Doing it right – an new edition and Italian translation of a work by Hunain ibn Ishaq

It’s always delightful to see things moving in the right direction (especially when it isn’t because I pushed them).  Quite by accident I came across this site, which is the English-language page of an Italian journal.

The arab version of De differentiis febrium of Galen, edited by Claudio De Stefani, is the first issue of the Collection «Studi di Eikasmós Online».

Galeni De differentiis febrium versio Arabica (Bologna 2004)

Hunain ibn Ishâq di al-Hîra (808-873[?] A.D.), physician and philologist, author of original works and translations into Syriac and Arabic, was the most important arabic translator of the Middle Ages, and one of the best in the world. Because of this celebrity, many translations from Greek were wrongly attributed to him in the arabic mss. Most of his translations from Greek concern the works of Galen of Pergamon (128/131-210/213 A.D.). Here is the translation of one of Galen’s pathologic works on fevers (in two books): it was largely spread in the byzantine Greece (many Greek mss. preserve this work and several summaries on the same subject), in Western Europe (there are some latin translations from Greek, for example that of Burgundius), and in the Arabic East, where the galenic doctrines on fevers were going to survive for a long time. This electronic edition is interesting for people working on Galen, Arabists, historians of medicine.

Book I,1-8
Book I,9-14
Book II,1-7
Book II,8-18

The text (as a pdf file) can be scrolled or free downloaded (clic the file name and choose “Save as”), and printed for study. All rights are reserved for commercial reasons and aims.

Now this is simply splendid!  The files contain an electronic Arabic text with Italian translation.  And quite rightly too!  For the subject is so obscure that very few people will be interested. 

Most such pieces of work vanish into specialist libraries and never become known to the public.  Here someone — who? — has realised that there is another audience out there, one that will never see the printed paper journal, will never buy it, will never read its contents or know of them; the general educated public.  People like us, in fact.

Well done, the Italians!  In one stroke they have probably multipled by ten the number of people who can read this.

Thanks to this site.


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