Chapter 5 Why Do We Translate? Arabic Sources on Translation

In: Why Translate Science?
Uwe Vagelpohl
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Ignacio Sánchez
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Part One: Essay1

The Greek–Arabic translation movement and translations into Arabic from other languages, such as Syriac, Persian, and Sanskrit, were immensely influential during the formative period of classical Arabic literature, between the second/eighth and the fourth/tenth centuries. Contemporary Arabic sources are full of information about ancient philosophy and sciences, translations and translators, and sponsors and scholars who eagerly read and argued about these texts. In spite of this wealth of information, however, it is difficult to find statements that give a clear-cut answer to the question as to why we translate.

To understand why contemporary observers were apparently not overly concerned with this question and to assess exactly what their writings tell us about translation, it is useful first to describe the nature and extent of the relevant sources.

I Types of Material on Translation in the Arabic Literary Tradition

Extant sources that provide information about translation, translators, sponsors, and other relevant subjects fall into two categories. The first are the translations themselves. Translators and scribes often recorded information about these at the beginnings, the ends, or in the margins of the texts. With few exceptions, their notes tell us little beyond what was translated, when, and by whom. In some cases however, we also learn who paid for the translation and why it was undertaken. Translation notes in the body of translated texts constitute a related source. Almost all such notes in Arabic translations are from the pen of one man, the physician and master translator Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (d. 260/873).2 Ḥunayn annotated the translations he produced with explanatory notes, glosses, and clarifications. He also frequently explained his procedure, remarked on philological problems, and added material to fill gaps in the text or aid comprehension. None of these notes tells us how Ḥunayn would have explained why he translated. Rather, they offer a window into the practice of translation and the mindset of a translator who confidently reconstructed the text, added missing material, and sometimes even contradicted the original author.

The second category of Arabic material about translation comes from classical Arabic literature, which in our case means mainly contemporary bibliographical and biographical compilations, but can also mean other writings, for example historical, philosophical or religious works. In addition to basic information about specific translations—who translated what, for whom, and when—these works offer a substantial amount of detail on the biographies of individual translators, the activities of sponsors, and the translation history of specific texts or entire genres of texts; alternatively, they can criticise translations and translators and sometimes even question the value of translation itself. It is this second category of material from which the sample texts below are drawn. We hope they will be a representative selection from what is a much larger body of material.

The most informative sources for an understanding of the translation movement are contemporary bibliographical works. Two of them stand out because they do not just offer a wealth of information but became essential sources for all later writers who grappled with the subject: Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s so-called Epistle (al-Risālah) and the Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist) by Ibn al-Nadīm (d. 385/995 or 388/998).

Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq was the most important and prolific translator in Islamic history.3 He was also the only active participant in the translation movement who wrote a detailed account of his own translation activities and that of his associates. This comes in the form of a letter addressed to one of his sponsors, the courtier ʿAlī ibn Yaḥyā al-Munaǧǧim (d. 275/888–889),4 who had asked Ḥunayn for a bibliographical inventory of Syriac and Arabic translations of Galen. Ḥunayn replied with the Epistle,5 which contains precious bibliographical information about previous translations, prosopographical details about translators and patrons, and technical information concerning translation practices (III.1–4). He probably composed it in the year 241/855–856 and updated it eight years later; other additions were made shortly after his death.6 Ḥunayn’s Epistle became a crucial source of information about medical translations for all subsequent historians of Arabic scientific and medical literature, including the next author, Ibn al-Nadīm.

Ibn al-Nadīm was a bookseller and copyist of manuscripts, an occupation he inherited from his father. We know little about his life, except that he lived and worked in Baghdad, was taught by some of the most eminent scholars of his day, and moved in the circle of ʿĪsā ibn ʿAlī (d. 391/1001), the son of the ‘good vizier’ ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā ibn al-Ǧarrāḥ (d. 334/946) and an important sponsor of translations.7 His Catalogue, finished in 377/988, was meant to be a comprehensive index of all books in Arabic by Arab and non-Arab authors.8 Of its ten chapters the seventh in particular, which deals with books on philosophy and the ‘ancient sciences’, is an invaluable source on Arabic philosophical, medical, and scientific literature, as well as translations into Arabic. Ibn al-Nadīm included not only extensive lists of books, translators, and patrons (II.1, II.3, and II.6), but also provided information about the authorship of translations (II.10).

Another important scholarly genre, which developed a little later and relied heavily on the aforementioned sources, is collections of biographies focused on science, especially medicine, the so-called ṭabaqāt (classes). The most important works of this genre are The Classes of Nations (Ṭabaqāt al-umam, II.5) by Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī (d. 462/1070); The Classes of the Physicians and Sages (Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ wa-l-ḥukamāʾ, I.2, I.5, I.11, II.7) by Ibn Ǧulǧul (d. after 384/994–995); the History of Learned Men (Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, I.10, IV.3) by Ibn al-Qifṭī (d. 646/1248); and The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ, I.8, I.12, II.2, II.8, II.9, II.11, III.5) by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (d. 668/1270). The biographies of scholars included in these works contain important bibliographical information, often in the form of book lists, and also abound in anecdotes that provide useful details about patronage networks and the relationship of these scholars with Muslim rulers, courtiers, and officials. The numerous quotations from Greek sources in Arabic translation bear testimony to the popularity of these works and their reception by Muslim authors.

II What Do These Sources Tell Us about Translation?

As noted, Muslim scholars left numerous statements about translation. The bulk of these statements deals with the Greek–Arabic translation movement, a concerted effort to translate Greek philosophy, science, and medicine into Arabic that was sponsored by caliphs, high-ranking officials, wealthy individuals, and scholars, and which lasted from roughly the late second/eighth to the middle of the fourth/tenth century. Even after the end of systematic translation activities, individual scholars continued to undertake translations, and read and comment on them; translation remained a frequent subject of discussion in scholarly writing up to and during the Mamluk period (648/1250–922/1517).

There are few references in our sources to translation in the period prior to the accession of the ʿAbbāsid dynasty (132/749–656/1258), especially for the first few decades of Islamic history until 41/661 (I.1, I.3, I.4). What little there is can be found in narratives on the life of the Prophet Muḥammad and the Muslim conquests and mostly reflects the diplomatic and administrative needs of the new Muslim state. There is as yet no mention of science and philosophy. With few exceptions, the sources are also silent about any attempt to translate scientific works under the predecessors of the ʿAbbāsids, the Umayyad dynasty (41/661–132/749). The first exception is the fictitious scholarly activity of the Umayyad prince Ḫālid ibn Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiyah (d. 85/704), who is said to have sponsored translations of Greek and Coptic alchemical works (e.g., II.1).9

Also doubtful is the historicity of reports about the Umayyad rulers’ patronage of medical works. Some sources (e.g., I.2) identify the Jewish physician Māsarǧawayh as one of the earliest translators and credit him with the translation of a medical handbook, originally written in Syriac, which was then officially endorsed by the caliph ʿUmar II ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 99/717–101/720). Among the translations from Middle Persian listed in Ibn al-Nadīm’s Catalogue, we also find mention of astrological material, some of which may have been translated in support of the ʿAbbāsid political agenda during the decades-long conflict that would lead to the overthrow of the Umayyad dynasty.10

In contrast to this earlier period, the systematic effort to translate the available corpus of Greek philosophical, scientific, and medical literature into Arabic during the heyday of the ʿAbbāsid dynasty figures very prominently in historiographical writings of the time and was eagerly seized upon by both pro-ʿAbbāsid and anti-ʿAbbāsid scholars. The acquisition of Greek wisdom through procuring ancient Greek books from the Byzantine authorities and translating them into Arabic, often presented in mythical terms, became a central element of ʿAbbāsid propaganda.11 Some narratives traced the acquisition of Greek books to the caliphate of Hārūn al-Rašīd (r. 170/786–193/809), particularly his campaigns against the Byzantines in Cilicia (I.5), or to missions dispatched by this and other caliphs or wealthy patrons to gather manuscripts in Byzantine territory (II.6). One of the most popular narratives that sought to explain the impetus behind the Greek–Arabic translation movement revolves around a dream in which the son of Hārūn al-Rašīd, al-Maʾmūn (r. 198/813–217/833), encountered Aristotle. According to this widely reported episode, the philosopher instructed the caliph about the nature of the good. Inspired by Aristotle’s wisdom, the caliph resolved to gather ancient Greek books and sponsor their translation (I.9).12

At the same time, the acquisition and translation of Greek books became a talking point among religious critics and polemicists, who blamed the ʿAbbāsids for the corrosive effect these ancient sciences had on religion. One polemical motif that reappears in various guises involved hidden libraries: Byzantine rulers had allegedly locked away ancient Greek manuscripts to protect their subjects from their pernicious influence, but gladly handed them over to ʿAbbāsid diplomats sent in search of ancient knowledge, in the hope that they would corrupt Islam (IV.4).

Translation was also discussed in practical terms both by the translators themselves and by the scholars who read them. The translators’ claim to be able to convey the exact meaning of a text from one language to another was frequently undermined by the problematic nature of the translated texts with their often convoluted style and obscure terminology. Terminological problems were a common concern in medical works, for example, especially when it came to botanical and pharmacological terms (e.g., IV.6), where a mistranslation could make the difference between a drug and a poison. The basis for the medieval pharmacopoeia was On Medical Material (De materia medica) by Dioscorides (fl. AD c. 40–90). As Ibn Ǧulǧul explained in the introduction to one of his works on simple drugs, the first translation of Dioscorides was deficient, and its improvement in al-Andalus by a team of scholars was a regarded as a major scientific achievement (I.12). Another discipline in which the proper translation of technical terms was often discussed was philosophy, especially metaphysics and logic, and philosophers such as al-Fārābī devoted many pages to dealing with the problems involved in rendering the nuances of Aristotle’s terminology into other languages (IV.7).

The dangers of misinterpretation—or outright manipulation—were also considered a major problem in translations of religious works. Even though Muslim tradition accepted the divine mission of previous prophets and the truth of the message revealed to them, the rendition of this message in Hebrew and Greek, and the translation of the Torah and the Gospels into Arabic, raised many concerns and suspicions (III.6). Translators were also accused of adulterating literary works, such as the fables of Kalīlah and Dimnah, in order to convey Manichaean doctrines and other heresies (IV.1).

The translation of any work of a technical nature required such a wide range of skills that some third-/ninth-century observers did not believe that anyone, least of all the translators active at that time, possessed them. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ (d. 255/869), the famous Muʿtazilite author and polymath from Basra, argued both sides in his writings (IV.5d, IV.5e). His particular obsession was the role of the translator as an active agent rather than a passive intermediary, but he was not the only scholar who wrote about or warned against the shortcomings of translators and the material problems involved in the transmission of texts.13

Needless to say, meaning does not only reside in words. Scholars were especially concerned about the relationship between content and form, between the meaning of utterances (maʿnā) and the way in which this meaning is conveyed (lafẓ). This affected the translation of poetry in particular. According to medieval authors, poetry was an almost innate art form among the Arabs. They boasted of the Arabs’ ability to declaim verses spontaneously and considered this art the quintessence of Arabness. Unsurprisingly, some scholars argued that it was impossible to translate poetry because the meaning of verses would inevitably be distorted without their poetic form (IV.5a–c).

Finally, some translators wrote down first-person accounts of their own experiences that offer extraordinary insights into the practicalities of their work. The exceptional testimony of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, mentioned above, and of other scholars allows us better to understand the intermediary role of Syriac translations, the nature and extent of collaboration among translators, the process of revising translations, and the efforts scholars and translators made to acquire Greek manuscripts (III.1–4, III.6–7).

III Context: Translation, Religion, and Ideology

The attitude contemporary observers took toward translation was largely determined by their approach. One such approach was through religion, which also became relevant for the reception of scientific works in general. The Qurʾān was revealed in Arabic and, with the conversion of non-Arab peoples to Islam, Muslim scholars and authorities had to face the problem of making the word of God accessible to the new members of the religious community.14

This problem was complicated by a core Islamic principle that was first referred to in the third/ninth century, but possibly formulated even earlier: the dogma of the inimitability of the Qurʾān (iʿǧāz al-Qurʾān), which postulates that the language of the Book of God is beyond human capabilities and therefore impossible to imitate. By virtue of the divine nature of the Qurʾān, its revelation and subsequent recitation by the Prophet Muḥammad are considered a miracle. Muslim scholars also provided a historical explanation for the miraculous nature of the Qurʾān based on a categorization that assigns to each prophet the most meaningful miracle for their people: Moses turned his staff into a snake because magic enjoyed the highest regard among Jews; Jesus brought Lazarus back to life and cured lepers because medicine was the most important discipline for Christians; and Muḥammad recited the Qurʾān because language and poetry were at the heart of Arabic culture. These ideas can be found as early as the third/ninth century in the works of al-Ǧāḥiẓ and the theologian Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276/889) and have been used in apologetics ever since.15

This categorization of miracles is a perfect example illustrating the complexities of the issue of translation in classical Islam. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ was also the author of one of the first refutations of Christian beliefs, in which he raised doubts about divergences in Christian and Jewish religious sources and the translation of the Torah and the Gospels.16 His scepticism concerning the mere possibility of translation stems to a great extent from his understanding of the Arabic language as the language chosen by God to communicate His revelation (on al-Ǧāḥiẓ’s attitude towards translation, see IV.5a–g). But the implications of this dogma went further. Christians were regarded as the people of medicine, and a mere glance at the texts collected in this article demonstrates the preponderance of Christian translators who were more often than not also physicians (see II.1–2). Does this mean that these Christians were automatically the heirs of Greek wisdom? According to al-Ǧāḥiẓ, they certainly claimed so, and he was categorical in denying them this status. First of all, al-Ǧāḥiz argued, Galen, like other ancient Greek authors, was not a Christian and, more importantly, Christian Arabs and Byzantines were not Greek.17

Religion, ethnicity, and an ideology of cultural supremacy form the backdrop to all early discussions of translation, and it is here that an implicit answer to the question as to why we translate may be sought. As Dimitri Gutas has shown, these concerns were very significant for the Muslim caliphs who sponsored the translation movement.18 The ʿAbbāsid conception of history was based on teleological and messianic principles, and with their accession, they considered themselves to be the successors of previous dynasties, religions, and civilizations: they were the heirs not just of the Prophets, but also of the sages of antiquity.

IV Instead of a Conclusion

The final section of the samples assembled below is entitled, perhaps somewhat presumptuously, ‘Why Do We Translate?’. It contains a single text, a quotation from a treatise by the philosopher al-Kindī (d. 252/866), a contemporary of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq and sponsor of a number of earlier translations of philosophical works (V.1). Al-Kindī’s remarks—that the accumulation of knowledge is a process that spans generations, and that we owe a debt of gratitude to our forebears, whatever their religious and ethnic background—are echoed by other authors at the time.

This noble sentiment offers an answer to our opening question that is generic at best. It also illustrates the kind of response that seems to emerge from the flood of pronouncements on translation that can be found in the Arabic literary tradition. As stated at the beginning, not a single one of our sources can be said to give a direct and unequivocal answer to the question ‘why do we translate?’ The picture our sources sketch out is that of a society in which translation and translated texts were very much part of the intellectual everyday life during roughly the first two centuries of ʿAbbāsid rule. Not even the one translator who, thanks to his own writings, is more than a name and the sum of a few anecdotes, saw fit to comment on his and his contemporaries’ motivations: there is no evidence Ḥunayn asked himself that question, neither in its most general form—why do we translate at all?—nor in its more specific forms: why translate medicine or philosophy? why translate this particular work?

The debates on translation that the sources record invariably touch on particular aspects and problems of translation, for example the process itself; obstacles to correct translation; and the impact of translation on people’s religious beliefs. The arguments put forward in the third/ninth century in some of the earliest surviving literary and scholarly works seem to document an already mature stage of an ongoing debate about translation. They illustrate a situation in which writers felt confident discussing technical details and assessing the impact of translation on society. This suggests that they and their predecessors had had an opportunity to observe this phenomenon for some time, form their opinions, and hone their arguments.

On grounds of plausibility, one could argue that if the question ‘why do we translate?’ was posed explicitly, it must have been before the start or at the very beginning of the Greek–Arabic translation movement, but if there was an answer, we do not know it. What we do know is that the realities of a multi-lingual state and the practical necessities of administration led to translation activities of various sorts from early on, such as the use of interpreters, or the widely reported translation of administrative records, the ‘Arabization’ of the tax registers (dīwāns, I.3, I.4). At the same time, there must have been constant and extensive exchanges between travellers, traders, scholars, and all sorts of people in the expanding Islamic state. In such an environment, the question as to why one translates seems moot. This, together with the lack of reliable documentation for events that precede the ʿAbbāsid era, may explain why we do not hear of any sustained debate about the advisability of or the justification for translation.

What the authors on whom we rely seem to deem much more important were questions of cultural transfer: who took knowledge from whom. The reports of this mostly legendary transfer—which range from mythical accounts of Alexander the Great’s pillage and translation of Persian literature into Greek, to the more contemporary but no less mythical accounts of the transfer of philosophical and medical teaching from Alexandria to Baghdad19—either mention translation, but do so baldly, as something that took place but was not in question, or do not mention it at all: for the authors and compilers of these reports, it was clearly an uncontroversial activity.

The same holds true for the various stories that seek to explain how the vast numbers of Greek works that were translated fell into Muslim hands in the first place. We hear of books given as spoils of war or tributes to Muslim rulers, or of books recovered through the efforts of scholars and their sponsors, who collected them inside and outside Muslim territories. Translation is always mentioned as one step in the transfer of knowledge: manuscripts are acquired, translations commissioned, and then, signally, the public is encouraged to read these books. But again, the question as to why we translate is not asked.

The transfer of knowledge was for our sources as much a fact of life as translation, but it seems to have been more under scrutiny than translation itself. This may explain the continued popularity of origin stories, which seek to give certain authors, works, or scholarly fields the sanction of ancient or contemporary authorities by claiming, for example, that the knowledge involved can be traced back to the sages of antiquity; that it has been sought out through the ages by emblematic rulers of other cultured nations, such as the Greeks and the Persians; that after the founding of the Islamic state, its pursuit had been sanctioned by caliphs and scholars; and that given the defeat or current weakness of the other carriers of this knowledge, especially the Greeks and the Persians, it is incumbent on the Muslim community to find, translate, and save this knowledge from oblivion.20

This is where we come back to al-Kindī and his paean to his predecessors. By looking at translation through the lens of cultural transfer, transferred knowledge itself takes centre stage rather than the process of transfer and translation. Translation, an everyday activity in a multilingual society, was just one of several steps to get to this knowledge. Perhaps this is another reason why the question ‘why do we translate?’ does not figure in our sources: the obvious value of knowledge, the end result of the process of transmission and translation, may have obviated the need to justify the individual steps of the process.

Part Two: Texts in Translation


  1. History: Origins, Genres, Works

  2. People: Translators and Sponsors

  3. Methods: Procedures and Approaches

  4. Problems: Difficulties and Criticisms

  5. Why Do We Translate?

I. History: Origins, Genres, Works

I.1. Al-Masʿūdī, The Book of Admonition and Revision (Kitāb al-tanbīh wa-l-išrāf), 282.12, 283.2–5 (ed. de Goeje); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Shortly before his death in 345/956, the historian and geographer al-Masʿūdī wrote an abridgment of his best-known work, a massive chronicle of world history from Creation to his days entitled The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems (Murūǧ al-ḏahab wa-maʿādin al-ǧawhar).21 The abridgment, the Book of Admonition and Revision (Kitāb al-tanbīh wa-l-išrāf), amounts to less than a quarter of its source, but adds some material not contained in it.22 The present passage illustrates the importance of translation in the political and diplomatic sphere from the very beginning of Islamic history. Zayd ibn Ṯābit (d. betw. 42/662 and 56/676), one of the scribes of the Prophet Muḥammad who wrote down the revelations he received, is better known for his role in the compilation of the Qurʾān under the caliph ʿUṯmān (r. 23/644–35/656) and as a transmitter of ḥadīṯ.23

Among the Prophet’s secretaries was […] Zayd ibn Ṯābit al-Anṣārī, a member of the Ġanm ibn Mālik ibn al-Naǧǧār branch of the Ḫazraǧ tribe. He wrote (diplomatic letters) to the kings and responded at the behest of the Prophet, and he interpreted for him in Persian, Greek, Coptic, and Ethiopic. He learned (interpreting) in Medina from speakers of these languages.24

I.2. Ibn Ǧulǧul, The Classes of the Physicians and Sages (Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ wa-l-ḥukamāʾ), 61.2–5 (ed. Fuʾād Sayyid); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.25

Ibn Ǧulǧul (d. after 384/994–995) was a Cordovan physician and historian of medicine, famous for his works on materia medica and his collection of medical biographies entitled The Classes of Physicians and Sages (Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ wa-l-ḥukamāʾ). This compilation is the first extant history of medicine after the Chronology of the Physicians (Taʾrīḫ al-aṭibbāʾ) by Isḥāq ibn Ḥunayn (d. 289/911)26 and the first of its kind in Western Islam. Ibn Ǧulǧul is the first Arab historian who quotes from Latin sources, as he proudly states in his introduction, in which he mentions the Latin translation, by Jerome (d. 420), of the Chronicle (Chronica) by Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 339–340), and the Histories Against the Pagans (Historiae adversus paganos) by Orosius (d. after 418).27 His medical biographies also include fragments from the Etymologies (Etymologiae) by Isidore of Seville (d. 636), most likely the result of excerpts translated ex professo by Mozarabs, since no full translation of this work is known.28

If the following report from Ibn Ǧulǧul’s Classes of Physicians is to be credited, the translation into Arabic by the Jewish physician and translator Māsarǧawayh29 of a medical handbook by the Christian Syriac physician Ahrun30 was one of the earliest translations of a medical text. Doubts about its historicity notwithstanding, the text suggests that translations of scientific and medical works into Arabic may have already begun during the Umayyad era (41/661–132/750).31

The politics of this report are delicate: a translator, explicitly identified as non-Muslim, embarked on his work without any prompting from the Umayyad authorities. His work is then endorsed, after a suitable period of reflection and prayer, by ʿUmar II, the only Umayyad caliph renowned for his piety. The Umayyads, including their relatives who ruled al-Andalus during the lifetime of Ibn Ǧulǧul, are therefore entirely absolved from any responsibility for the translation. On the contrary, the precedent set by ʿUmar II can now be used to exonerate both the practice of translation and engaging with the ancient sciences in general, which had been rejected previously because they were associated with the ʿAbbāsid dynasty.32

(Māsarǧawayh) was a Syriac-speaker of the Jewish faith, and during (the rule of) the (early) Marwānids he undertook to translate the book of the Christian priest Ahrun ibn Aʿyān into Arabic. ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz33 found it [i.e., the translated book] in the (caliphal) library and ordered it to be brought out and deposited in his oratory. ʿUmar asked God for guidance as to whether to publish it among the Muslims so that they could benefit from it, and when he had done so for forty days, he made it public to the people and disseminated it among them.

I.3. Al-Balāḏurī, The Conquests of the Regions (Futūḥ al-buldān), 193.1–9 (ed. de Goeje);34 tr. Hitti, The Origins, I, 301, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

The third-/ninth-century historian al-Balāḏurī (d. c. 278/892) chronicled the expansion of the Muslim state from the wars of the Prophet Muḥammad to the conquest of Iraq and Persia in his Conquests of the Regions (Futūḥ al-buldān), which is a shortened version of a more comprehensive but lost historical work about the same period. In addition to political and military history, the work contains invaluable information about the social and cultural history of the early Islamic era.35

Until some time after the initial conquest, the administrative structures of the former Byzantine and Persian provinces of the Islamic state were largely kept intact, which also meant that administrative records continued to be kept in their original languages, Greek and Persian. The episodes described in the following two texts mark the transition to an administrative system that relied exclusively on the Arabic language. The translation of Greek administrative records into Arabic in the western provinces was either part of the reforms instituted by the Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik (r. 65/685–86/705), as the following text suggests, or was commissioned by his son Hišām (r. 105/724–125/743).36

The translation of the state registers of the Greek (territories)

They said: Greek remained the language of the state registers of Syria until the reign of ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān, who in the year 81/700–701 ordered them to be translated. The reason was that a Greek chancery secretary desiring to write something and finding no water (to prepare ink) urinated in the inkstand. Hearing this, ʿAbd al-Malik punished the man and gave orders to Sulaymān ibn Saʿd37 to translate the registers. Sulaymān requested ʿAbd al-Malik to assign to him the land tax of the Jordan province for one year. ʿAbd al-Malik granted his request and assigned him to the governorship of the Jordan. No sooner had the year ended, than the translation was finished and Sulaymān brought the registers to ʿAbd al-Malik. The latter called his secretary Sarǧūn [Sergius]38 and showed it to him. This distressed Sarǧūn and he left ʿAbd al-Malik sorrowful. A group of Greek secretaries ran into him and he said: ‘Seek your livelihood in any other profession than this, for God has cut it off from you.’

I.4. Al-Balāḏurī, The Conquests of the Regions (Futūḥ al-buldān), 300.8–301.9 (ed. de Goeje);39 tr. Hitti, The Origins, I, 465–466, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

The translation of the Persian administrative records described below took place somewhat later than that of the Greek records. It was instigated by the Umayyad governor of Iraq, al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ ibn Yūsuf (d. 95/714), allegedly so that he would not have to depend on his Persian bureaucrats to inspect the tax register.40

Translation of the state register of the Persian (territories)

Al-Madāʾinī ʿAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn Abī Sayf41 reported to me from his teachers: Persian remained the language of the register of the land tax of al-Sawād and the rest of Iraq. When al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ became governor of Iraq, he made Zādān Farrūḫ ibn Bīrī his secretary,42 and the latter was assisted by Ṣāliḥ ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān,43 a client of the Banū Tamīm, who knew both Arabic and Persian. Ṣāliḥ’s father was one of the captives of Siǧistān. Through Zādān Farrūḫ, Ṣāliḥ had access to al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ, who enjoyed his company. One day (Ṣāliḥ) said to (Zādān): ‘You are the reason why I (have access) to the governor, and I see that he has taken a liking to me. I am not sure if he prefers me over you and you will fall.’ He replied: ‘Do not believe that: he needs me more than you because he will not find anyone other than me whom he trusts to keep his books.’ (Ṣālih) said: ‘By God, if you wanted me to convert the accounts into Arabic, I would do so.’ (Zādān) replied: ‘Convert a sample and I will see.’ (Ṣāliḥ) did so. (Zādān) told him to claim to be sick, which he did. Al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ then sent his own physician, but he found nothing wrong with him. This reached Zādān Farrūḫ’s ears and he ordered him to appear.

In the days of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ašʿaṯ al-Kindī,44 Zādān Farrūḫ was killed on his way from some house to his own or some other man’s home. Al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ then made Ṣāliḥ secretary in his place. Ṣāliḥ reported to al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ the conversation that took place between him and Zādān Farrūḫ about translating the register. Al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ decided to render the register into Arabic and charged Ṣāliḥ with the task. Mardānšāh ibn Zādān Farrūḫ45 asked Ṣāliḥ: ‘What do you do with dahūyah [tenths] and bīstūyah [twentieths]?’ He replied: ‘I shall write “ʿušr” [tenth] and “nuṣf ʿušr” [half-tenth] (instead).’ (Mardānšāh) said: ‘And what about wīd [excess]?’ He replied: ‘I shall write “ayḍan” [also], “al-wīd al-nayyif” [the surplus excess], and “al-ziyādah tuzād” [the surplus is added].’ (Mardānšāh) then said: ‘May God efface your trace from the world as you have effaced the trace of the Persian language!’ Ṣāliḥ was later offered 100,000 dirhams in order to show that it was impossible to translate the register and to refrain from doing it, but he refused and translated it. ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd ibn Yaḥyā,46 the secretary of Marwān ibn Muḥammad,47 used to say: ‘By God, Ṣāliḥ has bestowed a great blessing upon the secretaries!’

In the account he gave to me ʿUmar ibn Šabbah48 said: Abū ʿĀṣim al-Nabīl49 told me that Sahl ibn Abī l-Ṣalt50 reported: Al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ gave Ṣāliḥ ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān a deadline for translating the register.

I.5. Ibn Ǧulǧul, The Classes of the Physicians and Sages (Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ wa-l-ḥukamāʾ), 65.2–5 (ed. Fuʾād Sayyid); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.51

One of the more important translators and physicians of the generation immediately preceding the master translator Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq52 was Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh.53 In addition to attending to several caliphs from Hārūn al-Rašīd to al-Mutawakkil (r. 232/847–247/861) and producing translations at their behest, he also taught medicine in a lecture circle attended by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq himself; the story of their falling out and subsequent reconciliation is recounted below (II.8). The details of the text are in all probability apocryphal; while Hārūn al-Rašīd attacked Ancyra twice during his reign, the two cities were not conquered until 223/838, during the reign of his son, the caliph al-Muʿtaṣim (r. 218/833–227/842).54

Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh: a Syriac Christian. (Hārūn) al-Rašīd appointed him to translate the ancient medical books that were found in Ancyra, Amorium, and the Byzantine territory after the Muslims had conquered them. He made him the chief translator and put him in charge of skilled scribes who drafted (texts for him). (Yūḥannā) served (the caliphs) Hārūn (al-Rašīd), al-Amīn,55 and al-Maʾmūn,56 and kept this (office) until the days of (the caliph) al-Mutawakkil [i.e., between 232 and 247/847 and 861].57

I.6. Ibn al-Nadīm, The Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist), I, 265.20–24 (ed. Flügel); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.58

The following quotation from Ibn al-Nadīm’s Catalogue outlines the complex translation history of the Elements (Stoicheia)—the foundational text of Greek mathematics and geometry—by Euclid (fl. third century BC). According to Ibn al-Nadīm, the book was translated and revised several times at different stages of the Greek–Arabic translation movement, in part supported by the caliphal authorities: a testament to its importance and the interest it aroused.59

Account of (Euclid’s) book on the Principles of Geometry. Its name is al-Isṭrūšiyā,60 which means ‘the principles of geometry’; al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ ibn Yūsuf ibn Maṭar translated it twice.61 One version, the first, was known as al-Hārūnī,62 the second was the one for (the caliph) al-Maʾmūn. It was known as al-Maʾmūnī and people relied on it.

Isḥāq ibn Ḥunayn63 translated it and Ṯābit ibn Qurrah al-Ḥarrānī64 corrected it. Abū ʿUṯmān al-Dimašqī translated several volumes of it. I saw the tenth of them65 in Mosul, in the library of ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad al-ʿImrānī.66 One of his pages was Abū l-Ṣaqr al-Qabīṣī. He studied the Almagest under his supervision during our own time.67

I.7. Ibn al-Nadīm, The Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist), I, 267.29–268.4 (ed. Flügel); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.68

Another foundational scientific work, the Mathematical Treatise (Syntaxis mathematica) or Almagest on the motion of planets and stars by Ptolemy (d. AD c. 170), also went through several stages of translation and revision. The earliest stage was again supported by the state through a commission by Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid ibn Barmak (d. 190/805), the vizier of the caliph Hārūn al-Rašīd and himself a generous patron of scholars and translators.69

Account of the Almagest. This work is in thirteen books. The first person to see to its translation and publication in Arabic was Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid ibn Barmak. A group of people translated it for him, but did not have the skill (to do it), and he was not satisfied with it. He then commissioned Abu Ḥassān70 and Salm, the head of the House of Wisdom,71 to translate it. They had the (requisite) skill and worked hard to revise it after having sent for the best translators, examining their translation, and selecting what was most eloquent and accurate.

People say that al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ ibn Maṭar72 also translated it. The person who worked on it was al-Nayrīzī.73 Ṯābit (ibn Qurrah)74 corrected the entire work in the old translation. Isḥāq (ibn Ḥunayn)75 translated this book and Ṯābit corrected his work, (but it was) an unsatisfactory translation because his correction of the former was better.76

I.8. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ), II/2, 886.3–888.2 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.); tr. Savage-Smith et al., III/2, 986–987, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.77

The Damascene medical scholar Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (d. 668/1270) is the author of the most comprehensive prosopographical source about medieval medicine that has come down to us, The Best Accounts on the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ). This work covers the history of medicine from its inception until the time of the author and contains the biographies of more than 450 physicians and philosophers from antiquity to the author’s lifetime.78

Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah devotes a short chapter in this work to Indian medicine. It includes several biographies of ancient Indian authors of medical works and of two Indian physicians who worked at the ʿAbbāsid court. The author largely relies on information from Ibn al-Nadīm’s Catalogue, which has a section on Indian medical works translated into Arabic. Since the exact reading of the Arabic transliterations of Indian names is not always clear and Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah and Ibn al-Nadīm (or their editors) do not always agree, alternative readings are provided in the notes here.

(The physician and astrologer) Ṣanǧahal the Indian79 was followed in India by a group of scholars, including Bākahr, Rāḥah, Ṣakih, Dāhir, Ankar, Zankal, Ǧabhar, Andī, and Ǧārī, all of whom composed many well-known works on the art of medicine and other sciences. They rank amongst the great learned men of India: they were skilled in the art of medicine, and they elucidated the rules governing the science of astrology. The scholars of India study and imitate their works, transmitting them from generation to generation. Many of those works have been translated into Arabic:

I have found that al-Rāzī, in his Comprehensive Book [on Medicine]80 and other works, drew upon a number of works by Indian scholars, such as the Book of Šarak the Indian,81 a work that ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAlī translated from Persian into Arabic after it had first been translated from Sanskrit into Persian;82 the Book of Susrud,83 which discusses the symptoms of diseases, methods of treatment, and remedies—it is divided into ten chapters, and was translated into Arabic at the order of Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid;84 the Book of Nidān, which discusses the symptoms and diagnosis of four hundred and four ailments, but does not deal with treatments;85 the Book of Sindhašār, whose title means The Book of the Quintessence of Success;86 a book on the differences in the views held by the Indians and the Greeks concerning heat and cold, the effectiveness of various medicines and the division of the year;87 a book on the interpretation of the names of drugs, in ten (different languages);88 the Asānkar,89 a compendium; a book on the treatments of pregnant women in India;90 a compendium on drugs used by the Indians;91 the Book of Nūfašal, which discusses one hundred ailments and one hundred remedies;92 a book on the treatment of women, by an Indian woman named Rūsā;93 a book on sugar in India; a book on the view of Nāqil the Indian on various species of snakes and their venom; and a book on delusions concerning diseases and maladies by the Indian author Abū Qubayl.94

I.9. Ibn al-Nadīm, The Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist), I, 243.3–14 (ed. Flügel); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.95

The following undoubtedly apocryphal episode, recorded not just in Ibn al-Nadīm’s Catalogue but quoted in a number of other biographical works, purports to explain why so many philosophical and scientific works were translated into Arabic. The surge in translation activity is ascribed to the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Maʾmūn, who, inspired by a dream in which he saw and conversed with Aristotle, sent scholars to the Byzantine empire to collect ancient Greek works and translate them. Translations of ancient Greek, Persian, and Sanskrit philosophy, science, and medicine obviously long preceded al-Maʾmūn’s reign and may in fact already have started as early as the first quarter of the second/eighth century. In addition, several of al-Maʾmūn’s predecessors vigorously supported the translation movement. Rather than providing an incentive for the translation movement, the dream may illustrate the effect it had on intellectual attitudes at the time and the high esteem in which ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle were held.96

Why there are so many books in these parts on philosophy and other ancient sciences.

One reason for this is that al-Maʾmūn saw in a dream of his a man of reddish-white complexion with a high forehead, joined eyebrows, bald head, dark-blue eyes, and handsome features, sitting on his chair. Al-Maʾmūn said: ‘I had the impression that I was standing in front of him, filled with awe. I asked him who he was. He replied: “I am Aristotle.” I was happy to be with him and said: “O wise man, may I address a question to you?” He replied: “Ask!” I said: “What is good?” He replied: “Whatever is good according to reason.” I asked: “What else?” He replied: “Whatever is good according to religious law.” I asked: “And what else?” He replied: “Whatever society considers good.” I asked: “What else?” And he replied: “Nothing else.” ’

According to another tradition: ‘I [i.e., al-Maʾmūn] said: “Give me further (instructions).” Aristotle replied: “He who gives you good advice for gold, consider him to be like gold. It is your duty to believe in the oneness of God.” ’

This dream was one of the most important causes for the publication of books (on philosophy etc.). Al-Maʾmūn and the Byzantine king, whom al-Maʾmūn had just defeated, exchanged several letters. He wrote to the Byzantine king and asked for permission to send people to select books on the ancient sciences from those stored in the libraries on Byzantine territory.

