Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work B.7

De occultis

A chapter on determining the nature of hidden things by astrology. This text first appears in Latin as the seventh and last chapter of Messahallah’s Liber interpretationum, a popular text on interrogations probably translated by John of Seville in the first half of the twelfth century and whose Arabic original is lost. The text also occurs, without changes, as chapter 11 of Messahallah’s Liber de intentionibus secretorum astronomie, a probable re-elaboration of the former. Messahallah’s Liber interpretationum is extant in over 50 manuscripts (these are not recorded here), but the chapter concerned is found separately in the three manuscripts listed below. Whether part of Messahallah’s works or isolated, this text is consistently attributed to Ptolemy (‘Dixit Ptolomeus …’).


‘(Parma, BP, 718-720) Dixit Pthol<omeu>s: Si aspexerit significator ascendens erit genus rei occulte — sapientes astrologorum a ceteris minus doctis in hac arte.’


On Messahallah’s Liber interpretationum, see D. Juste, ‘The Impact of Arabic Sources on European Astrology: Some Facts and Numbers’, Micrologus 24 (2016), 173-194: 190 (no. 26).

Modern ed.

No modern edition. Messahallah’s Liber interpretationum has been translated into English by B. N. Dykes, Works of Sahl and Māshāʾallāh, Minneapolis, 2008 (reprinted 2010), 425-436.


Berlin, SBPK, lat. fol. 54 (964), s. XV, f. 215va-215vb

Parma, BP, 718-720, s. XIII, f. 274r-274vImages

Vatican, BAV, Pal. lat. 1446, s. XIV, f. 111r-111v