingo Gundisalvo, Archdeacon of Cuéllar. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 444-6, 451] Alfonso of Toledo's translations into Latin include Averroes' "De separatione primi principii".
John of Seville's translations included the works of al-Battani, Thabit ibn Qurra, Maslamah Ibn Ahmad al-Majriti, al-Farabi, Albumasar , al-Ghazali and Alfraganus;Salah Zaimeche (2003). [ Aspects of the Islamic Influence on Science and Learning in the Christian West] , p. 10. Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation.] and Costa ben Luca's "De differentia spiritus et anime".

The most productive of the Toledo translators was Gerard of Cremona, [C. H. Haskins, "Renaissance of the Twelfth Century," p. 287. "more of Arabic science passed into Western Europe at the hands of Gerard of Cremona than in any other way."] who translated 87 books, [For a list of Gerard of Cremona's translations see: Edward Grant (1974) "A Source Book in Medieval Science", (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Pr.), pp. 35-8 or Charles Burnett, "The Coherence of the Arabic-Latin Translation Program in Toledo in the Twelfth Century," "Science in Context", 14 (2001): at 249-288, at pp. 275-281.] including Ptolemy's "Almagest", many of the works of Aristotle, including his Posterior Analytics, Physics, On the Heavens and the World, On Generation and Corruption, and Meteorology, al-Khwarizmi's "On Algebra and Almucabala", Archimedes' "On the Measurement of the Circle", Aristotle, Euclid's "Elements of Geometry", Jabir ibn Aflah's "Elementa astronomica", Al-Kindi's "On Optics", al-Farghani's "On Elements of Astronomy on the Celestial Motions", al-Farabi's "On the Classification of the Sciences", the chemical and medical works of al-Razi (Rhazes), the works of Thabit ibn Qurra and Hunayn ibn Ishaq, [D. Campbell, "Arabian Medicine and Its Influence on the Middle Ages", p. 6.] and the works of al-Zarkali, Jabir ibn Aflah, the Banu Musa, Abu Kamil, Abu al-Qasim, and Ibn al-Haytham (including the "Book of Optics"). The medical works he translated include Haly Abenrudian's "Expositio ad Tegni Galeni"; the "Practica, Brevarium medicine" by Yuhanna ibn Sarabiyun (Serapion); Alkindus' "De Gradibus"; Rhazes' "Liber ad Almansorem, Liber divisionum, Introductio in medicinam, De egritudinibus iuncturarum, Antidotarium" and "Practica puerorum"; Isaac Israeli ben Solomon's "De elementis" and "De definitionibus"; Abulcasis' "Al-Tasrif" as "Chirurgia"; Avicenna's "The Canon of Medicine" as "Liber Canonis"; and the "Liber de medicamentis simplicus" by Ibn Wafid (Abenguefit).citation|last=Jacquart|first=Danielle|contribution=The Influence of Arabic Medicine in the Medieval West|page=983 in Harv|Morelon|Rashed|1996|pp=963-84]

At the close of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth centuries, Mark of Toledo translated the Qur'an (once again) and various medical works. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 429, 455] He also translated Hunayn ibn Ishaq's medical work "Liber isagogarum".

Later translators

Michael Scot (c. 1175-1232) [William P. D. Wightman (1953) "The Growth of Scientific Ideas", p.332. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 1135460426.] translated the works of al-Betrugi (Alpetragius) in 1217, al-Bitruji's "On the Motions of the Heavens", and Averroes' influential commentaries on the scientific works of Aristotle. [ [ "Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexicon"] ]

King Alfonso X of Castile (reigned 1252-84) continued to promote translations, as well as the production of original scholarly works.

David the Jew (c. 1228-1245) translated the works of al-Razi (Rhazes) into Latin. Arnaldus de Villa Nova's (1235-1313) translations include the works of Galen and Avicenna [D. Campbell, "Arabian Medicine and Its Influence on the Middle Ages", p. 5.] (including his "Maqala fi Ahkam al-adwiya al-qalbiya" as "De viribus cordis"), the "De medicinis simplicibus" by Abu al-Salt (Albuzali), and Costa ben Luca's "De physicis ligaturis".

In 13th century Portugal, Giles of Santarem translated Rhazes' "De secretis medicine, Aphorismi Rasis" and Mesue's "De secretis medicine". In Murcia, Rufin of Alexandria translated the "Liber questionum medicinalium discentium in medicina" by Hunayn ibn Ishaq (Hunen), and Dominicus Marrochinus translated the "Epistola de cognitione infirmatum oculorum" by Ali Ibn Isa (Jesu Haly). In 14th century Lerida, John Jacobi translated Alcoati's medical work "Liber de la figura del uyl" into Catalan and then Latin.