(The Byzantine king) at first would not allow it, but later gave his consent. Then al-Maʾmūn sent a group of people, among them al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ ibn Maṭar,97 Ibn al-Biṭrīq,98 and Salm, the head of the House of Wisdom,99 and others, and they made their choice among the material that they found there. When they brought it to (al-Maʾmūn), he ordered them to translate it, and this was done. Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh100 is also said to have been among those sent (at that time) to Byzantine territory.101

I.10. Ibn al-Qifṭī, History of Learned Men (Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ), 61.4–13 (ed. Lippert); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Ibn al-Qifṭī (d. 646/1248) was an Egyptian bureaucrat in the service of the Atabegs of Aleppo. In addition to his administrative duties, he was an accomplished scholar; medieval sources credit him with twenty-six books, only two of which have survived. One of these works is the History of Learned Men, a compilation of biographies of Muslim scholars. It is preserved in an epitome written by Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Zawzanī in 647/1249 that contains 414 biographies of philosophers, physicians, mathematicians, astronomers, and other scholars.102

The following passage deals once more with the contribution of the caliph al-Maʾmūn to the Greek–Arabic translation movement. Although he may not have been the first caliphal patron of scholars and translators, his active support of the translation movement led to a flood of new translations. Among them was a standard text of Greek geometry, the Conics (Conica) by Apollonius of Perga (d. c. 190 BC), parts of which had been lost before it could be translated into Arabic. It had a profound impact on the development of mathematics in the Islamic world.103

When the (Greek) works were brought to (the caliph) al-Maʾmūn from the Byzantine empire, no more than the first book of this work [i.e., the Conics] was brought, which consisted of seven chapters. When the work was translated, its introduction indicated that it (actually) consists of eight chapters and that the eighth chapter covers the contents of the (preceding) seven chapters and some extra material, and that it stipulates useful (mathematical) terms and (has other) desirable benefits. From that time until this day, people in this field have been looking for this chapter, but have not found any information about it. Without a doubt, it is a treasure (worthy of) kings, because the kings of Greece held these disciplines in high regard. I had talked about the fate of this chapter with someone in our time who had some interest in this field, or claimed to do so. He told me that it had been found and started to describe it, but in his description he mentioned things that do not match the words of (the work’s) author. I then knew that he knew nothing at all, and I turned away from him and left him in his ignorance.

I.11. Ibn Ǧulǧul, The Classes of the Physicians and Sages (Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ wa-l-ḥukamāʾ), 67.6–11 (ed. Fuʾād Sayyid); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.104

Yaḥyā (or Yūḥannā) ibn al-Biṭrīq (fl. first half of the third/ninth century) was, according to Ibn Ǧulǧul, the client (mawlā) of the caliph al-Maʾmūn, a status that usually implied a conversion to Islam. He was the son of another translator, al-Biṭrīq, who was apparently active during the reign of the caliph al-Manṣūr (r. 136/754–158/775). We know little about the life of either father or son, and their similar names meant that there was frequent confusion about which of them produced which translation. In general, however, the father seems to have been more interested in medical texts, while the son may have been one of the first translators of philosophical works into Arabic.105

The following report about the discovery of The Secret of Secrets (Sirr al-asrār), probably the most widely known book associated with Ibn al-Biṭrīq, is clearly apocryphal and was perhaps meant to impress readers and pique their interest in the book.106 It is a pseudo-Aristotelian work that purports to be a collection of letters by Aristotle to Alexander the Great and covers a wide range of topics. It enjoyed great popularity in the Middle Ages and was translated into several languages. The preface to the Arabic version, parts of which are quoted below, claims that Ibn al-Biṭrīq translated the Syriac version of the original Greek into Arabic. Modern scholarship, however, considers it to be an Arabic work written in the fourth/tenth century.107

The translator Yūḥannā ibn al-Biṭrīq, a client of the Commander of the Believers al-Maʾmūn, was a faithful translator, excellent at rendering ideas but unable to speak Arabic properly. He translated many works of the ancients, and he is the translator of the book Aristotle wrote for Alexander known as The Secret of Secrets, that is, The Book of Government on the Conduct of Statecraft.

Yūḥannā (ibn al-Biṭrīq) reports that he went out to find it. He headed for (ancient) temples in his search for it until he arrived at the temple of ʿAbd al-Šams,108 which Hermes the Great109 had built for himself to glorify God in it. He said: ‘In it, I encountered a pious monk of outstanding knowledge and keen intelligence. I made myself agreeable and employed finesse so that he gave me access to the books deposited at the temple. Among them, I found written in gold what I was looking for and what the Commander of the Faithful had ordered me to find. Having accomplished my mission, I then returned to his victorious presence.’110

I.12. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ), II/2, 928.4–930.9 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.); tr. Savage-Smith et al., III/2, 1037–1038, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.111

The following passage was part of Ibn Ǧulǧul’s introduction to his Explanation of the Names of the Simple Drugs in the Book of Dioscorides (Kitāb tafsīr asmāʾ al-adwiyah al-mufradah min kitāb Dīsqūrīdis). Only fragments from this treatise have come down to us.112 This first-person account of the Arabic translation of Dioscorides’s On Medical Material (De materia medica)113 in al-Andalus has survived because it is quoted by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah in his Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians.114

At the beginning of his book115 (Ibn Ǧulǧul) states: The book of Dioscorides was translated in Baghdad during the ʿAbbāsid caliphate in the days of Ǧaʿfar al-Mutawakkil.116 It was translated from Greek into Arabic by Iṣṭifan ibn Basīl the translator,117 and his work was examined by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq the translator,118 who corrected and certified the translation.119 Those Greek names that Iṣṭifan knew how to translate, he translated into Arabic; and those for which he did not know of an Arabic equivalent, he left in Greek. He trusted that God Almighty would send someone after him who would know (the names) and render them into Arabic, for nomenclature is but the agreement of the people from each land to name the different classes of drugs as they consider appropriate, sometimes by (etymological) derivation, sometimes by other ways upon which they agree. Iṣṭifan was confident that among those who were to come after him some would know those classes of drugs for which he was unable to find a name in his time, and would name them according to what they had learned in their own time, so that the (drug names) would finally be known.

Ibn Ǧulǧul says: This book came to al-Andalus in the translated version made by Iṣṭifan, containing those drug names that he knew how to translate into Arabic and those he did not know. The people profited from all that could be understood from it, both in the East and in al-Andalus, until the days of al-Nāṣir ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad, who at that time was the ruler of al-Andalus.120 Romanos, the emperor of Constantinople, presented him with splendid gifts, in the year 337/948–949, I think.121 Among those presents there was a copy of the book of Dioscorides illuminated with marvellous Byzantine illustrations of plants; the book was written in Greek [iġrīqī], i.e., ancient Greek [yūnānī]. Together with it, he sent the book of Orosius, the author of stories, which contains a wonderful history of the Romans, with information about the past, stories about the first kings, and many profitable things.122

Romanos wrote to al-Nāṣir: You will not profit from the book of Dioscorides unless you have someone with knowledge of the Greek language, who will recognize the characteristics of those drugs. If there is someone able to do this in your land, then you will enjoy, O King, the benefits of the book. As for the book of Orosius, you have in your land, among the Latin Christians, some who can read it in Latin, and if you allow them, they will translate it for you from Latin into Arabic.

Ibn Ǧulǧul says: In that time, none of the Christians of Cordova was able to read Greek [iġrīqī], i.e., ancient Greek [yūnānī], and the book of Dioscorides was kept in the library of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Nāṣir, in Greek, without being translated into Arabic. Thus, the book remained in al-Andalus while Iṣṭifan’s translation from Baghdad circulated among the people. In his answer to Romanos, al-Nāṣir asked him to send someone able to speak Greek and Latin to teach some slaves so that they would become translators, and the emperor Romanos sent al-Nāṣir a monk called Niqūlā,123 who arrived in al-Andalus in 340/951–952.

At that time there were a number of physicians in Cordova who were interested in seeking, investigating, and inquiring about the names of drugs in the book of Dioscorides for which the Arabic terms were still unknown. The physician who was most eager to investigate the matter was Ḥasdāy ibn Šaprūṭ al-Isrāʾīlī,124 who sought to be close to the king, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Nāṣir. The monk Niqūlā won (Ibn Šaprūṭ’s) favour, preference, and high regard, and he explained to him the names of the drugs in the book of Dioscorides that had previously been unknown. (Ibn Šaprūṭ) was the first physician in Cordova to prepare the great theriac [tiryāq al-fārūq] following the precise explanation of the botanical information contained (in the book). Other physicians of that time who embarked on the task of investigating the question of the names of the drugs in the book of Dioscorides and identifying their classes were: Muḥammad, known as al-Šaǧǧār [‘the botanist’];125 someone known as al-Šabānisī;126 Abū ʿUṯmān al-Ǧazzār, who had the nickname of al-Yābisah;127 Muḥammad ibn Saʿīd al-Ṭabīb;128 ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Isḥāq ibn al-Hayṯam;129 and Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Ṣiqillī,130 who spoke Greek and recognized the characteristics of the drugs.

Ibn Ǧulǧul says: This group (of physicians) and Niqūlā the Monk lived at the same time. I was able to meet (Ibn Šaprūṭ) and Niqūlā the Monk in the days of al-Mustanṣir, and fraternized with them at that time.131 Niqūlā the Monk died at the beginning of the reign (of al-Mustanṣir al-Ḥakam). With the research of this group who investigated the names of drugs of the book of Dioscorides, he had made it possible for their characteristics to be known in Cordova, especially regarding (the plants) of al-Andalus, dispelling every doubt from our hearts; he provided knowledge of their characteristics, and explained the meaning of their names almost without mistakes, apart from a few of them—about ten drugs—with which he was not familiar and about which he had no knowledge.132

I.13. Ibn Suwār, annotation to the translation of Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations in Aristotle, Manṭiq Arisṭū, III, 1017.5–1018.13 (ed. Badawī), and Aristotle, Les Catégories, 198–199 (ed. Georr); tr. Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 22–23, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Some Arabic translations of Greek works were not made directly from the Greek originals, but from Syriac intermediaries. This process is best attested in the case of medicine, where we have a comprehensive overview of the translations in both languages from the pen of the translator himself, Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq.133 Syriac translations also formed the basis of a large number of philosophical translations, including that of Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations (De sophisticis elenchis) discussed in the next text.134 This text illustrates the problem Arabic translators had when their Syriac source was inferior: if they were lucky, there were translated commentaries to help them understand the text; if not, as in this case, they were on their own. The following notes are the annotations with which the editor of a compilation of Aristotle translations,135 the philosopher Ibn Suwār,136 introduced Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations. Confronted with three equally unsatisfactory translations,137 he took the unusual step of including all three in his compilation in the hope that the reader would pick the correct interpretation whenever the text was problematic.

I have copied this translation from a manuscript written by the venerable Abū l-Ḫayr al-Ḥasan ibn Suwār, may God be pleased with him. It ends with the following remarks: I have copied this translation from a manuscript which appears to me to have been written by Abū Naṣr al-Fārābī.138 The first part of that manuscript was carefully written and correct, but the second was faulty.

The venerable Abū l-Ḫayr ibn Suwār, may God be pleased with him, says: In order to understand the ideas expressed in the language from which he is translating, the translator must first grasp them in the sense of the original author and must be familiar with the usage of the language from which he is translating, as well as that into which he is translating. However, the monk Athanasius139 was not familiar with Aristotle’s ideas in this work. Hence it was inevitable that mistakes crept into his (Syriac) translation. Since the translators mentioned above, who rendered this book into Arabic on the basis of the Syriac translation of Athanasius, had no commentary at their disposal, they relied on their own insight in order to understand the ideas of the work. Everyone endeavoured to arrive at the truth and to understand the purpose intended by the philosopher [i.e., Aristotle], and they (each) altered what they translated into Arabic of Athanasius’s (Syriac) translation. As we desire to become acquainted with the views of each one of them, we have reproduced all the translations we were able to obtain, so that all of them may be studied and jointly used for the comprehension of (Aristotle’s) meaning.

The excellent Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī140 composed a Syriac and Arabic commentary on this book. I have seen most of it and estimate (that it comprises) about two thirds of the work. I presume that he completed it, but after his death it could not be found among his books. My opinion about this fluctuates. Sometimes I think he may have destroyed it because he was dissatisfied with it, while at other times I suspect that it was stolen, which I consider more likely. He produced the said translation of the book before compiling his commentary on it, hence it is a little obscure, for he did not always grasp the meaning correctly and based his translation on the Syriac text.

Nowadays there also exists a manuscript of the Greek commentary by Alexander of Aphrodisias.141 At the beginning a quire is missing. Very little of it has so far been made accessible (through translation).

From what I have heard, Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Bakkūš142 translated this work from Syriac into Arabic, and, in collaboration with the Greek priest and geometrician, Yūḥannā, who is known by the name of Ibn Fatīlah,143 worked on the correction of a number of passages on the basis of the Greek text, but I have not seen (his work).

Abū Bišr,144 may God have mercy on him, is also said to have corrected the first translation or produced another translation, but I have not seen (his work).

I have noted all this here in order that those who use this book should be fully informed about the situation and (understand) why I have reproduced all translations in the manner described.145

II. People: Translators and Sponsors

II.1. Ibn al-Nadīm, The Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist), I, 244.1–245.10 (ed. Flügel); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

The scale and extent of Arabic translations from various languages is best illustrated by the long list of translators Ibn al-Nadīm compiled for his Catalogue, based on the accounts of his informants and the written sources he assembled.146 Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah took Ibn al-Nadīm’s list, amplified it with additional contextual information, and added a section on the sponsors of translations (see II.2 below). Since Ibn al-Nadīm’s Catalogue and Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s Best Accounts (or their editors) sometimes disagree about the reading of individual names, the following texts are annotated with corrections and relevant alternative readings.

The Names of the Translators from (Foreign) Languages into Arabic
Iṣṭifan al-Qadīm: he translated books on alchemy and other subjects for Ḫālid ibn Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiyah.147
Al-Biṭrīq: he lived in the days of (the caliph) al-Manṣūr, who ordered him to translate some ancient books.148
His son Abū Zakariyāʾ Yaḥyā ibn al-Biṭrīq, who belonged to the group of al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl.149
Al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ (ibn Yūsuf) ibn Maṭar: he translated for al-Maʾmūn and was the person who translated the Almagest and Euclid.150
Ibn Nāʿimah, whose name was ʿAbd al-Masīḥ ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Ḥimṣī al-Nāʿimī.151
Sallām al-Abraš:152 he was one of the early translators in the days of the Barmak family,153 and among his translations is (Aristotle’s) Physics. Thus reported our lord Abū l-Qāsim ʿĪsā ibn ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā,154 may God support him.
Ḥabīb ibn Bahrīz, the metropolitan of Mosul: he translated a number of books for al-Maʾmūn.155
Zarūyā ibn Mā Ḥawah/Māǧūh[?] al-Nāʿimī al-Ḥimṣī.156
Hilāl ibn Abī Hilāl al-Ḥimṣī.157
Fiṯiyūn [Pethion].159
Abū Naṣr ibn Āwā[?] ibn Ayyūb.160
Basīl al-Muṭrān [‘the metropolitan’].161
Abū Nūḥ (Ibrāhīm) ibn al-Ṣalt.162
Usṭāṯ [Eustathius].163
Ḥayrūn [Heron?].164
Iṣṭifan ibn Basīl.165
Ibn Rābiṭah.166
Tiyūfīlā [Theophilus].
ʿĪsā ibn Nūḥ.168
Quwayrī, whose name was Ibrāhīm, with the patronym Abū Isḥāq.169
Theodore the Syncellus.170
Dārīʿ, the monk.171
Biṯyūn [Pethion].173
Ayyūb al-Ruhāwī.175
Ṯābit ibn Qumaʿ.176
Ayyūb and Simʿān [Simeon]:177 they translated Ptolemy’s astronomical tables178 and other ancient books for Muḥammad ibn Ḫālid ibn Yaḥyā ibn Barmak.
Bāsīl, who served (Ṭāhir ibn al-Ḥusayn) Ḏū l-Yamīnayn.179
Ibn Šahdā al-Karḫī: he translated badly from Syriac into Arabic. Among his translations was Hippocrates’s Book on Embryos [Kitāb al-aǧinnah].180
Abū ʿAmr Yūḥannā ibn Yūsuf al-Kātib: he was one of the translators and translated Plato’s book on the education of boys.181
Ayyūb ibn al-Qāsim al-Raqqī: he translated from Syriac into Arabic; among his translations was (Porphyry’s) Isagoge.182
Midlāǧī/Marlāḥī[?]183 in our own time: he knows Syriac well, but stammers when speaking Arabic. He translates under the supervision of ʿAlī ibn Ibrāhīm al-Dahakī184 from Syriac into Arabic, and Ibn al-Dahakī corrects his translations.
Dādīšūʿ: he translated for Isḥāq ibn Sulaymān ibn ʿAlī al-Hāšimī from Syriac into Arabic.185
Qusṭā ibn Lūqā al-Baʿlabakkī: he was a good translator and had a good command of Greek, Syriac, and Arabic. He translated some things and corrected many (other) translations.186 […]
Ḥunayn (ibn Isḥāq).187
Isḥāq (ibn Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq).188
Ṯābit (ibn Qurrah).189
Ḥubayš (ibn al-Ḥasan al-Aʿsam).190
ʿĪsā ibn Yaḥyā.191
Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ṣalt (Abū Nūḥ).193
Ibrāhīm ibn ʿAbd Allāh.194
Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī.195
The Names of the Translators from Persian into Arabic
Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ197 […]
Most of the Nawbaḫt family198 […]
Mūsā and Yūsuf, the sons of Ḫālid:199 they served Dāʾūd ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ḥumayd ibn Qaḥṭabah200 and translated for him from Persian into Arabic.
Al-Tamīmī, whose name was ʿAlī ibn Ziyād, with the patronym Abū l-Ḥasan: he translated from Persian into Arabic, and among his translations were the Astronomical Tables of al-Šahriyār.201
Al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl (ibn Nawbaḫt)202 […]
Al-Balāḏurī, Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā ibn Ǧābir203 […]: he translated from Persian into Arabic.
Ǧabalah ibn Sālim, the secretary of Hišam,204 mentioned above: he translated into Arabic from Persian.205
Isḥāq ibn Yazīd206 translated from Persian into Arabic and among his translations was a book about the history of Persia known as the Book of Baḫtiyār [Baḫtiyār Nāmah].
Among the Persian translators are: Muḥammad ibn al-Ǧahm al-Barmakī;207 Hišām ibn al-Qāsim;208 Mūsā ibn ʿĪsā al-Kisrawī;209 Zādawayh ibn Šāhawayh al-Iṣfahānī;210 Muḥammad ibn Bahrām ibn Miṭyār al-Iṣfahānī;211 Bahrām ibn Mardān Šāh,212 the priest of Šāpūr, a Persian city; ʿUmar ibn al-Farruḫān213 […]
Indian and Nabataean Translators
Mankah al-Hindī:214 he belonged to the group of Isḥāq ibn Sulaymān ibn ʿAlī al-Hāšimī215 and translated from the Indian language into Arabic.
Ibn Dahn al-Hindī:216 he administered the hospital of the Barmak family.217 He translated into Arabic from the Indian language.
Ibn Waḥšīyah:218 he translated from Nabataean into Arabic and translated many books, as people said […]219

II.2. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ), II/1, 507.1–517.10 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.); tr. Savage-Smith et al., III/1, 541–555, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

The following text is part of the ninth chapter of the book, which focuses on the translators of medical works and evinces obvious similarities with the previous text (II.1) from Ibn al-Nadīm’s Catalogue. Both Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah and Ibn al-Nadīm seem to have relied on the same unidentified source, which, in view of the transliteration system used in both texts and the religious affiliation of the translators listed, was probably originally written by a Christian Syriac author and later translated into Arabic. The second part of Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s account lists sponsors of the Greek–Arabic translation movement and has no parallel in Ibn al-Nadīm; the main source for this list of patrons is Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Epistle.220

Chapter Nine: Physicians who Translated Works on Medicine and Other Subjects from Greek into Arabic, and Their Patrons

Ǧūrǧis was the first of those who began the work of translating medical and other works from Greek into Arabic. He undertook this task at the invitation of the caliph al-Manṣūr, who treated hin with the utmost generosity.221 […]
Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq knew four languages—Arabic, Syriac, Greek, and Persian—including rare words as well as common vocabulary. His works are superb examples of the translator’s art.222
Isḥāq ibn Ḥunayn was conversant with all the languages that his father knew, and was comparable to him as a translator. His style was mellifluous and his diction fluent. However, Ḥunayn has more works to his credit, both original compositions and translations, than Isḥāq.223 […]
Ḥubayš al-Aʿsam, the son of a sister of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, and his pupil. An admirable translator, worthy to be ranked with Ḥunayn and Isḥāq.224 […]
ʿĪsā ibn Yaḥyā ibn Ibrāhīm was another pupil of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq. An excellent translator: Ḥunayn praised him and held his translation work in high regard. ʿĪsā’s translations are closely modelled on those of Ḥunayn. He also produced original compositions.225
Qusṭā ibn Lūqā al-Baʿlabakkī was a translator experienced in languages and accomplished in the philosophical and other sciences.226 […]
Ayyūb, known as al-Abraš [‘the Speckled’], was an unproductive and mediocre translator, until late in life, when he produced a number of translations worthy of Ḥunayn.227
Māsarǧīs was a translator from Syriac into Arabic, and renowned for his knowledge of the art of medicine. He is the author of works entitled On the Effectiveness of Foods, their Beneficial and Harmful Effects and On the Effectiveness of Drugs, their Beneficial and Harmful Effects.228
ʿĪsā ibn Māsarǧīs followed in his father’s footsteps. He is the author of On Colours and On Scents and Flavours.229
Šahdā [or Sahdā] al-Karḫī, a native of Karḫ [a district of Baghdad], was much like the aforementioned as a translator.230
Ibn Šahdā [or Sahdā] al-Karḫī: as a translator, he produced work similar to that of his father. The translations he produced later in life, however, are superior to those of his father, although still undistinguished. He translated from Syriac into Arabic. Among other things, he translated Hippocrates’s work On Embryos.231
Al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ ibn Maṭar translated for the caliph al-Maʾmūn.232 Among other works, he produced a translation of the book of Euclid [i.e., the Elements], which was subsequently revised and corrected by Ṯābit ibn Qurrah al-Ḥarrānī.233
Ibn Nāʿimah—that is, ʿAbd al-Masīḥ ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Ḥimṣī al-Nāʿimī—was a generally undistinguished translator, although he produced some respectable work on occasion.234
Zarūyā ibn Mānaḥūh al-Naʿimī al-Ḥimṣī produced facile translations, which, however, did not measure up to those of his predecessors.235
Hilāl ibn Abī Hilāl al-Ḥimṣī: his translations are sound, but are lacking in literary style and elegance.236
Fiṯyūn [Pethion] the translator: I have found his translations barbarously ungrammatical; his grasp of the Arabic language was most imperfect.237
Abū Naṣr ibn Nārī ibn Ayyūb produced few translations, and those he did produce are considered less reliable than those of other translators.238
Basīl al-Muṭrān was a prolific and passably good translator.239
Iṣṭifan ibn Basīl was not far short of the standard of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq himself as far as his ability as a translator goes; however, Ḥunayn’s style is smoother and more graceful.240
Mūsā ibn Ḫālid the Translator:241 I have found many works translated by this scholar, including Galen’s Sixteen Books242 and other works, but in terms of skill he fell far short of the standard of Ḥunayn.
Usṭāṯ was a mediocre translator.243
Ḫayrūn ibn Rābiṭah was not renowned for the quality of his translations.244
Theodore the Syncellus: I am familiar with his translations of various philosophical works. They are quite acceptable in terms of quality.245
Sergius of Rēšʿaynā was a native of the city of Raʾs al-ʿAyn. He translated many works, but was undistinguished as a translator. Some of his works were revised by Ḥunayn, and those are excellent, whereas those works that Ḥunayn did not revise are of indifferent quality.246
Ayyūb al-Ruhāwī247 is not the Ayyūb al-Abraš248 who was mentioned earlier. This Ayyūb was an excellent translator with a good knowledge of languages, although his Syriac was better than his Arabic.
Yūsuf the translator: Abū Yaʿqūb Yūsuf ibn ʿĪsā, known as ‘the doctor’ and ‘the translator’, and also dubbed ‘the sleepless’,249 was a pupil of ʿĪsā ibn Ṣaharbuḫt.250 Yūsuf was a native of Ḫūzistān, and suffered from a speech impediment. His translations are unimpressive.
Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ṣalt was a mediocre translator. His work is similar to that of Sergius of Rēšʿaynā.251
Ṯābit the Translator was also mediocre, albeit better than Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ṣalt. He was not a prolific translator. Galen’s On Juices is among the works he translated.252
Abū Yūsuf the Secretary also was an undistinguished translator. He translated a number of works of Hippocrates.253
Yūḥannā ibn Buḫtīšūʿ translated numerous works into Syriac, but is not known to have done any translation into Arabic.254
Al-Biṭrīq lived in the time of al-Manṣūr. The caliph ordered him to undertake the task of translating a number of ancient works. He did so, translating numerous books, but as a translator he is not up to the standard of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq. I have seen Arabic versions of many of the medical works of Hippocrates and Galen that are by al-Biṭrīq.255
Yaḥyā ibn al-Biṭrīq belonged to the circle of al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl. He did not know much of either Arabic or ancient Greek, as he was a Byzantine Roman who was fluent in the contemporary vernacular form of Greek and knew how to write it in its characteristic cursive script instead of the discrete letters of ancient Greek writing.256
Tūmā al-Ruhāwī [Thomas of Edessa]: whenever Ḥunayn had a great deal of translation work in hand and was pressed for time, he would ask Tūmā al-Ruhāwī to do some of the translation, subsequently revising what he had done.257
Manṣūr ibn Bānās was approximately as good a translator as Thomas of Edessa. His Syriac was stronger than his Arabic.258
ʿAbdīšūʿ ibn Bahrīz, the metropolitan of Mosul.259 He was a friend of Ǧibrāʾīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ260 and one of his translators.
Abū ʿUṯmān Saʿīd ibn Yaʿqūb al-Dimašqī was a translator of the first order who served ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā exclusively.261
Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Baks [or Bakkuš] was a renowned physician who translated many works into the Arabic language. His translations, too, are highly esteemed.262
Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Baks [or Bakkuš] was also a well-known physician, and a reliable translator as well.263
The patrons of these translators, other than caliphs, are listed below:264
Šabrīšūʿ ibn Quṭrub was from Ǧondēšāpūr and was always generous to translators, constantly bestowing presents upon them; he sought to attract them and obtain books from them by paying them as much as he could manage. It was Syriac translations that he prized, rather than Arabic ones. He was of Ḫūzistānī origin.265
Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Munaǧǧim [‘the Astrologer’] was one of the sons of Mūsā ibn Šākir, who were noted arithmeticians and celebrated for their skill, learning, and writings on the mathematical sciences.266 This one, Muḥammad, was a most generous patron to Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, who translated numerous medical works for him.
ʿAlī ibn Yaḥyā, known as Ibn al-Munaǧǧim, was a secretary and companion of the caliph al-Maʾmūn, who held him in high regard. He was interested in medicine and commissioned the translation of numerous works on that subject.267
Tādurā al-usquf [Theodore the Bishop] was a bishop in al-Karḫ in Baghdad. He was an avid book-collector and accordingly sought to win the hearts of translators. In this way he acquired many books. A number of Christian physicians composed important works for him, which they published under his patronage.268
Muḥammad ibn Mūsā ibn ʿAbd al-Malik: a number of medical books were translated for him. He himself was a man of considerable learning and prepared summaries of various books, retaining their valuable parts and discarding those that were of no interest.269
ʿĪsā ibn Yūnus, the Secretary and Accountant, was a distinguished scholar of Iraq. He was a keen collector of ancient books and had a deep interest in Greek learning.270
ʿAlī, known as al-Fayyūmī, so dubbed because of his tenure as governor of the Fayyum. He was generous to translators, who grew fat on his bounty.271
Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, known as Ibn al-Mudabbir, the Secretary: an unfailing source of ample money and benefits for translators.272
Ibrāhīm ibn Muḥammad ibn Mūsā, the Secretary: he took great interest in the translation of Greek works into the Arabic language. He was extremely generous toward men of learning and scholarship, including translators in particular.273
ʿAbd Allāh ibn Isḥāq: he also was deeply interested in having works translated and collecting them.274
Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Malik (ibn) al-Zayyāt: he spent nearly 2,000 dinars a month on translators, scholars, and copyists. Many books were translated under his patronage,275 including Greek works, and a number of distinguished physicians translations for him, including Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh,276 Ǧibrāʾīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ,277 Buḥtīšūʿ ibn Ǧibrāʾīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ,278 Dāʾūd ibn Sarābiyūn,279 Salmawayh ibn Bunān,280 Elīšaʿ,281 Isrāʾīl ibn Zakariyāʾ ibn al-Ṭayfūrī,282 and Ḥubayš ibn al-Ḥasan.283

II.3. Ibn al-Nadīm, The Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist), I, 242.7–11 (ed. Flügel); tr. Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 47, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Although the Greek–Arabic translation movement is traditionally associated with the ʿAbbāsid caliphate, there are indications that there were already isolated efforts to translate individual Greek and Syriac philosophical and scientific works under their predecessors, the Umayyad dynasty. One example, the early eighth-century Arabic translation of the medical Handbook of Ahrun, was discussed above.284 Also credited with sponsoring translations, particularly of alchemical writings, and with authoring original works on the subject, is the son of the Umayyad caliph Yazīd I (r. 60/680–64/683), Ḫālid ibn Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiyah.285 While the association between Ḫālid ibn Yazīd and alchemy or translations may not stand up to historical scrutiny,286 the requirements of a multi-lingual state made the translation of political, administrative, and commercial documents a daily necessity.287

Another report: Ḫālid ibn Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiyah used to be called the sage of the Marwānids [i.e., the Umayyads]. He was a distinguished man who had great interest in and love for the sciences. He was interested in alchemy. By his command, a group of Greek philosophers who resided in the capital of Egypt and mastered the Arabic language well were brought to him. He commanded them to translate books about alchemy from Greek and Coptic into Arabic. This was the first translation from a foreign language in Islam.288

II.4. al-Masʿūdī, The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems (Murūǧ al-ḏahab wa-maʿādin al-ǧawhar), V, 211.16–23, par. 3446 (ed. Pellat); tr. Gutas, Greek Thought, 30–31, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Al-Masʿūdī, the author of the Book of Admonition and Revision quoted above (I.1), finished his main work, a world history entitled The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems (Murūǧ al-ḏahab wa-maʿādin al-ǧawhar), in 332/943, revising it in 336/947 and again in 345/956. In the following sample, al-Masʿūdī credits the second ʿAbbāsid caliph, al-Manṣūr, as the first caliphal patron of translations. This marks the beginning of the systematic and state-sponsored translation efforts that have come to be known as the translation movement.289

(Al-Manṣūr) was the first caliph to favour astrologers and to act on the basis of astrological prognostications. He had in his retinue the astrologer Nawbaḫt the Zoroastrian, who converted to Islam upon (al-Manṣūr’s) instigation and who is the progenitor of this family of the Nawbaḫts.290 Also in his retinue were the astrologer Ibrāhīm al-Fazārī, the author of an ode to the stars and other astrological and astronomical works,291 and the astrologer ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā the Astrolabist.292

He was the first caliph to have books translated from foreign languages into Arabic, among them Kalīlah wa-Dimnah293 and Sindhind.294 There were also translated for him books by Aristotle on logic and other subjects, the Almagest by Ptolemy,295 the Arithmetic (by Nicomachus of Gerasa),296 the book by Euclid (on geometry),297 and other ancient books from classical Greek, Byzantine Greek, Pahlavi [al-fahlawīyah, Middle Persian], Neopersian [al-fārisīyah], and Syriac. These (translated books) were published among the people, who examined them and devoted themselves to knowing them.298

II.5. Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī,299 The Classes of Nations (Ṭabaqāt al-umam), 48.10–17, 48.20–49.2 (ed. Cheikho); tr. Gutas, Greek Thought, 94, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

In his only surviving work, The Classes of Nations (Ṭabaqāt al-umam), the Andalusian Muslim author Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī sketches a rudimentary history of the progress of the philosophical sciences from people to people and from India to Muslim Spain. The present text describes the role of the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Maʾmūn, traditionally credited as a crucial supporter of the sciences and of translations from Greek and other languages into Arabic, in amplifying the efforts of his predecessor al-Manṣūr.

Then the caliphate devolved upon the seventh ʿAbbāsid caliph, ʿAbd Allāh al-Maʾmūn, the son of Hārūn al-Rašīd, the son of al-Mahdī, the son of al-Manṣūr, who completed what his forefather al-Manṣūr had started. He applied himself to acquiring knowledge in the right places and mined them at their sources, thanks to his high-mindedness and the capacity of his excellent spirit.

He approached the Byzantine kings, gave them great gifts, and asked them to grant him the philosophical books they had. They sent him the books they had by Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, Euclid, Ptolemy, and other philosophers. He appealed to the most skilled translators and commissioned them to produce the most precise translations, and they translated for him as well as they could. He then encouraged people to read them and motivated them to teach them.

The intellectual marketplace flourished during his reign and wisdom ruled during his age. […] He did the same with all other scholars, jurists, ḥadīṯ compilers, theologians, linguists, historians, literary scholars, and genealogists. People from all fields of practice and learning brought many branches of philosophy to perfection during his reign, established for their successors the medical curriculum, and laid the foundation of education. As a result, the ʿAbbāsid state almost rivalled the Byzantine empire in its heyday and period of greatest unity.

II.6. Ibn al-Nadīm, The Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist), I, 271.9–14 (ed. Flügel); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.300

In addition to caliphs and administrators, scholars and other private individuals were instrumental in sustaining the Greek–Arabic translation movement, even after state support dried up. Most famous among them were Mūsā ibn Šākir, an astronomer of obscure origin who already belonged to the inner circle of the caliph al-Maʾmūn before his accession in 198/813, and his three sons Muḥammad, Aḥmad, and al-Ḥasan, all of them renowned scientists in their own right.301

The Banū Mūsā: Muḥammad, Aḥmad, and al-Ḥasan were the sons of Mūsā ibn Šākir. […] These people belonged to those who distinguished themselves in the study of the ancient sciences, made them the object of their desire and themselves their followers. They dispatched people to the Byzantine territory who sent (the ancient sciences) [i.e., scholarly books] to them, attracted translators from all lands and places with generous payments, and uncovered wonders of learning. The sciences with which they were the most concerned were geometry, mechanics, dynamics, and music, and they were the least (concerned) with astronomy.302

II.7. Ibn Ǧulǧul, The Classes of the Physicians and Sages (Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ wa-l-ḥukamāʾ), 68.2–69.11 (ed. Fuʾād Sayyid); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.303

In an age rich in accomplished translators, Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq304 stood out both because of his linguistic abilities in at least three languages (Greek, Syriac, and Arabic), and his astounding productivity: over the course of his career as a physician and translator, which spanned at least half of the third/ninth century, he almost single-handedly translated the corpus of medical and philosophical writings of the physician and philosopher Galen into Syriac and Arabic.305 The present text, a short biography from Ibn Ǧulǧul’s Classes of Physicians, gives a brief if not always reliable overview of his career and accomplishments, emphasizing his relationship to the ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Mutawakkil.

(Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq was) a disciple of Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh,306 an expert in the Arabic language and very proficient in Greek, excellent in both languages to such a degree that he was able to detect rhetorical infelicities in both languages.307 He went from Baghdad to Persia while the grammarian Ḫalīl ibn Aḥmad,308 may God have mercy upon him, was there. Ḥunayn became his student until he excelled in the Arabic language. He brought the Book of (the letter) ʿAyn to Baghdad.309

He was then appointed as a translator and entrusted with (translating). The person appointing him was (the ʿAbbāsid caliph) al-Mutawakkil, and he assigned to him experienced scribes who were experts in translation—they translated and Ḥunayn revised what they had translated—such as Iṣṭifan ibn Basīl,310 Ḥubayš,311 Mūsā ibn Abī Ḫālid the translator,312 and Yaḥyā ibn Hārūn.313

Ḥunayn served (the caliph) al-Mutawakkil as a physician and remained in his favour during his reign. He always wore the sash (worn by Christians). He learned Greek in Alexandria and was an excellent translator. He was the one who clarified the meanings of Hippocrates’s and Galen’s works, explained them in the best possible way, and clarified those that were obscure and explained their problems. He wrote useful, masterly, and erudite books. He attended (in particular) to the works of Galen and followed the model of the Alexandrians by composing (his books) in the form of questions and answers, which he did very well.

