Hagar Banished:

Departing from the Latin Galen
and its Arabic Sources in the Aldine Edition

In: Early Science and Medicine
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  • 1 Brigham Young University, U.S.A.

The Aldine edition of Galen’s works, prepared by humanists anxious to replace the medieval Latin translations with a purely Greek text, certainly represents an advance in scholarship. However, widespread anti-Arabic prejudices of the time precluded most humanists, including the Aldine editors, from perceiving anything of value in the Latin Galenic textual tradition, which was characterized as representing a Galen that had passed through the corrupting influence of Arabic. This paper considers the cost to the medical tradition of ignoring Arabic in the Aldine edition of 1525, and thereafter. Several examples of passages from the Arabo-Latin Galen are compared with the Aldine, and their differences are considered and evaluated with regard to their impact on medical knowledge. The conclusion is drawn that, although there were some real corruptions in the Arabo-Latin tradition, in the main it contained useful variant readings, which might have been used to the profit of Greek philology, as well as to the advancement of Galenic scholarship.

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