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Al-Kindī on Judicial Astrology: ‘the Forty Chapters’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

Charles Burnett
Affiliation:
University of London, The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H OAB, UK

Abstract

Al-Kindī's Forty Chapters was one of the most influential astrological texts in the Middle Ages in the Arabic and Latin-reading world. Yet it has never been studied by modern scholars and has not even been properly identified in the standard bibliographies and encyclopaedias of Arabic literature. This study describes the work as it appears in the Arabic MS, Jerusalem, Khālidī Library, 21(2)-Astr.-2; sets it in the tradition of Greek, Persian and Arabic texts on catarchic astrology; and traces its influence on later Arabic astrological works, which give evidence of a fuller text than that in the Khālidī Library. This fuller text appears in the two Latin translations made in the mid-twelfth century by Hugo of Santalla and Robert of Ketton. Finally some comments are added about the place of The Forty Chapters in al-Kindī's œ;uvre. Two appendixes give respectively details of the manuscripts of the Arabic text and the two Latin translations, and an edition of a specimen chapter (concerning irrigation and cultivating the land) from these three versions.

Les quarante chapitres d'al-Kindī furent l'un des textes astrologiques les plus influents du moyen âge dans le monde arabe et dans le monde de culture latine. Néanmoins, malgre son importance ce trait´e n'a jamais été étudié ni même correctement identifié dans les bibliographies et les encyclopédies de base consacrées à l'histoire littéraire des Arabes. Cette étude décrit le texte tel qu'il se présente dans le MS Arabe 21(2)-Astr.-2 de la bibliothèque Khālidī de Jérusalem, le replace dans les traditions grecque, persane et arabe d'écrits sur l'astrologie catarchique, et en suit l'influence sur des textes astrologiques arabes plus tardifs. Ces derniers démontrent l'existence d'une version des Quarante chapitres plus complète que celle du manuscrit de Jérusalem. C'est cette version plus complète qui apparaît dans les deux traductions latines rédigées au milieu du XIIe siècle par Hugues de Santalla et Robert de Ketton. L'étude s'achève sur quelques commentaires visant à replacer les Quarante chapitres dans l'œuvre d'al-Kindī. Deux appendices donnent respectivement une description des manuscrits du texte arabe et des deux traductions latines, et l'édition d'un chapitre sur la culture et l'irrigation des terres dans chacune des trois versions.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1993

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