II.8. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ), II/1, 465.2–467.14 (ed. Savage-Smith); tr. Savage-Smith et al. III/1, 492–495, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

The following episode throws some light on the relationship between Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq and his teacher, the physician and translator Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh.314 Rudely dismissed from Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh’s lecture circle because he had annoyed his teacher with his constant questions, Ḥunayn left Baghdad and returned some two years later, far surpassing his former teacher’s abilities, after reportedly having studied Greek in Alexandria or somewhere in the Byzantine realm.315

Yūsuf ibn Ibrāhīm316 said: Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq was diligent and keenly interested in learning the art of medicine, but his initial experience in that connection was unfortunate. Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh gave courses in the subject that were attended by educated persons of every kind. I used to see Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, the translator, reading, under Yūḥannā’s guidance, On Sects, the title of which in both Greek and Syriac is ‘harāsīs’ [Peri haireseōn].317 At that time, Ḥunayn was constantly asking questions, much to Yūḥannā’s annoyance. Another factor that did not endear him to his teacher was the fact that Ḥunayn came of a family of money-changers in al-Ḥīrah, for the people of Ǧondēšāpūr, and in particular its physicians, looked down on the people of al-Ḥīrah and did not encourage tradesmen’s sons to enter their profession. It so happened one day that Ḥunayn asked Yūḥannā a question about a passage that he had read, which he was having some trouble understanding. Yūḥannā lost his temper. ‘The people of al-Ḥīrah are not fit to learn the art of medicine!’ he said. ‘You would do better to go to so-and-so, who is a relative of yours, and borrow fifty dirhams from him. For one dirham you can buy some little baskets; for three more, you can buy some orpiment. Spend the rest on copper coins of Kufa and al-Qādisīyah, coat them with orpiment, put them into the baskets, and then sit by the roadside crying “Fine coins for alms and gratuities!” You will make a better living selling such coins than you ever will by practising this profession. Leave my house!’ So Ḥunayn departed from home in tears, humiliated and downcast. We saw no more of him for two years. […]

When (Isḥāq ibn al-Ḫaṣī318 [a friend of the narrator]) fell ill, I went to visit him. There at his home, what should I see but a man with such a head of hair that it partially covered his face, so that I could not tell who he was. He was walking up and down, reciting some Greek poetry by Homer, the greatest of all the Greek poets, and the sound of his voice put me in mind of Ḥunayn, whom I had not seen for two years and more. ‘That’s Ḥunayn!’ I said to Isḥāq ibn al-Ḫaṣī. He said no it wasn’t, but did not sound as though he meant it. I addressed the hirsute man tentatively: ‘Ḥunayn?’, and he acknowleged that it was indeed he. ‘The son of that whore Risālah,’319 he went on, ‘said that no ʿAbādī320 was capable of learning the art of medicine. May I renounce the Christian religion if I undertake the study of medicine before I have achieved a more comprehensive mastery of the Greek language than anyone else in this age! No one knows about this apart from my brother here, and if it had occurred to me that you might realize who I was, I should have kept out of your way. But now that my disguise no longer deceives you, I must ask you to keep my identity to yourself.’

After that, it was a good three years, perhaps closer to four, before I saw him again. I had gone to call on Ǧibrīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ,321 who had just come down from al-Maʾmūn’s camp shortly before the caliph’s death,322 and there in his house was none other than Ḥunayn. He had been translating parts of one of Galen’s works on anatomy: a Roman editor had taken the work in question and divided it up into sections, and Ḥunayn had translated a number of these sections for Ǧibrīl. Ǧibrīl was addressing him with the utmost respect and said to him ‘Rabban Ḥunayn’; ‘Rabban’ means ‘teacher’. Seeing my astonishment at this spectacle, Ǧibrīl said to me: ‘You need not consider that I am showing this young fellow undue respect. I tell you, if God preserves him, he will outshine not only Sergius but other translators as well.’ I should explain here that the Sergius to whom Ǧibrīl was alluding was Sergius of Rēšʿaynā,323 who was the first to translate a number of Greek scientific works into the Syriac language. I remained at Ǧibrīl’s house for quite a long time after Ḥunayn had left, but when I did leave, I found him outside the front door, where he had been waiting for me to appear. After greeting me, he said: ‘I once asked you not to divulge what I had been up to, but now I should like you to make the matter known, including what you have just heard Abū ʿĪsā say about me.’ ‘I shall be making Yūḥannā feel like a fool when I tell him how I heard Abū ʿĪsā praise you to the skies,’ I said. ‘To make him feel even more of a fool, show him this,’ said Ḥunayn, taking from his sleeve a copy of the translation he had done for Ǧibrīl, ‘without telling him that it was I who translated it, and then, once you see that he thinks it really excellent, tell him.’ I hastened to show the manuscript to Yūḥannā that very day, without so much as going home first.

Having read those selections, which covered that part of the work that the Greeks know as the ‘factors’,324 he expressed the utmost astonishment. ‘Is it possible for someone in our present age to be inspired by Christ, do you think?’ he said. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘neither in our present age nor in any other. Christ has never inspired anyone; it is he himself who was inspired.’ ‘Spare me the sermon,’ said Yūḥannā, ‘I am sure this could have been produced only with the help of the Holy Ghost.’ ‘As a matter of fact,’ I said, ‘it is the work of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, whom you ordered out of your house and advised to sell doctored copper coins.’ ‘Impossible!’ he gasped. At length, however, he realized that I must be speaking the truth, and he begged me to use my good offices to effect a reconciliation between himself and Ḥunayn. I was able to bring this about, and from then on Yūḥannā treated Ḥunayn with the utmost respect and generosity, showering him with benefits. I observed this to be the case without interruption until I left Iraq in the year 225/840.

II.9. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ), II/1, 472.2–16 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.); tr. Savage-Smith et al., III/1, 501–502, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Besides some information about Ḥunayn’s sons, who took up similar careers more or less successfully, the following passage remarks further on Ḥunayn’s accomplishments as a translator. His translations were stylistically superior to those of his predecessors and other contemporaries and enjoyed a correspondingly higher success with their audience.

I say: Ḥunayn had two sons, Dāwūd and Isḥāq. Both of them studied the art of medicine, and their father composed manuals of instruction for them, designed to teach them its basic principles. He also translated many of the works of Galen for their benefit. I have not found any evidence that Dāwūd was noteworthy as a physician, nor does he seem to have left any written works as monuments to his skill and proficiency, apart from a single Compendium. Isḥāq, in contrast, became well known as a distinguished practitioner of the art of medicine and the author of numerous works on the subject. He also translated many Greek works into Arabic, but as a translator he dedicated himself primarily to the works of the philosophers. such as Aristotle and others.325

Their father, Ḥunayn, on the other hand, was interested mainly in translating medical works, and more particularly the works of Galen. We may say that, in general, all Galen’s works that we have at our disposal are translated versions by Ḥunayn, or else corrected by him in cases where the Arabic version is the work of another translator. Works that were translated by some other translator, such as Usṭāṯ,326 Ibn Bakkuš,327 al-Biṭrīq,328 Abū Saʿīd ʿUṯmān al-Dimašqī,329 or others, are less highly prized and are deemed less desirable than those that were translated or revised by Ḥunayn. This is owing to the fluency and attractiveness of his style, and also because he possessed extensive knowledge of the opinions expressed by Galen in his works and and an effortless mastery of all this material.

I have seen some of Galen’s Sixteen Books330 in translation from Greek into Syriac by Sergius (of Rēšʿaynā) the physician,331 and from Syriac into Arabic by Mūsā ibn Ḫālid the Translator.332 When I read them and studied their phraseology closely, it was quite apparent to me that they were a far cry indeed from the Sixteen Books in the translations of Ḥunayn. There is no comparison; the one version is stammering, the other, eloquence, the one is the earth, the other, the Pleiades.

II.10. Ibn al-Nadīm, The Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist), I, 289.15–18 (ed. Flügel); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.333

As Ibn al-Nadīm’s note here shows, Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s success meant that his contemporaries almost automatically assumed Arabic Galen translations to be by Ḥunayn, even though Ḥunayn himself translated mostly from Greek into Syriac. Many Arabic Galen translations were in fact authored by his collaborators and then corrected and revised by Ḥunayn.

Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq said: Ḥunayn had the good fortune that what Ḥubayš ibn al-Ḥasan al-Aʿsam,334 ʿĪsā ibn Yaḥyā,335 and others translated into Arabic was attributed to Ḥunayn. When we consult the catalogue of Galen’s books that Ḥunayn produced for ʿAlī ibn Yaḥyā [i.e., his Epistle],336 we learn that most of what Ḥunayn translated was into Syriac, but he may have corrected and examined the Arabic of other people’s translations.337

II.11. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ), II/1, 478.4–479.7 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.); tr. Savage-Smith et al. III/1, 509–510.

Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s success as a translator and a physician in the service of the ʿAbbāsid caliphs came at a price: the enmity of his competitors. The following text forms part of what purports to be an autobiographical text by Ḥunayn, quoted at length in Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s Best Accounts.338 The narrator, supposedly Ḥunayn, rails against his detractors, who have attempted to blacken his reputation and even inflict physical harm. Besides the colourful detail, it is interesting because of the defence Ḥunayn mounts of his achievements as a translator, which rest on two key accomplishments: his full mastery of the target language, including the niceties of terminology and style, and the accessibility of his translations to all readers, regardless of their medical and philosophical background knowledge.

How should I not be hated, with the numbers of those who envy me so great and slanderous remarks about me at gatherings of important persons so prevalent? Large sums of money were expended on attempts on my life; those who reviled me grew strong, and those who honoured me were despised. I, for my part, was guilty of no offence; I had not wronged any of them in any way. But they saw that I had outdone them, that I knew more than they did and had achieved greater things than they, that I had translated great scientific works for them from languages that they were far from mastering, or of which they knew nothing at all. They perceived that my translations were admirable models of elegance and clarity, free of errors or defects, containing no bias in favour of any religion, and nothing ambiguous or ungrammatical. In saying this, I rely on the authority of acknowledged Arab experts on eloquence, scholars who are learned in all aspects of grammar and are familiar with uncommon expressions. None of them has ever detected an error of usage, an incorrect vowelling, or an injudicious shade of meaning, but only the most mellifluous and readily intelligible style. My works can be understood, admired and appreciated even by someone who is not himself a physician, knows nothing of philosophical method, and does not profess the Christian religion or any other religion; indeed, just such lay individuals regurlarly pay me substantial sums for works that I have translated, preferring them to the versions produced by others. I may also say unhesitatingly that other educated men of various religious persuasions have appreciated me, have shown me respect, have gratefully accepted what I gave them, and have repaid me handsomely.

But these Christian physicians, whom I have known all their lives and who learned their art under my tutelage, most of them, are the very ones who want to see my blood shed, even though I am indispensable to them. ‘Who is Ḥunayn?’ they have been known to say. ‘He only translates these works because he is paid to translate them, after the fashion of any artisan; we fail to see any difference. A blacksmith may make a sword for a mounted warrior for a dinar or so, earning perhaps a hundred dinars a month by his trade. Now, Ḥunayn is a servant who makes the instrument that we use, but he does not use it himself, just as the blacksmith may be skilful at the craft of making a sword, but not at using one. A blacksmith will never be a mounted warrior. Similarly, a translator has nothing to say about the art of medicine. Ḥunayn has no skill in matters of illness and has never diagnosed a disease. He wants to be like us, that’s all, and to be known as Ḥunayn the Physician rather than Ḥunayn the Translator. He would do better to stick to his craft and desist from talking about our art; that would be advantageous for him, as he would get his hands on more of our money and we should show him more respect if he would stop taking pulses, examining phials of urine, and prescribing medicines.’ They say, ‘Whenever Ḥunayn calls on a patient, regardless of whether the people of the house belong to the cream of society or the common folk, they snigger when he comes in, and they laugh behind his back when he leaves.’339

III. Methods: Procedures and Approaches

III.1. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, Epistle (al-Risālah), 2.12–3.2/Ar., preface (ed. Bergsträßer); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, the master translator and physician, has already figured in several previous texts (e.g., II.7–11). In the following passage, taken from the introduction to his Epistle, Ḥunayn explains what kind of information he collected in the Epistle and also sets out some important criteria for assessing the quality of a translation.340

To that341 you [i.e., Ibn al-Munaǧǧim] replied that even if this were the case, we and all other people interested in (this field) who read (Galen’s) books in Syriac and Arabic need to know which of these books were translated into Syriac and Arabic and which ones were not; which ones I have been charged with translating and which ones other people; which ones have been translated before me by others, which I then retranslated or revised; who the translators were who translated each book for which someone else was responsible, the level of competence of each of these individual translators, and for whom the (works) were translated; who the people were for whom I translated each of the books I was charged with translating, and at which age I translated them—for these are two things one needs to know, since (the quality of) a translation depends on the competence of the book’s translator and the person for whom it was translated; for which of the books that have not yet been translated a Greek manuscript is available and for which there is none or a partial one—for this is something one needs to know to take care of the translation of texts that are available and to seek out those that are not.342

III.2. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, Epistle (al-Risālah), 47.12–48.6/Ar., no. 115 (ed. Bergsträßer);343 tr. Gutas, Greek Thought, 179, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

In the following text, Ḥunayn recounts the complex translation history of Galen’s major logical work, On Demonstration (De demonstratione), of which only fragments survive in the original Greek. It illustrates the importance Ḥunayn and his contemporaries attached to this text and the lengths to which they would go in search of manuscripts.

None of our contemporaries has up to this point come across a complete Greek manuscript of (Galen’s) On Demonstration, despite the fact that Ǧibrīl344 spared no effort looking for it, just as I myself mounted a thorough search for it. While searching for it, I travelled in northern Mesopotamia, all of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt until I reached Alexandria. I only found about half of it in Damascus, but the books were not consecutive and incomplete.345

Ǧibrīl had also found some books that did not completely overlap with the ones I found. Ayyūb346 translated for him what he found. I for one did not like (the idea of) translating any of them unless I had read them all, because (the work) was incomplete and defective, and because the soul desires and longs to see this work in its entirety.

I then translated what I had found into Syriac, namely a small part of Book 2, most of Book 3, about half of Book 4 from its beginning, and Book 9, except a bit at the beginning, which is lost. Of the remaining books I found (all) until the end of the work, except Book 15; there is (also) a gap at the end (of the work).

III.3. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, Epistle (al-Risālah), 4.19–5.9/Ar., no. 3 (ed. Bergsträßer); tr. Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 20, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Galen’s important introductory treatise on the medical schools of his day and their doctrinal differences, On Sects, was also translated several times into Syriac before Ḥunayn produced an Arabic version for his sponsor Muḥammad ibn Mūsā, an eminent mathematical and mechanical scholar and court official.347 In this passage, Ḥunayn describes the elaborate process of manuscript collection and collation he employed to establish a reliable textual basis for his translations.

(Galen’s On Sects) was translated into Syriac before me by a certain Ibn Šahdā from al-Karḫ,348 who was a weak translator. When I was a young man of twenty or a little older, I translated it for a physician from Ǧondēšāpūr named Šīrīšūʿ ibn Quṭrub,349 from a very faulty Greek manuscript. Later, when I was about forty, my pupil Ḥubayš350 asked me to correct the translation. Meanwhile, a number of Greek manuscripts had accumulated in my possession. I collated these manuscripts and thereby produced a single correct copy. Next, I collated the Syriac text with it and corrected it. I am in the habit of doing this with everything I translate. A few years later, I translated the Syriac text into Arabic for Abū Ǧaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Mūsā.351

III.4. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, Epistle (al-Risālah), 17.18–18.17/Ar., no. 20 (ed. Bergsträßer); tr. Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 20–21, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Another of Ḥunayn’s sponsors, the Christian translator and physician Salmawayh ibn Bunān,352 requested a revised Syriac version of Galen’s comprehensive therapeutic work, The Method of Healing (Methodus medendi), of which an older Syriac translation by the distinguished philosopher, physician, and translator Sergius of Rēšʿaynā353 existed. The attempt to save some money by revising the existing translation ended in failure, and Ḥunayn translated it from scratch. In addition to the colourful details of this translation’s destruction, the report again illustrates the efforts Ḥunayn made to establish a reliable Greek source text for a work that was already hard to find in his day.

Salmawayh urged me to correct the second part (of Sergius’s Syriac translation of Galen’s Method of Healing) for him, in the hope that this would be easier and better than translating it (anew). So he sat down opposite me with part of the seventh book, he with the Syriac text and I with the Greek. He read the Syriac text aloud and whenever I noticed something that conflicted with the Greek text, I told him about it and he then set out to correct it, until this became too much for him and he realized that an entirely new translation would be simpler and better stylistically, as well as producing a tidier result. So he asked me to translate these books, and I translated them all. (This happened when) we were in al-Raqqah354 at the time of al-Maʾmūn’s campaigns. He handed (the translation) to Zakariyāʾ ibn ʿAbd Allāh, known as al-Ṭayfūrī,355 when he was about to return to Baghdad, in order to have it copied there. However, fire broke out on board the ship on which Zakariyāʾ was travelling, the book was burned, and no copy of the translation survives.

A few years later I then translated the work from the beginning for Buḫtīšūʿ ibn Ǧibrīl.356 For the last eight books, a number of Greek manuscripts were at my disposal. I produced a (single) correct copy from them and translated it with the utmost accuracy and in the best possible style. For the first six books only a single manuscript, and a very faulty one at that, was at my disposal. I was therefore unable to restore these books in the manner required. Later, I came across another manuscript and collated the text with it and corrected it as much as possible. It would be better if I could collate a third manuscript with it, if only I were fortunate enough to find one. For Greek manuscripts of this work are rare, since it does not belong to the works that were read in the school of Alexandria.357

From the Syriac manuscripts of my translation Ḥubayš ibn al-Ḥasan translated this work (into Arabic) for Muḥammad ibn Mūsā. Then, after he had translated the work, he asked me to review the last eight books for him and fix the problems I found. I agreed to do this for him and did so successfully.358

III.5. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ), II/1, 488.8–16 (ed. Savage-Smith); tr. Savage-Smith et al., III/1, 519–520, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

A brief comment in Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s autobiographical narrative reported by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, parts of which have been quoted above (II.11), gives an insight into the commercial value of translations. Since he was paid for his work by weight, Ḥunayn apparently used unusually thick paper and wrote in a large and widely spaced hand, not just to ensure their longevity, but also to maximize his profits. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s note also reveals that Ḥunayn relied on the services of a secretary to produce clean copies of translated texts for his patrons.

(Ḥunayn reports how he tried to placate his enemies after he had been exonerated.) Moreover, I would translate books for them, as meticulously as always, without charging them anything, so anxious was I to show my good will toward them, whereas formerly it had been usual, whenever I translated a work for one of them for me to be paid a purse of silver dirhams equal in weight to the translated work.

I [i.e., Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah] say: I have found large numbers of these works, and have purchased a good many of them. They are written in muwallad Kūfic script in the handwriting of al-Azraq, Ḥunayn’s secretary. The letters are written very large, with broad strokes, and the lines are widely spaced. The paper is very heavy, being three or four times as thick as the paper manufactured nowadays, while the sheets are trimmed to about a third the size of a sheet of Baghdādī paper. Ḥunayn had his work published in this fashion to make them bulkier and increase their weight, inasmuch as he was paid weight for weight in silver dirhams. It is thus clear that he used that particular kind of paper deliberately. Small wonder, then, that the manuscripts have lasted so well for so long.

III.6. Ibn al-Nadīm, The Catalogue (Kitāb al-fihrist), I, 22.7–15 (ed. Flügel); tr. Rosenthal, ‘R. Walzer’, review, 253, with additions, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Ibn al-Nadīm quotes the following passage from the preface of a work on scriptures and revealed books. The author of the preface, an otherwise unknown translator who seems to have worked during the reign of al-Maʾmūn, claims to have translated not just the book itself, but also Jewish, Christian, and Ṣābian scriptures. Irrespective of its authenticity and historicity, the text makes some interesting observations about translation methods, especially of religious texts. The author is at pains to emphasize that he translated as literally as possible without violating the norms of Arabic grammar and syntax.359

Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sallām said: I translated into Arabic the beginning of this book, along with the scriptures and the Torah and the Gospels and the books of the prophets and the disciples, from Hebrew and Greek and Ṣābian,360 the languages of the people of each book, letter by letter, and did not seek to embellish or adorn any expression because I was afraid that I might change the text. I did not add to, or take away from what I found in the book I translated. There are, however, in some of these texts things that come first in that language but are not properly expressed when translated into Arabic unless they are postponed, while others come later but are not proper unless they are put first to straighten out the (text) in Arabic.361 For example, when someone says āb mē-ār [i.e., ‘bring water’ in Persian], which translates into Arabic as māʾ hāti, I postponed māʾ and brought forward hāti [i.e., to produce the idiomatic hāti l-māʾ], and I did the same with other languages where appropriate when translating into Arabic. Heaven forbid that I add to or take away from (the text) in this book anything except in the manner I have mentioned and explained.362

III.7. Al-Ṣafadī, The Pouring Rain (Kitāb al-ġayṯ al-musaǧǧam), 46.12–25 (Cairo ed. 1305 AH); tr. Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 17–18, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Arabic authors were well aware of the distinction between, and the respective advantages and disadvantages of, literal or word-for-word translation on the one hand and free or sense-for-sense translation on the other.363 The following late source is quoted not so much because it offers any genuine insight into the methods of the earlier and later translators it purports to discuss—their translation methods were in fact much more complex than the author claims364—but because it offered a conveniently simple and clear-cut narrative of the development of translation methods and became authoritative ‘by virtue of sheer frequency of repetition’.365

The translators used two methods of translation. One of them is that of Yūḥannā ibn al-Biṭrīq,366 Ibn al-Nāʿimah al-Ḥimṣī,367 and others, namely (the translator) studies each Greek word and its meaning, chooses an Arabic word of corresponding meaning and uses it. Then he turns to the next word and proceeds in the same manner, until in the end he has gone over the entire text he wishes to translate. This method is bad for two reasons. First, it is impossible to find Arabic expressions corresponding to all Greek words, and through this method many Greek words therefore remain untranslated. Second, certain (syntactical) constructions and predications in the one language do not always necessarily correspond to similar ones in the other; besides, the use of metaphors, which are frequent in every language, causes additional mistakes.368

The second method is that of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Ǧawharī,369 and others. Here the translator considers a (whole) sentence, ascertains its (full) meaning, and then expresses it in the other language with a sentence identical in meaning, irrespective of whether the (individual) words match or differ. This method is superior, and hence there is no need to improve the works of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, except those in the mathematical sciences, which he had not mastered, in contrast to those on medicine, logic, natural science, and metaphysics, whose Arabic translations require no corrections at all. On the other hand, Euclid has been improved by Ṯābit ibn Qurrah al-Ḥarrānī,370 as have the Almagest371 and the intermediate works.372 373

IV. Problems: Difficulties and Criticisms

IV.1. Al-Bīrūnī, India (Taḥqīq mā li-l-Hind), I, 76.6–10 (ed. Sachau); tr. Sachau, India, I, 159, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

The Persian polymath Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (d. c. 440/1048) left his imprint on almost all branches of knowledge, among them historiography, pharmacology, physics, philosophy, and theology. In addition, he stands out as almost the only Muslim scholar who developed a deep and lasting interest in Indian culture. His contacts with Indian scholars enabled him to gather extensive information about Indian religion, culture, philosophy, and science. He compiled this material in a comprehensive account entitled The Verification of What is Said about India (Taḥqīq mā li-l-Hind min maqūlah), which he completed in 420/1030.374

In the following section, al-Bīrūnī identifies a potential major problem of translation: wilful manipulation by the translator. The context is as follows: when he produced his Middle Persian version of the Kalīlah wa-Dimnah, the translator Burzōe added an autobiographical introduction; Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ then added his own preface to his Arabic translation, which was based on Burzōe’s Persian text, and also inserted a section about the uncertainty of religion into Burzōe’s introduction, which al-Bīrūnī here dismisses as Manichaean propaganda.

They [i.e., the Indians] have numerous other branches of knowledge and have a nearly boundless literature, but I could not attain full knowledge of it. I wish I could translate the book Pañcatantra, known among us as the book of Kalīlah and Dimnah.375 It went back and forth repeatedly between Persian and Hindi, then Arabic and Persian in translations of people who are not free from the suspicion of having altered the text. For instance, ʿAbd Allāh ibn al-Muqaffaʿ376 has added the chapter about Burzōe with the intention of raising doubts in the minds of people of feeble religious belief, and of suborning them to spread the doctrines of the Manichaeans. If he is suspected of adding something, he is hardly free from (suspicion) as a translator.

IV.2. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Treatise on Clarity and Clarification (Kitāb al-bayān wa-l-tabyīn), III, 29.9–12 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Al-Ǧāḥiẓ is considered one of the fathers of Arabic prose. The Treatise on Clarity and Clarification (Kitāb al-bayān wa-l-tabyīn), one of his major works, is a long reflection on speech, nature, and the ways in which God communicates with humans. Translation is a topic that al-Ǧāḥiẓ frequently addresses in this and several other works, usually to cast doubt on the possibility of faithfully conveying meaning from language to language without alteration.377

In a passage about the relative merits of the literary style and eloquence of Persians and Arabs, al-Ǧāḥiẓ attempts to discredit the writings cited as models of eloquence by the apologists of Persian style by insinuating that they could just as easily have been manufactured by their translators into Arabic, among them again Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ.

We are not in a position to know whether the treatises circulating among the people are (actually) Persian, whether they are authentic and not manufactured, ancient and not recent, since people such as Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ,378 Sahl ibn Hārūn,379 Abū ʿUbayd Allāh,380 ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd,381 and Ġaylān (al-Dimašqī)382 could have produced such treatises and made up such stories.383

IV.3. Ibn al-Qifṭī, History of Learned Men (Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ), 29.17–30.19 (ed. Lippert); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.384

Two frequent polemical themes in narrations about the provenance of translated books were that previous Christian rulers, aware of the dangers that such books might pose to religious beliefs, had locked away ancient Greek texts, and that handing such texts over to the Muslim rulers who demanded them would fatally undermine the Islamic state (see also IV.4 below). Ibn al-Qifṭī combines these two motifs in the following story.

Someone other than Ibn Isḥāq385 said: (the caliph) al-Maʾmūn wrote a letter to the Byzantine king (in which he) was arrogant, insulted the heathen religion, and demanded from him philosophical books from the works of Aristotle. The Roman king tried to find them, but could not find any trace of them in his territory. This distressed him and he said: ‘The Muslim ruler demands from me the knowledge of my ancient Greek ancestors, but I do not find (any of) it. What excuse do I have, and what value will this Byzantine nation still have in the eyes of the Muslims?’ He started to ask around and investigate.

One of the monks assigned to a monastery far away from Constantinople visited him and said: ‘I have the knowledge you seek.’ (The emperor) replied: ‘Tell me (about it)!’ He said that there was some building in such-and-such a location, the contents of which each king keeps locked when he is made king. He said that people say that it contains the treasures of the previous kings. Each king keeps it locked up so that people do not say that he needs what is in it because of his bad administration and opens it. The monk told him: ‘This is not the case. All there is in this place is a temple in which the ancient Greeks worshipped (their gods) before the religion of the Messiah was established. When it was established in these areas in the days of Constantine, the son of Helen, philosophical books were collected from the people, stored in that building, and its door was closed, and the kings have kept it closed, as you have heard.’386

The king assembled the administrators of his state, informed them about this, and asked their advice on whether to open the building. They advised him to do so, and he asked the monk about how to retrieve (the books) if they are in Muslim territory, and whether (these books) are dangerous in this world or sinful in the next. The monk replied: ‘Retrieve them, you will be rewarded for it! When they are introduced to a religious community, they cannot but rock its foundations.’

(The emperor) went to the building, opened it, and found everything as the monk had said. In it they found many books and without knowing or inspecting them, they took from among them five (camel) loads and sent them to al-Maʾmūn. Al-Maʾmūn handed them over to the translators, who rendered them from Greek into Arabic. Later on, people found out after al-Maʾmūn’s reign that he had requisitioned them and did everything to acquire a large number of them.

When the books were sent to al-Maʾmūn, some of them arrived intact and some in fragmentary form. The fragmentary books are to this day still fragmentary, and no one has found an intact version.

IV.4. Al-Maqdisī, Brief Argument for Those Who Lost the Way (Muḫtaṣar al-ḥuǧǧah ʿalā tārik al-maḥaǧǧah), 661.6–663.13 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Abū l-Fatḥ Naṣr ibn Ibrāhīm al-Maqdisī (d. 490/1096–1097) was a Šāfiʿite scholar and transmitter of ḥadīṯ from Nablus who made his career in Jerusalem and Damascus. His Brief Argument for Those Who Lost the Way (Muḫtaṣar al-ḥuǧǧah ʿalā tārik al-maḥaǧǧah) is a work on religious doctrine and ethics that, among other things, warns against the dangers that logic and philosophy in general pose for Islam.387

The following polemical story again emphasizes the corrosive potential of ancient Greek learning. According to al-Maqdisī, the Byzantine authorities were all too happy to get rid of these dangerous writings and help the vizier Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid ibn Barmak388 use them to corrupt Islam.389

One of the innovations (the ʿAbbāsid caliphs) introduced was to disseminate Greek books in Islamic lands, which were translated into Arabic and circulated among the Muslims. The reason why these books were brought from Byzantium into Islamic lands was Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid ibn Barmak. For the Greek books were in Byzantine territory, and the king of Byzantium had feared that if his people were to study them, they would abandon the Christian religion and return to that of the Greeks; their authority would splinter and their community would break apart. Hence, he collected the books in a place and erected a building above them to conceal them with stone and plaster so that they were inaccessible.

After Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid, who was a heretic [zindīq],390 assumed a position of power in the ʿAbbāsid state, he heard about the books inside the building in Byzantium. He then ingratiated himself with the Byzantine king of his time with gifts without asking for anything in return. When he kept doing this, the Byzantine king assembled the nobles and told them: ‘This Arab official has sent me numerous presents without demanding anything from me, but I do not think that he would do so without seeking something, and I fear that it is something that would be difficult and troublesome for me.’ When Yaḥyā’s emissary arrived (again), (the king) said to him: ‘Tell your master to let me know if there is anything he wants from me.’ After the emissary informed Yaḥyā (about it), he sent him back with this message: ‘My request is that the books underneath that building be sent to me. I will copy from them what I need and then we will return them.’

When the Byzantine (king) read this message, he was overjoyed. He assembled the nobles, bishops, and monks and said to them: ‘I have already told you that this Arab official must have a request. He has finally revealed it to me, and it is one that is very easy for me (to fulfil). I have already formed my opinion about it. Hear me out, and if you agree I will proceed with it, and if you disagree we will discuss it until we reach an agreement.’ They asked: ‘What is (his request)?’ He replied: ‘He wants the Greek books to copy from them what he wants and return them.’ They asked: ‘And what is your opinion?’ He replied: ‘I know that our ancestors would not have erected a building above these books unless they had feared that if these books were to fall into the hands of the Christians and they read them, it would cause their faith to perish and their community to be destroyed. I think that we should send him (the books) and ask him not to return them, so that they [i.e., the Muslims] suffer the tribulations these books will bring them, while we rid ourselves from the evil (of these books), for I am not certain that one of my successors will not venture to disseminate them to the people, as a result of which they will fall into the state we fear.’ They said: ‘An excellent proposal you have made, O King, carry it out!’

He then sent the books to Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid, and when they arrived, he gathered all the heretics [zindīq] and philosophers (to read) them. One of those books that was published was The Definition of Logic.391

IV.5a. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, The Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān), I, 74.14–75.4 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 18.

The Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān), a phenomenal literary and scholarly tour de force to explain God’s creation, is a compilation of zoological knowledge, lore, and anecdotes in which al-Ǧāḥiẓ often relied on Ibn al-Biṭrīq’s translation of two of Aristotle’s zoological works.392

The following passages represent al-Ǧāḥiẓ’s most sustained discussion of translation and its problems.393 Without clearly indicating where his own sympathies lay, the author presented arguments both in opposition to and in defence of translation through the figures of an unnamed ‘Apologist of Books’ and an equally unnamed ‘Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs.’394

Starting off with his thoughts on the history of Arabic poetry and the poetic accomplishments of the Arabs, al-Ǧāḥiẓ first reports the claim of the Apologist of Books that translating poetry from one language into another is impossible (IV.5a–b), which he considered false.395 In opposition to this, the Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs then launches into a wide-ranging discussion of translation in general and lists numerous arguments to show that faithful translation requires abilities and knowledge that no one possesses, least of all the translators he dealt with, who are a far cry from the original authors they translate, such as Aristotle and Plato (IV.5c).396 These problems, he then points out, are bad enough when it comes to translations of scholarly texts, but they can lead to catastrophic results in the case of translations of religious texts: they can endanger the very salvation of believers who put their trust in them (IV.5d).397 The Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs then returns to the problem of translators’ qualifications and their correct understanding of texts that have been transmitted from language to language (IV.5e). In addition, translations suffer from errors introduced by copyists that distort a text’s meaning (IV.5f). He finally summed up these and other reasons why readers should not trust translations, including intentional alterations and ‘lies’ introduced by translators:398 books turn out to be as untranslatable as poetry.

(The Apologist of Books said:) Only the Arabs and people who speak Arabic have a correct understanding of poetry. Poems do not lend themselves to translation and ought not to be translated. When they are translated, their poetic structure is rent; the meter is no longer correct; poetic beauty disappears; and nothing worthy of admiration remains in the poems. It is different with prose. Accordingly, original prose is more beautiful and appropriate than prose renderings of metric poetry.

IV.5b. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān), I, 75.10–16 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

(The Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs said:) The books of the Indians have been translated, as have the wisdom of the Greeks and Persian belles-lettres. Some (of these works) have been improved (in this process), some have not been diminished. But if the wisdom of the Arabs were to be translated, the marvel that is poetic meter would render it worthless. In addition, if people were to translate it, they would not find anything there that non-Arabs have not already said in the books they have composed about their way of living, their intellectual exploits, and wise sayings. These books have been carried from nation to nation, from century to century, from language to language, until they reached us, their final heirs and readers. It is true that books register the legacy of the past more comprehensively than buildings or poetry.

IV.5c. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān), I, 75.18–77.4 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

(The Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs) then said: Some of those who come to the aid of, guard, and vindicate poetry claim that the translator never conveys what a sage says with the particular nuances of its meanings, the true essence of its teachings, the intricacies of its succinct expressions, and the undertones of its terms. (They argue) that he cannot render it accurately and faithfully, and that the translator is subject to the same constraints as an intermediary or a go-between. How could he convey it and deliver and impart its true meaning with precision and veracity, unless he has full knowledge of its semantic nuances, of how to use the inflections of its words, and how to interpret its (rhetorical) devices in the same way as the author and composer of the book? By God Almighty, how could Ibn al-Biṭrīq,399 Ibn Nāʿimah,400 Ibn Qurrah,401 Ibn Bahrīz,402 Theophilus (ibn Tūmā),403 Ibn Wahīlā404 or Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ405 be considered equal to Aristotle? And how (could) Ḫālid406 compare with Plato?

The clarity with which the translator translates has to match his knowledge of the discipline he translates. He needs to be the most skilful person in both the original and the target languages and master both to the same extent. If he happens to be a fluent speaker of both languages, we know that he will surely do injury to both of them because each of the two languages pulls on, borrows from, and interferes with the other. How could someone’s command of two languages at the same time be the same as that of someone who only speaks one? He only possesses one (verbal) faculty, and if he speaks one language only he will lose the faculty of (speaking) both of them; and the same happens if he speaks more than two languages. This same reasoning applies to translation in all languages.

The more difficult and arcane a field of knowledge and the fewer the scholars who cultivate it, the more arduous (the task of) the translator, and the likelier that he will commit mistakes. You will never find a translator who is the equal of any of these scholars.

IV.5d. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān), I, 77.6–11, 78.2–5 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

(The Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs said:) What we have said so far applies to (the translation of) books on geometry, astrology, arithmetic, and music. What if these were religious books speaking about God Almighty—how do we (distinguish between) that which is permissible and that which is not when you want to speak about the true meanings of the natures [i.e., of created beings], an issue bound up with God’s oneness; or (when you want to) speak about the forms the (divine) message (can take) and its implications for these forms, an issue that belongs to (distinguishing between) what is permissible with regard to God and what is not, and what is permissible with regard to the people and what is not?

What we have just mentioned is but a small number (of examples) from a wide range (of problems). When the translator does not know these (issues), his interpretation of religious discourse will be erroneous, and errors in religious matters are more harmful than errors in mathematics, medicine, philosophy, chemistry [or alchemy], or other things on which humans spend their lives.

IV.5e. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān), I, 78.6–14 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

(The Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs said:) If the author of a translation does not attain perfection in this, his errors will be proportional to his shortcomings. And what about the translator’s knowledge of the difference between a conclusive proof and one that only seems so, what about his knowledge of the celestial signs? The invisible boundaries? The correction of linguistic oversights and scribal errors? The ravings that sometimes fill the prologues (of books)? We know that prologues are mandatory, and they should be properly organized and resemble the extended string (of a necklace). Ibn al-Biṭrīq407 and Ibn Qurrah408 do not understand this when it is described, arranged, organized, and explained in detail (for them) by a fellow scholar or a skilful medical expert. What chances then does a book have (of being understood) that has been passed from language to language and from pen to pen, and has been written in the scripts of different religious communities and nations?

IV.5f. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān), I, 78.18–79.3 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

(The Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs said:) And finally, there are the defects introduced by different kinds of copyists. For their original is not free from errors, and then someone makes a copy of it and adds his own errors to those already in his copy—he will not decrease them in any case—, and then he will (simply) blame the person who has left this mass of errors, since he is incapable of correcting problems he has not identified in his copy (in the first place).

IV.5g. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān), VI, 280.3–11 (ed. Hārūn); tr. Endress, ‘The Circle of al-Kindī’, 43–44.

