Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work B.3.1

مقالة في ذوات الذوائب
Maqāla fī Dhawāt al-dhawāʾib

A short astrological text on comets. An introduction mentions nine different types of comets, their colours and the events announced by their apparition. In the main part of the text, eight of the nine comets are discussed individually and in more detail; their features and influence of earthly events are described. The text is largely based on Hephaestio of Thebes (fl. 415), Apotelesmatica I.24.4-12. The ascription to Ptolemy may have come about since the first part of Hephaestio’s text was lifted from Tetrabiblos II.10.3-4.

Various versions of the text circulated in Arabic as part of compilations (e.g. Book of Curiosities I.6, as noticed by Boudet). Only the two manuscripts listed below transmit it as an independent work, although in two different versions: Paris, BnF, ar. 6688 include an appendix on the rising of the Nile likewise attributed to Ptolemy, whereas in Damascus, Maktabat al-Asad al-waṭaniyya, 9354, the first half of the text only was copied, namely as a gloss on the chapter on comets in Ibn Hibintā’s Kitāb al-Mughnī fī aḥkām al-nujūm. The Damascus manuscript includes sketches of the various comets' shapes, as does the Book of Curiosities. Further related texts are attested in Greek, Syriac, Hebrew, Persian, Latin (among others, Latin B.4), French and German.

[Main text] (ff. 39v, 39r, 40r-41r) قال الحكيم بطلميوس إنّ الكواكب ذوات العلى والذوائب تسعة وهي مأسورة تحت شعاع الشمس وهذه أسماؤها والله أعلم. — وإن لقي المرّيخ هيّج الحروب وكثرت الفتن والسلاح وإن لقي الذنب فسد الطعام فهذا جملة ما وجدناه من كلام بطلميوس والله أعلم. [Additional chapter] (ff. 41r–42r) قال الحكيم ووجدت في ورقة من هذه الأورق من كلام بطليموس وألحقتها في هذا المكان لتتمّة الكتاب وصحّته وهذا مثاله ومن تقدّمه من علماء اليونانيّين في هذه الكواكب — وقال الخوارزميّ إذا كان في يوم عاشر من مسرى تنظر إلى السماء فإن كانت كثيرة السحاب أو قليلته فهو بقدره انتهى من خزانة الأكمل من كتاب فيه من حكمة أسطوطاس وهذا ما جمعناه.


Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos (ed. HübnerWolfgang Hübner, Ἀποτελεσματικά, Stuttgart / Leipzig: Teubner, 1998, pp. 145–147; tr. RobbinsFrank E. Robbins, Ptolemy. Tetrabiblos, Cambridge (Mass.) / London: Harvard University Press / Heinemann, 1940, pp. 193–195); David Pingree, Hephaestion Thebanus. Apotelesmatica, 2 vols, Leipzig: Teubner, 1973–1974, vol. I, pp. 74–76; Fuat Sezgin, in collaboration with Mazen Amawi, Aladdin Jokhosha and Eckhard Neubauer (eds), The Complete Book of Astrology. Al-Mughnī fī aḥkām al-nujūm by Ibn Hibintā. First Part: Reproduced from MS ʿāmm 9354, Ẓāhirīya Library, Damascus, Frankfurt am Main: Institut für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 1987, p. 357; Yossef Rapoport and Emilie Savage-Smith, An Eleventh-Century Egyptian Guide to the Universe. The Book of Curiosities, Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2014, text on Arabic pp. 70–77, translation on pp. 376a–379b. — GAS VIIFuat Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums. Vol. VII: Astrologie – Meteorologie und Verwandtes bis ca. 430 H., Leiden: Brill, 1979, p. 312 (no. 7). — Jean-Patrice Boudet, ‘Les comètes dans le Centiloquium et le De cometis du Pseudo-Ptolémée’, Micrologus 24 (2016), pp. 195–226, here p. 214.


An edition with translation and study of all versions is in preparation by Emanuele Rovati.


Damascus, Maktabat al-Asad al-waṭaniyya, 9354, f. 177r (margin)

Paris, BnF, ar. 6688, ff. 39v, 39r, 40r–42r (undated)Text