Other European translators

Adelard of Bath's (fl. 1116-1142) translations into Latin included al-Khwarizmi's astronomical and trigonometrical work "Astronomical tables" and his arithmetical work "Liber ysagogarum Alchorismi", the "Introduction to Astrology" of Abū Ma'shar, as well as Euclid's "Elements". [Charles Burnett, ed. "Adelard of Bath, Conversations with His Nephew," (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. xi.] Adelard associated with other scholars in Western England such as Peter Alfonsi and Walcher of Malvern who translated and developed the astronomical concepts brought from Spain. [M.-T. d'Alverny, "Translations and Translators," pp. 440-3] Abu Kamil's "Algebra" was also translated into Latin during this period, but the translator of the work is unknown.V. J. Katz, "A History of Mathematics: An Introduction", p. 291.]

Alfred of Sareshel's (c. 1200-1227) translations include the works of Nicolaus of Damascus and Hunayn ibn Ishaq. Antonius Frachentius Vicentinus' translations include the works of Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Armenguad's translations include the works of Avicenna, Averroes, Hunayn ibn Ishaq, and Maimonides. Berengarius of Valentia translated the works of Abu al-Qasim (Abulcasis). Drogon (Azagont) translated the works of al-Kindi. Farragut (Faradj ben Salam) translated the works of Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Ibn Zezla (Byngezla), Masawaiyh (Mesue), and al-Razi (Rhazes). Andreas Alphagus Bellnensis' translations include the works of Avicenna, Averroes, Serapion, al-Qifti, and Albe'thar. [D. Campbell, "Arabian Medicine and Its Influence on the Middle Ages", p. 4.]

In 13th century Montpellier, Profatius and Bernardus Honofredi translated the "Kitab alaghdiya" by Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) as "De regimine sanitatis"; and Armengaudus Blasius translated the "al-Urjuza fi al-tibb", a work combining the medical writings of Avicenna and Averroes, as "Cantica cum commento".citation|last=Jacquart|first=Danielle|contribution=The Influence of Arabic Medicine in the Medieval West|page=984 in Harv|Morelon|Rashed|1996|pp=963-84]

Other texts translated during this period include the alchemical works of Jabir ibn Hayyan (Geber), whose treatises became standard texts for European alchemists. These include the "Kitab al-Kimya" (titled "Book of the Composition of Alchemy" in Europe), translated by Robert of Chester (1144); the "Kitab al-Sab'een" translated by Gerard of Cremona (before 1187), and the "Book of the Kingdom", "Book of the Balances" and "Book of Eastern Mercury" translated by Marcelin Berthelot. Another work translated during this period was "De Proprietatibus Elementorum", an Arabic work on geology written by a pseudo-Aristotle. A pseudo-Mesue's "De consolatione medicanarum simplicum, Antidotarium, Grabadin" was also translated into Latin by an anonymous translator.

ee also

*Renaissance of the 12th century
*Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe
*Islamic Golden Age
**Islamic science
*Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete
*List of translators
**Mark of Toledo



* Burnett, Charles. "The Coherence of the Arabic-Latin Translation Program in Toledo in the Twelfth Century," "Science in Context", 14 (2001): 249-288.
* Campbell, Donald (2001). "Arabian Medicine and Its Influence on the Middle Ages". Routledge. (Reprint of the London, 1926 edition). ISBN 0415231884.
* d'Alverny, Marie-Thérèse. "Translations and Translators", in Robert L. Benson and Giles Constable, eds., "Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century", p. 421-462. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Pr., 1982.
* Haskins, Charles Homer. "The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century". Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Pr., 1927. See especially chapter 9, "The Translators from Greek and Arabic".
* Haskins, Charles Homer. "Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science." New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1967 (reprint of the Cambridge, Mass., 1927 ed.) Most of the book deals with the translations of Arabic and Greek scientific literature.
* Joseph, George G. (2000). "The Crest of the Peacock". Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691006598.
* Katz, Victor J. (1998). "A History of Mathematics: An Introduction". Addison Wesley. ISBN 0321016181.
*Harvard reference
title=Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science

External sources

* [ The Impact of Translations of Muslim Sciences on the West]
* [ Norman Roth, "Jewish Collaborators in Alfonso's Scientific Work,"] in Robert I. Burns, ed., "Emperor of Culture: Alfonso X the Learned of Castile and His Thirteenth-Century Renaissance Culture"
* [ Medieval Translation Table 2: Arabic Sources]
* [ Medieval Translation Table 3: Greek Sources After 1100]

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