A Literary History of Medicine by the Syrian physician Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (d. 1270) is the earliest comprehensive history of medicine. It contains biographies of over 432 physicians, ranging from the ancient Greeks to the author’s contemporaries, describing their training and practice, often as court physicians, and listing their medical works; all this interlaced with poems and anecdotes. These volumes present the first complete and annotated translation along with a new edition of the Arabic text showing the stages in which the author composed the work. Introductory essays provide important background. The reader will find on these pages an Islamic society that worked closely with Christians and Jews, deeply committed to advancing knowledge and applying it to health and wellbeing.
The present volume consists of translated anecdotes, on musicological and socio-cultural topics, from al-Iṣbahānī’s
Kitāb al-Aghānī al-Kabīr (
The Grand Book of Songs) with annotations and commentaries. It deals with musical rhythmic and melodic modes, technical terms and treatises; music instruments; composition techniques and processes; education and oral/written transmissions; vocal and instrumental performances and their aesthetics; solo and ensemble music; change and its inevitability; musical and textual improvisations;
ṭarab and the acute emotions of joy or grief; medieval dances; social status. Though extracts from
The Grand Book of Songs have been translated in European languages since 1816, this work presents a much larger and more comprehensive scope that will benefit musicologists, medievalist and Middle Eastern scholars as well as the general reader.