The controversy as regards the genuineness of the allegedly seventeenth-century Ethiopian philosophers Zär'a Ya‘qob an Waldä Haywät and their two opuscula, known as hatäta ‘examination, inquiry’, has for close on a century generated scholarly discussion. In the footsteps of C. Conti Rossini (RAL, vm, 1899, 43 and RAL, xxix, 1920, 213—23) Mittwoch has adduced weighty arguments against the authenticity of the two tracts, and in his Amharische Version der Soirées de Carthage (Berlinand Leipzig, 1934) he has cited the relevant literature. I do not propose, in the present context, to traverse the same ground once again. The Ga‘az texts of the two hatäta were edited and translated by E. Littmann (CSCO, Scriptores Aethiopici, vols. 1 and 2, Leipzig 1904) and rendered from Ga‘sz into Amharic by Zämänfäs Qaddus Abraha (Asmara, 1955).
In the 1920s Eugen Mittwoch's pupil, Dr. Hans Schlobies,2 wrote to Alaqa Dästa,3 who was considered a notable student of Ethiopic literature, to enquire about indigenous knowledge of those two works. Part of the learned Aläqa's reply was published by Mittwoch in the Soirées de Carthage, 3–4, but Mittwoch's Ethiopian Nachlass (now in my possession) contains the original of Alaqa Dästa's letter which I propose to set out here in its entirety:
To the honoured Dr. Yohannes Schlobies. While I say ‘let my respectful greetings be to you and your entire family’, I present the compliments appropriate to your distinction. Honoured Sir, so far from being-as you wrote to me-' famous