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Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work B.1



A collection of 100 astrological aphorisms, accompanied, in most versions, by the commentary of Abū Ja‘far Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf.


That the Κarpos/Centiloquium is not by Ptolemy was demonstrated by Franz Boll in 1894 (Boll, ‘Studien…’). There is, however, no consensus as to its origin. Because there are no testimonies or quotations in ancient sources and because there are no Greek manuscripts prior to the fourteenth century (the Syriac fragment referred to by Nau is excerpted from a thirteenth-century text), the question arises whether the text existed in Antiquity at all. According to Lemay, both the text and its commentary were composed by Abū Ja‘far Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf around 922 (‘Abugafarus’ or ‘Bugafarus’ in the version ‘Iam premisi’; this name appears most fully in the title of Plato of Tivoli’s translation in a few MSS, including Boulogne-sur-Mer, BM, 198 (‘Expositio Abuiafar Hamet filii Ioseph Abrahe scriptoris super librum Tholomei qui liber fructus arboris intitulatur’); Venice, MCC, cod. Cic. 617 (‘Expositio Abuiafar Ham et filii Ioseph filii Abhe scriptoris super librum Ptholomei qui liber fructus vel arboris intitulatur’); and Vienna, ÖNB, 5209 (‘Centum verba Ptolomei cum expositione Abuiafar filii Ioseph Abrae scriptoris’). However, Ullmann, 284 n. 2 and Kunitzsch, in his review of Sezgin, 176, note that the text was already quoted by al-Ṣaimarī (828-888) in his Kitāb aṣl al-uṣūl fī khawāṣṣ al-nujūm (MS Berlin, SBPK, Landberg 221, f. 43v9). Moreover, Paul Kunitzsch informs me (private communication) that in some Arabic manuscripts, the title is a transliteration from the Greek (e.g. the colophon of Milan, BA, C. 86, used by Lemay). The attribution of the commentary to ‘Hali’ or ‘Haly’ in the Latin tradition originated with Plato of Tivoli and may have resulted from the fact that Haly Embrani says, in his De electionibus horarum (a text that Plato’s colleague, Savasorda, had translated in 1133), that he had once commented upon the ‘verba Ptholomei’ (see Lemay, ‘Origin and Success…’, 103-104, and Le Kitāb…, 223).


F. Boll, ‘Studien über Claudius Ptolemäus. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der griechischen Philosophie und Astrologie’, Jahrbücher für Classische Philologie, Suppl. 21 (1894), 49-244: 180-181; F. Nau, ‘Un fragment syriaque de l’ouvrage astrologique de Claude Ptolémée intitulé le Livre du fruit’, Revue de l’Orient Chrétien 28 (1931-1932), 197-202; F. J. Carmody, Arabic Astronomical and Astrological Sciences in Latin Translation. A Critical Bibliography, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1956, 16-17 (no. 3); W. Gundel, H. G. Gundel, Astrologumena. Die astrologische Literatur in der Antike und ihre Geschichte, Wiesbaden, 1966, 211; M. Ullmann, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, Leiden, 1972, 283-284; R. Lemay, ‘Origin and Success of the Kitāb Thamara of Abū Ja’far Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf ibn Ibrāhīm from the Tenth to the Seventeenth Century in the World of Islam and the Latin West’, in Proceedings of the First International Symposium for the History of Arabic Science (Aleppo, April 5-12, 1976), Aleppo, 1978, II, 91-107; F. Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, VII: Astrologie-Meteorologie und Verwandtes, Leiden, 1979, VII, 44-46 (no. 2) and 157; P. Kunitzsch, review of Sezgin’s Geschichte des arabischen… VII, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 132 (1982), 175-177; D. Pingree, review of Sezgin’s Geschichte des arabischen… VII, Journal of the American Philosophical Society 102 (1982), 559-561; R. Lemay, Abū Ma‘šar al-Balḫī [Albumasar]: Liber introductorii maioris ad scientiam judiciorum astrorum, Napoli, 1995-1996, I, 115-116 and 269; IV, 15-19, 90-92 and 173-175; VII, 15-19; 58-62 and 105-106; R. Lemay, Le Kitāb at-Tamara (Liber fructus, Centiloquium) d’Abū Ja’far Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf [Ps.-Ptolémée], New York, 1999, 5 vols [unpublished]; M. Rinaldi, ‘Pontano, Trapezunzio ed il Graecus Interpres del Centiloquio pseudo-tolemaico’, Atti della Accademia Pontaniana, Nuova Serie 48 (1999), 125-171; R. Lemay, ‘Le Centiloquium du pseudo-Ptolémée (Abû Ja’far Ahmad ibn Yûsuf) chez quelques grands scolastiques du XIIIe siècle: Robert Grosseteste – Albert le Grand – Guillaume d’Auvergne’, Scientiarum Historia 29 (2003), 133-146; J.-P. Boudet, ‘Astrology Between Rational Science and Divine Inspiration. The Pseudo-Ptolemy’s Centiloquium’, in Dialogues among Books in Medieval Western Magic and Divination, eds S. Rapisarda, E. Niblaeus, Firenze, 2014, 47-73; J.-P. Boudet, ‘Nature et contre-nature dans l’astrologie médiévale. Le cas du Centiloquium du Pseudo-Ptolémée’, in La nature comme source de la morale au Moyen Âge, ed. M. van der Lugt, Firenze, 2014 (Micrologus’ Library 58), 383-410; M. Rinaldi, ‘Un inedito volgarizzamento quattrocentesco del Centiloquio pseudo-tolemaico’, Bruniana & Campanelliana 21 (2015), 663-670; O. Pompeo Faracovi, ‘Une nuova edizione del Centiloquio’, Bruniana & Campanelliana 20 (2014), 641-644; J.-P. Boudet, ‘Les comètes dans le Centiloquium et le De cometis du pseudo-Ptolémée’, Micrologus 24 (2016), 195-226; J.-P. Boudet, ‘Causalité et signification dans le Centiloquium du pseudo-Ptolémée’, in Orbis disciplinae. Liber amicorum Patrick Gautier Dalché, eds N. Bouloux, A. Dan, G. Tolias, Turnhout, 2017, 607-624; J.-P. Boudet, ‘Naissance et conception: autour de la proposition 51 du Centiloquium attribué à Ptolémée’, in De l’homme, de la nature et du monde. Mélanges d’histoire des sciences médiévales offerts à Danielle Jacquart, Genève, 2019, 165-178.


Critical edition of the Greek text by E. Boer, Καρπός. Pseudo-Ptolemaei Fructus sive Centiloquium, Leipzig, 1952 (revised edition Leipzig, 1961) [Claudii Ptolemaei Opera quae extant omnia, vol. III.2]. English translation by J. H. Holden, Five Medieval Astrologers, Tempe, 2008, 71-87. There is an unpublished critical edition of the Arabic text (with Abū Ja’far’s commentary) and of the five main medieval Latin translations in Lemay, Le Kitāb…. The Arabic text (again, with the commentary) is also edited in F. Martorello, G. Bezza, Aḥmad ibn Yusūf ibn al-Dāya: Commento al Centiloquio tolemaico, Milano-Udine, 2013. A critical edition of the medieval Latin translations is in preparation by J.-P. Boudet, on the basis of Lemay’s material.

Latin translations

Latin commentaries