Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work B.1

Karpos / Kitāb al-Thamara (Greek / Arabic)

The Καρπός (‘Fruit’) or Kitāb al-Thamara (‘Book of the Fruit’), better known by its Latin title Centiloquium, is a collection of 100 astrological aphorisms attributed to Ptolemy in all versions and in all languages throughout the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Boll (‘Studien’) was the first to demonstrate that Ptolemy was not the author and his conclusion has not been challenged since. There is, however, no consensus as to the origin of the text. 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 in fact excerpted from a thirteenth-century text), the question arises whether the text existed in Antiquity at all. In 1978, Lemay (‘Origin and Success’) put forward the hypothesis that the text was forged c. 920 by the Cairo mathematician and astronomer Abū Jaʿfar Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Dāya, who is also the most famous commentator of the work (see C.3.1), and that the resulting fabrication is the source of the text in all languages, including in Greek, where Abū Jaʿfar’s commentary was omitted so as to retain only the text attributed to Ptolemy. Lemay’s hypothesis, however, has been challenged (see in particular Martorello/Bezza, 12-20) and the question whether the text was originally written in Greek or in Arabic is still an open one. Of the ten identified Latin translations of the Καρπός / Kitāb al-Thamara, six were made from the Arabic in the Middle Ages (B.1.1, B.1.2, B.1.3, B.1.4, B.1.5, B.1.6, five of which include Abū Jaʿfar’s commentary = C.3.1.1, C.3.1.2, C.3.1.3, C.3.1.4, C.3.1.5) and four from the Greek in the Renaissance (B.1.7, B.1.8, B.1.9, B.1.10).


M. Steinschneider, Die hebraeischen Uebersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Dolmetscher. Ein Beitrag zur Literaturgeschichte des Mittelalters, Berlin, 1893, II, 527-531; 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; E. Boer, Καρπός. Pseudo-Ptolemaei Fructus sive Centiloquium, Leipzig, 1952 (revised edition Leipzig, 1961) [Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae exstant omnia, III.2]; 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 and 327-328; R. Lemay, ‘Origin and Success of the Kitāb Thamara of Abū Jaʿfar 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; E. R. McCarthy, ‘A Lexical Comparison of Four Twelfth Century Versions of Ptolemy’s Centiloquium from the Arabic’, in Actas del V Congreso Internacional de Filosofía Medieval, II, Madrid, 1979, 991-997; 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 Schrifttums VII, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 132 (1982), 175-177; D. Pingree, review of Sezgin’s Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums VII, Journal of the American Philosophical Society 102 (1982), 559-561: 560 (no. 8); R. Lemay, Abū Maʿšar 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, ‘Des sages antiques aux astrologues médiévaux. Falsafa et astrologie’, in La science des cieux. Sages, mages, astrologues, ed. R. Gyselen, Bures-sur-Yvette, 1999, 167-182: 174-179: 172-175; R. Lemay, Le Kitāb aṯ-Ṯamara (Liber fructus, Centiloquium) d’Abū Jaʿfar Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf [Ps.-Ptolémée], 1999 [unpublished], 5 vols; M. Rinaldi, Le Commentationes in Ptolemaeum di Giovanni Giovano Pontano: fonti, tradizione e fortuna del Centiloquio pseudo-tolemaico dalla Classicità all’Umanesimo, PhD dissertation, Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”, 2002, 47-60 and 68-72; F. Martorello, G. Bezza, Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf ibn al-Dāya: Commento al Centiloquio tolemaico, Milano-Udine, 2013; O. Pompeo Faracovi, ‘Una nuova edizione del Centiloquio’, Bruniana & Campanelliana 20 (2014), 641-644; A. Calcagno, El libro delle Cento Parole di Ptholommeo. Saggio di edizione critica del volgarizzamento fiorentino del Centiloquium pseudo-tolemaico, Milano, 2021, 6-16; M. Rinaldi, El libro delle cento parole di Ptholommeo. Volgarizzamento inedito del Centiloquim pseudo-tolemaico, Roma, 2021, xiii-xvi. In Latin (see also B.1.1-10): 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; O. Pompeo Faracovi, ‘The Return to Ptolemy’, in A Companion to Astrology in the Renaissance, ed. B. Dooley, Leiden, 2014, 87-98; D. Juste, ‘The Impact of Arabic Sources on European Astrology: Some Facts and Numbers’, Micrologus 24 (2016), 173-194: 185 (no. 2); N. Weill-Parot, ‘Puissance des visages célestes et des visages terrestres: Marsile Ficin et l’exploitation du mot vultus’, in L’éloquence du visage entre Orient et Occident, ed. O. Voskoboynikov, Firenze, 2022, 255-269.

Modern ed.

The Greek text was first published in 1553 by Joachim Camerarius (see ed. Basel 1553). Critical edition of the Greek text by Boer. English translation of Boer’s edition by J. H. Holden, Five Medieval Astrologers, Tempe, 2008, 71-87. Critical edition of the Arabic text of Abū Jaʿfar’s commentary by Martorello/Bezza. There is also an unpublished critical edition of the Arabic text of Abū Jaʿfar’s commentary by Lemay, Le Kitāb.