Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work B.4

De cometis

A brief description of nine types of comets and their influence on earthly events. This text ultimately derives from Hephaestio of Thebes’s Apotelesmatica I.24.4-12 and has been found in various Arabic versions, with attribution to Ptolemy, by Emanuele Rovati. In the Latin tradition, this text mainly occurs as one of the two additional chapters (with B.5) often found together with Abuiafar Hamet filii Joseph’s Commentary on the Centiloquium in Plato of Tivoli’s translation (C.3.1.1) and in the ‘Mundanorum’ version (C.3.1.3), either at the beginning or at the end. It is related to v. 99-100 of the Centiloquium, which deal with comets, but its origin and exact relationship to the Centiloquium remain to be investigated. The text exists in three versions: (1) the standard version (‘Dixit Ptholomeus quod stelle cum caudis sunt 9…’), generally found together with the Centiloquium in Plato of Tivoli’s translation; (2) an expanded version of the former (‘Ptholomeus in hoc libro tricas et tricarum nomina posuit…’), generally found together with the Centiloquium in the ‘Mundanorum’ version; (3) a version attributed to Robert Grosseteste and consisting of the expanded version followed by the last part of Grosseteste’s own De cometis (ed. Panti, 326-328, lines 112-145). The latter version occurs in MSS Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 4º 361; Florence, BM, C 163; and Munich, BSB, Clm 588. The text is attributed to Grosseteste in all three manuscripts and occurs among Grosseteste’s works in the Florence MS. Thomson saw no reasons to doubt the authenticity, but Panti, 249-251, argued against it, among others because the three extant copies are late and because the first part is not by Grosseteste. The De cometis was commented upon by Conrad Heingarter (C.4.7) and is part of commentaries C.3.6 and C.3.9 (see MS Cracow, BJ, 1857, pp. 126-127).


Standard version ‘(ed. Boudet) Dixit Ptholomeus quod stelle cum caudis sunt 9, quarum prima est Veru, secunda Tenaculum, tercia Pertica — significabit mortalitatem multam et decollationem.’


Expanded version ‘(ed. Boudet) Ptholomeus in hoc loco tricas et tricarum nomina posuit signa communium effectuum… Stelle cum caudis sunt 9 que mundum movent — quicquid ipsa significabit in regibus et divitibus apparebit.’


Version attributed to Grosseteste ‘(Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 4º 361) Incipit tractatus domini Ruberti Lynconiensis de cometis. Ptholomeus in hoc libro tricas et tricarum nomina ponit… Ptolomeus dixit quod stelle cum caudis sunt 9 — in regibus et divitibus apparebit. Et hec de cometis breviter discernimus. Trica est ignis sublimatus — qualitas rei future cuius est signum. Explicit tractatus domini Lynconiensis de cometis.’


F. J. Carmody, Arabic Astronomical and Astrological Sciences in Latin Translation. A Critical Bibliography, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1956, 16-17 (no. 3d); 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: 102; L. A. Shore, Three Treatises on Comets in Middle French: A Study in the Development of a Vernacular Scientific Tradition, PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, 1984, 29-31; R. Lemay, Abū Maʿšar al-Balḫī [Albumasar]: Liber introductorii maioris ad scientiam judiciorum astrorum, Napoli, 1995-1996, IV, 143-144; R. Lemay, Le Kitāb aṯ-Ṯamara (Liber fructus, Centiloquium) d’Abū Jaʿfar Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf [Ps.-Ptolémée], 1999 [unpublished], I, 334-335 and passim; C. Panti, Moti, virtù e motori celesti nella cosmologia di Roberto Grossatesta. Studio ed edizione dei trattati De sphaera, De cometis, De motu supercelestium, Firenze, 2001, 153-156 and 245-252; J.-P. Boudet, ‘Les comètes dans le Centiloquium et le De cometis du pseudo-Ptolémée’, Micrologus 24 (2016), 195-226: 210-220. For the version attributed to Grosseteste, see also S. H. Thomson, ‘The Text of Grosseteste’s De cometis’, Isis 19 (1933), 19-25: 19; and S. H. Thomson, The Writings of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (1235-1253), Cambridge, 1940, 112 (no. 65). Hephaestio of Thebes’s Apotelesmatica is edited by D. Pingree, Hephaestionis Thebani Apotelesmaticorum libri III, Leipzig, 1973-1974, 2 vols (see I, 74-76, for ch. I.24.4-12).