(The Apologist of the Poetry of the Arabs said:) You have maintained that you found mention of the shooting-stars in the books of the ancient philosophers, as in Aristotle’s Meteorology,409 where he holds forth ‘On the shooting-stars’, ‘On the comets’, as also ‘On the rainbow’ and the ‘halo’ surrounding the moon at night. Indeed, if you seek support from sources like this, you should be made aware of the lies of the translators and their inventions, also of the corrupt text of the book with regard to (the uncertainties of) the interpretation, to the ignorance of the translators as to how to render words of one language in another, and to the miserable copies of the book, old as it is and not to be relied upon because of the many alterations and corruptions. This is known and ascertained!410

IV.6. Al-Bīrūnī, On Pharmacology (Kitāb al-ṣaydanah), 14.8–15.2/Ar. (ed. Meyerhof); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Al-Bīrūnī’s411 On Pharmacology (Kitāb al-ṣaydanah) is one of the most important contributions to this discipline in medieval Islam. It consists of an alphabetically ordered list of 1,116 entries on medical substances, including Greek and Latin terms. In the introduction to the treatise, the author comments on two problems that beset translation: the difficulty of translating specific terms in different languages, and the problematic nature of the Arabic script.

I was fortunate that since my childhood, I have been extremely keen on acquiring knowledge in accordance with my age and situation. As evidence, let it suffice that (once) a Byzantine man came to our area and I used to visit him with seeds, pips, fruit, plants, and other (such things), ask him for their names in his language, and write them down. But the Arabic script has a major defect: the similarity of the shapes of letters that have the same form and the necessity of marking them with diacritical dots and vowel signs, which, if left out, would obscure their meaning. When this combines with carelessness in comparing (a copy of a text with its original) and negligence in correcting (a text) by collation—this practice is common among our people—then it does not make a difference (any more) whether a book is available or not, whether one knows what is in it or not.

If it were not for this defect, it would suffice (just) to transcribe the Greek names that occur in the books of Dioscurides, Galen, Paul (of Aegina), and Oribasius that have been translated into Arabic.412 But we cannot rely on them and are not safe from alterations in their readings. There is another problem with the translations: leaving in Greek (the names of) some of the drugs that are available in our area and for which there are Arabic terms, which then need to be explained once the books has been translated; for example (the Greek equivalents of) mountain celery, wild carrots, barberry, goatsbeard, and such. They did not translate them into Arabic, just as they did not translate the titles of the books on logic, like, for example the Isagoge, Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics.413 (This) only doubled the hate and coldness (towards the ancient sciences) on the part of its opponents.414

IV.7. Al-Fārābī, The Book of Particles (Kitāb al-ḥurūf), 112.1–9, 112.20, 114.13–115.1 (ed. Mahdi); tr. Mahdi, The Book of Particles, adapted by Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

Al-Fārābī415 was one of the most important philosophers of the classical period of Islam. His writings covered not only philosophical topics but also other scientific disciplines, such as mathematics and physics. Al-Fārābī’s family hailed from either Ḫurāsān or Transoxania, his ethnic background was either Persian or Turkish, and he studied with Syriac-speaking scholars in Baghdad. He was thus acutely aware of the subtleties of language and translation, as the following excerpt from his Book of Particles (Kitāb al-ḥurūf) shows. In it, he discusses one of the most vexing problems that translators of philosophical, especially metaphysical and logical texts, into Arabic had to deal with: the absence of the copula in Arabic.416

From its origin, Arabic did not have a word that fulfils the role of hast417 in Persian, estin418 in Greek, or the counterparts of these two in the other languages. This (word), however, is indispensable in the theoretical sciences and in the art of logic. So when philosophy was transmitted to the Arabs, philosophers who spoke Arabic and expressed the concepts that are part of philosophy and logic felt a need for it. But as they did not find in the Arabic language from its origin a term with which to translate passages in which estin is used in Greek and hast in Persian and make it take on the role of these words in the passages in which other nations use them, some thought that they should use the (pronoun) huwa in place of the Persian hast and the Greek estin […], whereas others thought that in place of those (foreign) words they should use the word al-mawǧūd [i.e., ‘that which exists’] instead of (the word) al-huwa [i.e., ‘that which is’]. […]

Because this word [i.e., al-mawǧūd] became extremely misleading due to its current use in Arabic and its particular (morphological) pattern, some people thought that they should avoid using it and used in its place our word huwa [i.e., ‘he (is)’] and in place of al-wuǧūd [i.e., ‘existence’] al-huwīyah [i.e., ‘being’].419 But since in Arabic the word huwa is neither a noun nor a verb and we therefore cannot derive a verbal noun at all from it; since one needs a term with which to signify the meanings one seeks to signify in the theoretical sciences; and since one needs to derive from it such (concrete and abstract nouns) as ‘man’ and ‘manliness’, and ‘human’ and ‘humanness’, some people thought that they should avoid (these words) and use al-mawǧūd instead of huwa, and al-wuǧūd instead of al-huwīyah. I for one think that a person is free to use whichever of these two (pairs of terms) he wishes.420

IV.8a. Al-Tawḥīdī, The Book of Enjoyment and Conviviality (Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah), I, 111.11–112.6 (ed. Amīn and al-Zayn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.421

Abū Ḥayyān al-Tawḥīdī (d. 414/1023), a state official and scholar who held various offices until he became the vizier of the Buyid sultan Ṣamṣām al-Dawlah in 373/983, was renowned for his refined style and breadth of knowledge. Both are on display in his adab works, in which he addressed a wide variety of topics.422

In The Book of Enjoyment and Conviviality (Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah), al-Tawḥīdī revived the genre of philosophical seances to discuss major philosophical issues, including the relationship between language and logic, and the role of translation. The following samples are taken from the eighth soirée, which starts out with a critique of philosophers who exploit their knowledge for commercial ends. The translator and philosopher Abū Bišr Mattā ibn Yūnus423 in particular comes in for biting criticism.424 He also happens to be one of the participants in the famous debate on the primacy of logic or the grammar of individual languages, which al-Tawḥīdī then reported on the authority of the philologist ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā al-Rummānī (d. 384/994).425

The key question of the debate was whether logic, which purports to be universal, or the grammatical rules of a particular language, in this case Arabic, are sufficient to determine whether a given proposition is true or false. Abū Bišr’s interlocutor, the philologist and grammarian Abū Saʿīd al-Sīrāfī (d. 368/979),426 challenged the universality of (Greek) logic. Abū Bišr maintained that individual languages have different means to establish the truth value of statements. In the following excerpts, al-Sīrāfī first argues that the process of translation inevitably distorts the meaning it seeks to convey (IV.8a). He then attacks Abū Bišr’s naive belief that his command of Arabic does not need to be perfect to translate his sources into Arabic (IV.8b), lectures him on the complexities of language and the various ways different languages express meanings, and questions his ability to explain Aristotle in a language he does not fully understand (IV.8c). He then ridicules logicians for their universalist pretensions and the obscurity of their translations, which are the result of their imperfect grasp of the languages involved (IV.8d).

(Abū Saʿīd al-Sīrāfī) said: So you are not inviting us (to study) the science of logic, but to learn the Greek language while you do not know Greek (yourself)? How can you invite us (to study) a language of which you are not in perfect command, (a language) that has been wiped out a long time ago, whose speakers have passed away, and when the people who used to converse in it and communicate their intentions by its inflexions have perished? Although you translate from Syriac, what do you say about concepts that have changed by being translated from Greek to another language, Syriac, and then from that language to another, Arabic?

(Abū Bišr) Mattā said: Even though the Greeks have passed away with their language, translation has preserved the intentions (of the authors), conveyed the concepts and faithfully transmitted the true meanings.

Abū Saʿīd (al-Sīrāfī) said: If we admit that translation is truthful and not misleading, puts straight and does not distort, is neither obscure nor garbled, has not omitted or added (anything), has not put first or put last (anything),427 has neither misrepresented the sense of the general and the particular, nor of the most particular and the most general—even though this does not happen and is not part of the natural characteristics of languages nor the scope of concepts—then you seem to say that the only competent authority is the minds of the Greeks, the only demonstration that which they have produced, and the only truth that which they have brought to light.428

IV.8b. Al-Tawḥīdī, Book of Enjoyment and Conviviality (Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah), I, 115.7–15 (ed. Amīn and al-Zayn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.429

(Abū Saʿīd al-Sīrāfī said:) But if you inevitably need a little of the (Arabic) language for translation, you also inevitably need a great deal of it to carry out the translation, to inspire confidence and to protect against the attendant imperfection.

(Abū Bišr) Mattā said: It is sufficient for me to know of your (Arabic) language the noun, the verb, and the particle: this is enough to enable me (to convey) the ideas that the Greeks have elaborated for me.

(Abū Saʿīd al-Sīrāfī) said: You are wrong, because you need (to know) the characteristics and (the way) to assemble this noun, verb, and particle according to the order inherent in the natural disposition of (Arabic) speakers. You also need (to know) in addition to this the vocalization of these nouns, verbs, and particles: making mistakes and altering the vowels is the same as (introducing) errors and flaws in consonants.430431

IV.8c. Al-Tawḥīdī, Book of Enjoyment and Conviviality (Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah), I, 115.15–116.9 (ed. Amīn and al-Zayn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.432

(Abū Saʿīd al-Sīrāfī said:) This is a subject to which you, your friends, and your party do not pay attention. But there is a secret that you fail to grasp and which has not been revealed to your intellect: you know that no one language matches another one in all respects with the definitions of its characteristics in nouns, verbs, and particles; in its composition; putting (elements) first and putting (them) last;433 its use of metaphor and actual meaning; its duplication and simplification (of nouns); extending and narrowing (of meanings); its verse, prose, and rhymed prose; its meter and the deviation (from it); and other things it would take too long to mention. I do not think that anyone who possesses a smidgen of intelligence or a tiny share of fair judgment objects to this assessment or doubts its correctness. How then can you trust anything that was translated for you, given this description? Rather, you are more in need of learning Arabic than the Greek concepts, given that the concepts are not Greek or Indian, as the languages are Persian, Arabic, or Turkish. On top of this, you claim that the concepts are accessible through intelligence, study, and reflection, and then nothing remains but the rules of language. Why then do you disparage Arabic while explaining the books of Aristotle in it, even though you are ignorant of its essence?434

IV.8d. Al-Tawḥīdī, Book of Enjoyment and Conviviality (Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah), I, 121.6–10 (ed. Amīn and al-Zayn); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.435

(Abū Saʿīd al-Sīrāfī said:) All these (rules of language) are regulated by the succession (of scholars), the transmission (of knowledge), audition (of authoritative texts), accepted usage, and analogy that proceeds without distortion from a known starting point. The logicians were seized by pride, because they assumed that one can learn and investigate the concepts only with their method, their insight, and their effort. They translated a language in which they are weak and imperfect [i.e., Greek] into another in which they are (also) weak and imperfect [i.e., Arabic]. They raised this (sort of) translation to an art and claimed that the grammarians have to do (only) with words, not with concepts.436

IV.9. Al-Bīrūnī, On Pharmacology (Kitāb al-ṣaydanah), 13.2–18/Ar. (ed. Meyerhof); tr. Vagelpohl and Sánchez.

In this second passage from the introduction to al-Bīrūnī’s On Pharmacology,437 the author praises Arabic as a scientific language that has been enriched by the texts translated into it and compares it with his native language, the Ḫwārizmian dialect of Persian, and to Persian, both of which he considers inferior.

Sciences from (all) corners of the world have been translated into Arabic, and thus became adorned and delighted (people’s) hearts. The charms of their linguistic expression (in Arabic) now flow through (people’s) arteries and veins (as if it was their blood), even though each people delights in the language to which they are accustomed and habituated and which they use in their dealings with their intimates and peers. I judge this from my own self, which has been moulded by a language that, had a science been immortalized in it, would have seemed as preposterous as a camel on a roof gutter or a giraffe in a herd of pure-bred horses. I then switched to Arabic and Persian, and I am a stranger and amateur in each, but prefer to be mocked in Arabic than praised in Persian. People who carefully read a scientific book that has been translated into Persian will know that what I say is true: how its beauty has disappeared, its meaning obscured, its intent darkened, and its usefulness vanished, since this language is only good for tales about Persian kings and for evening parties.438

V. Why Do We Translate?

V.1. Al-Kindī, On First Philosophy (Fī l-falsafah al-ūlā), I, 103.1–7 (ed. Abū Rīdah); tr. Ivry, First Philosophy, 58.

Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī, known as the ‘philosopher of the Arabs’, was a companion of the caliphs al-Maʾmūn and al-Muʿtaṣim and one of the most important thinkers of the third/ninth century.439 He wrote on a wide range of topics, especially philosophy, and played a central role in the translation movement.440

The first section of On First Philosophy (Fī l-falsafah al-ūlā), one of his most famous philosophical works, which he dedicated to the caliph al-Muʿtaṣim, is essentially a paean to Greek philosophy and an exhortation to profit from this rich tradition. It includes the following appeal, which encapsulates the spirit of openness with which he approached Greek philosophy and science.441

Aristotle, the most distinguished of the Greeks in philosophy, said: ‘We ought to be grateful to the fathers of those who have contributed any truth, since they were the cause of their existence, let alone (being grateful) to the sons; for the fathers are their cause, while they are the cause of our attaining the truth.’442 How beautiful is that which he said in this matter!

We ought not to be ashamed of appreciating the truth and of acquiring it wherever it comes from, even if it comes from races distant and nations different from us. For the seeker of truth, nothing takes precedence over the truth, and there is no disparagement of the truth, nor belittling either of him who speaks it or of him who conveys it. (The status of) no one is diminished by the truth; rather does the truth ennoble all.

Part Three: Original Texts

I. History: Origins, Genres, Works

I.1. Al-Masʿūdī, Kitāb al-tanbīh, 282.12; 283.2–5 (ed. de Goeje).

‮كتب من حضر من الكتّاب […] وزيد بن ثابت الأنصاريّ ثمّ الخزرجيّ من بني غنم بن مالك ابن النجّار يكتب إلی الملوك ويجيب بحضرة النبيّ صلعم وكان يترجم للنبيّ صلعم بالفارسيّة والروميّة والقبطيّة والحبشيّة تعلّم ذلك بالمدينة من أهل هذه الألسن.‬‎

I.2. Ibn Ǧulǧul, Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ, 61.2–5 (ed. Fuʾād Sayyid).

‮ماسرجويه كان يهوديّ المذهب سريانيّاً وهو تولّى في الدولة المروانيّة تفسير كتاب أهرن بن أعين القسّ إلى العربيّة ووجده عمر بن عبد العزيز في خزائن الكتب فأمر بإخراجه ووضعه في مصلّاه فاستخار الله في إخراجه إلى المسلمين للانتفاع به فلمّا تمّ له في ذلك أربعين صباحاً أخرجه إلى الناس وبثّه في أيديهم.‬‎

I.3. al-Balāḏurī, Futūḥ al-buldān, 193.1–9 (ed. de Goeje).

‮نقل ديوان الروميّة‬‎

‮قالوا ولم يزل ديوان الشام بالروميّة حتّی ولي عبد الملك بن مروان فلمّا كانت سنة ‭٨١‬ أمر بنقله وذلك أنّ رجلاً من كتّاب الروم احتاج أن يكتب شيئاً فلم يجد ماء فبال في الدواة فبلغ ذلك عبد الملك فأدّبه وأمر سليمان بن سعد بنقل الديوان فسأله أن يعيّنه بخراج الأردنّ سنة ففعل ذلك وولّاه الأردنّ فلم تنقض السنة حتّی فرغ من نقله وأتی به عبد الملك فدعا بسرجون كاتبه فعرّض ذلك عليه فغمّه وخرج من عنده كئيباً فلقيه قوم من كتّاب الروم فقال اطلبوا المعيشة من غير هذه الصناعة فقد قطعها الله عنكم.‬‎

I.4. Al-Balāḏurī, Futūḥ al-buldān, 300.8–301.9 (ed. de Goeje).

‮نقل ديوان الفارسيّة‬‎

‮وحدّثني المدائنيّ عليّ بن محمّد بن أبي سيف عن أشياخه قالوا لم يزل ديوان خراج السواد وسائر العراق بالفارسيّة فلمّا ولي الحجّاج العراق استكتب زادان فرّوخ بن بيري وكان معه صالح بن عبد الرحمن مولی بني تميم يخطّ بين يديه بالعربيّة والفارسيّة وكان أبو صالح من سبيّ سجستان فوصل زادان فرّوخ صالحاً بالحجّاج وخفّ علی قلبه فقال له ذات يوم إنّك سببي إلی الأمير وأراه قد استخفّني ولا آمن أن يقدّمني عليك وأن تسقط فقال لا تظنّ ذلك هو أحوج إليّ منه إليك لأنّه لا يجد من يكفيه حسابه غيري فقال والله لو شئت أن أحوّل الحساب إلی العربيّة لحوّلته قال فحوّل منه شطراً حتّی أری ففعل فقال له تمارض فتمارض فبعث إليه الحجّاج طبيبه فلم ير به علّة وبلغ زادان فرّوخ ذلك فأمره أن يظهر.‬‎

‮ثمّ إنّ زادان فرّوخ قتل أيّام عبد الرحمن بن محمّد بن الأشعث الكنديّ وهو خارج من منزل كان فيه إلی منزله أو منزل غيره فاستكتب الحجّاج صالحاً مكانه فأعلمه الذي كان جری بينه وبين زادان فرّوخ في نقل الديوان فعزم الحجّاج علی أن يجعل الديوان بالعربيّة وقلّد ذلك صالحاً فقال له مردانشاه بن زادان فرّوخ كيف تصنع بدهويه وبيستويه قال أكتب عشر ونصف عشر قال فكيف تصنع بويد قال أكتبه أيضاً والويد النيّف والزيادة تزاد فقال قطع الله أصلك من الدنيا كما قطعت أصل الفارسيّة وبذلت له مائة ألف درهم علی أن يظهر العجز عن نقل الديوان ويمسك عن ذلك فأبی ونقله فكان عبد الحميد بن يحيی كاتب مروان ابن محمّد يقول للّٰه درّ صالح ما أعظم منّته علی الكتّاب.‬‎

‮وحدّثني عمر ابن شبّة قال حدّثني أبو عاصم النبيل قال أنبأ سهل بن أبي الصلت قال أجّل الحجّاج صالح بن عبد الرحمن أجلاً حتّی قلب الديوان.‬‎

I.5. Ibn Ǧulǧul, Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ, 65.2–5 (ed. Fuʾād Sayyid).

‮يوحنّا ابن ماسويه: مسيحيّ المذهب سريانيّ قلّده الرشيد ترجمة الكتب القديمة الطبّيّة ممّا وُجد بأنقرة وعمورية وبلاد الروم حين سباها المسلمون ووضعه أميناً على الترحمة ووضع له كتّاباً حذّاقاً يكتبون وخدم هارون والأمين والمأمون وبقي على ذلك إلى أيّام المتوكّل.‬‎

I.6. Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 265.20–24 (ed. Flügel).

‮الكلام على كتابه فى أصول الهندسة واسمه الأسطروشيا ومعناه أصول الهندسة: نقله الحجّاج بن يوسف بن مطر نقلين أحدهما يعرف بالهارونيّ وهو الأوّل ونقلاً ثانياً وهو المأمونيّ ويعرف بالمأمونيّ وعليه يعوّل.‬‎

‮ونقله إسحق بن حنين وأصلحه ثابت بن قرّة الحرّانيّ ونقل أبو عثمان الدمشقيّ منه مقالات رأيت منها العاشرة بالموصل في خزانة عليّ بن أحمد العمرانيّ وأحد غلمانه أبو الصقر القبيصيّ ويقرأ عليه المجسطيّ في زماننا.‬‎

I.7. Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 267.29–268.4 (ed. Flügel).

‮الكلام على كتاب المجسطيّ: هذا الكتاب ثلث عشرة مقالة وأوّل من عنى بتفسيره وإخراجه إلى العربيّة يحيى بن خالد بن برمك ففسّره له جماعة فلم يتقنوه ولم يرض ذلك فندب لتفسيره أبا حسّان وسلم صاحب بيت الحكمة فأتقناه واجتهدا في تصحيحه بعد أن أحضرا النقلة المجوّدين فاختبرا نقلهم وأخذا بأفصحه وأصحّه.‬‎

‮وقد قيل إنّ الحجّاج بن مطر نقله أيضاً فأمّا الذي عمله النيريزيّ وأصلح ثابت الكتاب كلّه بالنقل القديم ونقل إسحق هذا الكتاب وأصلحه ثابت نقلاً غير مرضى لأنّ إصلاحه الأوّل أجود.‬‎

I.8. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/2, 886.3–888.2 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.).

‮وكان من بعد صنجهل الهنديّ جماعة في بلاد الهند ولهم تصانيف معروفة في صناعة الطبّ وغيرها من العلوم مثل باكهر‭443‬ راحه‭444‬ صكه‭445‬ داهر أنكر زنكل‭446‬ جبهر‭447‬ أندي‭448‬ جاري‭449‬ كلّ هؤلاء أصحاب تصانيف وهم من حكماء الهند وأطبّائهم ولهم الأحكام الموضوعة في علم النجوم والهند تشتغل بمؤلّفات هؤلاء فيما بينهم ويقتدون بها ويتناقلونها وقد نقل كثير منها إلى اللغة العربيّة.‬‎

‮ووجدت الرازيّ قد نقل في كتابه الحاوي وفي غيره عن كتب جماعة من الهند مثل كتاب سيرك‭450‬ الهنديّ وهذا الكتاب فسّره عبد الله بن عليّ من الفارسيّ إلى العربيّ لأنّه نقل أوّلاً من الهنديّ إلى الفارسيّ وعن كتاب سسرد وفيه علامات الأدواء ومعرفة علاجها وأدويتها وهو عشر مقالات أمر يحيى بن خالد بتفسيره وكتاب ندان في علامات أربعمائة وأربعة أدواء ومعرفتها بغير علاج وكتاب سندهشار‭451‬ وتفسيره كتاب صفوة النجح وكتاب فيما اختلفت فيه الهند والروم في الحارّ والبارد وقوى الأدوية وتفصيل السنة وكتاب تفسير أسماء العقّار بأسماء عشرة وكتاب أستانكر‭452‬ الجامع وكتاب علاجات الحبالى للهند وكتاب مختصر في العقاقير للهند وكتاب نوفشل‭453‬ فيه مائة داء ومائة دواء وكتاب روسى الهنديّة في علاجات النساء وكتاب السكّر للهند وكتاب رأي‭454‬ الهنديّ في أجناس الحيّات وسمومها وكتاب التوهّم في الأمراض والعلل لأبي قبيل‭455‬ الهنديّ.‬‎

I.9. Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 243.3–14 (ed. Flügel).

‮ذكر السبب الذي من أجله كثرت كتب الفلسفة وغيرها من العلوم القديمة في هذه البلاد‬‎

‮أحد الأسباب في ذلك أنّ المأمون رأى في منامه كأنّ رجلًا أبيض اللون مشرباً حمرة واسع الجبهة مقرون الحاجب أجلح الرأس أشهل العينين حسن الشمائل جالس على سريره قال المأمون وكأنّي بين يديه قد ملئت له هيبة فقلت من أنت قال أنا أرسطاليس فسررت به وقلت أيّها الحكيم أسئلك قال سَلْ قلت ما الحسن قال ما حسن في العقل قلت ثمّ ماذا قال ما حسن في الشرع قلت ثمّ ماذا قال ما حسن عند الجمهور قلت ثمّ ماذا قال ثمّ لا ثمّ.‬‎

‮وفي رواية أخرى قلت زدني قال من نصحك في الذهب فليكن عندك كالذهب وعليك بالتوحيد.‬‎

‮فكان هذا المنام من أوكد الأسباب في إخراج الكتب فإنّ المأمون كان بينه وبين ملك الروم مراسلات وقد استظهر عليه المأمون فكتب إلى ملك الروم يسئله الإذن في إنفاذ ما من مختار من العلوم القديمة المخزونة المدّخرة ببلد الروم.‬‎

‮فأجاب إلى ذلك بعد امتناع فأخرج المأمون لذلك جماعة منهم الحجّاج بن مطر وابن البطريق وسلم صاحب بيت الحكمة وغيرهم فأخذوا ممّا وجدوا ما اختاروا فلمّا حملوه إليه أمرهم بنقله فنقل وقد قيل إنّ يوحنّا بن ماسويه ممّن نفذ إلى بلد الروم.‬‎

I.10. Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 61.4–13 (ed. Lippert).

‮ولمّا أخرجت الكتب من بلاد الروم إلی المأمون أخرج من هذا الكتاب الجزء الأوّل لا غير يشتمل علی سبع مقالات ولمّا ترجم الكتاب دلّت مقدّمته علی أنّه ثماني مقالات وأنّ المقالة الثامنة تشتمل علی معاني المقالات السبع وزيادة واشترط فيها شروطاً مفيدة وفوائد يرغب فيها ومن ذلك الزمان وإلی يومنا يبحث أهل هذا الشأن عن هذه المقالة فلا يطّلعون لها علی خبر ولا شكّ أنّها كانت من ذخائر الملوك لعزّة هذه العلوم عند ملوك يونان وكنت قد ذاكرت بعض من يعاني شيئاً من هذا العلم في زماننا أو يدّعيه بأمر هذه المقالة فقال لي قد وجدت وأخذ في وصفها فذكر ما لم يطابق كلام مؤلّفها في وصفها فعلمت أنّه يجهل الأصل والفرع فأضربت عنه وتركته بجهله.‬‎

I.11. Ibn Ǧulǧul, Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ, 67.6–11 (ed. Fuʾād Sayyid).

‮يوحنّا ابن البطريق الترجمان مولى المأمون أمير المؤمنين كان أميناً على الترجمة حسن التأدية للمعاني بكيء اللسان في العربيّة وترجم كثيراً من كتب الأوائل وهو ترجم كتاب أرسطاطاليس إلى الإسكندر المعروف بسرّ الأسرار وهو كتاب السياسة في تدبير الرئاسة.‬‎

‮ذكر يوحنّا أنّه مشى في طلبه وقصد الهياكل في البحث عنه حتّى وصل إلى هيكل عبد الشمس الذي كان بناه هرمس الأكبر لنفسه يمجّد الله تعالى فيه قال فظفرت فيه براهب متناسك ذي علم بارع وفهم ثاقب فتلطّفت به وأعملت الحيلة عليه حتّى أباح لي مصاحف الهيكل المودعة فيه فوجدت في جملتها المطلوب الذي أمرني أمير المؤمنين بطلبه مكتوباً بالذهب فرجعت إلى الحضرة المنصورة ظافراً بالمراد.‬‎

I.12. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/2, 928.4–930.9 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.).

‮وهو يقول في أوّل كتابه هذا إنّ كتاب ديسقوريدس ترجم بمدينة السلام في الدولة العبّاسيّة في أيّام جعفر المتوكّل وكان المترجم له إصطفن بن بسيل الترجمان من اللسان اليونانيّ إلى اللسان العربيّ وتصفّح ذلك حنين بن إسحاق المترجم فصحّح الترجمة وأجازها فما علم إصطفن من تلك الأسماء اليونانيّة في وقته له اسماً في اللسان العربيّ فسّره بالعربيّة وما لم يعلم له في اللسان العربيّ اسماً تركه في الكتاب على اسمه اليونانيّ اتّكالاً منه على أن يبعث الله تعالى بعده من يعرف ذلك ويفسّره باللسان العربيّ إذ التسمية لا تكون إلّا بالتواطئ من أهل كلّ بلد على أعيان الأدوية بما رأوا أن يسمّوا ذلك إمّا باشتقاق وإمّا بغير ذلك من تواطئهم على التسمية فاتّكل إصطفن على شخوص يأتون بعده ممّن قد عرف أعيان الأدوية التي لم يعرف هو لها اسماً في وقته فيسمّيها على قدر ما سمع في ذلك الوقت فيخرج إلى المعرفة.‬‎

‮قال ابن جلجل: وورد هذا الكتاب إلى الأندلس وهو على ترجمة إصطفن منه ما عرف له اسماً بالعربيّة ومنه ما لم يعرف له اسماً فانتفع الناس بالمعروف منه بالمشرق وبالأندلس إلى أيّام الناصر عبد الرحمن بن محمّد وهو يومئذ صاحب الأندلس فكاتبه أرمانيوس الملك مالك قسطنطينيّة أحسبُ في سنة سبع وثلاثين وثلثمائة وهاداه بهدايا لها قدر عظيم فكان في جملة هديّته كتاب دسقوريدس مصوّر الحشائش بالتصوير الروميّ العجيب وكان الكتاب مكتوباً بالإغريقيّ الذي هو اليونانيّ وبعث معه كتاب هروسيس صاحب القصص وهو تأريخ للروم عجيب فيه أخبار الدهور وقصص الملوك الأول وفوائد عظيمة.‬‎

‮وكتب أرمانيوس في كتابه إلى الناصر أنّ كتاب دسقوريدس لا تجتني فائدته إلّا برجل يحسن العبارة باللسان اليونانيّ ويعرف أشخاص تلك الأدوية فإن كان في بلدك من يحسن ذلك فزتَ أيّها الملك بفائدة الكتاب وأمّا كتاب هروسيس فعندك في بلدك من اللطينيّين من يقرأه باللسان اللطينيّ وإن كشفتهم عنه نقلوه لك من اللطينيّ إلى اللسان العربيّ.‬‎

‮قال ابن جلجل: ولم يكن يومئذ بقرطبة من نصارى الأندلس من يقرأ اللسان الإغريقيّ الذي هو اليونانيّ القديم فبقي كتاب ديسقوريدس في خزانة عبد الرحمن الناصر باللسان الإغريقيّ ولم يترجم إلى اللسان العربيّ وبقي الكتاب بالأندلس والذي بين أيدي الناس بترجمة إصطفن الواردة من مدينة السلام بغداد فلمّا جاوب الناصر أرمانيوس الملك سأله أن يبعث إليه برجل يتكلّم بالإغريقيّ واللطينيّ ليعلّم له عبيداً يكونون مترجمين فبعث أرمانيوس الملك الناصر براهب كان يسمّى نقولا فوصل إلى قرطبة سنة أربعين وثلثمائة.‬‎

‮وكان يومئذ بقرطبة من الأطبّاء قوم لهم بحث وتفتيش وحرص على استخراج ما جهل من أسماء عقاقير كتاب ديسقوريدس إلى العربيّة وكان أبحثهم وأحرصهم على ذلك من جهة التقرّب إلى الملك عبد الرحمن الناصر حسداي بن شبروط الإسرائيليّ وكان نقولا الراهب عنده أحظى الناس وأخصّهم به وفسّر من أسماء عقاقير كتاب ديسقوريدس ما كان مجهولاً وهو أوّل من عمل بقرطبة ترياق الفاروق على تصحيح الشجاريّة التي فيه وكان في ذلك الوقت من الأطبّاء الباحثين عن تصحيح أسماء عقاقير الكتاب وتعيين أشخاصه محمّد المعروف بالشجّار ورجل كان يعرف بالشبانسيّ وأبو عثمان الجزّار الملقّب باليابسة ومحمّد بن سعيد الطبيب وعبد الرحمن بن إسحاق بن هيثم وأبو عبد الله الصقلّيّ وكان يتكلّم باليونانيّة ويعرف أشخاص الأدوية.‬‎

‮قال ابن جلجل: وكان هؤلاء النفر كلّهم في زمان واحد مع نقولا الراهب أدركتُه وأدركتُ نقولا الراهب في أيّام المستنصر وصحبتُهم في أيّام المستنصر الحكم وفي صدر دولته مات نقولا الراهب فصحّ ببحث هؤلاء النفر الباحثين عن أسماء عقاقير كتاب ديسقوريدس تصحيح الوقوف على أشخاصها بمدينة قرطبة خاصّة بناحية الأندلس ما أزال الشكّ فيها عن القلوب وأوجب المعرفة بها بالوقوف على أشخاصها وتصحيح النطق بأسمائها بلا تصحيف إلّا القليل منها الذي لا بال به ولا خطر له وذلك يكون في مثل عشرة أدوية.‬‎

I.13. Ibn Suwār, annotation to the translation of Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations in Aristotle, Manṭiq Arisṭū, III, 1017.5–1018.13 (ed. Badawī), and Aristotle, Les Catégories, 198–199 (ed. Georr).

‮نسخت هذا النقل من نسخة بخطّ الشيخ أبي الخير الحسن ابن سوار رضي اللّٰه عنه وفي آخرها ما هذه حكايته:‬‎

‮نسخت هذا النقل من نسخة خيّل إليّ أنّها بخطّ أبي نصر الفارابيّ كان النصف الأوّل منها مصحّحاً جيّداً والنصف الثاني مسقاماً.‬‎

‮قال الشيخ أبو الخير الحسن بن سوار رضي الله عنه: لمّا كان الناقل يحتاج في تأدية المعنی إلی فهمه باللغة التي منها ينقل إلی أن يكون متصوّراً له كتصوّر قائله وإلی أن يكون عارفاً باستعمال اللغة التي منها ينقل والتي إليها ينقل وكان أثانس الراهب غير فهم بمعاني أرسطوطالس فيه داخل نقله الخلل لا محالة ولمّا كان من نقل هذا الكتاب من السريانيّة بنقل أثانس إلی العربيّة ممّن قد ذكر اسمه لم يقع إليهم تفسير له عوّلوا علی أفهامهم في إدراك معانيه فكلّ اجتهد في إصابته الحقّ وإدراك الغرض الذي إيّاه قصد الفيلسوف فغيّروا ما نقلوه من نقل أثانس إلی العربيّة فلأنّا أحببنا الوقوف علی ما وقع لكلّ واحد منهم كتبنا جميع النقول التي وقعت إلينا ليقع التأمّل لكلّ واحد منها ويستعان ببعضها علی بعض في إدراك المعنی.‬‎

‮وقد كان الفضل يحيی بن عديّ فسّر هذا الكتاب تفسيراً رأيت منه الكثير وقدّرته نحو من ثلثيه بالسريانيّة والعربيّة وأظنّ تمّمه ولم يوجد في كتبه بعد وفاته وتصرّفت بي الظنون في أمره فتارة أظنّ أنّه أبطله لأنّه لم يرتضيه وتارة أظنّ أنّه سرق وهذا أقوی في نفسي ونقل هذا الكتاب النقل المذكور قبل تفسيره إيّاه فلذلك لحق نقله اعتياص ما لأنّه لم يشارف المعنی وأتبع السريانيّ في النقل.‬‎

‮وقد وجد في وقتنا هذا تفسير الإسكندر الأفروديسيّ له باليونانيّة يعجز من أوّله كرّاسة ولم يخرج منه إلّا اليسير.‬‎

‮واتّصل بي أنّ أبا إسحق إبراهيم بن بكّوش نقل هذا الكتاب من السريانيّ إلی العربيّ وأنّه كان يجتمع مع يوحنّا القسّ اليونانيّ المهندس المعروف بابن فتيلة علی إصلاح مواضع منه من اليونانيّ ولم يقع إليّ.‬‎

‮وقيل إنّ أبا بشر رحّمه الله أصلح النقل الأوّل أو نقله نقلاً آخر ولم يقع إليّ.‬‎

‮وكتبت هذه الجملة ليعلم من يقع إليه هذا الكتاب صورة أمره والسبب في إثباتي جميع النقول علی السبيل المسطور.‬‎

II. People: Translators and Sponsors

II.1. Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 244.1–245.10 (ed. Flügel).

