Union Académique Internationale

Aristoteles Semitico-Latinus (Corpus Philosophorum Medii Aevi)

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The project Aristoteles Semitico-Latinus (ASL) was founded in 1971 by Hendrik Joan Drossaart Llulofs. It is in the charge of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), as a subproject of Aristoteles Latinus and as part of the Corpus philosophorum medii aevi under the patronage of the Union Académique Internationale.

Directors and editors of this project are now professor emeritus Hans Daiber (Free University of Amsterdam 1977-1995 and University of Francfort, Germany 1995-2010) and professor emerita Remke Kruk (University of Leiden, The Netherlands). Its aim is the edition of Aristotle’s works on logic, metaphysis and physics in their translations from Greek into Syriac, Arabic, Latin and Hebrew. These translations include adaptations and paraphrases of Aristotelian texts in Greek-Alexandrian commentaries from the 3rd century AD or later and in mainly Arabic and Syriac commentaries. In this way the Oriental transmission of Aristotelian texts to the Middle Ages became a mirror image of the exciting development of human thought and sciences and a stimulus for the rise of a changing worldview in Europe. The project ASL follows the sound method of philology in textcritical editions as a basis for the comparison of texts, for the literary investigations of complicated ways of transmissions and for the interpretation as a corrective of philological analysis. The editions are introduced by substantial introductions informing about author, text, its history and the manuscripts. They are followed by glossaries and indices.

Until today 25 volumes appeared, which are concentrated on Aristotleʾs Physics and Physical Problems, Meteorology, Zoology, Biology, Psychology, Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics. A highlight is H.J. Drossaart Lulofs opus magnum, published in 1989, his edition and English translation of the Syriac, Arabic, Latin, Hebrew versions of De plantis in the redaction of Nicolaus Damascenus, together with E.L.J. Poortman’s edition of the Latin-Greek version. Nicolaus Damascenusʾ De plantis is lost in its Greek original and based on a lost work by Aristotle. Nicolausʾ work is an example for the extraordinary enrichment of our knowledge of classical antiquity through the Oriental tradition, which has preserved lost Greek texts, lost old manuscripts with variant readings and which took up new interpretations of Greek commentators. Herewith the Oriental tradition of Aristotles works became groundbreaking for Arabic philosophers like Avicenna and Averroes, who both increasingly shaped the picture of the Arabic-Latin Aristotle in the Middle Ages. For this reason, Aristoteles Semitico-Latinus is strongly related to the UAI-projects Avicenna Latinus and to Averrois opera.

At the moment editions are being prepared of the Arabic and Latin versions of Aristotle’s De caelo (G. Endress, Bochum), of the Arabic version of the Parva naturalia (R. Hansfeld, Munich) and of the Latin version of Historia animalium of which the Arabic text appeared in 2018 (L. Filius, The Netherlands) and the first three books in Michael Scotʾs Arabic-Latin translation is published in 2020 (A.M.I. van Oppenraay, Constantijn Huygens Instituut, Den Haag). Moreover, the edition of the surviving Syriac fragments of Nicolausʾ lost Compendium of Aristotleʾs Philosophy is planned by H. Takahashi (University of Tokyo). Since 2003 special attention is given to the Syriac tradition of Aristotle in Barhebraeus’ encyclopaedia Butyrum sapientiae from the 13th century, the most impressive description of Aristotelian philosophy in the Syriac language, often relying on Arabic, Persian and Syriac adaptions of Aristotleʾs work. Until now we have editions of Barhebraeusʾ book on Meteorology and Minerals (H. Takahashi), on Ethics, Economy and Politics (P. Joosse) and on Rhetoric (J. Watt). The edition with translation and commentary of the book on Physics is nearly completed (J.O. Schmitt). Further editions from books in Barhebraeusʾ Butyrum are planned by J.O. Schmitt (University of Würzburg, Germany) and H. Takahashi (University of Tokyo).