Modern ed.

The standard version is edited by Shore, 190-192 (from Cambridge, UL, Kk 4.7, with a translation, 193-194); Lemay, Le Kitāb, I, 334-335 (from Berlin, SBPK, Hamilton 557); and Boudet, ‘Les comètes’, 211-212 n. 68 (from several MSS, with a French translation, 210-211); the expanded version by Boudet, ‘Les comètes’, 218-220 (from several MSS); and the version attributed to Grosseteste by L. Baur, Die philosophischen Werke des Robert Grosseteste, Bischofs von Lincoln, Münster, 1912, 36-39, together with his edition of Grosseteste’s De cometis (from Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 4º 361 and Munich, BSB, Clm 588). A critical edition of the Arabic and Latin versions is in preparation by Emanuele Rovati.


Avignon, BM, 1022 (341), s. XV, f. 224vb-225va

Basel, UB, F.III.8, s. XIV-XV, f. 57va-58ra

Basel, UB, F.III.25, s. XIII, f. 51rb

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Berlin, SBPK, Hamilton 557, s. XIII-XIV, f. 14r-14v

Berlin, SBPK, lat. fol. 54 (964), s. XV, f. 207rb-207vb

Bernkastel-Kues, CSB, 208, s. XIV, f. 150ra-150rb

Brussels, BR, 18678-18781, s. XIV, f. 1va

Cambridge, UL, Ii 1.13 (1705), s. XIV, f. 200v

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Darmstadt, HLHB, 739, s. XIV, f. 181va-182ra

Dublin, TC, 397, s. XV, f. 40v-41r

Dublin, TC, 399, s. XV, f. 159va-160rb

Dublin, TC, 441, s. XIV, f. 227r-227v

Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 2º 377, s. XIV, f. 62rb-62va

Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 2º 379, s. XIV, f. 99ra-99rb

Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 2º 380, s. XIV, f. 140r-140v

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Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 4º 361, s. XIV, f. 126rb-126vb

Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 4º 376, s. XIV, f. 105ra-105va