‮أسماء النقلة من اللغات إلى اللسان العربيّ‬‎
‮اصطفن القديم ونقل لخالد بن يزيد بن معوية  كتب الصنعة وغيرها.‬‎
‮البطريق وكان في أيّام المنصور وأمره بنقل أشياء من الكتب القديمة.‬‎
‮ابنه أبو زكريّاء يحيى بن البطريق وكان في جملة الحسن بن سهل.‬‎
‮الحجّاج بن مطر فسّر للمأمون وهو الذي نقل المجسطيّ وأقليدس.‬‎
‮ابن ناعمة واسمه عبد المسيح بن عبد الله الحمصيّ الناعميّ.‬‎
‮سلّام الأبرش من النقلة القدماء في أيّام البرامكة ويوجد بنقله السماع الطبيعيّ كذا حكى سيّدنا أبو القاسم عيسى بن عليّ بن عيسى أيّده الله.‬‎
‮حبيب بن بهريز مطران الموصل فسّر للمأمون عدّة  كتب.‬‎
‮زرويا (؟) بن ما حوه (؟) الناعميّ الحمصيّ.‬‎
‮هلال بن أبي هلال الحمصيّ.‬‎
‮أبو نصر بن آوی‭456‬ بن أيّوب.‬‎
‮بسيل المطران.‬‎
‮أبو نوح بن الصلت.‬‎
‮اصطفن بن باسيل.‬‎
‮ابن رابطة.‬‎
‮عيسى بن نوح.‬‎
‮قويري واسمه إبراهيم ويكنى أبا اسحق.‬‎
‮تذرس السنقل.‬‎
‮داريع الراهب.‬‎
‮أيّوب الرهاويّ.‬‎
‮ثابت بن قمع.‬‎
‮أيّوب وسمعان فسّرا زيج بطلميوس لمحمّد بن خالد بن يحيى بن برمك وغير ذلك من الكتب القديمة.‬‎
‮باسيل وكان يخدم ذا اليمنيين.‬‎
‮ابن شهدا الكرخيّ نقل من السريانيّ إلى العربيّ نقلاً رديئاً فممّا نقل كتاب الأجنّة لبقراط.‬‎
‮أبو عمرو يوحنّا بن يوسف الكاتب أحد النقلة ونقل كتاب فلاطون في آداب الصبيان.‬‎
‮أيّوب ابن القاسم الرقّيّ نقل من السريانيّ إلى العربيّ ومن نقله كتاب إيساغوجي.‬‎
‮مرلاحي (؟) في زماننا جيّد المعرفة بالسريانيّة عفطيّ الألفاظ بالعربيّة ينقل بين يدي عليّ بن إبراهيم الدهكيّ من السريانيّ إلى العربيّ ويصلح نقله ابن الدهكيّ.‬‎
‮داديشوع كان يفسّر لإسحق ابن سليمان بن عليّ الهاشميّ من السريانيّة إلى العربيّة.‬‎
‮قسطا بن لوقا البعلبكّيّ جيّد النقل فصيح باللسان اليونانيّ والسريانيّ والعربيّ وقد نقل أشياء وأصلح نقولاً كثيرة […]‬‎
‮عيسى بن يحيى.‬‎
‮إبراهيم بن الصلت.‬‎
‮إبراهيم بن عبد الله.‬‎
‮يحيى بن عديّ.‬‎
‮النفيسيّ.‭458‬ […]‬‎
‮أسماء النقلة من الفارسيّ إلى العربيّ‬‎
‮ابن المقفّع […]‬‎
‮آل نوبخت أكثرهم […]‬‎
‮موسى ويوسف أبناء خالد وكانا يخدمان داود بن عبد الله بن حميد بن قحطبة وينقلان له من الفارسيّة إلى العربيّة.‬‎
‮التميميّ واسمه عليّ بن زياد ويكنى أبا الحسن نقل من الفارسيّ إلى العربيّ فممّا نقل زيج الشهريار.‬‎
‮الحسن بن سهل […]‬‎
‮البلاذريّ أحمد بن يحيى بن جابر […] وكان ناقلاً من اللسان الفارسيّ إلى العربيّ.‬‎
‮جبلة بن سالم كاتب هشام […] وكان ناقلاً إلى العربيّ من الفارسيّ.‬‎
‮إسحق بن يزيد نقل من الفارسيّ إلى العربيّ فممّا نقل كتاب سيرة الفرس المعروف بباختيار‭459‬ نامه.‬‎
‮ومن نقلة الفرس محمّد بن الجهم البرمكيّ، هشام بن القاسم، موسى بن عيسى الكسرويّ،‭460‬ زادويه بن شاهويه الإصفهانيّ، محمّد بن بهرام بن مطيار الإصفهانيّ، بهرام بن مردان شاه موبد مدينة سابور‭461‬ من بلد فارس، عمر بن الفرّخان […]‬‎
‮نقلة الهند والنبط‬‎
‮منكه الهنديّ وكان في جملة إسحق بن سليمان بن عليّ الهاشميّ ينقل من اللغة الهنديّة إلى العربيّة.‬‎
‮ابن دهن الهنديّ وكان إليه بيمارستان البرامكة نقل إلى العربيّ من اللسان الهنديّ.‬‎
‮ابن وحشيّة ينقل من النبطيّة إلى العربيّة وقد نقل كتباً كثيرة على ما ذكر […]‬‎

II.2. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 507.1–517.10 (ed. Savage Smith et al.).

‮الباب التاسع في طبقات الأطبّاء النقلة الذين نقلوا كتب الطبّ وغيره من اللسان اليونانيّ إلى اللسان العربيّ وذكر الذين نقلوا لهم‬‎

‮جورجس وهو أوّل من ابتدأ في نقل الكتب الطبّيّة إلى اللسان العربيّ عندما استدعاه المنصور وكان كثير الإحسان إليه …‬‎
‮حنين بن إسحاق كان عالماً باللغات الأربع غريبها ومستعملها العربيّة والسريانيّة واليونانيّة والفارسيّة ونقله في الغاية من الجودة.‬‎
‮إسحاق بن حنين كان أيضاً عالماً باللغات التي يعرفها أبوه وهو يلحق به في النقل وكان إسحاق عذب العبارة فصيح الكلام وكان حنين مع ذلك أكثر تصنيفاً ونقلاً […]‬‎
‮حبيش الأعسم وهو ابن أخت حنين بن إسحاق وتلميذه ناقل مجوّد يلحق بحنين وإسحاق […]‬‎
‮عيسى بن يحيى بن إبراهيم كان أيضاً تلميذاً لحنين بن إسحاق وكان فاضلاً أثنى عليه حنين ورضي نقله وقلّده فيه وله مصنّفات.‬‎
‮قسطا بن لوقا البعلبكّيّ كان ناقلاً خبيراً باللغات فاضلاً في العلوم الحكميّة وغيرها […]‬‎
‮أيّوب المعروف بالأبرش كان قليل النقل متوسّطه وما نقله في آخر عمره يضاهي نقل حنين.‬‎
‮ماسرجيس كان ناقلاً من السريانيّ إلى العربيّ ومشهوراً بالطبّ وله من الكتب كتاب قوى الأطعمة ومنافعها ومضارّها كتاب قوى العقاقير ومنافعها ومضارّها.‬‎
‮عيسى بن ماسرجيس كان يلحق بأبيه وله من الكتب كتاب الألوان كتاب الروائح والطعوم.‬‎
‮شهدی‭462‬ الكرخيّ من أهل الكرخ وكان قريب الحال في الترجمة.‬‎
‮ابن شهدی‭463‬ الكرخيّ كان مثل أبيه في النقل ثمّ إنّه في آخر عمره فاق أباه ولم يزل متوسّطاً وكان ينقل من السريانيّ إلى العربيّ ومن نقله كتاب الأجنّة لأبقراط.‬‎
‮الحجّاج بن مطر نقل للمأمون ومن نقله  كتاب أقليدس ثمّ أصلح نقله فيما بعد ثابت بن قرّة الحرّانيّ.‬‎
‮ابن ناعمة واسمه عبد المسيح بن عبد الله الحمصيّ الناعميّ كان متوسّط النقل وهو إلى الجودة أميل.‬‎
‮زرويا464 بن مانحوه‭465‬ الناعميّ الحمصيّ كان قريب النقل وما هو في درجة من قبله.‬‎
‮هلال بن أبي هلال الحمصيّ كان صحيح النقل ولم يكن عنده فصاحة ولا بلاغة في اللفظ.‬‎
‮فثيون‭466‬ الترجمان وجدت نقله كثير اللحن ولم يكن يعرف شيئاً من علم العربيّة أصلاً.‬‎
‮أبو نصر بن ناريّ بن أيّوب كان قليل النقل ولم يعتدّ بنقله كغيره من النقلة.‬‎
‮بسيل المطران نقل كتباً كثيرة وكان نقله أميل إلى الجودة.‬‎
‮إصطفن بن بسيل كان يقارب حنين بن إسحاق في النقل إلّا أنّ عبارة حنين أفصح وأحلى.‬‎
‮موسى بن خالد الترجمان وجدت من نقله كتباً كثيرة من الستّة عشر لجالينوس وغيرها وكان لا يصل إلى درجة حنين أو يقرّب منها.‬‎
‮أسطاث كان من النقلة المتوسّطين.‬‎
‮خيرون بن رابطة ليس له شهرة بجودة النقل.‬‎
‮تذرس السنقل وجدت له نقلاً في الكتب الحكميّة لا بأس به.‬‎
‮سرجس الرأسيّ من أهل مدينة رأس العين نقل كتباً كثيرة وكان متوسّطاً في النقل وكان حنين يصلح نقله فما وجد بإصلاح حنين فهو الجيّد وما وجد غير مصلح فهو وسط.‬‎
‮أيّوب الرهاويّ ليس أيّوب الأبرش المذكور أوّلاً ناقل جيّد عالم باللغات إلّا أنّه بالسريانيّة خير منه بالعربيّة.‬‎
‮يوسف الناقل هو أبو يعقوب بن يوسف بن عيسى المتطبّب الناقل ويلقّب بالناعس‭467‬ وهو تلميذ عيسى بن صهر بخت وكان يوسف الناقل من خوزستان وكانت في عبارته لكنة وليس نقله بكثير الجودة.‬‎
‮إبراهيم بن الصلت كان متوسّطاً في النقل يلحق بسرجس الرأسيّ.‬‎
‮ثابت الناقل كان متوسّطاً في النقل إلّا أنّه يفضل إبراهيم بن الصلت وكان مقلّاً من النقل ومن نقله كتاب الكيموسين لجالينوس.‬‎
‮أبو يوسف الكاتب كان متوسّطاً في النقل ونقل عدّة  كتب من كتب بقراط.‬‎
‮يوحنّا بن بختيشوع نقل كتباً كثيرة إلى السريانيّ فأمّا إلى العربيّ فما عرف بنقله شيء منها.‬‎
‮البطريق كان في أيّام المنصور وأمره بنقل أشياء من الكتب القديمة وله نقل كثير جيّد إلّا أنّه دون نقل حنين بن إسحاق وقد وجدت بنقله كتباً كثيرة في الطبّ من كتب أبقراط وجالينوس.‬‎
‮يحيى بن البطريق كان في جملة الحسن بن سهل وكان لا يعرف العربيّة حقّ معرفتها ولا اليونانيّة وإنّما كان لطينيّاً يعرف لغة الروم اليوم وكتابتها وهي الحروف المتّصلة لا المنفصلة اليونانيّة القديمة.‬‎
‮توما‭‭468‬‬ الرهاويّ كان إذا كثرت على حنين الكتب وضاق عليه الوقت استعان به في نقلها ثمّ يصلحها بعد ذلك.‬‎
‮منصور بن باناس‭469‬ طبقته في النقل مثل توما‭470‬ الرهاويّ وكان بالسريانيّة أقوى منه بالعربيّة.‬‎
‮عبد يسوع بن بهريز مطران الموصل كان صديقاً لجبريل بن بختيشوع وناقلاً له.‬‎
‮أبو عثمان سعيد بن يعقوب الدمشقيّ أحد النقلة المجيّدين وكان منقطعاً إلى عليّ بن عيسى.‬‎
‮أبو إسحاق إبراهيم بن بكس‭471‬ كان من الأطبّاء المشهورين وترجم كتباً كثيرة إلى لغة العرب ونقله أيضاً مرغوب فيه.‬‎
‮أبو الحسن عليّ بن إبراهيم بن بكس كان أيضاً طبيباً مشهوراً وكان مثل أبيه في النقل.‬‎
‮فأمّا الذين كان هؤلاء النقلة ينقلون لهم خارجاً عن الخلفاء‬‎
‮فمنهم شبرشوع‭472‬ بن قطرب من أهل جنديسابور وكان لا يزال يبرّ النقلة ويهدي إليهم ويتقرّب إلى تحصيل الكتب منهم بما يمكنه من المال وكان يريد السريانيّ أكثر من العربيّ وهو أحد الخوز.‬‎
‮ومنهم محمّد بن موسى المنجّم وهو أحد بني موسى بن شاكر الحسّاب المشهورين بالفضل والعلم والتصنيف في العلوم الرياضيّة وكان محمّد هذا أبرّ الناس بحنين بن إسحاق وقد نقل له حنين كثيراً من الكتب الطبّيّة.‬‎
‮ومنهم عليّ بن يحيى المعروف بابن المنجّم أحد كتّاب المأمون وكان نديماً له وعنده فضل ومال إلى الطبّ فنقلوا له منه كتباً كثيرة.‬‎
‮ومنهم تادُرى‭473‬ الأسقف كان أسقفاً في الكرخ ببغداد وكان حريصاً على طلب الكتب متقرّباً إلى قلوب نقلها فحصل منها شيئاً كثيراً وصنّف له قوم من الأطبّاء النصارى كتباً لها قدر وجعلوها باسمه.‬‎
‮ومنهم محمّد بن موسى بن عبد الملك نقلت له كتب طبّيّة وكان من جملة العلماء الفضلاء يلخّص الكتب ويعتبر جيّد الكلام فيها من رديئه.‬‎
‮ومنهم عيسى بن يونس الكاتب الحاسب من جملة الفضلاء بالعراق وكان كثير العناية بتحصيل الكتب القديمة والعلوم اليونانيّة.‬‎
‮ومنهم عليّ المعروف بالفيّوم اشتهر باسم المدينة التي كان عاملها وكانت النقلة يحصلون من جانبه ويمتارون من فضله.‬‎
‮ومنهم أحمد بن محمّد المعروف بابن المدبّر الكاتب وكان يصل إلى النقلة من ماله وأفضاله شيء كثير جدّاً.‬‎
‮ومنهم إبراهيم بن محمّد بن موسى الكاتب وكان حريصاً على نقل كتب اليونانيّين إلى لغة العرب ومشتملاً على أهل العلم والفضل وعلى النقلة خاصّة.‬‎
‮ومنهم عبد الله بن إسحاق وكان أيضاً حريصاً على نقل الكتب وتحصيلها كثيرة.‬‎
‮ومنهم محمّد بن عبد الملك ابن الزيّات وكان يقارب عطاؤه للنقلة والعلماء والنسّاخ في كلّ شهر ألفي دينار ونقل باسمه كتب عدّة. وكان أيضاً ممّن نقلت له الكتب اليونانيّة وترجمت باسمه جماعة من أكابر الأطبّاء مثل يوحنّا بن ماسويه وجبريل بن بختيشوع وبختيشوع بن جبريل بن بختيشوع وداؤد بن سرابيون وسلمويه بن بنان وإليسع وإسرائيل بن زكريّاء بن الطيفوريّ وحبيش بن الحسن.‬‎

II.3. Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 242.7–11 (ed. Flügel).

‮حكاية أخرى: كان خالد بن يزيد بن معاوية يسمّى حكيم آل مروان وكان فاضلاً في نفسه وله همّة ومحبّة للعلوم خطر بباله الصنعة فأمر بإحضار جماعة من فلاسفة اليونانيّين ممّن كان ينزل مدينة مصر وقد تفصّح بالعربيّة وأمرهم بنقل الكتب في الصنعة من اللسان اليونانيّ والقبطيّ إلى العربيّ وهذا أوّل نقل كان في الإسلام من لغة إلى لغة.‬‎

II.4. Al-Masʿūdī, Murūǧ al-ḏahab, V, 211.16–23, par. 3446 (ed. Pellat).

‮وكان أوّل خليفة قرّب المنجّمين وعمل بأحكام النجوم وكان معه نوبخت المجوسيّ المنجّم وأسلم علی يديه وهو أبو هاؤلاء النوبختيّة وإبراهيم الفزاريّ المنجّم صاحب القصيدة في النجوم وغير ذلك من علوم النجوم وهيآت الفلك وعليّ بن عيسی الأسطرلابيّ.‬‎

‮وكان أوّل خليفة ترجمة له الكتب من اللغة العجميّة إلی العربيّة منها كتاب كليلة ودمنة وكتاب السندهند وترجمت له كتب أرسطاطاليس من المنطقيّات وغيرها وترجم له  كتاب المجسطيّ لبطلميوس وكتاب أقليدس وكتاب الأرثماطيقي وسائر الكتب القديمة من اليونانيّة والروميّة والفهلويّة والفارسيّة والسريانيّة وأخرجت إلی الناس فنظروا فيها وتعلّقوا إلی علمها.‬‎

II.5. Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt al-umam, 48.10–17, 48.20–49.2 (ed. Cheikho).

‮ثمّ لمّا أفضت الخلافة إلی الخليفة السابع منهم عبد الله المأمون بن هارون الرشيد ابن محمّد المهدي بن أبي جعفر المنصور تمّم ما بدأ به جدّه المنصور فأقبل علی طلب العلم في مواضعه واستخرجه من معادنه بفضل همّته الشريفة وقوّة نفسه الفاضلة.‬‎

‮فداخل ملوك الروم وأتحفهم بالهدايا الخطيرة وسألهم صلته بما لديهم من كتب الفلاسفة فبعثوا إليه بما حضرهم من كتب أفلاطون وأريسطاطاليس وأبقراط وجالينوس وأوقليدس وبطلميوس وغيرهم من الفلاسفة فاستجاد لها مهرة التراجمة وكلّفهم إحكام ترجمتها فترجمت له علی غاية ما أمكن ثمّ خصّ الناس علی قراءتها ورغّبهم في تعليمها.‬‎

‮فنفقت سوق العلم في زمانه وقامت دولة الحكمة في عصره […] وكذلك كانت سيرته مع سائر العلماء والفقهاء والمحدّثين والمتكلّمين وأهل اللغة والأخبار والمعرفة بالشعر والنسب فأتقن جماعة من ذوي الفنون والتعلّم في أيّامه كثيراً من أجزاء الفلسفة وسنّوا لمن بعدهم منهاج الطبّ ومهّدوا أصول الأدب حتّی كادت الدولة العبّاسيّة تضاهی الدولة الروميّة أيّام اكتمالها وزمان اجتماع شملها.‬‎

II.6. Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 271.9–14 (ed. Flügel).

‮بنو موسى: محمّد وأحمد والحسن بنو موسى بن شاكر […] وهؤلاء القوم ممّن تناهى في طلب العلوم القديمة وبذل فيها الرغائب وأتعبوا فيها نفوسهم وأنفذوا إلى بلد الروم من أخرجها إليهم فأحضروا النقلة من الأصقاع والأماكن بالبذل السنيّ فأظهروا عجائب الحكمة وكان الغالب عليهم من العلوم الهندسة والحيل والحركات والموسيقى والنجوم وهو الأقلّ.‬‎

II.7. Ibn Ǧulǧul, Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ, 68.2–69.11 (ed. Fuʾād Sayyid).

‮حنين بن إسحاق تلميذ يوحنّا بن ماسويه عالماً بلسان العرب فصيحاً باللسان اليونانيّ جدّاً بارعاً في اللسانين بلاغة بلغ بها تمييز علل اللسانين ونهض من بغداد إلى أرض فارس وكان خليل بن أحمد النحويّ رحمه الله بأرض فارس فلزمه حنين حتّى برع في لسان العرب وأدخل كتاب العين بغداد.‬‎

‮ثمّ اختير للترجمة وائتمن عليها وكان المتخيّر لها جعغر المتوكّل على الله ووضع له كتّاباً نحارير عالمين بالترجمة كانوا يترجمون ويتصفّح حنين ما ترجموا كأسطفن بن بسيل وحبيش وموسى ابن أبي خالد الترجمان ويحيى بن هارون.‬‎

‮وخدم حنين بالطبّ المتوكّل على الله وحظي في أيّامه وكان يلبس زنّاراً وتعلّم ويعلم اللسان اليونانيّة بإسكندريّة وكان جليلاً في ترجمة وهو الذي أوضح معاني كتب بقراط وجالينوس ولخّصها أحسن تلخيص وكشف ما استغلق منها وأوضح مشكلها وله تواليف نافعة متقنة بارعة وعمد إلى كتب جالينوس فاحتذى فيها حذو الإسكندرانيّين فصنعها على سبيل المسألة والجواب فأحسن في ذلك.‬‎

II.8. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 465.2–467.14 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.).

‮قال يوسف بن إبراهيم: أوّل ما حصل لحنين بن إسحاق من الاجتهاد والعناية في صناعة الطبّ هو أنّ مجلس يوحنّا بن ماسويه كان من أعمر مجلس يكون في التصدّي لتعليم صناعة الطبّ وكان يجتمع فيه أصناف أهل الأدب. قال يوسف: وذلك أنّي كنت أعهد حنين بن إسحاق الترجمان يقرأ على يوحنّا بن ماسويه كتاب فرق الطبّ المرسوم باللسان الروميّ والسريانيّ بهراسيو وكان حنين إذ ذاك صاحب سؤال وذلك يصعب على يوحنّا وكان يباعده أيضاً من قبله أنّ حنيناً كان من أبناء الصيارفة من أهل الحيرة وأهل جنديسابور خاصّة ومتطبّبوها ينحرفون عن أهل الحيرة ويكرهون أن يدخل في صناعتهم أبناء التجّار فسأله حنين في بعض الأيّام عن بعض ما كان يقرأ عليه مسألة مستفهم لما يقرأ فحرد يوحنّا وقال: ما لأهل الحيرة وتعلّم صناعة الطبّ! صر إلى فلان قرابتك حتّى يهب لك خمسين درهماً تشتري منها قفافاً صغاراً بدرهم وزرنيخاً بثلاثة دراهم واشتر بالباقي فلوساً كوفيّة وقادسيّة وزرنخ القادسيّة في تلك القفاف واقعد على الطريق وصحّ الفلوس الجياد للصدقة والنفقة وبع الفلوس فإنّه أعود عليك من هذه الصناعة! ثمّ أمر به فأخرج من داره فخرج حنين باكياً مكروباً. وغاب عنّا حنين فلم نره سنتين.‬‎


‮واعتلّ إسحاق بن الخصيّ علّة فأتيته عائداً فإنّي لفي منزله إذ بصرت بإنسان له شعرة قد جلّلته وقد ستر وجهه عنّي ببعضها وهو يتردّد وينشد شعراً بالروميّة لأوميرس رئيس شعراء الروم فشبهت نغمته بنغمة حنين وكان العهد بحنين قبل ذلك الوقت بأكثر من سنتين فقلت لإسحاق بن الخصيّ: هذا حنين! فأنكر ذلك إنكاراً يشبّه الإقرار فهتفت بحنين فاستجاب لي وقال: ذكر ابن رسالة الفاعلة أنّه من المحال أن يتعلّم الطبّ عباديّ وهو بريء من دين النصرانيّة إنّه رضي أن يتعلّم الطبّ حتّى يحكم اللسان اليونانيّ إحكاماً لا يكون في دهره من يحكمه إحكامه وما اطّلع عليّ أحد غير أخي هذا ولو علمت أنّك تفهمني لاستترت عنك لكنّي عملت على أنّ حليتي قد تغيّرت في عينك وأنا أسألك أن تستر أمري.‬‎

‮فبقيت أكثر من ثلاث سنين وإنّي لأظنّها أربعاً لم أره ثمّ إنّي دخلت يوماً على جبريل بن بختيشوع وقد انحدر من معسكر المأمون قبل وفاته بمدّة يسيرة فوجدت عنده حنيناً وقد ترجم له أقساماً قسمها بعض الروم في كتاب من كتب جالينوس في التشريح وهو يخاطبه بالتبجيل ويقول له يا ربّن حنين وتفسير ربّن المعلّم فأعظمت ما رأيت وتبيّن ذلك جبريل فيّ فقال لي: لا تستكثرن ما ترى من تبجيلي هذا الفتى فوالله لئن مدّ له في العمر ليفضحن سرجس وسرجس هذا الذي ذكره جبريل هو الرأس عينيّ وهو أوّل من نقل شيئاً من علوم الروم إلى اللسان السريانيّ وليفضحن غيره من المترجمين وخرج من عنده حنين وأقمت طويلاً ثمّ خرجت فوجدت حنيناً ببابه ينتظر خروجي فسلّم عليّ وقال لي: قد كنت سألتك ستر خبري والآن فأنا أسألك إظهاره وإظهار ما سمعت من أبي عيسى وقوله فيّ فقلت له: أنا مسودّ وجه يوحنّا بما سمعت من مدح أبي عيسى لك فأخرج من كمّه نسخة ما كان دفعه إلى جبريل وقال لي: تمام سواد وجه يوحنّا يكون بدفعك إليه هذه النسخة وسترك عنه علم من نقلها فإذا رأيته قد اشتدّ عجبه بها أعلمه أنّها إخراجي. ففعلت ذلك من يومي وقبل انتهائي إلى منزلي.‬‎

‮فلمّا قرأ يوحنّا تلك الفصول وهي التي يسمّيها اليونانيّون الفاعلات كثر تعجّبه وقال: أترى المسيح أوحى في دهرنا هذا إلى أحد فقلت له في جواب قوله: ما أوحى المسيح في هذا الدهر ولا في غيره إلى أحد ولا كان المسيح إلّا أحد من يوحى إليه فقال لي: دعني من هذا القول ليس هذا الإخراج إلّا إخراج مؤيد بروح القدس فقلت له: هذا إخراج حنين بن إسحاق الذي طردته من منزلك وأمرته أن يشتري فلوساً فحلف بأنّ ما قلت له محال ثمّ صدق القول بعد ذلك وسألني التلطّف لإصلاح ما بينهما ففعلت ذلك وأفضل عليه إفضالاً كثيراً وأحسن إليه ولم يزل مبجّلاً له حتّى فارقت العراق في سنة خمس وعشرين ومائتين.‬‎

II.9. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 472.2–16 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.).

‮أقول: وكان لحنين ولدان داؤد وإسحاق واشتغلا بصناعة الطبّ وصنّف لهما كتباً طبّيّة للمبادئ للتعليم ونقل لهما كتباً كثيرة من كتب جالينوس فأمّا داؤد فإنّي لم أجد له شهرة بنفسه بين الأطبّاء ولا يوجد له من الكتب ما يدلّ على براعته وعلمه وإن كان الذي يوجد له إنمّا هو كنّاش واحد وأمّا إسحاق فإنّه اشتهر وتميّز في صناعة الطبّ وله تصانيف كثيرة ونقل إسحاق من الكتب اليونانيّة إلى اللغة العربيّة كتباً كثيرة إلّا أنّ جلّ عنايته كانت مصروفة إلى نقل الكتب الحكميّة مثل كتب أرسطوطاليس وغيره من الحكماء.‬‎

‮وأمّا حنين أبوه فكان ملتهماً بنقل الكتب الطبّيّة وخصوصاً كتب جالينوس حتّى أنّه في غالب الأمر لا يوجد شيء من كتب جالينوس إلّا وهي بنقل حنين أو بإصلاحه لما نقل غيره فإن رؤي شيء منها وقد تفرّد بنقله غيره من النقلة مثل أسطاث وابن بكس والبطريق وأبي سعيد عثمان الدمشقيّ وغيرهم فإنّه لا يعتنى به ولا يرغب فيه كما يكون بنقل حنين وإصلاحه وإنّما ذلك لفصاحته وبلاغته ولمعرفته أيضاً بآراء جالينوس في كتبه ولتمهّره فيها.‬‎

‮ووجدت بعض الكتب الستّة عشر لجالينوس وقد نقلها من الروميّة إلى السريانيّة سرجس المتطبّب ونقلها من السريانيّة إلى العربيّة موسى بن خالد الترجمان فلمّا طالعتها وتأمّلت ألفاظها تبيّن لي بين نقلها وبين الستّة عشر التي هي نقل حنين تباين كثير وتفاوت بيّن وأين الألكن من البليغ والثرى من الثريّا.‬‎

II.10. Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 289.15–18 (ed. Flügel).

‮قال محمّد بن إسحق: من سعادات حنين أنّ ما نقله حبيش بن الحسن الأعسم وعيسى ابن يحيى وغيرهما إلى العربيّ ينحل إلى حنين وإذا رجعنا إلى فهرست كتب جالينوس الذي عمله حنين إلى عليّ بن يحيى علمنا أنّ الذي نقل حنين أكثره إلى السريانيّ وربّما أصلح العربيّ من نقل غيره أو تصفّحه.‬‎

II.11. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 478.4–479.7 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.).

‮فأقول كيف لا أبغض ويكثر حاسدي ويكثر ثلبي في مجالس ذي المراتب وتبذل في قتلي الأموال ويعزّ من شتمني ويهان من أكرمني كلّ ذلك بغير جرم لي إلى واحد منهم ولا جناية لكّنهم لمّا رأوني فوقهم وعالياً عليهم بالعلم والعمل ونقلي إليهم العلوم الفاخرة من اللغات التي لا يحسنوها ولا يهتدون إليها ولا يعرفون شيئاً منها في نهاية ما يكون من حسن العبارة والفصاحة ولا نقص فيها ولا زلل ولا ميل لأحد من الملل ولا استغلاق ولا لحن باعتبار أصحاب البلاغة من العرب الذين يقومون بمعرفة وجوه النحو والغريب ولا يعثرون على سيّئة ولا شكلة ولا معنى لكنّ بأعذب ما يكون من اللفظ وأقربه إلى الفهم يسمعه من ليس صناعته الطبّ ولا يعرف شيئاً من طرقات الفلسفة ولا من ينتحل ديانة النصرانيّة وكلّ الملل يستحسنه ويعرف قدره حتّى إنّهم قد يغرمون عليّ ما كان من الذي أنقل الأموال الكثيرة إذ كانوا يفضلون هذا النقل على نقل كلّ من قبلي وأيضاً فأقول ولا أخطئ إنّ سائر أهل الأدب وإن اختلفت مللهم محبّون لي مائلون إليّ مكرمون لي يأخذون ما أفيدهم بشكر ويجازوني بكلّ ما يصلون إليه من الجميل.‬‎

‮فأمّا هؤلاء الأطبّاء النصارى الذين أكثرهم تعلّموا بين يدي ونشأوا قدامي هم الذين يرومون سفك دمي على أنّهم لا بدّ لهم منّي فمرّة يقولون: من هو حنين؟ إنّما حنين ناقل لهذه الكتب ليأخذ على نقله الأجرة كما يأخذ الصنّاع الأجرة على صناعتهم ولا فرق عندنا بينه وبينهم لأنّ الفارس قد يعمل له الحدّاد السيف في المثل بدينار ويأخذ هو من أجله كلّ شهر مائة دينار فهو خادم لأداتنا وليس هو عامل بها كما أنّ الحدّاد وإن كان يحسن صنعة السيف إلّا أنّه ليس يحسن يعمل به فما للحدّاد وطلب الفروسيّة كذلك هذا الناقل ما له وللكلام في صناعة الطبّ ولم يحكم في عللها وأمراضها وإنّما قصده في ذلك تشبيه بنا ليقال حنين الطبيب ولا يقال حنين الناقل والأجود له لو أنّه لزم صناعته وأمسك عن ذكر صناعتنا لقد كان يكون أجدى عليه فيما كنّا سنوصله إليه من أموالنا ونحسن إليه ما أمكننا وذلك يتمّ له بترك أخذ المجسّ والنظر في قوارير الماء ووصف الأدوية ويقولون: إنّ حنيناً ما يدخل إلى موضع من دور الخاصّة والعامّة إلّا يهزؤون به ويتضاحكون منه عند خروجه.‬‎

III. Methods: Procedures and Approaches

III.1. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 2.12–3.2/Ar., preface (ed. Bergsträßer).

‮فكان من جوابك في ذلك أن قلت إنّه وإن كان الأمر على ما وصفت فإنّ بنا وسائر أهل هذا الغرض ممّن يقرأ الكتب بالسريانيّة والعربيّة حاجة إلى أن نعلم ما ترجم من هذه الكتب إلى اللسان السريانيّ والعربيّ وما لم يترجم وما كنت أنا المتولّي لترجمته دون غيري وما تولّى ترجمته غيري وما سبقني إلى ترجمته غيري ثمّ عدت فيه فترجمته أو أصلحته ومن تولّى ترجمة  كتاب كتاب من الكتب التي تولّى ترجمتها غيري ومبلغ قوّة كلّ واحد من أولائك المترجمين في الترجمة ولمن ترجمت ومن الذين ترجمت أنا لهم كلّ واحد من تلك الكتب التي تولّيت ترجمتها وفي أيّ حدّ من سنّي ترجمته لأنّ هذين أمرين قد يحتاج إلى معرفتهما إذ كانت الترجمة إنّما تكون بحسب قوّة المترجم للكتاب والذي ترجم له وأيّ تلك الكتب ممّا لم يترجم إلى هذه الغاية وجدت نسخته باليونانيّة وأيّها لم توجد له نسخة أو وجد البعض منه فإنّ هذا أمر يحتاج إليه ليعنى بترجمة ما قد وجد منها وبطلب ما لم يوجد.‬‎

III.2. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 47.12–48.6/Ar., no. 115 (ed. Bergsträßer).

‮ولم يقع إلى هذه الغاية إلى أحد من أهل دهرنا لكتاب البرهان نسخة تامّة باليونانيّة على أنّ جبريل قد كان عني بطلبه عناية شديدة وطلبته أنا غاية الطلب وجلت فى طلبه بلاد الجزيرة والشام كلّها وفلسطين ومصر إلى أن بلغت الإسكندريّة فلم أجد منه شيئاً إلّا بدمشق نحواً من نصفه إلّا أنّها مقالات غير متوالية ولا تامّة.‬‎

‮وقد كان جبريل أيضاً وجد منه مقالات ليست كلّها المقالات التي وجدت بأعيانها وترجم له أيّوب ما وجد وأمّا أنا فلم تطب نفسي بترجمة شيء منها إلّا باستكمال قراءتها لما هي عليه من النقصان والاختلال وللطمع وتشوّق النفس إلى وجود تمام هذا الكتاب.‬‎

‮ثمّ إنّي ترجمت ما وجدت إلى السريانيّة وهو جزء يسير من المقالة الثانية وأكثر المقالة الثالثة ونحو نصف المقالة الرابعة من أوّلها والمقالة التاسعة خلا شيئاً من أوّلها فإنّه سقط وأمّا سائر المقالات الأخر فوجدت إلى آخر الكتاب خلا المقالة الخامسة عشرة فإنّ في آخرها نقصاناً.‬‎

III.3. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 4.19–5.9/Ar., no. 3 (ed. Bergsträßer).

‮وقد كان ترجمه قبلي إلى السريانيّ رجل يقال له ابن شهدا من أهل الكرخ وكان ضعيفاً في | الترجمة ثمّ إنّي ترجمته وأنا حدث من أبناء عشرين سنة أو أكثر قليلاً لمتطبّب من أهل جندي سابور يقال له شيريشوع بن قطرب من نسخة يونانيّة  كثيرة الأسقاط ثمّ سألني بعد ذلك وأنا من أبناء أربعين سنة أو نحوها حبيش تلميذي إصلاحه بعد أن كانت قد اجتمعت له عندي عدّة نسخ يونانيّة فقابلت تلك بعضها ببعض حتّى صحّت منها نسخة واحدة ثمّ قابلت بتلك النسخة السريانيّ وصحّحته وكذلك من عادتي أن أفعل في جميع ما أترجمه ثّم ترجمته من بعد سنيّات إلى العربيّة لأبي جعفر محمّد بن موسى.‬‎

III.4. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 17.18–18.17/Ar., no. 20 (ed. Bergsträßer).

‮وقد كان سلمويه أذأرني على أن أصلح له هذا الجزء الثاني وطمع أن يكون ذلك أسهل من الترجمة وأجود فقابلني ببعض المقالة السابعة ومعه السريانيّ ومعي اليونانيّ وهو يقرأ على السريانيّة وكنت كلّما مرّ بي شيء مخالف لليونانيّ خبّرته به فجعل يصلح حتّى | كبر عليه الأمر وتبيّن له أنّ الترجمة من الرأس أرخى وأبلغ وأنّ الأمر يكون فيها أشدّ انتظاماً فسألني ترجمة تلك المقالات فترجمتها عن آخرها وكنّا بالرقّة في أيّام غزوات المأمون ودفعها إلى زكريّا بن عبد الله المعروف بالطيفوريّ لمّا أراد الانحدار إلى مدينة السلام لتنسخ له هناك فوقع حريق في السفينة التي كان فيها زكريّا فاحترق الكتاب ولم يبق له نسخة.‬‎

‮ثمّ إنّى بعد سنين ترجمت الكتاب من أوّله لبختيشوع بن جبريل وكانت عندي للثماني المقالات الأخيرة منه عدّة نسخ باليونانيّة فقابلت بها وصحّحت منها نسخة وترجمتها بغاية ما أمكنني من الاستقصاء والبلاغة فأمّا الستّ المقالات الأول فلم أكن وقعت لها إلّا على نسخة واحدة وكانت مع ذلك نسخة كثيرة الخطأ فلم يمكنّي لذلك تخلّض تلك المقالات على غاية ما ينبغي ثمّ إنّي وقعت على نسخة أخرى فقابلت بها وأصلحت ما أمكنني إصلاحه وأخلو إلى أنّى أقابل به ثالثة إن اتّفقت لي نسخة ثالثة فإنّ نسخ هذا الكتاب باليونانيّة قليلة وذلك أنّه لم يكن ممّا يقرأ في كتّاب الإسكندريّة وترجم هذا الكتاب من النسخ السريانيّة التي ترجمتها حبيش بن الحسن لمحمّد بن موسى ثمّ إنّه سألني بعد ترجمته لها أن أتّصفح له المقالات الثماني الأخيرة وأصلح ما وجدت من الأسقاط فأجبته إلى ذلك وأجدت فيه.‬‎

III.5. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 488.8–16 (ed. Savage-Smith et al.).

‮وصرت أنقل لهم الكتب على الرسم بغير عوض ولا جزاء وأسارع إلى جميع محابّهم بعد أن كنت إذا نقلت لأحدهم كتاباً أخذت منه وزنه دراهم.‬‎

‮أقول: وجدت من هذه الكتب كتباً كثيرة وكثيراً منها اقتنيته وهي مكتوبة مولّد الكوفيّ بخطّ الأزرق كاتب حنين وهي حروف كبار بخطّ غليظ في أسطر متفرّقة وورقها كلّ ورقة منها بغلظ ما يكون من هذه الأوراق المصنوعة يومئذ نحو ثلاث ورقات أو أربع وذلك في تقطيع مثل ثلث البغداديّ وكان قصد حنين بذلك تعظيم حجم الكتاب وتكثير وزنه لأجل ما يقابل به من وزنه دراهم وكان ذلك الورق يستعمله بالقصد ولا جرم أنّ لغلظه بقي هذه السنين المتطاولة من الزمان.‬‎

III.6. Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 22.7–15 (ed. Flügel).

