Galen, De diebus decretoriis, from Greek into Arabic: A Critical Edition, with Translation and Commentary, of Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Kitab ayyam al-buhran, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Galen, De diebus decretoriis, from Greek into Arabic

A Critical Edition, with Translation and Commentary, of Hunayn ibn Ishaq, Kitab ayyam al-buhran, 1st Edition

By Glen M. Cooper


640 pages

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This volume presents the first edition of the Arabic translation, by Hunayn ibn Ishaq, of Galen's Critical Days (De diebus decretoriis), together with the first translation of the text into a modern language. The substantial introduction contextualizes the treatise within the Greek and Arabic traditions. Galen's Critical Days was a founding text of astrological medicine. In febrile illnesses, the critical days are the days on which an especially severe pattern of symptoms, a crisis, was likely to occur. The crisis was thought to expel the disease-producing substances from the body. If its precise timing were known, the physician could prepare the patient so that the crisis would be most beneficial. After identifying the critical days based on empirical data and showing how to use them in therapy, Galen explains the critical days via the moon's influence. In the historical introduction Glen Cooper discusses the translation of the Critical Days in Arabic, and adumbrates its possible significance in the intellectual debates and political rivalries among the 9th-century Baghdad elite. It is argued that Galen originally composed the Critical Days both to confound the Skeptics of his own day and to refute a purely mathematical, rationalist approach to science. These features made the text useful in the rivalries between Baghdad scholars. Al-Kindi (d.c. 866) famously propounded a mathematical approach to science akin to the latter. The scholar-bureaucrat responsible for funding this translation, Muhammad ibn Musa (d. 873), al-Kindi's nemesis, may have found the treatise useful in refuting that approach. The commentary and notes to the facing page translation address issues of translation, as well as important concepts.


'… great service that Cooper has done all those interested in Graeco-Arabic studies and the history of medicine by making this Arabic version available and accessible. For this, he deserves our thanks.' Journal of Islamic Studies 'Cooper’s book is an important contribution to the history of science.' Aestimatio

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword; Transliteration conventions; The scope of the present study; Part I Historical Background: Introduction; The Critical Days in Arabic; An historical reconstruction; The sciences in the Critical Days; Sources of the edition. Part II Edition and Translation of the De diebus decretoriis; Signs and conventions employed in the Apparatus Criticus; The Critical Days: Arabic edition: Book I; Book II; Book III; English translation: Book I; Book II; Book III. Part III Commentary: Preface to commentary; Referencing the main text; Book I; Book II; Book III. Part IV Appendices; Bibliography; Indices.

About the Author

Glen M. Cooper is Assistant Professor, Department of History, Brigham Young University, USA

About the Series

Medicine in the Medieval Mediterranean

Medicine in the Medieval Mediterranean is a series devoted to all aspects of medicine in the Mediterranean area during the Middle Ages, from the 3rd/4th centuries to the 16th. Though with a focus on Greek medicine, diffused through the whole Mediterranean world and especially developed in Byzantium, it also includes the contributions of the cultures that were present or emerged in the area during the Middle Ages and after, and which interacted with Byzantium: the Latin West and early vernacular languages, the Syrian and Arabic worlds, Armenian, Georgian and Coptic groups, Jewish and Slavic cultures and Turkish peoples, particularly the Ottomans. Medicine is understood in a broad sense: not only medical theory, but also the health conditions of people, nosology and epidemiology, diet and therapy, practice and teaching, doctors and hospitals, the economy of health, and the non-conventional forms of medicine from faith to magic, that is, all the spectrum of activities dealing with human health. The series includes texts and studies. It will bring to light previously unknown, overlooked or poorly known documents interpreted with the most appropriate methods, and publish the results of cutting-edge research, so providing a wide range of scholarly and scientific fields with new data for further explorations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General