Erfurt, UFB, Dep. Erf. CA 4º 377, s. XIV, f. 50r-50v

Florence, BM, C 163, s. XIV-XV, f. 21rb-21vb

Florence, BML, Ashburnham 203 (129/135), s. XVI, f. 46r-47v

Florence, BML, Ashburnham 1733, s. XIII, f. 72rb-72vb

Florence, BML, Plut. 30.29, s. XIII, f. 63ra-63rb

Florence, BNC, Conv. Soppr. J.X.20 (San Marco 163), s. XIV-XV, f. 17v-18r

Florence, BNC, Magliabech. XX.22, s. XIV, f. 1rb-1vb

Florence, BR, 163, s. XIII, f. 25v-26rImages|Text

Florence, BR, 885, s. XIII-XIV, f. 350v

Ghent, UB, 5 (416), s. XV, f. 21r-21v

Leiden, UB, Voss. lat. O.3, s. XV, f. 168v-169r

Leipzig, UB, 1472, s. XV, f. 52r-53v

Leipzig, UB, 1491, s. XV, f. 141vb and 100r

London, BL, Arundel 268, s. XIV, f. 40ra-40rb

London, BL, Royal 12.E.XV, s. XIII-XIV, f. 132v-133v

London, BL, Royal 12.E.XXV, s. XIII-XIV, f. 172r

London, BL, Sloane 2030, s. XIII, f. 29v-30rImages|Text

London, UC, lat. 16, s. XV, f. 3rb-3va

Madrid, BN, 10015 (olim Toledo 98-17), s. XIII, f. 19va-19vb

Melk, SB, 601 (olim 51), s. XV, f. 292v-293r

Milan, BA, C. 299 inf., s. XV, f. 181va-182ra

Milan, BA, H. 44 inf., s. XIV, f. 142vb-143ra

Munich, BSB, Clm 228, s. XIV, f. 93r-93v

Munich, BSB, Clm 275, s. XV, f. 13r

Munich, BSB, Clm 276, s. XIV, f. 86vb

Munich, BSB, Clm 588, s. XIV, f. 112va-113rb

Munich, BSB, Clm 6748, s. XV, f. 33v-34r

Munich, BSB, Clm 14684, s. XIV, f. 70v

Nürnberg, SB, Cent. VI 22, s. XIV, f. 171vb-172rb

Nürnberg, SB, Solg. Ms. 31.4º, s. XV, f. 38v-39v

Oxford, BL, 4º D 21 Jur., s. XVI, f. 11r-11v

Oxford, BL, Canon. Misc. 554, s. XV, f. 196v-197r

Oxford, BL, Digby 228, s. XIV, f. 12va

Oxford, CCC, 101, s. XV, f. 190ra-190rb

Paris, BnF, lat. 7282, s. XV, f. 13vb

Paris, BnF, lat. 7307, s. XIII, f. 1r-1v

Paris, BnF, lat. 7316, s. XV, f. 145r

Paris, BnF, lat. 7408A, s. XIV, f. 98r-98v

Paris, BnF, n.a.l. 625, s. XIV, f. 46va-46vb

Salamanca, BU, 189, s. XIV, f. 21rb-21va

Salamanca, BU, 2051, s. XIII, f. 26ra-26va

Segovia, ABC, B 349 (84), s. XV, f. 75v-76r

Seville, BCC, 7-7-30, s. XV, f. 145r-145v

St Florian, SB, XI.619, s. XV, f. 82r

Vatican, BAV, Barb. lat. 328, s. XV, f. 195r-195v

Vatican, BAV, Borgh. 312, s. XIII-XIV, f. 24vb-25ra

Vatican, BAV, Pal. lat. 1340, s. XV, f. 258va-258vb

Vatican, BAV, Pal. lat. 1376, s. XV, f. 185rb-185va

Vatican, BAV, Pal. lat. 1381, s. XIV, f. 242vb-243rb

Vatican, BAV, Pal. lat. 1390, s. XIV, f. 40r-40v

Vatican, BAV, Pal. lat. 1408, s. XIV, f. 39v-40r

Vatican, BAV, Pal. lat. 1811, s. XIV, f. 64rb-64vb

Vatican, BAV, Vat. lat. 3096, s. XIV, f. 160r

Vatican, BAV, Vat. lat. 6766, s. XIII, f. 60ra-60rb

Vatican, BAV, Vat. lat. 7616, s. XIII, f. 45vb-46rb

Venice, BNM, Fondo antico lat. Z. 344 (1878), s. XIII, f. 155rb-155vb

Venice, BNM, lat. VIII.16 (3382), s. XV, f. 104va-105ra

Verona, BC, CCXLIV (215), s. XIII, f. 16va-16vb

Vicenza, BCB, 208 (132), s. XV, f. 214r-215r

Vienna, ÖNB, 2388, s. XIII-XIV, f. 22r-22v

Vienna, ÖNB, 3105, s. XV, f. 37rb-37va

Vienna, ÖNB, 5209, s. XVI, f. 74v-76v

Vienna, ÖNB, 5239, s. XIV, f. 128rb-128va

Vienna, ÖNB, 5414, s. XV, f. 136va-136vb

Vienna, ÖNB, 5417, s. XIV, f. 121rb-121va

Warsaw, BN, Rps 12634 II, s. XV, f. 19v

Wolfenbüttel, HAB, 444 Helmst. (479), s. XV, f. 200rb-200va