‮قال أحمد بن عبد الله بن سلّام: ترجمت صدر هذا الكتاب والصحف والتوراة والإنجيل وكتب الأنبياء والتلامذة من لغة العبرانيّة واليونانيّة والصابئة وهي لغة أهل كلّ كتاب إلى لغة العربيّة حرفاً حرفاً ولم أبتغ في ذلك تحسين لفظ ولا تزيينه مخافة التحريف ولم أزد على ما وجدته في الكتاب الذي نقلته ولم أنقص إلّا أن يكون في بعض ذلك من الكلام ما هو متقدّم بلغة أهل ذلك الكتاب فلا يستقيم لفظه في النقل إلى العربيّة إلّا أن يؤخّر ومنه ما هو مؤخّر لا يستقيم إلّا أن يقدّم ليستقيم ذلك بالعربيّة وهو مثل قول من يقول آب ميار فإنّ ترجمته بالعربيّة ماء هات فأخّرت الماء وقدّمت هات وكذلك اللغات فيما يستقيم إذا نقل إلى العربيّة وأعوذ بالله أن أزيد في ذلك أو أنقص منه إلّا على هذا الوجه الذي ذكرته وبيّنته في هذا الكتاب.‬‎

III.7. Al-Ṣafadī, Kitāb al-ġayṯ al-musaǧǧam, 46.12–25 (Cairo ed. 1305 AH).

‮وللترجمة في النقل طريقان أحدهما طريق يوحنّا بن البطريق وابن الناعمة الحمصيّ وغيرهما وهو أن ينظر إلی كلّ كلمة مفردة من الكلمات اليونانيّة وما تدلّ عليه من المعنی فيأتي بلفظة مفردة من الكلمات العربيّة ترادفها في الدلالة علی ذلك المعنی فيثبتها وينتقل إلی الأخری كذلك حتّی يأتي علی جملة ما يريد تعريبه وهذه الطريقة رديئة لوجهين أحدهما أنّه لا يوجد في الكلمات العربيّة  كلمات تقابل جميع الكلمات اليونانيّة ولهذا وقع في خلال هذا التعريب كثير من الألفاظ اليونانيّة علی حالها الثاني أنّ خواصّ التركيب والنسب الإسناديّة لا تطابق نظيرها من لغة أخری دائماً وأيضاً يقع الخلل من جهة استعمال المجازات وهي كثيرة في جميع اللغات.‬‎

‮الطريق الثاني في التعريب طريق حنين ابن إسحاق والجوهريّ وغيرهما وهو أن يأتي إلی الجملة فيحصل معناها في ذهنه ويعبّر عنها من اللغة الأخری بجملة تطابقها سواء ساوت الألفاظ أم خالفتها وهذه الطريق أجود ولهذا لم تحتج كتب حنين بن إسحاق إلی تهذيب إلّا في العلوم الرياضيّة لأنّه لم يكن قيّماً بها بخلاف كتب الطبّ والمنطق والطبيعيّ والإلاهيّ فإنّ الذي عرّبه منها لم يحتج إلی إصلاح فأمّا أوقليدس فقد هدّبه ثابت بن قرّة الحرّانيّ وكذلك المجسطيّ والمتوسّطات بينهما.‬‎

IV. Problems: Difficulties and Criticisms

IV.1. Al-Bīrūnī, Taḥqīq mā li-l-hind, I, 76.6–10 (ed. Sachau).

‮ولهم فنون من العلم أخر كثيرة وكتب لا تكاد تحصی ولكنّي لم أحط بها علماً وبودّي أن كنت أتمكّن من ترجمة كتاب پنچ تنتر وهو المعروف عندنا بكتاب كليلة ودمنة فإنّه تردّد بين الفارسيّة والهنديّة ثمّ العربيّة والفارسيّة علی ألسنة قوم لا يؤمن تغييرهم إيّاه كعبد الله بن المقفّع في زيادته باب برزويه فيه قاصداً تشكيك ضعفي القوائد في الدين وكسرهم للدعوة إلی مذهب المنانيّة وإذا كان متّهماً فيما زاد لم يخل عن مثله فيما نقل.‬‎

IV.2. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-bayān wa-l-tabyīn, III, 29.9–12 (ed. Hārūn).

‮ونحن لا نستطيع أن نعلم أنّ الرسائل التي بأيدي الناس للفرس أنّها صحيحة غير مصنوعة وقديمة غير مولّدة إذ كان مثل ابن المقفّع وسهل بن هارون وأبي عبيد الله وعبد الحميد وغَيلان يستطيعون أن يولّدوا مثل تلك الرسائل ويصنعوا مثل تلك السير.‬‎

IV.3. Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 29.17–30.19 (ed. Lippert).

‮قال غير ابن إسحق فراسل المأمون ملك الروم وكان قد استطال عليه وأذلّ دين الكفر وطلب منه كتب الحكمة من كلام أرسطوطاليس فطلبها ملك الروم فلم يجد لها ببلاده أثراً فاغتمّ بذلك وقال يطلب منّي ملك المسلمين علم سلفي من يونان فلا أجده أيّ عذر يكون لي أم أيّ قيمة تبقی لهذه الفرقة الروميّة عند المسلمين وأخذ في السؤال والبحث.‬‎

‮فحضر إليه أحد الرهبان المنقطعين في بعض الأديرة النازحة عن القسطنطينيّة وقال له عندي علم ما تريد فقال له أدركني فقال إنّ البيت الفلانيّ في موضع كذا الذي يقفل كلّ ملك عليه قفلاً إذا ملّك ما فيه قال فيه علی ما يقال مال الملوك المتقدّمين وكلّ ملك يجيء يقفل عليه حتّی لا يقال قد احتاج إلی ما فيه لسوء تدبيره ففتحه فقال له الراهب ليس الأمر كذلك وإنّما في ذلك الموضع هيكل كانت يونان تتعبّد به قبل استقرار ملّة المسيح فلمّا تقرّرت ملّته بهذه الجهات في أيّام قسطنطين بن ألانة جمعت كتب الحكمة من أيدي الناس وجعلت في ذلك البيت وأغلق بابه وقفّل الملوك عليه إقفالاً كما سمعت.‬‎

‮فجمع الملك مقدّمي دولته وعرّفهم الأمر واستشارهم في فتح البيت فأشاروا بذلك فاستشار الراهب في تسييرها إذا وجدت إلی بلد الإسلام وهل عليه في ذلك خطر في الدنيا أم إثم في الأخری فقال له الراهب سيّرها فإنّك تثاب عليه فإنّها ما دخلت في ملّة إلّا وزلزلت قواعدها.‬‎

‮فسار إلی البيت وفتحه ووجد الأمر فيه كما ذكر الراهب ووجدوا فيه كتباً كثيرة فأخذوا من جانبها بغير علم ولا فحص خمسة أحمال وسيّرت إلی المأمون فأحضر لها المأمون المترجمين فاستخرجوها من الروميّة إلی العربيّة ثمّ تنبّه الناس بعد ذلك علی تطلّبها بعد المأمون وتحيّلوا إلی أن حصّلوا منها الجملة الكثيرة.‬‎

‮ولمّا سيّرت الكتب إلی المأمون جاء بعضها تامّاً وبعضها ناقصاً فالناقص منها ناقص إلی اليوم لم يجد أحد تمامه.‬‎

IV.4. Al-Maqdisī, Muḫtaṣar al-ḥuǧǧah, 661.6–663.13 (ed. Hārūn).

‮فأوّل الحوادث التي أحدثوها إخراج كتب اليونانيّة إلی أرض الإسلام وترجمت بالعربيّة وشاعت في أيدي المسلمين. وسبب خروجها من أرض الروم إلی بلد الإسلام يحيی بن خالد بن برمك وذلك أنّ كتب اليونانيّة كانت ببلد الروم وكان ملك الروم خاف ⟨علی الروم⟩ إن نظروا في كتب اليونانيّة تركوا دين النصرانيّة ويرجعون إلی اليونانيّة فتتشتّت كلمتهم وتتفرّق جماعتهم فجمع الكتب في موضع وبنی عليها بناء مطمساً بالحجارة والجصّ حتّی لا يوصل إليها.‬‎

‮فلمّا أفضت رئاسة دولة بني العبّاس إلی يحيی بن خالد وكان زنديقاً بلغه خبر الكتب التي في المبنی ببلد الروم فصانع ملك الروم الذي كان في وقته بالهدايا ولا يلتمس منه حاجة فلمّا أكثر عليه جمع الملك بطارقته وقال لهم: إنّ هذا الرجل خادم العربيّ قد أكثر عليّ من هداياه ولا يطلبني حاجة وما أراه يلتمس إلّا حاجة وأخاف أن تكون حاجة تشقّ عليّ وقد شغل بالي. فلمّا جاءه رسول يحيی قال له: قل لصاحبك إن كانت له ⟨حاجة⟩ فاليذكرها. فلمّا أخبر الرسول يحيی ردّه إليه وقال له: حاجتي الكتب التي تحت البناء يرسلها إليّ أخرج فيها بعض ما أحتاج وأردّها إليه.‬‎

‮فلمّا قرأ الروميّ كتابه استطار فرحاً وجمع البطارقة والأساقفة والرهبان وقال لهم: قد كنت ذكرت لكم عن خادم العربيّ أنّه لا يخلو من حاجة وقد أفضح بحاجته وهي أخفّ الحوائج عليّ وقد رأيت رأياً فاسمعوه فإن رضيتموه أمضيه وإن رأيتم خلافه تشاورنا في ذلك حتّی تتّفق كلمتنا. فقالوا: وما هو؟ قال: حاجته الكتب اليونانيّة يستخرج منها ما أحبّ ويردّها. قالوا: فما رأيك؟ قال: قد علمت أنّه ما بنی عليها من كان قبلنا إلّا أنّه خاف إن وقعت في أيدي النصاری وقرؤوها كان سبباً لهلاك دينهم وتبديل جماعتهم وأنا أری أن أبعث بها إليها وأسأله أن لا يردّها يبتلون بها ونسلم من شرّها فإنّي لا آمن أن يكون من بعدي من يجترئ علی إخراجها إلی الناس فيقعوا فيما خيف عليهم. فقالوا: نعم الرأي ما رأيت أيّها الملك فأمضه!‬‎

‮فبعث بالكتب إلی يحيی بن خالد فلمّا وصلت إليه جمع عليها كلّ زنديق وفيلسوف فممّا أخرج منها كتاب حدّ المنطق.‬‎

IV.5a. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-ḥayawān, I, 74.14–75.4 (ed. Hārūn).

‮وفضيلة الشعر مقصورة على العرب وعلى من تكلّم بلسان العرب والشعر لا يستطاع أن يترجم ولا يجوز عليه النقل ومتى حوّل تقطّع نظمه وبطل وزنه وذهب حسنه وسقط موضع التعجّب لا كالكلام المنثور والكلام المنثور المبتدأ على ذلك أحسن وأوقع من المنثور الذي تحوّل من موزون الشعر.‬‎

IV.5b. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-ḥayawān, I, 75.10–16 (ed. Hārūn)

‮وقد نقلت كتب الهند وترجمت حكم اليونانيّة وحوّلت آداب الفرس فبعضها ازداد حسناً وبعضها ما انتقص شيئاً ولو حوّلت حكمة العرب لبطل ذلك المعجز الذي هو الوزن مع أنّهم لو حوّلوها لم يجدوا في معانيها شيئاً لم تذكره العجم في كتبهم التي وضعت لمعاشهم وفطنهم وحكمهم. وقد نقلت هذه الكتب من أمّة إلى أمّة ومن قرن إلى قرن ومن لسان إلى لسان حتّى انتهت إلينا وكنّا آخر من ورثها ونظر فيها. فقد صحّ أنّ الكتب أبلغ في تقييد المآثر من البنيان والشعر.‬‎

IV.5c. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-ḥayawān, I, 75.18–77.4 (ed. Hārūn).

‮ثّم قال بعض من ينصر الشعر ويحوطه ويحتجّ له إنّ الترجمان لا يؤدّي أبداً ما قال الحكيم على خصائص معانيه وحقائق مذاهبه ودقائق اختصاراته وخفيّات حدوده ولا يقدر أن يوفيها حقوقها ويؤدّي الأمانة فيها ويقوم بما يلزم الوكيل ويجب على الجريّ وكيف يقدر على أدائها وتسليم معانيها والإخبار عنها على حقّها وصدقها إلّا أن يكون في العلم بمعانيها واستعمال تصاريف ألفاظها وتأويلات مخارجها ومثل مؤلّف الكتاب وواضعه فمتى كان رحمه الله تعالى ابن البطريق وابن ناعمة وابن قرّة وابن فهريز‭474‬ وثيفيل وابن وهيلى وابن المقفّع مثل أرسطاطاليس ومتى كان خالد مثل أفلاطون؟‬‎

‮ولا بدّ للترجمان من أن يكون بيانه في نفس الترجمة في وزن علمه في نفس المعرفة وينبغي أن يكون أعلم الناس باللغة المنقولة والمنقول إليها حتّى يكون فيهما سواء وغاية ومتى وجدناه أيضاً قد تكلّم بلسانين علمنا أنّه قد أدخل الضيم عليهما لأنّ كلّ واحدة من اللغتين تجذب الأخرى وتأخذ منها وتعترض عليها وكيف يكون تمكّن اللسان منهما مجتمعين فيه كتمكّنه إذا انفرد بالواحدة وإنّما له قوّة واحدة فإن تكلّم بلغة واحدة استفرغت تلك القوّة عليهما وكذلك إن تكلّم بأكثر من لغتين وعلى حساب ذلك تكون الترجمة لجميع اللغات.‬‎

‮وكلّما كان الباب من العلم أعسر وأضيق والعلماء به أقلّ كان أشدّ على المترجم وأجدر أن يخطئ فيه ولن تجد البتّة مترجماً يفي بواحد من هؤلاء العلماء.‬‎

IV.5d. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-ḥayawān, I, 77.6–11, 78.2–5 (ed. Hārūn).

‮هذا قولنا في كتب الهندسة والتنجيم والحساب واللحون فكيف لو كانت هذه الكتب كتب دين وإخبار عن الله عزّ وجلّ بما يجوز عليه ممّا لا يجوز عليه حتّى يريد أن يتكلّم على تصحيح المعاني في الطبائع ويكون ذلك معقوداً بالتوحيد ويتكلّم في وجوه الإخبار واحتمالاته للوجوه ويكون ذلك متضمّناً بما يجوز على الله تعالى ممّا لا يجوز وبما يجوز على الناس ممّا لا يجوز […] والذي ذكرنا قليل من كثير ومتى لم يعرف ذلك المترجم أخطأ في تأويل كلام الدين والخطأ في الدين أضرّ من الخطأ في الرياضة والصناعة والفلسفة والكيمياء وفي بعض المعيشة التي يعيش بها بنو آدم.‬‎

IV.5e. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-ḥayawān, I, 78.6–14 (ed. Hārūn).

‮وإذا كان المترجم الذي قد ترجم لا يكمل لذلك أخطأ على قدر نقصانه من الكمال وما علم المترجم بالدليل عن شبه الدليل وما علمه بالأخبار النجوميّة وما علمه بالحدود الخفيّة وما علمه بإصلاح سقطات الكلام وأسقاط الناسخين للكتاب وما علمه ببعض الخطرفة لبعض المقدّمات؟ وقد علمنا أنّ المقدّمات لا بدّ أنّ تكون اضطراريّة ولا أن تكون مرتّبة وكالخيط الممدود. وابن البطريق وابن قرّة لا يفهمان هذا موصوفاً منزّلاً ومرتّباً مفصّلاً من معلّم رفيق ومن حاذق طبّ فكيف بكتاب قد تداولته اللغات واختلاف الأقلام وأجناس خطوط الملل والأمم؟‬‎

IV.5f. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-ḥayawān, I, 78.18–79.3 (ed. Hārūn).

‮ثمّ يصير إلى ما يعرض من الآفات لأصفاف الناسخين وذلك أنّ نسخته لا يعدمها الخطأ ثمّ ينسخ له من تلك النسخة من يزيده من الخطأ الذي يجده في النسخة ثمّ لا ينقص منه ثمّ يعارض بذلك من يترك ذلك المقدار من الخطأ على حاله إذا كان ليس من طاقته إصلاح السقط الذي لا يجده في نسخته.‬‎

IV.5g. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Kitāb al-ḥayawān, VI, 280.3–11 (ed. Hārūn).

‮وزعمتم أنّكم وجدتم ذكر الشهب في كتب القدماء من الفلاسفة وأنّه في الآثار العلويّة لأرسطاطاليس حين ذكر القول في الشهب مع القول في الكواكب ذوات الذوائب ومع القول في القوس والطوق الذي يكون حول القمر بالليل فإن كنتم بمثل هذا تستعينون وإليه تفزعون فإنّا نوجدكم من كذب التراجمة وزيادتهم ومن فساد الكتاب من جهة تأويل الكلام ومن جهة جهل المترجم بنقل لغة إلى لغة ومن جهة فساد النسخ ومن أنّه قد تقادم فاعترضت دونه الدهور والأحقاب فصار لا يؤمن عليه ضروب التبديل والفساد وهذا الكلام معروف صحيح.‬‎

IV.6. Al-Bīrūnī, Kitāb al-ṣaydanah, 14.8–15.2/Ar. (ed. Meyerhof).

‮قد حظيت في غريزتي منذ حداثتي بفرط الحرص علی اقتناء المعارف بحسب السنّ والحال ويكفي شاهداً عليه أنّ روميّاً حلّ أرضنا فكنت أجيء بالحبوب والبزور والثمار والنبات وغيرها وأسأله عن أسمائها بلغته وأحرّرها ولكنّ للكتابة العربيّة آفة عظيمة هي تشابه صور الحروف المزدوجة فيها واضطرارها في التمايز إلی نقط العجم وعلامات الإعراب التي إذا تركت استبهم المفهوم منها فإذا انضاف إليه إغفال المعارضة وإهمال التصحيح بالمقابلة وذلك من الفعل عامّ قومنا يساوي به وجود الكتاب وعدمه بل علم ما فيه وجهله.‬‎

‮لولا هذه الآفة لكفی نقل ما في كتب ديسقوريذس وجالينوس وبولس وأوريباسيوس المنقولة إلی العربيّ من الأسامي اليونانيّة إلّا أنّا لا نثق بها ولا نأمن التغايير في نسخها وللتراجمة فيها خيانة أخری هو ترك بعض ما يوجد في أرضنا من العقاقير وفي لغة العرب اسم لها علی حاله باليونانيّة حتّی يُحوِج بعد الترجمة إلی تفسير كالكرفس الجبليّ والجزر البرّيّ والزرشك ولحية التيس وأمثالها فإنّهم لم ينقلوها إلی العربيّة كما لم ينقلوا أسماء كتب المنطق من المدخل والمقولات والعبارة والقياس والبرهان فتضاعف البغض والبرودة فيها من جانب الخصوم.‬‎

IV.7. Al-Fārābī, Kitāb al-ḥurūf, 112.1–9, 112.20, 114.13–115.1 (ed. Mahdi).

‮وليس في العربيّة منذ أوّل وضعها لفظة تقوم مقام هست في الفارسيّة ولا مقام استين في اليونانيّة ولا مقام نظائر هاتين اللفظتين في سائر الألسنة وهذه يحتاج إليها ضرورة في العلوم النظريّة وفي صناعة المنطق. فلمّا انتقلت الفلسفة إلی العرب واحتاجت الفلاسفة الذين يتكلّمون بالعربيّة ويجعلون عبارتهم عن المعاني التي في الفلسفة وفي المنطق بلسان العرب ولم يجدوا في لغة العرب منذ أوّل ما وضعت لفظة ينقلوا بها الأمكنة التي تستعمل فيها استين في اليونانيّة وهست بالفارسيّة فيجعلوها تقوم مقام هذه الألفاظ في الأمكنة التي يستعملها فيها سائر الأمم فبعضهم رأی أن يستعمل لفظة هو مكان هست بالفارسيّة واستين باليونانيّة. […] ورأی آخرون أن يستعملوا مكان تلك الألفاظ بدل الهو لفظة الموجود. […]‬‎

‮ولأنّ هذه اللفظة بحيث ما هي عربيّة وبنيتها عندهم هذه البنية صارت مغلطة جدّاً رأی قوم أن يتجنّبوا استعمالها واستعملوا مكانها قولنا هو ومكان الوجود الهويّة ولأنّ لفظة هو ليست باسم ولا كلمة في العربيّة ولذلك لا يمكن فيها أن نعمل منها مصدراً أصلاً وكان يحتاج في الدلالة علی هذه المعاني التي يلتمس أن يدلّ عليها في العلوم النظريّة إلی اسم وكان يحتاج إلی أن يعمل منه مثل الرجل والرجوليّة والإنسان والإنسانيّة رأی قوم أن يتجنّبوها ويستعملوا الموجود مكان هو والوجود مكان الهويّة. وأمّا أنا فإنّي أری أنّ الإنسان له أن يستعمل أيّهما شاء.‬‎

IV.8a. Al-Tawḥīdī, Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah, I, 111.11–112.6 (ed. Amīn and al-Zayn).

‮قال: أنت إذاً لست تدعونا إلى علم المنطق إنّما تدعو إلى تعلّم اللغة اليونانيّة وأنت لا تعرف لغة يونان؟ فكيف صرت تدعونا إلى لغة لا تفي بها وقد عفت منذ زمان طويل وباد أهلها وانقرض القوم الذين كانوا يتفاوضون بها ويتفاهمون أغراضهم بتصاريفها؟ على أنّك تنقل من السريانيّة فما تقول في معانٍ متحوّلة بالنقل من لغة يونان إلى لغة أخرى سريانيّة ثمّ من هذه إلى أخرى عربيّة؟‬‎

‮قال متّى: يونان وإن بادت مع لغتها فإنّ الترجمة حفظت الأغراض وأدّت المعاني وأخلصت الحقائق.‬‎

‮قال أبو سعيد: إذا سلّمنا لك أنّ الترجمة صدقت وما كذبت وقوّمت وما حرّفت ووزنت وما جزفت وأنّها ⟨ما⟩ التاثت ولا حافت ولا نقصت ولا زادت ولا قدّمت ولا أخّرت ولا أخلّت بمعنى الخاصّ والعامّ ولا ⟨بأخصّ الخاصّ ولا⟩ بأعمّ العامّ—وإن كان هذا لا يكون وليس هو في طبائع اللغات ولا في مقادير المعاني—فكأنّك تقول: لا حجّة إلّا عقول يونان ولا برهان إلّا ما وضعوه ولا حقيقة إلّا ما أبرزوه.‬‎

IV.8b. Al-Tawḥīdī, Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah, I, 115.7–15 (ed. Amīn and al-Zayn).

‮(قال أبو سعيد:) وإذا لم يكن لك بدّ من قليل هذه اللغة من أجل الترجمة فلا بدّ لك أيضاً من كثيرها من أجل تحقيق الترجمة واجتلاب الثقة والتوقّي من الخلّة اللاحقة.‬‎

‮فقال متّى: يكفيني من لغتكم هذه الاسم والفعل والحرف فإنّي أتبلّغ بهذا القدر إلى أغراض قد هذّبتها لي يونان.‬‎

‮قال: أخطأت لأنّك في هذا الاسم والفعل والحرف فقير إلى وصفها وبنائها على الترتيب الواقع في غرائز أهلها وكذلك أنت محتاج بعد هذا إلى حركات هذه الأسماء والأفعال والحروف فإنّ الخطأ والتحريف في الحركات كالخطأ والفساد في المتحرّكات.‬‎

IV.8c. Al-Tawḥīdī, Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah, I, 115.15–116.9 (ed. Amīn and al-Zayn).

‮(قال أبو سعيد:) وهذا باب ⟨أنت وأصحابك ورهطك عنه في غفلة على أنّ هاهنا سرّاً ما علق⟩ بك ولا أسفر لعقلك وهو أن تلعم أنّ لغة من اللغات لا تطابق لغة أخرى من جميع جهاتها بحدود صفاتها في أسمائها وأفعالها وحروفها وتأليفها وتقديمها وتأخيرها واستعارتها وتحقيقها وتشديدها وتخفيفها وسعتها وضيقها ونظمها ونثرها وسجعها ووزنها وميلها وغير ذلك ممّا يطول ذكره وما أظنّ أحداً يدفع هذا الحكم أو يشكّ في صوابه ممّن يرجع إلى مسكة من عقل أو نُصَيب من إنصاف فمن أين يجب أن تثق بشيء ترجم لك على هذا الوصف؟ بل أنت إلى تعرّف اللغة العربيّة أحوج منك إلى تعرّف المعاني اليونانيّة على أنّ المعاني لا تكون يونانيّة ولا هنديّة كما أنّ اللغات تكون فارسيّة وعربيّة وتركيّة ومع هذا فإنّك تزعم أنّ المعاني حاصلة بالعقل والفحص والفكر فلم يبق إلّا أحكام اللغة فلِمَ تزري على العربيّة وأنت تشرح كتب أرسطوطاليس بها مع جهلك بحقيقتها؟‬‎

IV.8d. Al-Tawḥīdī, Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah, I, 121.6–10 (ed. Amīn and al-Zayn).

‮(قال أبو سعيد:) وكلّ ذلك محصور بالتتبّع والرواية والسماع والقياس المطّرد على الأصل المعروف من غير تحريف وإنّما دخل العجب على المنطقيّين لظنّهم أنّ المعاني لا تعرف ولا تستوضح إلّا بطريقهم ونظرهم وتكلّفهم فترجموا لغة هم فيها ضعفاء ناقصون ⟨بترجمة أخری هم فيها ضعفاء ناقصون⟩ وجعلوا تلك الترجمة صناعة وادّعوا على النحويين أنّهم مع اللفظ لا مع المعنى.‬‎

IV.9. Al-Bīrūnī, Kitāb al-ṣaydanah, 13.2–18/Ar. (ed. Meyerhof).

‮وإلی لسان العرب نقلت العلوم من أقطار العالم فازدانت وحلت في الأفئدة وسرت محاسن اللغة منها في الشرايين والأوردة وإن كانت كلّ أمّة تستحلي لغتها التي ألفتها واعتادتها واستعملتها في مآربها مع ألّافها وأشكالها وأقيس هذا بنفسي وهي مطبوعة علی لغة لو خُلِد به علم لاستغرب استغراب البعير علی الميزاب والزرافة في العراب ثمّ منتقلة إلی العربيّة والفارسيّة فأنا في كلّ واحدة دخيل ولها متكلّف والهجو بالعربيّة أحبّ إليّ من المدح بالفارسيّة وسيعرف مصداق قولي من تأمّل كتاب علم قد نقل إلی الفارسيّ كيف ذهب رونقه وكسف باله واسودّ وجهه وزال الانتفاع به إذ لا تصلح هذه اللغة إلّا للأخبار الكسرويّة والأسمار الليليّة.‬‎

V. Why Do We Translate?

V.1. Al-Kindī, Fī l-falsafah al-ūlā, I, 103.1–7 (ed. Abū Rīdah).

‮فأمّا أرسطوطالس مبرّز اليونانيّين في الفلسفة فقال: ينبغي لنا أن نشكر آباء الذين أتوا بشيء من الحقّ إذ كانوا سبب كونهم فضلاً عنهم إذ هم سبب لهم وإذ هم سبب لنا إلی نيل الحقّ فما أحسن ما قال في ذلك.‬‎

‮وينبغي لنا أن لا نستحي من استحسان الحقّ واقتناء الحقّ من أين أتی وإن أتی من الأجناس القاصية عنّا والأمم المباينة ⟨لنا⟩ فإنّه لا شيء أولی بطالب الحقّ من الحقّ وليس بخس الحقّ ولا تصغير بقائله ولا بالآتي به ولا أحد بخس بالحقّ بل كلّ يشرفه الحقّ.‬‎


This research for this chapter was funded by the Wellcome Trust (grant no. 212385/Z/18/Z). The transliteration of Arabic names and terms follows the standard established by the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft.


See below, 255–256, and I.5 with n. 52.


See Gotthard Strohmaier, ‘Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq’, EI Three.


He is also mentioned in Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s list of translation sponsors quoted below, II.2 with n. 267.


See Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah. Gotthelf Bergsträßer’s edition and German translation of the Epistle, with additions and revisions in Bergsträßer, Neue Materialien, are preferable to John C. Lamoreaux’s recent Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq on His Galen Translations, a re-edition and English translation of only one of the recensions of the Epistle; see the review by Gutas, ‘A New “Edition” ’. An abridged version of the Epistle that only records titles, length in books, and translator of each work was edited and translated by Käs in ‘Eine neue Handschrift’.


See Ullmann, Wörterbuch, 30–31.


See Harold Bowen, ‘ʿAlī b. ʿĪsā’, EI2.


See Johann W. Fück, ‘Ibn al-Nadīm’, EI2. The Catalogue has been edited several times. The sample texts below quote the text of Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist. On occasion we refer to readings in two other editions, by Riḍā Taǧaddud (Kitāb al-fihrist li-l-Nadīm) and Ayman Fuʾād Sayyid (al-Fihrist li-l-Nadīm). The text has been translated into English by Bayard Dodge as The Fihrist of al-Nadīm.


II.1 records him as the patron of the first translator listed by Ibn al-Nadīm, Iṣṭifan the Elder. On Ḫālid’s alleged interest in alchemy, see Ullmann, ‘Ḫālid ibn al-Yazīd’, esp. 193–194, 211–218.


See Gutas, Greek Thought, 25–27, esp. 27.


Ibid., 28–60.


Ibid., 95–104.


See al-Ǧāḥiẓ’s remarks in IV.5c, IV.5f, and IV.5g. Abū Ḥayyān al-Tawḥīdī (d. 414/1023), a great admirer of al-Ǧāḥiẓ, also discussed this problem; see IV.8a–c.


On this problem, see Zadeh, The Vernacular Qurʾan, 214–250.


See al-Ǧāḥiẓ, ‘Ḥuǧaǧ al-nubuwwah’, 278.8–280.15, and Ibn Qutaybah, Taʾwīl muškil al-Qurʾān, 12.7–13.


Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, ‘al-Radd ʿalā l-naṣārā’, 329.18–331.3.


Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, ‘al-Radd ʿalā l-naṣārā’, 314.9–315.10. Al-Ǧāḥiẓ also wrote an epistle against medicine and physicians that was refuted by Abū Zakariyāʾ al-Rāzī (d. 313/925 or 323/935; see below, I.8 with n. 80). Both works are lost; see Pellat, ‘Nouvel essai’, 160, n. 221. A century later, the Muʿtazilite theologian ʿAbd al-Ǧabbār (d. 415/1025) devoted a substantial part of his polemic against the Christians to a refutation of the scientific value of medicine; see his Taṯbīt, esp. 612–641.


See Gutas, Greek Thought, esp. 28–60 and 75–106.


See Gutas, ‘The “Alexandria to Baghdad” Complex of Narratives’, 155–193.


See Gutas, Greek Thought, 83–95.


See below, II.4.


See Charles Pellat, ‘al-Masʿūdī’, EI2.


See Michael Lecker, ‘Zayd b. Thābit’, EI2.


Another translation: al-Masʿūdī, Le Livre de l’ avertissement, 371–372 (French).


Parallels: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 324.19–325.4; and Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 421.8–11.


See below, I.6 with n. 63.


On the Arabic translations of Orosius’s Histories, see below, I.12 with n. 122.


On Ibn Ǧulǧul, see Ignacio Sánchez, ‘Ibn Juljul, Abū Daʾūd Sulaymān b. Ḥassān’, EI Three.


See Meyerhof, ‘Mediaeval Jewish Physicians’, 435–437.


The medical Handbook (Kunnāš) of Ahrun ibn Aʿyān al-Qass (fl. first/seventh century), originally written in Greek, was translated early on into Arabic through a Syriac intermediary. The translation itself is lost, but the work was frequently quoted by later authors. See Albert Dietrich, ‘Ahrun’, EI2; and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 87–89.


See Richter-Bernburg, ‘Islamischer Hellenismus’, 48–49; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 23–24.


In another report quoted below (I.12), Ibn Ǧulǧul mentions the role the Umayyad ruler of al-Andalus played in the translation of an important Greek pharmacological work.


The Umayyad caliph ʿUmar II.


Parallels: Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 242.25–30, translated in Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 48; and Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, II, 583 (English).


See Franz Rosenthal and Carl Heinrich Becker, ‘Balādhurī’, EI2; and Charles Bosworth, ‘Balāḏorī’, Encyclopaedia Iranica.


The shorter and less colourful account of this event in Ibn al-Nadīm (Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 242.25–30) credits either Hišām or ʿAbd al-Malik; see Gutas, Greek Thought, 17, 23.


According to Ibn al-Nadīm (Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 242.27–28), Abū Ṯābit Sulaymān ibn Saʿd (fl. late first/seventh century) was a client of the Prophet’s nephew Ḥusayn and directed the caliphal chancery during the reign of ʿAbd al-Malik.


Sarǧūn ibn Manṣūr (fl. first/seventh century), a member of a Damascene Melkite family who already had administrative responsibilities under the Byzantines, headed the financial administration (dīwān) for the Umayyad caliphs from Muʿāwiyah I (r. 41/661–60/680) to ʿAbd al-Malik; see Sprengling, ‘From Persian to Arabic’, 182.


Parallels: Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 242.8–25, translated in Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 47–48; and Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, 582–583 (English).


See Albert Dietrich, ‘al-Ḥadjdjādj b. Yūsuf’, EI2; Gutas, Greek Thought, 26. The episode is discussed in detail by Sprengling, ‘From Persian to Arabic’, 194–197.


The early Arab historian al-Madāʾinī (d. 228/843); see Ursula Sezgin, ‘al-Madāʾinī’, EI2.


Zādān Farrūḫ ibn Bīrī (d. 82/701) was a Persian tax official in the employ of the governors of Iraq from Ziyād ibn Abīhi (d. 53/673) onward; see Sprengling, ‘From Persian to Arabic’, 185–190.


Abū l-Walīd Ṣāliḥ ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān (d. shortly after 101/720), a Persian freedman and Muslim convert, the successor of Zādān Farrūḫ as the administrator of taxes in Iraq and later the province’s chief treasurer under the caliph Sulaymān (r. 96/715–99/717); see Sprengling, ‘From Persian to Arabic’, 191–208.


ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ašʿaṯ al-Kindī (d. 85/704), an Arab general during the early Umayyad caliphate and the leader of an unsuccessful rebellion against the governor of Iraq, al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ ibn Yūsuf; see Laura Veccia Vaglieri, ‘Ibn al-Ashʿath’, EI2.


The son of Zādān Farrūḫ and, like his father, a tax official in the service of the governors of Iraq.


ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd ibn Yaḥyā al-Kātib (d. 132/750), secretary to several Umayyad caliphs, epistolographer, and one of the earliest masters of Arabic literary prose. His style was largely inspired by Persian secretarial practices, as the philologist Abū Hilāl al-ʿAskarī pointed out in his Dīwān al-maʿānī, II, 89.10–12. See Wadād al-Qāḍī, ‘ʿAbd al-Ḥamīd b. Yaḥyā al-Kātib’, EI Three.


The Umayyad caliph Marwān II ibn Muḥammad ibn Marwān (r. 127/744–132/750).


ʿUmar ibn Šabbah (d. 262/878) was a scholar of history and poetry whose works, now mostly lost, with the exception of his History of Medina (Taʾrīḫ al-Madīnah al-munawwarah), became important sources for later historians; see Stefan Leder, ‘ʿUmar b. Shabba’, EI2.


Abū ʿĀṣim al-Nabīl (d. 212/828), who was born in Mecca but later taught in Basra, was a transmitter of Prophetic traditions.


Sahl ibn Abī l-Ṣalt al-Sarrā (fl. late second/eighth century), originally from Basra, was a renowned transmitter of Prophetic traditions; see Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī, Tahḏīb al-tahḏīb, II, 125.7–36.


Parallels: Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Kitāb ṭabaqāt al-umam, 36.11–14; Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 380.10–14; and Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 446.5–7.


Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq was the most accomplished and productive translator of the ʿAbbāsid translation movement. He was also a practising physician and composed numerous original works on medicine that enjoyed great popularity. The most famous, finished posthumously by his nephew Ḥubayš, is the Introduction to Medicine (al-Madḫal fī l-ṭibb), also known as Questions on Medicine (Masāʾil fī l-ṭibb). This work was widely used as a teaching text for medicine. A version of Ḥunayn’s Introduction was later translated into Latin under the title Isagoge Joannitii ad tegni Galieni. See above, 255–256; and Gotthard Strohmaier, ‘Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq’, EI Three.


See Jean-Claude Vadet, ‘Ibn Māsawayh’, EI2; Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 717; Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 152–155; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 118–119.


See Gutas, Greek Thought, 123; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 155.


The ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Amīn (r. 193/809–198/813).


The ʿAbbāsid caliph al-Maʾmūn.


Another translation: Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 154–155 (French, partial).


Parallel: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 64.2–6.


On the complex textual tradition of the various translations of Euclid’s Elements, see Brentjes, ‘Textzeugen und Hypothesen’.


A somewhat garbled Arabic transliteration of the original Greek title, Στοιχεῖα.


Al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ ibn Yūsuf ibn Maṭar (fl. 169/786–218/833) translated Euclid’s Elements at the request of Hārūn al-Rašīd and revised it during the reign of al-Maʾmūn. For the latter he also translated Ptolemy’s astronomical tables; see Gregg De Young and Sonja Brentjes, ‘al-Ḥajjāj b. Yūsuf b. Maṭar’, EI Three. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿāh (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 468.14–18) reported that he was part of a mission dispatched by al-Maʾmūn to Byzantium in search for books; see Gutas, Greek Thought, 148.


I.e., it was translated for the caliph Hārūn al-Rašīd.


Isḥāq ibn Ḥunayn, son of the physician and master translator Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, followed in his father’s footsteps and translated a number of medical works, but is mainly known as a translator of philosophical texts; see below, II.9, and Gotthard Strohmaier, ‘Isḥāq b. Ḥunayn’, EI2.


Ṯābit ibn Qurrah (d. 288/901) was a mathematician and astronomer from the northern Mesopotamian city of Ḥarrān who worked as a translator in Baghdad under the patronage of the Banū Mūsā family; see Roshdi Rashed and Régis Morelon, ‘Thābit b. Ḳurra’, EI2. He belonged to the Ṣābians, a late antique religious group concentrated in Ḥarrān, whose cult centered around the worship of the moon and other astral bodies; see Strohmaier, ‘Ḥarrān’.


The Christian physician Abū ʿUṯmān Saʿīd ibn Yaʿqūb al-Dimašqī (fl. fourth/tenth century) was a translator mainly of philosophical and medical texts in the service of the ‘good vizier’ ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā ibn al-Ǧarrāḥ. See Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 298.23–25; Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 409.14–16; and Gerhard Endress, ‘Abū ʿUthmān al-Dimashqī’, EI Three.


ʿAlī ibn Aḥmad al-ʿImrānī (d. 344/955–956), born in Mosul, was a mathematician, expert in arithmetic and geometry, and a renowned collector of books. His private library was open to anyone willing to learn. See Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 233.13–19, and Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 283.1–4.


Other translations: Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, II, 634–635 (English); and Kapp, ‘Arabische Übersetzer’, 164 (German).


Parallel: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 97.20–98.2.


On Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid and the Barmakid family, see Gutas, Greek Thought, 128–129, and Kevin van Bladel, ‘Barmakids’, EI Three.




Salm (fl. third/ninth century), a translator from Persian into Arabic, served as the head of the caliphal library, the so-called House of Wisdom (bayt al-ḥikmah); see Dimitri Gutas and Kevin van Bladel, ‘Bayt al-Ḥikma’, EI Three.


See above, I.6 with n. 61.


Abū l-ʿAbbās al-Faḍl ibn Ḥātim al-Nayrīzī (fl. c. 285/900) was a Persian astronomer and geometer. He wrote a commentary on al-Ḥaǧǧāǧ ibn Maṭar’s Arabic translation of Euclid’s Elements. See Jan Hogendijk, ‘al-Nayrīzī’, EI2.


See above, I.6 with n. 64.


See above, I.6 with n. 63.


Another translation: Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, II, 639 (English).


Parallels: cf. the list of Indian medical works translated into Arabic in Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 303.5–13, translated in Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, II, 710 (English).


See Juan Vernet, ‘Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’, EI2.


Nothing is known about this author, and the Arabic transliteration probably distorted the original name beyond recognition. Sanǧahal is also mentioned by Ibn al-Nadīm as the author of a work entitled The Secrets of Questions or Problems (Kitāb asrār al-masāʾil); see Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 271.2.


Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakariyāʾ al-Rāzī, a towering figure of Islamic intellectual history, was one of the most distinguished Muslim medical scholars and practitioners, and also an independent-minded philosopher and freethinker; see Lenn E. Goodman, ‘al-Rāzī’, EI2, and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 128–136. Among his many medical works, pride of place belongs to the Comprehensive Book (al-Kitāb al-ḥāwī), a vast compilation of al-Rāzī’s extensive notes and excerpts on diseases and their treatment published posthumously by his students. On the contents and structure of the Comprehensive Book, see Kahl, The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources, 2–7. On al-Rāzī’s massive medical œuvre, see Richter-Bernburg, ‘Abū Bakr Muḥammad al-Rāzī’s (Rhazes) Medical Works’.


This is the Caraka-Saṃhitā, a medical compendium written by the Indian physician Caraka (second century BC). Its author’s name was transliterated in Arabic variously as Šarak, Sīrk or Ǧarak. See Kahl, The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources, 18–20, 86–129.


This ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAlī is unknown. A similar translation process involving an intermediate Persian version has been documented in the introduction to the Arabic version of another well-known Indian book, the Book of Poisons (Kitāb al-sumūm) by Pseudo-Cāṇakya (Šānāq in Arabic sources). This book was first translated into Persian by the Indian physician Mankah (Sanskrit Māṇikya; see below, II.1 with n. 214) with the help of a certain Abū Ḥātim al-Balḫī, and later into Arabic by al-ʿAbbās ibn Saʿīd al-Ǧawharī; see Strauß, ‘Giftbuch des Šānāq’, 2.7–10 (Arabic).


This is the Suśruta-Saṃhitā (Kitāb Susrud in Arabic), the medical compendium of the Indian physician Suśruta (sixth century BC), considered the oldest attempt to systematize Ayurvedic medicine. This work was translated by Mankah (see below, II.1 with n. 214) for the Barmakid Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 303.6–7). See Sezgin, GAS, III, 197–198, 200–201; Ullmann, Die Medizin, 106; and Kahl, The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources, 14–18, 72–85. For further references, see Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, III/2, 987, with n. 7.


Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid ibn Barmak, vizier of Hārūn al-Rašīd; see above, I.7 with n. 69.


The Nidāna (i.e., pathology), also known as Rogaviniścaya (i.e., diagnosing disease), is a compilation of other medical treatises written by Mādhava, an Indian physician who lived AD c. 700. This work was probably translated during the caliphate of Hārūn al-Rašīd; see Ullmann, Die Medizin, 105. It is quoted by ʿAlī ibn Rabban al-Ṭabarī, Firdaws al-ḥikmah, 563.4–5 and 578.12–23, and al-Rāzī, al-Kitāb al-ḥāwī, XXIIIb, 148.5; see Kahl, The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources, 26–27, 152–153.


This is the Siddhasāra, ‘Quintessence (of Medicine)’, written by Ravigupta (fl. AD c. 650). Arabic sources rendered this title as Kitāb Sindistār and glossed it as ‘quintessence of success’ (ṣafwat al-nuǧḥ). It was translated by Ibn Dahn the Indian, the director of the hospital of Ǧondēšāpūr (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 303.8–9; see below, II.1 with n. 216). See Sezgin, GAS, III, 198–199; Ullmann, Die Medizin, 105; and Kahl, The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources, 22–26, 134–152. On the title Siddhasāra, see Emmerick, ‘Ravigupta’s Siddhasāra’.




This is probably the work entitled Names of Indian Medicines (Asmāʾ ʿaqāqīr al-Hind) that Mankah translated for Isḥāq ibn Sulaymān ibn ʿAlī (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 303.11–12; see below, II.1 with n. 214).


Vāgbhata’s Aṣṭāṇgahṛdaya-Saṃhitā, rendered into Arabic as Istankār al-ǧāmiʿ. This work was translated by Ibn Dahn, the director of the hospital of Ǧondēšāpūr (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 303.7; see below, II.1 with n. 216). See Sezgin, GAS, III, 198–199, and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 105.




This work, similarly unidentified, is also listed by Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 303.9–10.




ʿAlī ibn Rabban al-Ṭabarī quotes from the books of ‘an Indian woman’ on the treatment of women’s diseases; see Firdaws al-ḥikmah, 591.9–594.13.


Unidentified. Ibn al-Nadīm attributes this work to t-w-q-š-t-l, probably the same person Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah calls Nūfašal above.


Parallel: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 29.8–15. Alternative versions can also be found in Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 468.5–8, and Ibn Nubātah, Sarḥ al-ʿuyūn, 213.


See Gutas, Greek Thought, 95–104.


See above, I.6 with n. 61.


See below, I.11 with n. 106.


See above, I.7 with n. 71.


See above, I.5 with n. 53.


Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 48–50, adapted. Another translation: Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, 583–584 (English).


See Albert Dietrich, ‘Ibn al-Ḳifṭī’, EI2.


See Hélène Bellosta, ‘Apollonius of Perge’, EI Three.


Parallel: the introduction of the Secret of Secrets (see below) in Badawī, al-Uṣūl al-yūnānīyah, 69.5–11, tells a similar story with some variants, e.g., associating the temple with Asclepius instead of Hermes.


See Dunlop, ‘The Translations of al-Biṭrīq’; and Micheau, ‘Yaḥyā (or Yūḥannā) b. al-Biṭrīḳ’, EI2.


See Dunlop, ‘The Translations of al-Biṭrīq’, 147–148; and Forster, Das Geheimnis, 50–54.


See Forster, Das Geheimnis, 111–112.


The use of this name as a toponym is strange and probably the result of scribal error. It probably refers to ʿAyn Šams (Heliopolis), the site of a temple devoted to Hermes according to Arabic sources; see al-Maqrīzī, Kitāb al-mawāʿiẓ, I, 617.12.


On Hermes and the Hermetic tradition in Arabic, see Kevin van Bladel, ‘Hermes and Hermetica’, EI Three.


Another translation: Dunlop, ‘The Translations of al-Biṭrīq’, 147–148 (English).


Parallel: the text is quoted in the appendices of ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Kitāb al-ifādah, 549.7–550.21.


A reconstruction of Ibn Ǧulǧul’s treatise on the basis of the Madrid manuscript Biblioteca Nacional MSS/498 and quotations in various sources has been published by Garijo, Ibn Ŷulŷul.


Pedanius Dioscorides (AD c. 40–90) was a Greek physician, botanist, and pharmacologist, mainly known for his On Medical Material, the most influencial book in medieval pharmacopoeia. See Alain Touwaide, ‘Pedanius [1]’, New Pauly; César E. Dubler, ‘Diyusḳūridīs’, EI2. For the Arabic transmission and the various translations, see Ullmann, Untersuchungen.


See Meyerhof, ‘Die Materia Medica’, 72–74; and Ullmann, Untersuchungen, 61–63. On Orosius’s History, see Levi Della Vida, ‘La traduzione araba’, and Penelas, ‘A Possible Author’.


I.e., Ibn Ǧulǧul’s Explanation of the Names of the Simple Drugs.


I.e., the caliph al-Mutawakkil.


See below, II.1 with n. 165.


See below, I.5 with n. 52.


This translation was apparently not completely superseded by the one produced in al-Andalus; see Touwaide, ‘Translation and Transliteration’. In addition to the previously known Arabic versions of the Materia medica, namely Iṣṭifan ibn Basīl’s translation from the Greek (Ullmann, Untersuchungen, 21–24, 48–49) and two extant seventh-/twelfth-century translations from Syriac by Abū Sālim al-Malaṭī and Mihrān ibn Manṣūr (Ullmann, Untersuchungen, 18–19, 339–340, 341–355), Manfred Ullmann has identified an older translation from the Greek, produced around the year 183/800 (Untersuchungen, 9–10, 69–78).


ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III al-Nāṣir ruled as governor from 300/912 to 316/929, and as caliph until 350/961.


The date does not fit the reign of the Byzantine emperor Romanos II (r. 959–963). In 948–949, his father Constantine VII was emperor, but Romanos II might have been associated with his father: on some imperial seals they are shown together as co-regents. There is also evidence for a box with a portrait of Constantine VII that was sent to the Umayyad caliph in 949; see Walker, The Emperor, 90. On this embassy and the practice of presenting books as gifts, see Signes Codoñer, ‘La diplomacia del libro’.


This is Paulus Orosius’s History Against the Pagans (Historiae adversus paganos), which was also translated into Arabic in al-Andalus in the fourth/tenth century; see Penelas, ‘A Possible Author’, and Sahner, ‘From Augustine to Islam’. In the introduction to his Classes of Physicians, Ibn Ǧulǧul listed this work as one of his sources; see Ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ, 2.1. For an edition of the Arabic Orosius, see Orosius, Kitāb Hurūsiyūs.


Nothing is known about this monk, apart from his role in the translation of this work.


Ḥasday ibn Šaprūṭ (d. c. 350/970–971) was a Jewish physician at the courts of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III and al-Ḥakam II. As a member of one of the most important Jewish families in al-Andalus, he was also a patron of sciences and a diplomat. See Eliyahu Ashtor, ‘Ḥisdai (Ḥasdai) Ibn Shapruṭ’, Encyclopaedia Judaica.




All manuscripts of Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s Best Accounts read al-Basbāsī, but this is most certainly a misspelling for al-Šabānsī. Qāsim ibn Muḥammad al-Qurašī al-Marwānī al-Šabānsī (fl. second half of fourth/tenth century) was a physician and a poet. Ibn al-Abbār reported that he was a learned man (min al-udabāʾ) and one of the teachers of Saʿīd ibn Fatḥūn al-Saraqusṭī al-Ḥammār; see Ibn al-Abbār, al-Takmilah, II, 194.16 (n. 518).


Unidentified. The nisbah is probably a scribal error for al-Yābisī, ‘native of Ibiza’.




Ibn al-Hayṯam (fl. second half of fourth/tenth century) was a Cordovan physician; see Sezgin, GAS, II, 309–310; Ullmann, Die Medizin, 26; and Cabo González, ‘Ibn al-Hayṯam’.




I.e., the Umayyad caliph al-Ḥakam II (r. 350/961–366/967).


Other translations: Rosenthal, The Classical Heritage, 194–197 (English); and ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baġdādī, Kitāb al-ifādah, 495–497 (French).


See above, I.5 with n. 52.


On the complex Arabic translation and commentary history of this work, see Peters, Aristoteles Arabus, 23–25; and Ian R. Netton, ‘al-Sūfisṭāʾiyyūn’, EI2.


This important source, extant in a single manuscript, contains Arabic translations of Aristotle’s logical works, the Organon, and the introduction to logic, the Isagoge, by Porphyry (d. AD c. 305); see Hugonnard-Roche, ‘Un manuscrit savant’.


Abū l-Ḫayr al-Ḥasan ibn Suwār, also known as Ibn al-Ḫammār (d. c. 421/1030), was a Syriac Christian philosopher and student of the great Aristotelian philosopher Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī (d. 363/974), himself a student of one of the greatest philosophers of Islam, al-Fārābī (d. 339/950); see Daiber, ‘The Meteorology’, 220–221.


See Walzer, Greek into Arabic, 83.


Abū Naṣr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Fārābī (d. 339/950–951), known as the ‘second teacher’ (Aristotle being the first) was the second major Muslim philosopher after the pioneering efforts of the ‘philosopher of the Arabs’ Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb ibn Isḥāq al-Kindī; see Jean Jolivet and Roshdi Rashed, ‘al-Kindī’, EI2. See further Richard Walzer, ‘al-Fārābī’, EI2, and below, IV.7.


Athanasius of Balad (d. AD 686), a West Syrian scholar and Greek–Syriac translator, mainly of philosophical works. See Adam H. Becker, ‘Athanasius of Balad’, EI Three; and Michael Penn, ‘Athanasios II of Balad’, GEDSH.


The Christian Arab philosopher Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī, the teacher of the author of the present text, is credited with a number of translations or revisions of existing translations of Aristotle’s work. His library became an important source of information about Greek philosophy and translations of philosophical works for the Catalogue of his contemporary Ibn al-Nadīm. See Gerhard Endress, ‘Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī’, EI2.


Alexander of Aphrodisias (fl. AD c. 200) was a philosopher and celebrated commentator of Aristotle’s works. A number of his commentaries were translated into Arabic; see Goulet and Aouad, ‘Alexander d’ Aphrodisias’.


Ibrāhīm ibn Baks (or Bakkūš) al-ʿAššārī (fl. fourth/tenth century) was a Christian physician active in Baghdad and is credited with four Arabic translations: Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 249.27–29; Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 37.15–16); Aristotle’s On Generation and Corruption (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 251.4; Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 40.18); and Theophrastus’s The Causes of Plants and On Sense Perception (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 252.8–10; Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 107.5–6; Bar Hebraeus, Taʾrīḫ muḫtaṣar al-duwal, 93.18–19 and 94.1). Two sources suggest that he was already active during the first half of the fourth/tenth century: according to Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 301.14–15), a physician named Abū l-Ḥasan ibn Nafīs commissioned the translation of Ibn Sarābiyūn’s medical handbook, al-Kunnāš al-ṣaġīr, in 312/924–925, and according to ʿAbd al-Ǧabbār (Taṯbīt, 619.2–3, 7–12), Ibn Nafīs was the teacher of Ibn Baks, one of the physicians who struggled to fight an epidemic that spread in Baghdad in 330/941–942. See Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften, 73–74; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 151.


Ibn al-Nadīm (Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 282.20–24; cf. Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 380.2–4) reported that Yūḥannā ibn Yūsuf ibn al-Ḥāriṯ ibn al-Biṭrīq (fl. fourth/tenth century), nicknamed al-Ḫūrī or al-Qass (‘the priest’) and also known as Ibn Fatīlah, wrote on mathematics and geometry and also translated from Greek. Since there are two translators nicknamed al-Qass, one of which (Yūsuf; see below, II.2 with n. 249) was a physician rather than a mathematician, Yūḥannā may also be identical to the Yūsuf al-Qass credited by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 574.3–4) with a Syriac book on triangles, or translation of a work on triangles ascribed to Archimedes.


Abū Bišr Mattā ibn Yūnus (d. 328/940) was a Syriac–Arabic translator and Aristotle commentator. Of his translations, the Arabic version of Aristotle’s Poetics (Poetica) and Posterior Analytics (Analytica posteriora) formed part of Ibn Suwār’s Aristotle compilation (see above, I.13, with nn. 136 and 137). See Gerhard Endress, ‘Mattā b. Yūnus’, EI2. Abū Bišr was one of the participants in the debate between a logician and a grammarian reported in the Book of Enjoyment and Conviviality (Kitāb al-imtāʿ wa-l-muʾānasah) by al-Tawḥīdī (d. 414/1023), samples of which are quoted below (IV.8a–d).


Another translation: Les Catégories (ed. Georr), 199–200 (French).


See Gutas, Greek Thought, 136, with n. 45.


Iṣṭifan, nicknamed ‘the Elder’ probably to differentiate him from Iṣṭifan ibn Basīl, seems to be a legendary figure, as are other translators who allegedly worked for Ḫālid ibn Yazīd (see below, II.3), the grandson of the Umayyad caliph Muʿāwiyah; see Ullmann, ‘Ḫālid ibn Yazīd’, esp. 193–194 and 211–218.


Little is known about al-Biṭrīq, a Christian scholar whose translations, produced mainly during the caliphate of al-Manṣūr, are easily confused with those of his son Yaḥyā below. See above, I.11 with n. 105, and Dunlop, ‘The Translations of al-Biṭrīq’.


See above, I.11 with n. 105.


See above, I.6 with n. 61.


ʿAbd al-Masīḥ ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Ḥimṣī al-Nāʿimī was a Syriac Orthodox scholar mainly known for his translation of the so-called ‘Theology of Aristotle’, a paraphrastic selection from the last three Enneads by Plotinus revised by the philosopher al-Kindī (see below, V.1), and Aristotle’s Sophistial Refutations. See Zimmermann, ‘The Origins’.


Little is known about Sallām al-Abraš, apart from this brief note. See Peters, Aristoteles Arabus, 32, and Gutas, Greek Thought, 72–73. Historical sources mention a certain Sallām al-Abraš al-Ḫaṣī (the eunuch), probably the same person, in the service of several ʿAbbāsid caliphs from the time of al-Manṣūr until al-Maʾmūn; see Muḥammad ibn Ǧarīr al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīḫ, VIII, 63.23 and 595.16 = al-Ṭabarī, Annales, III, 293 and 1065. Sallām also figures as a reporter of anecdotes in the major adab works of the ʿAbbāsid period, such as the Book of Songs (Kitāb al-aġānī) by Abū l-Faraǧ al-Iṣbahānī (d. 356/967), or the Relief after Hardship (al-Faraḥ baʿd al-šiddah) by al-Tanūḫī (d. 384/994); none of these sources refers to him as a translator. Being a eunuch, he was probably of Byzantine descent, and he was a prominent figure at court with his own clients, such as Aḥmad ibn Rašīd al-Kātib (Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/2, 891.9–10). Rather than being author of translations himself, he may have commissioned others.


The Barmakid family of administrators and ministers played an important role in the political and cultural life of early ʿAbbāsid Baghdad until their downfall in the year 187/803 under Hārūn al-Rašīd. Their most powerful member was the vizier of Hārūn al-Rašīd, Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid ibn Barmak. See Gutas, Greek Thought, 128–129, and Kevin van Bladel, ‘Barmakids’, EI Three.


The son of the vizier ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā ibn al-Ǧarrāḥ; see above, 256 with n. 7.


ʿAbdīšūʿ bar Bahrīz was the metropolitan of Ḥarrān, Mosul, and Ḥazzah. According to Ḥamzah al-Iṣfahānī, he was the translator of a History of the Greeks (Aḫbār al-yunānīyīn); see Ibn al-ʿAdīm, Buġyat al-ṭalab, IV, 1599; and Barbara H. Roggema, ‘Abdisho bar Bahrīz’, GEDSH.


Unidentified. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (see below, II.2) claimed that his skills were limited.


Hilāl ibn Abī Hilāl al-Ḥimṣī (d. 218/833) was a mathematician associated with the Banū Mūsā and one of the translators of Apollonius’s Conic Sections; see Apollonius, Conics, xviii, 620, 628.


A comparison with the list of translators transmitted by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (see below, II.2) suggests that this Theodore is most likely the bishop of Karḫ Ǧuddān of the same name, a patron of the sciences and translator closely associated with the scholar and translator Sergius of Rēšʿaynā (see below, II.2), who is also mentioned in Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Epistle (Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 12.21–22/Ar. and 10/Ger.). See Aydin, Sergius of Reshaina, 10–11, n. 1.


Pethion (fl. second half of third/ninth century) was an East Syrian Christian and author of a lost ecclesiastical history. He is one of Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s and Bar Hebraeus’s main sources of information on the physicians of Ǧondēšāpūr, probably via quotations in the Chronography (Maktbānut zabne) by Elijah of Nisibis (d. 1046). Although nothing is known about his life, it has been suggested that he is the Pethion of Elam to whom the Catholicos Timothy addressed his ninth letter (see Berti, L’ Au-delà de l’ âme, 26–32) and identical with Pethion ibn Ayyūb al-Sahhār al-Tarǧumān, who translated the biblical books of Job, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Ecclesiastes into Arabic; see Vaccari, ‘Le versioni arabe’, 413–416, and Frank, ‘The Jeremias’.


Unidentified. In Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s list, this translator is named Abū Naṣr ibn Nārī ibn Ayyūb; see below, II.2.


According to Ibn al-Nadīm (Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 250.21–22) and Ibn al-Qifṭī (Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 39.6–7), Basīl translated a commentary by Porphyry on Aristotle’s Physics.


Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ṣalt was a physician who belonged to the Church of the East. Almost nothing is known about his life. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq mentions him three times as the author of translations into Arabic and Syriac, one sponsored by the Banū Mūsā; see Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 31.8, 34.18, and 35.13–14/Ar., and 25, 28, and 29/Ger.


Usṭāṯ (Eustathius) was one of the scholars of the circle of the philosopher al-Kindī, for whom he translated Aristotle’s Metaphysics; he was also the translator of the Nicomachean Ethics. See Endress, ‘The Circle of al-Kindī’, 52; and Ullmann, Die Nikomachische Ethik, 16–19. It has been suggested that Usṭāṯ could have translated Aristotle’s zoological works; see Kruk, The Arabic Version of Aristotle’s Parts of Animals, 18–23.




Little is known about the life of Iṣṭifan ibn Basīl (d. c. 298/910), presumably the son of the above-mentioned Basīl. He was a member of the Church of the East and, according to Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Epistle, the author of nine Galen translations commissioned by Muḥammad ibn Mūsā; he also translated Oribasius’s Medical Collections (Collectiones medicae). Ḥunayn and Iṣṭifān collaborated on the translation of Galen’s Causes of Breathing (De causis respirationis) (Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 24.8–11/Ar. and 20/Ger.) and Ḥunayn corrected Iṣṭifan’s translation of Dioscorides’s On Medical Material (Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/2, 928.4–6). See Ignacio Sánchez, ‘Iṣṭifān ibn Basīl’, EI Three; D’Ancona, ‘Greek into Arabic’, EI Three; Georg Graf, Geschichte, II, 131; and Ullmann, Untersuchungen, 21–24.


In Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah’s list (see below, II.2), this name is combined with the above-mentioned Ḥayrūn (or Ḥīrūn) to Ḥayrūn ibn Rābiṭah.


Unidentified. Šamlī translated Galen’s On Juice (De bonis malisque sucis) (see Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 36.9/Ar. and 29/Ger.; Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 290.25–26; Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 131.6); and Aristotle’s Metaphysics Lambda (see Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 251.30; Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 42.5).




According to Ibn al-Nadīm (Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 262.23–27) and Ibn al-Qifṭī (Tāʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 77.1–5), Ibrāhīm al-Quwayrī was a logician and the teacher of Abū Bišr Mattā ibn Yūnus (d. 328/940). He wrote commentaries on Aristotle’s Categories (Categoriae), On Interpretation (De interpretatione), and Prior Analytics (Analytica priora).


The Arabic term al-sunqal transliterates the Syriac rendition ‮ܣܘܢܩܠܐ‬‎ of the Greek σύγκελλος (synkellos). Nothing is known about this translator. He may be the Theodore who, together with his brother Theophanes and Michael the Syncellus, was active at Mar Saba but left for Constantinople after the sack of the monastery in 198/813. See Brock, ‘Syriac into Greek’, 201.




Hibā of Edessa (d. AD 457) was the head of the School of Edessa and the author of the first Syriac translation of Porphyry’s Isagoge. See Lucas van Rompay, ‘Hiba’, GEDSH.


Unidentified, perhaps a doublet of the Pethion mentioned above. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah only lists a single translator of this name; see below, II.2.


Unidentified. This is an Arabic transliteration of the Eastern Syriac name Saliba, Slibo or Sliba (‮ܨܠܝܒܐ‬‎).


Ayyūb al-Ruhāwī or Job of Edessa was a Greek–Syriac translator of the first half of the third/ninth century and a Christian physician in the service of the ʿAbbāsid caliphs and the governor of Ḫurāsān, ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ṭāhir. His translations come in for frequent criticism in Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Epistle; see See Barbara H. Roggema, ‘Iyob of Edessa’, GEDSH; Gutas, Greek Thought, 72; and Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 703–704.


Unidentified, possibly a garbled repetition of the mathematician and translator Ṯābit ibn Qurrah (see above, I.6 with n. 66), who is listed below.




Presumably his Handy Tables (Πρόχειροι κανόνες).


Unidentified. For chronological reasons, it is unlikely that this Bāsīl corresponds to Basīl al-Muṭrān, listed below. Ṭāhir ibn al-Ḥusayn (d. 207/822) was an important ally of the caliph al-Maʾmūn during the war with his brother and predecessor al-Amīn. He became the first in a line of important governors of Ḫurāsān. See Charles Bosworth, ‘Ṭāhir b. al-Ḥusayn’, EI2. On the role of the Ṭāhirids as sponsors of scholars and translators, see Gutas, Greek Thought, 129–130.


Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq credited Ibn Šahdā (written Sahdā in the Epistle) with a Syriac translation of Galen’s On Sects (De sectis) (al-Risālah, 4.19–5.1/Ar. and 4/Ger.); On the Medical Art (Ars medica) (al-Risālah, 6.1–2/Ar. and 5/Ger.); and On the Pulse for Beginners (De pulsibus ad tirones) (al-Risālah, 6.13–14/Ar. and 5/Ger.).


Unidentified. In spite of their similar names, this translator is unlikely to be the same person as Yūḥannā ibn Yūsuf ibn Ḥāriṯ ibn al-Biṭrīq al-Qass (see above, I.13 with n. 143), a geometer who also translated from Greek.


Almost nothing is known about Ayyūb ibn al-Qāsim al-Raqqī (fl. c. 820). Raqqah was a Ṣābian (see above, n. 64) centre, and he might have belonged to this religious group. His translation of the Isagoge has not survived. See Rescher, The Development, 96.




Possibly Abū l-Qāsim ʿAlī ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Muḥammad al-Dahakī, a contemporary of Ibn al-Nadīm. According to Yāqūt al-Ḥamawī (Muʿǧam al-udabāʾ, IV, 1641–1642, n. 711), al-Dahakī was a man of letters associated with the vizier Abū l-Faḍl al-ʿAbbās al-Širāzī who read the Book of Songs (Kitāb al-aġānī) with its author, Abū l-Faraǧ al-Iṣbahānī.




Qusṭā ibn Lūqā (d. c. 300/912–913) was a Christian translator from Baʿlabakk who also wrote medical and mathematical works. See Donald R. Hill, ‘Ḳusṭā b. Lūḳā’, EI2.


See above, 255–256, and I.5 with n. 52.


See above, I.6 with n. 63.


See above, I.6 with n. 64.


The nephew of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, Ḥubayš ibn al-Ḥasan al-Dimašqī (fl. second half of third/ninth century), nicknamed al-Aʿsam, was a prominent translator and physician who also wrote original works on medicine and pharmacology. See Gotthard Strohmaier, ‘Ḥubaysh b. al-Ḥasan al-Dimashḳī’, EI Three.


Nothing is known about the life of ʿĪsā ibn Yaḥyā, one of Ḥunayn’s students and collaborators, apart from two brief entries in Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 505.1–2 and II/1, 508.4–5), and Ḥunayn’s references to his translations in his Epistle (Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, index, s.v. ʿĪsā ibn Jaḥjā). See Sezgin, GAS, III, 257; and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 30, 57.


Most likely the translator Abū ʿUṯmān Saʿīd ibn Yaʿqūb al-Dimašqī; see above, I.6 with n. 65.


Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ṣalt was a physician and translator of a number of medical and astronomical works who belonged to the Church of the East. Almost nothing is known about his life.


Ibrāhīm ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Kātib or al-Nāqil (fl. second half of third/ninth century) was a Christian scholar and contemporary of the next name on Ibn al-Nadīm’s list, Abū Zakariyāʾ Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī (d. 363/974). See Genequand, Alexander of Aphrodisias, 31.


Abū Zakariyāʾ Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī, a Syrian Orthodox philosopher and theologian, who also translated a number of works by Aristotle. Ibn al-Nadīm used Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī’s personal library when he compiled the information for his Catalogue. See Gerhard Endress, ‘Yaḥyā b. ʿAdī’, EI2, and Endress, The Works.


This is probably ʿĪsā ibn Ibrāhīm al-Nafīsī (fl. fourth/tenth century), a physician at the court of the Ḥamdanid ruler of Aleppo Sayf al-Dawlah (r. 333/944–356/967) who translated several philosophical works from Syriac into Arabic, among them the Syriac version of the pseudo-Aristotelian On the Universe (De mundo). See Peters, Aristoteles Arabus, 62; and Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 250.15–16 (who refers to him as ʿĪsā al-Nafīsī).


Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ (d. c. 139/757), a prose writer and secretary, and one of the first translators of belletristic works from Persian into Arabic. He is mainly known for his translation of the Kalīlah wa-Dimnah. See Derek Latham, ‘Ebn Al-Moqaffaʿ, Abū Moḥammad ʿAbd Allāh Rōzbeh’, Encyclopaedia Iranica.


A prominent Shiʿite family of Persian origin who achieved great influence at the court of several ʿAbbāsid caliphs. Their eponymous forefather, al-Nawbaḫt (fl. mid-second/eighth century), joined the court of the caliph al-Manṣūr as court astrologer, an office subsequently held by several of his descendants. The most important member of the family in the field of translation was Abū Sahl ibn Nawbaḫt, mentioned below. See Sean Anthony, ‘Nawbaḵti Family’, Encyclopaedia Iranica.




The Qaḥāṭibah, descendants of Qaḥṭabah ibn Šabīb (d. 132/749), were a prominent Arab family settled in Ḫurāsān who played an important role in the ʿAbbāsid revolution. Dāʾūd ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ḥumayd ibn Qaḥṭabah (d. 159/776) was governor of Egypt during the reign of al-Manṣūr.


This Abū l-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn Ziyād al-Tamīmī remains unidentified. The Astronomical Tables mentioned in this entry, now lost, were a royal astrological canon written in Pahlavi, compiled AD c. 450 and revised during the reign of Ḫusraw I Anūširwān (r. AD 531–579). On this work and its influence, see Jamil Ragep, ‘Astronomy’, EI Three.


Abū Sahl ibn Nawbaḫt (fl. c. 153/770–193/809) worked as astrologer under the caliphs al-Manṣūr, al-Mahdī (r. 158/775–169/785), and al-Hādī (169/785–170/786). Under Hārūn al-Rašīd, he took a position as translator in the caliphal library (ḫizānat al-ḥikmah), where he produced at least seven translations of Persian works (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 274.7–12). See Pingree, ‘Abu Sahl Nawbaḵt’, Encyclopaedia Iranica.


This is Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā ibn Ǧābir ibn Dāʾūd al-Balāḏurī (d. c. 279/892–893), the Muslim historian of the third/ninth century. See above, I.3.


Theodor Nöldeke rejected the identification of this Hišām with the Umayyad caliph Hišām ibn ʿAbd al-Malik on the grounds that this would result in an implausibly early date for the translation. Instead, he suggested the historian Hišām ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Kalbī (d. 206/821). See Nöldeke, Geschichte, 475.


Ǧabalah ibn Sālim translated two Pahlavi works, the Romance of Bahrām Čōbīn (Kitāb Bahram Šūš) and the Book of Rustam and Isfandiyār (Kitāb Rustam wa-Isfandiyār) (Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 305.9–10). See Nöldeke, Geschichte, 474–475.




Muḥammad ibn al-Ǧahm al-Barmakī was an expert in logic and astronomy who composed several books on astrological elections (iḫtiyārāt) for the caliph al-Maʾmūn (see Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 284.1–4). According to Ḥamzah al-Iṣfahānī (Taʾrīḫ sinī mulūk al-arḍ, 10.2), he translated a book on Persian kings.


Hišām ibn al-Qāsim was the translator or compiler of a history of the Sasanian kings; see Ḥamzah al-Iṣfahānī, Taʾrīḫ sinī mulūk al-arḍ, 10.6–7.


Mūsā ibn ʿĪsā al-Kisrawī (d. after 350/961) was an Iranian historian. Ibn al-Nadīm does not give the titles of his translations, but lists two of his own books (Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 128.9–11). Ḥamzah al-Iṣfahānī (Taʾrīḫ sinī mulūk al-arḍ, 16.3–8) quotes from al-Kisrawī’s translation of the Pahlavi Book of Lords (Ḫwadāy-nāmag). See Gutas, Greek Thought, 40; and Rubin, ‘Ḥamzah al-Iṣfahānī’s Sources’, 43–44.


Zādawayh or Dādawayh ibn Šāhawayh (Zādūyah or Dādūyah ibn Šahūyah al-Iṣfahānī) was an Iranian scholar and the author of a history of Persian notables; see al-Bīrūnī, Chronologie, 44.2. According to Ḥamzah al-Iṣfahānī (Taʾrīḫ sinī mulūk al-arḍ, 10.3–4), he translated a Pahlavi history of the Persian kings. See also Justi, Iranisches Namenbuch, 378.


Muḥammad ibn Bahrām ibn Miṭyār al-Iṣfahānī was an Iranian historian; according to Ḥamzah al-Iṣfahānī (Taʾrīḫ sinī mulūk al-arḍ, 10.4–5), he translated or compiled another history of the Persian rulers.


Bahrām ibn Mardān Šāh, a Zoroastrian priest (mobed), translated the Book of Lords (Ḫwadāy-nāmag). According to Ḥamzah al-Iṣfahānī (Taʾrīḫ sinī mulūk al-arḍ, 10.7–8), he also revised a history of the Sasanian kings (Kitāb taʾrīḫ mulūk Banī Sāsān). See Djalal Khaleghi Motlagh, ‘Bahrām b. Mardānšāh’, Encyclopaedia Iranica.


Abū Ḥafs ʿUmar ibn Farruḫān al-Ṭabarī (d. c. 200/815), known in Latin as Omar Tiberiades, was a Persian astrologer and translator. He translated into Arabic the Pahlavi version of Dorotheus’s Pentateuch, composed a commentary on Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos, and wrote several astrological treatises; see King, ‘Astronomy’, 294, 296.


Mankah (Sanskrit: Māṇikya) was one of the physicians who translated Indian works for the caliph Hārūn al-Rašīd and others, among them the Suśruta-Saṃhitā (Kitāb Susrud in Arabic), i.e., Suśruta’s medical handbook (see Kahl, The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources, 14–16), and a book entitled Names of Indian Medicines (Asmāʾ ʿaqāqīr al-Hind, see Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 303.6–7, 11–12; and Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/2, 890.1–891.5). See also Sezgin, GAS III, 197–198, 200–201; and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 106.


Isḥāq ibn Sulaymān ibn ʿAlī al-Hāšimī was a high-ranking court official during the reign of Hārūn al-Rašīd and al-Amīn.


According to Ibn al-Nadīm, the director of the hospital of Ǧondēšāpūr, Ibn Dahn the Indian translated several books from Sanskrit into Arabic, among them Vāgbhata’s Aṣṭāṇgahṛdaya-Saṃhitā (Compendium of the Eightfold Essence [of Medicine]; see Kahl, The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources, 21–22), translated into Arabic as Istankār al-jāmiʿ; and Ravigupta’s Siddhasāra (The Perfect Quintessence [of Medicine]; see Kahl, The Sanskrit, Syriac and Persian Sources, 22–24), which in Arabic is called Kitāb Sindistāq or Sindhašar. See Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 303.7, 8–9; Sezgin, GAS, III, 198–199; and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 105.


On the Barmak family, see above, II.1 with n. 153.


Ibn Waḥšīyah (d. 318/930–931) was the alleged translator of several Nabatean works. The most famous is the so-called Nabatean Agriculture (Kitāb al-filāḥah al-nabāṭīyah), which is now considered a compilation rather than a translation. See Toufic Fahd, ‘Ibn Waḥshiyya’, EI2; Hämeen-Anttila, The Last Pagans, 3–33; and the chapter by Isabel Toral in this volume.


Another translation: Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, 586–590 (English).


On these sponsors and the phenomenon of patronage in general, see Meyerhof, ‘New Light’; Gutas, Greek Thought, 121–150; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’.


Ǧūrǧīs ibn Buḫtīšūʿ was a renowned Christian physician from Ǧondēšāpūr and director of the hospital of this town. In 148/765–766, he was summoned to Baghdad to attend on the caliph al-Manṣūr. See Dominique Sourdel, ‘Bukhtīshūʿ’, EI2.


See above, 255–256, and I.5 with n. 52.


See above, I.6 with n. 63.


See above, II.1 with n. 190.


See above, II.1 with n. 191.


See above, II.1 with n. 186.


Unidentified. In Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Epistle (al-Risālah, 3.21–22), the nickname al-Abraš (‘the freckled’) is associated with Ayyūb al-Ruhāwī (see above, II.1 with n. 175), but a little further down (296), Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah explicitly pointed out that this Ayyūb al-Abraš and Ayyūb al-Ruhāwī are not the same person.


Māsarǧīs, also called Māsarǧawayh (Persian: Māsargōye), was a physician of Judeo-Persian origin. He is one of the few physicians known from the Umayyad period, but the exact dates of his life are unknown. See Albert Dietrich, ‘Māsardjawayh’, EI2.


ʿĪsā was the son of Māsarǧīs and also a physician. Almost nothing is known about his life. See Albert Dietrich, ‘Māsardjawayh’, EI2.


Presumably the father of the next translator on the list, who is mentioned several times in Ḥunayn’s Epistle.


See above, II.1 with n. 180.


See above, I.6 with n. 61.


See above, I.6 with n. 64.


See above, II.1 with n. 151.


Unidentified. See above, II.1 with n. 156.


See above, II.1 with n. 157.


See above, II.1 with n. 159.


Unidentified. See above, II.1 with n. 160.


See above, II.1 with n. 161.


See above, II.1 with n. 165.


An otherwise little-known earlier translator whose works were revised by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq; see below, II.7. Ibn al-Nadīm (in II.1 above) lists two brothers, Mūsā and Yūsuf ibn Ḫālid, who translated from Persian into Arabic. Since the translation mentioned in this entry presumably took place from Greek or Syriac into Arabic, it seems unlikely that the two Mūsās are the same person.


The so-called Sixteen Books were sixteen treatises by Galen that the Alexandrian scholars established as the core corpus for the study of medicine. See Pormann and Savage-Smith, Medieval Islamic Medicine, 13, 85.


See above, II.1 with n. 163.


Unidentified. See above, II.1.


See above, II.1 with n. 170.


Sergius of Rēšʿaynā (d. 536), a distinguished scholar of philosophy and medicine, was one of the most prolific Syriac translators, with numerous theological, medical, and philosophical works to his name. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (al-Risālah, index, s.v. Sergios ar-Raʾsʿainī) lists and frequently criticises his many medical translations. See Griffith, ‘Sergios of Rešʿaina’.


See above, II.1 with n. 175.


See above, 294 with n. 227.


According to Ibn al-Qifṭī (Taʿrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 392.1–11) and Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 506.1–5), Yūsuf al-Sāhir (‘the insomniac’), also known as Yūsuf al-Qass (‘the priest’), worked as a physician during the caliphate of al-Muktafī (r. 298/902–295/908) and received the nickname ‘the insomniac’ either because of his habit of studying during the night or due to a tumour on his forehead that prevented him from sleeping; see Ullmann, Die Medizin, 124, 319. This person may be identical with the Yūsuf al-Ḫūrī (‘the priest’) criticised by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (al-Risālah, 30.1–2) for his deficient Syriac translation of Galen’s Simple Medicines (De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis et facultatibus).


ʿĪsā ibn Ṣaharbuḫt was a Christian physician from Ǧondēšāpūr, a student of Ǧurǧis ibn Ǧibraʾīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ and the author of a treatise entitled On the Power of Simple Drugs (Kitāb quwā l-adwiyah al-mufradah). He is also credited with at least one translation into Arabic, that of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Syriac epitome on Galen’s Commentary on Hippocrates’s Aphorisms (In Hippocratis aphorismos commentarii) (Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 492.7–8, 505.6–7). See Gerrit J. Reinink, ‘Ṣharbokht bar Msargis’, GEDSH.


See above, II.1 with n. 162.


This is Ṯābit ibn Qurrah (see above, I.6 with n. 64). His translation of this work is mentioned by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (al-Risālah, 36.8).




Yūḥannā ibn Buḫtīšūʿ (d. c. 300/912), a Christian physician of the Church of the East, was the son of Buḫtīšūʿ ibn Ǧibraʾīl. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq noted that Yūḥannā sought his help when translating Galen’s On Antidotes (De antidotis) (al-Risālah, 38.11–12). See Sezgin, GAS, III, 258; and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 111.


See above, I.11 with n. 105.


See above, II.11 with n. 191.


Of Tūmā al-Ruhāwī (Thomas of Edessa) we only know that he was a contemporary of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, for whom he translated the last part of Galen’s A Man’s Ability to Know the Imperfections of his Soul (De cuiuslibet animi peccatorum dignotione) into Arabic (al-Risālah, 48.19–49.4; see also Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 291.6–7, and Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 131.15).


Almost nothing is known about this man. According to Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (al-Risālah, 49.6–9, where the name is spelled Ibn Aṯānās), Ibn Bānās was the Ṣābian author of a deficient Syriac translation of Galen’s Character Traits (De moribus).


See above, II.1 with n. 149.


Ǧibrāʾīl or Ǧibrīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ (d. 212/827), the son of Buḫtīšūʿ ibn Ǧurǧīs, was court physician under Hārūn al-Rašīd and al-Maʾmūn. See Dominique Sourdel, ‘Bukhtīshūʿ’, EI2; Ullmann, Die Medizin, 109; Baum, ‘Gabriel ibn Bukhtishu’; Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 717–718; Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 155–157; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 118.


See above, I.6 with n. 65.


See above, I.13 with n. 142.


Like his father, ʿAlī ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Baks (d. 394/1003–1004) was a physician and worked at the ʿAḍudī hospital in Baghdad (Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 235.17–236.4).


The information in the following list of patrons is essentially based on Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s Epistle.


Šīršūʿ (or Šīrīšūʿ) ibn Quṭrub, a contemporary of Ibn Isḥāq, was a physician from Ǧondēšāpūr. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq mentioned him as the sponsor of a Syriac translation of Galen’s On Sects; see below, III.3. See Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 719; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 162–163.


Mūsā ibn Šākir was an astronomer and companion of the caliph al-Maʾmūn since before his accession. Mūsā’s three sons, Muḥammad, Aḥmad, and al-Ḥasan, played a central role in the intellectual life of third-/ninth-century Baghdad, especially as sponsors of translations and as scholars of mathematics and mechanics. Muḥammad ibn Mūsā (d. 259/873) is mentioned by Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq as the commissioner of numerous translations (see al-Risālah, index, s.v. Muḥammad ibn Mūsā). On the Banū Mūsā family, see Donald R. Hill, ‘Mūsā, Banū’, EI2; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 133–134.


The Banū Munaǧǧim were a Zoroastrian family of Persian origin who joined the court of al-Manṣūr as astrologers, whence their name. They enjoyed high status for several generations, standing out as one of the most influential families in the intellectual life of the third/ninth–fourth/tenth centuries, and were important sponsors of the translation movement. Among other works, ʿAlī ibn Yaḥyā commissioned Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq’s famous Epistle (see above, 255–256). See Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 714; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 164–167. On the Munaǧǧim family, see Manfred Fleischhammer, ‘Munadjdjim, Banū’, EI2; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 128.


See above, II.1 with n. 158.


The identification of this person is conjectural, but he may be Abū ʿImrān Mūsā ibn ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Hišām al-Iṣbahānī (Muḥammad is not part of his name). Mūsā ibn ʿAbd al-Malik (d. 246/860–861) was a court official in charge of land tax and the caliphal chancery under al-Mutawakkil. See Ibn Ḫallikān, Wafayāt al-aʿyān, V, 337–341, n. 750.


Unidentified, but possibly the result of a misreading or scribal error. According to recension B of Ḥunayn’s Epistle, his son Isḥāq translated Galen’s The Usefulness of the Pulse (De usu pulsuum) for a sponsor named ʿĪsā ibn Yūnus, who may be the person meant here. See Bergsträßer, Neue Materialien, 34.


This translator, who also appears in Ḥunayn’s Epistle as the sponsor of his Syriac translation of Galen’s On the Parts of the Art of Medicine (De partibus artis medicativae) (al-Risālah, 31.20–32.1), is otherwise unknown. Since al-Fayyūmī requested a Syriac translation, he must have been a Christian. See Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 720; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 163.


Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Ibn al-Mudabbir (d. 270/883 or 271/884) was a man of letters and high-ranking official at the courts of al-Wāṯiq (r. 227/842–232/847) and al-Mutawakkil. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq translated a sample of Galen’s Commentary on the Hippocratic Aphorisms for him (al-Risālah, 40.9–13). See H.L. Gottschalk, ‘Ibn al-Mudabbir’, EI2; Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 714; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 171–172.


Ibrāhīm ibn Muḥammad ibn Mūsā might be the son of the aforementioned Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Munaǧǧim; see Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 715. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq translated the Hippocratic lemmata from Galen’s Commentary on Hippocrates’s Prognosticon (In Hippocratis Prognosticum commentarii) into Arabic for him (al-Risālah, 40.23–41.1).


Almost nothing is known about ʿAbd Allāh ibn Isḥāq. Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq wrote that he either translated anew or revised for him a translation of Galen’s That the Best Physician is also a Philosopher (Quod optimus medicus sit quoque philosophus) (al-Risālah, 46.23–47.1, with Bergsträßer, Neue Materialen, 37).


Ibn al-Zayyāt (d. 233/847) was vizier under the ʿAbbāsid caliphs al-Muʿṭasim and al-Wāṯiq, but fell into disgrace under al-Mutawakkil, who had him imprisoned and tortured. A poet himself, Ibn al-Zayyāt was an important patron of the arts and sciences who supported authors such as al-Ǧāḥiẓ (d. 255/869) and sponsored translations, among them Galen’s On the Voice (De voce); see Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 24.17–20. See also Dominique Sourdel, ‘Ibn al-Zayyāt’, EI2; Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 715; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 172–174.


See above, I.5 with n. 53.


See above, n. 260.


Buḥtīšūʿ, the son of Ǧibrīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ, succeeded his father as court physician. See Dominique Sourdel, ‘Bukhtīshūʿ’, EI2; and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 109.


Max Meyerhof (‘New Light’, 719) suggested that Dāʾūd ibn Sarābiyūn was the Dāʾūd al-Mutaṭabbib who commissioned five Syriac Galen translations from Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (al-Risālah, 3.23, 6.2–6, 48.19–49.2, 49.18, 49.21). The Epistle states that Ḥunayn was in his thirties when he translated Galen’s On the Medical Art for Dāʾūd (al-Risālah, 6.3–4). According to Ibn al-Qifṭī (Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 431.5–8), Dāʾūd, a native of Beth Garmai, was a court physician during the reign of al-Hādī and the brother of Yūḥannā ibn Sarābiyūn, the author of the Pandectae (al-Kunnāš). Manfred Ullmann has questioned the dating of this work, which contains quotations from authors who lived in the second half of the third/ninth century. He argued that Ibn Sarābiyūn’s Kunnāš probably appeared at the end of that century, and that Dāʾūd and Yūḥannā ibn Sarābiyūn were separated by a century; see Ullmann, ‘Yūḥannā ibn Sarābiyūn’, 280. Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah mentioned Dāʾūd ibn Sarābiyūn several times, often in connection with the Buḫtīšūʿ family (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 343, 353, 439, 444, 517). See also Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 159–161.


Salmawayh ibn Bunān (d. 226/840–841) was a prominent Christian physician in the service of the caliph al-Muʿtaṣim. He commissioned Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq to produce a number of Syriac and Arabic translations (see for example below, III.5). Ḥunayn wrote a short epistle addressed to him as an introduction to his Syriac translation of Galen’s Habits (De consuetudinibus). See Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 423.15–433.10; and Ullmann, Die Medizin, 112.


Unidentified. A certain Elīsaʿ commissioned the Syriac translation of Galen’s Classification of the Diseases of the Internal Parts (De locis affectis) from Sergius of Rēšʿaynā; see Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 12.21–22.


Physician to a high-ranking official at the court of the caliph al-Mutawakkil, al-Fatḥ ibn Ḫāqān (d. 247/861–862), and son of the physician Zakariyāʾ ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Ṭayfūrī (see below, III.4 with n. 355). Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq reported that he asked him to finish his Syriac translation of Galen’s Classification of the Diseases of the Internal Parts (al-Risālah, 13.5–6). On this physician (and his father), see Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 406.4–408.3; Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 719; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 161–162.


See above, II.1 with n. 190.


See above, I.2 with n. 30.


See also al-Ǧāḥiẓ, al-Bayān wa-l-tabyīn, I, 328.1–2, who maintained that he was the first to translate works on astronomy, medicine, and chemistry.


See Ullmann, ‘Ḫālid ibn al-Yazīd’, 214–217, who traces the origins of this apocryphal story in the first half of the third/ninth century and its subsequent transmission.


See Gutas, Greek Thought, 23–24.


Another translation: Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, 581 (English).


On the role of astrology and what Dimitri Gutas termed ‘early ʿAbbāsid imperial ideology’ during this formational period of the translation movement, see Gutas, Greek Thought, 28–60.


See above, II.1 with n. 202.


Al-Fazārī (fl. second half of the second/eighth century), a pioneering Arab astronomer and astrologer in the service of al-Manṣūr, who helped cast the horoscope that determined the best time to found the city of Baghdad. See Julio Samsó, ‘al-Fazārī’, EI Three; and Sezgin, GAS, VI, 122–124.


ʿAlī ibn ʿĪsā al-Asṭurlābī (the astrolabist), a contemporary and colleague of al-Fazārī; we know precious little about his life. See Sezgin, GAS, VI, 143–144.


Kalīlah wa-Dimnah is the title of the Arabic translation of the Pañcatantra, a Sanskrit mirror for princes in the form of animal fables, which was originally composed around AD 300. Around the middle of the sixth century AD, it was translated into Middle Persian for the Sasanian king Ḫusraw I Anūširwān by his physician, Burzōe, who added an autobiographical introduction. The second/eighth-century Arabic translator of this Persian version, Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, added his own preface and inserted within Burzōe’s introduction a section on the uncertainty of religions. See Carl Brockelmann, ‘Kalīla Wa-Dimna’, EI2.


The Sindhind was the Arabic title of a Sanskrit astronomical work, probably entitled Mahāsiddhānta, which was brought to Baghdad in 156/773 by a delegation from Sind, the easternmost province of the ʿAbbāsid state. The Arabic translation may have been produced by the abovementioned al-Fazārī in collaboration with an Indian scholar. See David Pingree, ‘Sindhind’, EI2.


See above, I.7.


The handbook on number theory, the Introduction to Arithmetic (Introductio arithmeticae) by Nicomachus of Gerasa (d. AD c. 120).


Euclid’s Elements; see above, I.6.


Other translations: Kennedy, The Caliphate, 138 (English); and al-Masʿūdī, Les Prairies d’ Or, V, 1378–1379, par. 3446 (French).


See G. Martinez-Gros, ‘Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī’, EI2.


Parallel: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 315.22–316.4.


See above, II.2 with n. 266. See also Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 714–715; Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 167–170; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 133–134.


Another translation: Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, 645 (English).


Parallels: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 171.2–16; and Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 473.6–14. Cf. also the partial and abbreviated version in Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Ṭabaqāt al-umam, 36.18–20, which does not mention the caliph al-Mutawakkil or the team of translators.


See above, 255–256, and I.5 with n. 52.


Ḥunayn documented his translations in the Epistle (al-Risālah); see above, 255–256.


See above, I.5 with n. 53.


Ar. ʿilal al-lisānayn, literally ‘the illnesses of both tongues’. The term ʿillah (‘illness’) was used to refer to mistakes and rhetorical blunders that had a negative impact on the eloquence of speech, e.g., repetition, mispronunciation, verbosity, and lack of clarity (see al-Ǧāḥiẓ, al-Bayān wa-l-tabyīn, I, 13). In prosody, it denotes deviations from the ideal, ‘healthy’ meter; see Willem Stoetzer, ‘Prosody (ʿarūḍ)’, Encyclopaedia of Arabic Literature, II, 622.


The Arab philologist al-Ḫālīl ibn Aḥmad al-Farāhīdī (d. betw. 160/776 and 175/791) was a pioneering lexicographer whose work laid the foundations of the first Arabic dictionary, the Book of (the letter) ʿAyn (Kitāb al-ʿayn), which was compiled after al-Ḫalīl’s death. See Rudolf Sellheim, ‘al-Khalīl b. Aḥmad’, EI2.


Ḥunayn’s alleged language studies under al-Ḫalīl and his involvement in bringing the Book of (the letter) ʿAyn are without a doubt apocryphal: al-Ḫalīl was long dead by the time Ḥunayn took up his studies. The association of the two, which may have been spread by his students, was probably meant to burnish Ḥunayn’s linguistic credentials.


See above, II.1 with n. 165.


Ḥunayn’s nephew and collaborator; see above, II.1 with n. 190.


This must be Mūsā ibn Ḫālid; see above, II.2 with n. 241.




See above, I.5 with n. 53.


See Strohmaier, ‘Homer in Bagdad’, 196; Gutas, Greek Thought, 138; and Gutas, ‘Scholars as Transmitters’, 683.


Yūsuf ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Dāyah (fl. first half third/ninth century), the father of the Ṭūlūnid historian commonly known by the same name, was a foster brother of the caliph al-Muʿtaṣim and secretary of Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mahdī. Ibn al-Dāyah is the author of a lost collection of anecdotes about his patron from which authors such as Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah and Abū l-Faraǧ al-Iṣbahānī often quote; see Franz Rosenthal, ‘Ibn al-Dāyah’, EI2; and Bruning, ‘Yūsuf b. Ibrāhīm b. al-Dāyā’.


Galen’s On Sects. The name harāsīs is a transliteration of its Greek title, (Περὶ) αἱρέσεων.


Isḥāq ibn al-Ḫaṣī (‘the son of the eunuch’) was the son of Ḫaršā, a Byzantine slave of the caliph Hārūn al-Rašīd; Isḥāq’s father was castrated, hence the name. Isḥāq was taught Greek by his mother, who also instructed him in Greek and Byzantine culture; his story is told in Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 465.13–466.5 (the passage is left out in this text).


Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 444.14–18) reported that Yūḥannā ibn Māsawayh was the son of a Slav slave girl by the name of Risālah, whom his father Māsawayh had received as a gift from his patron, Ǧibrīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ.


According to Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq belonged to a group of Christian Arabs from Ḥīrah named ʿAbādīyah (ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 464.8–9, where Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah noted that the term is vocalized with fatḥah; modern scholars usually transcribe the name as ʿIbādīyah). This term is related to the verb ʿabada, ‘to serve, worship’. Bar Hebraeus (Taʾrīḫ muḫtaṣar al-duwal, 250.3–6) explained that this Christian faction called themselves ʿAbādiyah because the ʿabād serve only God, whilst the ʿabīd (‘servants, slaves’) serve both the Creator and the created (al-ḫāliq wa-l-maḫlūq).


See above, II.2 with n. 260.


Al-Maʾmūn died in 218/833.


See above, II.2 with n. 246.


It is not clear what the reference is; see Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, The Best Accounts (ed. Savage-Smith et al.), III/1, 495, n. 17.


See above, I.6 with n. 63.


See above, II.1 with n. 163.


For Ibn Bakkuš or Bakkūš or Baks, see above, I.13 with n. 142.


See above, I.11 with n. 106, and II.1 with n. 149.


See above, I.6 with n. 65.


See above, II.2 with n. 242.


See above, II.2 with n. 246.


See above, II.2 with n. 241.


Parallels: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 128.18–129.2; cf. also 177.11–14.


See above, II.1 with n. 190.


See above, II.1 with n. 191.


See above, n. 5.


Another translation: Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, 682 (English).


See Cooperson, ‘The Purported Autobiography’, 237; Salama-Carr, ‘Translation’, 392; Strohmaier, ‘Byzantinisch-arabische Wissenschaftsbeziehungen’, 182; and Olsson, ‘The Reputation of Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq’, 29–31.


Another translation (partial): Cooperson, ‘The Purported Autobiography’, 237–239.


See Salama-Carr, ‘Translation’, 392; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 140.


I.e., to Ḥunayn’s suggestion that the information about Galen’s writings his addressee was requesting could be found in Galen’s own bibliographical writings.


Other translations: Montgomery, In Praise of Books, 186–187 (English); Salama-Carr, La traduction, 58–59 (French, partial); and Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 2/Ger. (German).


Parallel: Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 275.3–276.1.


Ǧibrīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ; see above, II.2 with n. 260.


Gutas, Greek Thought, 179.


See above, II.1 with n. 175.


See above, II.2 with n. 266. See also Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 714–715; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 133–134.


An early ninth-century translator from Greek into Syriac who is mentioned twice more in the Epistle; see above, II.2 with n. 180, and Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 704.


See above, II.2 with n. 265.


Ḥunayn’s student and nephew; see above, II.1 with n. 190.


Another translation: Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 4/Ger. (German).


See above, II.2 with n. 280.


See above, II.2 with n. 246.


An important urban centre in north-eastern Syria with a caliphal palace built by al-Maʾmūn’s father, the caliph Hārūn al-Rašīd. It was the site of al-Maʾmūn’s headquarters during the campaign he waged against the Byzantines in the year 215/830.


A contemporary of Ḥunayn and fellow physician who went on to serve at the court of the caliph al-Muʿtaṣim. He was father of the physician Isrāʾīl ibn Zakariyāʾ al-Ṭayfūrī (see above, II.2 with n. 282); see Meyerhof, ‘New Light’, 719; and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 161–162.


Buḥtīšūʿ ibn Ǧibrīl (d. 256/870), court physician to a succession of caliphs, was the son of the physician Ǧibrīl ibn Buḫtīšūʿ. Jealous of Ḥunayn’s success, he may have been the instigator of the court intrigue alluded to in II.11 above and III.5 immediately below; see Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 157–159.


I.e., it was not part of the official medical curriculum at the late antique school of Alexandria. On the School of Alexandria and medical teaching there, see Overwien, ‘Medizinische Lehrwerke’.


Other translations: Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 14–15/Ger. (German); Garofalo, ‘La traduzione araba’, 73–74 (Italian); and Micheau, ‘Mécènes et médecins’, 151–152 (French, partial).


The sensitivity of religious translations continued to be a concern; see al-Ǧāḥiẓ’s remarks below, IV.5d.


The language of the Ṣābian religious community; see above, n. 67.


I.e., the word order of these languages differed.


Another translation: Ibn al-Nadīm, The Fihrist, 42 (English).


The historical context of this methodological distinction is set out by Brock, ‘Aspects’.


See Endress, Proclus Arabus, 154, and Mattock, ‘The early translations’, 74–75. See also Gutas, Greek Thought, 142.


Mattock, ‘The early translations’, 74.


See above, I.11 with n. 105.


See above, II.2 with n. 151.


The same arguments were put forward by the grammarian al-Sīrāfī; see below, IV.8c.


An otherwise unknown translator, presumably a contemporary of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq.


On the translation history of Euclid’s Elements, see I.6 above.


On the translation history of Ptolemy’s Almagest, see I.7 above.


I.e., the works students were required to read between Euclid’s Elements and Ptolemy’s Almagest.


Another translation: Rosenthal, ‘R. Walzer’, 253–254 (English).


See Michio Yano, ‘al-Bīrūnī’, EI Three.


See above, II.4 with n. 293.


See above, II.1 with n. 197.


See Montgomery, ‘al-Jāḥiẓ’.


See above, II.1 with n. 197. In IV.1 above, al-Bīrūnī accused Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ of adding a chapter to the book Kalīlah wa-Dimnah in order to support the Manichaean cause.


Sahl ibn Hārūn (d. 215/830) was an Iranian man of letters who worked as secretary for Yaḥyā ibn Ḫālid al-Barmakī and the caliph Hārūn al-Rašīd. He translated several works from Pahlavi, among them the romance Wāmiq and ʿAḏraʾ. See Mohsen Zakeri, ‘Sahl b. Hārūn b. Rāhawayh’, EI2.


This may be a scribal error for Abū ʿUbaydah, i.e., the philologist Abū ʿUbaydah Maʿmar ibn al-Muṯannā (d. c. 210/824–825), the son of a Persian Jew who converted to Islam. Abū ʿUbaydah is one of the most important scholars in the field of Arabic philology; see Reinhard Weipert, ‘Abū ʿUbayda’, EI Three.


See above, I.4 with n. 46.


Also of Iranian descent, the scholar Ġaylān al-Dimašqī (fl. second half second/eighth century) was mainly known for his advocacy of the doctrine of free will (qadarīyah), which led to his execution by the caliph Ḥišām ibn ʿAbd al-Malik. See Charles Pellat, ‘Ġaylān b. Muslim’, EI2.


See Webb, ‘ “Foreign Books” ’, 41, and Enderwitz, Gesellschaftlicher Rang, 99–100. All of these authors were accused of being šuʿūbī, i.e., non-Arab Muslims who extolled the sophistication of Persian culture and mocked the Arabs, whose traditions and lore they considered uncivilized. On the role of al-Ǧāḥiz in these polemics, see Enderwitz, Gesellschaftlicher Rang, 162–163.


Parallel: cf. the somewhat different and shorter version in Ibn Nubātah, Sarḥ al-ʿuyūn, 242.9–19.


I.e., someone other than Ibn al-Nadīm, the author of the Catalogue, from which Ibn al-Qifṭī had quoted immediately before this passage; the phrase signals a quotation from a different source.


A variant of this legend that presents Constantine the Great (r. 306–337) and his mother as enemies of philosophy who ordered medical and philosophical books to be burned is reported by ʿAbd al-Ǧabbār, Taṯbīt, 161.16–162.2. See Stern, ‘ʿAbd al-Jabbār’s Account’.


On al-Maqdisī, see al-Ḏahabī, Sīrat aʿlām al-nubalāʾ, XIX, 136, n. 72.


See above, I.7 with n. 69.


See Balty-Guesdon, ‘Le Bayt al-ḥikma’, 136.


The term zindīq (pl. zanādiqah), is difficult to translate here. Borrowed from Persian, the term originally means Manichaean, but was later used to refer to freethinkers, heretics, and unbelievers in general; see François de Blois, ‘Zindīḳ’, EI2.


Ibn al-Nadīm’s Catalogue does not list a book by the title The Definition of Logic (Ḥadd al-manṭiq), and the work remains a mystery. The sunnī theologian and belletrist Ibn Qutaybah (d. 276/889), a sharp critic of his contemporaries’ fascination with Greek philosophy, also refers to this book; see Adab al-kātib, 2.9 and 5.9. Soravia, ‘Ibn Qutayba’, 551, n. 34, maintains that the title refers to Aristotle’s Categories.


The History of Animals (Historia animalium) and The Generation of Animals (De generatione animalium), which were combined in the Arabic tradition into the Book of Animals (Kitāb al-ḥayawān). See Peters, Aristoteles Arabus, 47–48; and Kruk, ‘La zoologie aristotélicienne’.


For an analytical outline and interpretation of the following passages from al-Ǧāḥiẓ’s Book of Animals, see Montgomery, In Praise of Books, 451–459, esp. 455–457.


See Montgomery, ‘Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Falsafa and Hippocrates Arabicus’, 77, and Montgomery, In Praise of Books, 455–457.


See Salama-Carr, ‘Translation’, 387; and Montgomery, ‘Al-Ǧāḥiẓ, Falsafa and Hippocrates Arabicus’, 77.


See Kraus, ‘Zu Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ’, 2–4; and Salama-Carr, ‘Translation’, 387–390.


See Salama-Carr, ‘Translation’, 388–389.


See Endress, ‘Die wissenschaftliche Literatur’, 4; Endress, ‘The Circle of al-Kindī’, 44; and Gutas, Greek Thought, 137–138.


See above, I.11 with n. 105, and II.1.


See above, II.1 with n. 151.


Ṯābit ibn Qurrah; see above, I.6 with n. 64.


See above, II.1 with n. 155.


Theophilus ibn Tūmā al-Ruhāwī (d. 169/785), otherwise known as Theophilus of Edessa, a Maronite scholar and translator; see Lucas van Rompay, ‘Theophilos of Edessa’, GEDSH.


Unidentified, possibly the result of a scribal error.


See above, II.1 with n. 197.


See above, II.3 with n. 286.


See above, I.11 with n. 105, and II.1.


Ṯābit ibn Qurrah; see above, I.6 with n. 64.


The Arabic translation of this work was produced by Ibn al-Biṭrīq; see Peters, Aristoteles Arabus, 39–40. The Arabic version was edited by Pieter L. Schoonheim; see Aristotle, Kitāb al-āṯār al-ʿulwīyah.


Other translations: Endress, ‘Die griechisch-arabischen Übersetzungen’, 104–105; and Endress, ‘Die wissenschaftliche Literatur’, 4 (German).


See above, IV.1.


On the translations of Dioscorides and Oribasius, see above, I.12.


I.e., these titles were usually transliterated in Arabic rather than translated.


Another translation: Meyerhof, ‘Das Vorwort’, 198–199/Ger. (German).


See above, I.13 with n. 138.


Semitic languages, such as Arabic, use personal pronouns to link subjects and predicates, whereas Indo-European languages such as Persian and Greek use copular verbs: where the latter languages use hast or estin (‘it is’), Arabic simple uses the pronoun huwa, ‘he/it’. As al-Fārābī observed, this pronoun can be nominalised by adding the definitive article al- to form a neologism that denotes existence, namely al-huwa, ‘that which is’. According to al-Fārābī, this notion can be better expressed with the passive participle al-mawǧūd, ‘to be found, to exist’, which is derived from the verb waǧada, ‘to find’.


Hast (or ast) is the 3rd person singular present of the Persian verb būdan, ‘to be’.


Estin (ἐστίν) is the 3rd person singular present active indicative of the verb einai (εἶναι), ‘to be’.


Again, the common verbal noun al-wuǧūd, derived from the verb waǧada, is contrasted with the neologism al-huwīyah, derived from the pronoun huwa.


Other translations: Endress, ‘Die wissenschaftliche Literatur’, 21–22 (German, partial); and Endress, ‘Die griechisch-arabischen Übersetzungen’, 137–138 (German, partial).


Parallel: al-Tawḥīdī, al-Muqābasāt, 71.21–72.11.


See Samuel M. Stern, ‘Abū Ḥayyān al-Tawḥīdī’, EI2.


See above, I.13 with n. 144.


Al-Tawḥīdī, Kitāb al-imtāʿ, I, 104.13–14.


The debate has been analysed by a number of scholars. See for example Mahdi, ‘Language and Logic’; Endress, ‘Grammatik und Logik’, 163–299; Kühn, ‘Die Rehabilitierung der Sprache’, 343–344; Abed, Aristotelian Logic, xiv–xvi; Vagelpohl, ‘The ʿAbbasid Translation Movement’, 256–258; and Salama-Carr, ‘Translation’, 390–391.


See Geneviève Humbert, ‘al-Sīrāfī’, EI2.


I.e., the translation has not changed the word order.


Other translations: Margoliouth, ‘The Discussion’, 114 (English); and Endress, ‘Grammatik und Logik’, 244–245 (German).


Parallel: al-Tawḥīdī, al-Muqābasāt, 75.8–16.


Like other Semitic languages, Arabic has a consonantal script. Vowel marks, which are optional, may be added to aid understanding. The lack of proper vocalization sometimes results in ambiguities or misunderstandings. See above, IV.6.


Other translations: Margoliouth, ‘The Discussion’, 117–118 (English); and Endress, ‘Grammatik und Logik’, 249–250 (German).


Parallel: al-Tawḥīdī, al-Muqābasāt, 75.16–76.5.


I.e., the word order.


Other translations: Margoliouth, ‘The Discussion’, 118 (English); and Endress, ‘Grammatik und Logik’, 250–251 (German).


Parallel: al-Tawḥīdī, al-Muqābasāt, 80.11–15.


Other translations: Margoliouth, ‘The Discussion’, 122–123 (English); and Endress, ‘Grammatik und Logik’, 258 (German).


See above, IV.6.


Another translation: Meyerhof, ‘Das Vorwort’, 196–197/Ger. (German).


On al-Kindī and his attitude towards Greek philosophy, see Adamson, ‘Al-Kindī’.


See Jean Jolivet and Roshdi Rashed, ‘al-Kindī’, EI2; and Endress, ‘The Circle of al-Kindī’.


See Gutas, Greek Thought, 158–159.


According to Alfred Ivry, this is an adaptation of the (rather free) Arabic translation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, 993a30–b4; see Ivry, ‘Al-Kindī’s First Philosophy’, 20.


‮باكهر‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel): ‮راكهر‬‎ (ed. Taǧaddud): ‮راكهّر‬‎ (ed. Sayyid)


‮راحه‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel): ‮راجه‬‎ (ed. Taǧaddud, Sayyid)


‮أنكر‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Taǧaddud, Sayyid): ‮آنكو‬‎ (ed. Flügel)


‮زنكل‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel): ‮رتكل‬‎ (ed. Taǧaddud, Sayyid)


‮جنهر‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (all eds)


‮أندي‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Taǧaddud, Sayyid): ‮اندو‬‎ (ed. Flügel)


‮جباری‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (all eds)


‮شيرك‬‎ Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ II/2, 886, app. crit. n. 15


‮سندستاق‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel): ‮سُسْتاق‬‎ (ed. Taǧaddud, Sayyid)


‮اسانكر‬‎ Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ II/2, 886, app. crit. n. 22


‮توقشتل‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (all eds)


‮رای‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel): ‮ٮاٮی‬‎ (ed. Taǧaddud): ‮بابي‬‎ (ed. Sayyid)


‮لتوقشتل‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (all eds)


‮ناري‬‎ Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ, II/1, 511.1


‮هبا‬‎ corrected: ‮هيّا‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel, Taǧaddud, Sayyid)


‮النفيسي‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Taǧaddud, Sayyid): ‮التفليسيّ‬‎ (ed. Flügel; in the critical apparatus Flügel notes the reading ‮البلقيسي‬‎)


‮بباختيار‬‎ corrected: ‮باختيار‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel): ‮ىحداد‬‎ (ed. Taǧaddud)


‮الكسرويّ‬‎ corrected: ‮الكرديّ‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel): ‮الكرويّ‬‎ (ed. Taǧaddud)


‮سابور‬‎ corrected: ‮نيسابور‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist (ed. Flügel)


‮شهدى‬‎ corrected according to Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 244.14: ‮سَهدا‬‎ Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 4.20 and 6.2


See previous note.


زرويا conjectured: زروبا Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 244.8


‮مانحوه‬‎: ‮ماجوه‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 244.8


‮فثيون‬‎ corrected according to Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 244.9


‮الساهر‬‎ Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 392.1


‮توما‬‎ corrected according to Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 49.3; Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 131.15; Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist, I, 291.6


‮اثاناس‬‎ Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 49.7–8


See the note on Tūmā al-Ruhāwī above (n. 468).


‮بكوش‬‎ Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamāʾ, 37.15–16, 40.18, 107.5


‮شيريشوع‬‎ Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 5.2


‮ثياذوری‬‎ Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, al-Risālah, 12.21


‮بهريز‬‎ Ibn al-Nadīm, Kitāb al-fihrist; Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ.


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