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Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work B.12



‘(London, BL, Harley 5402) Incipit… [title faded]. Signorum alia sunt masculini generis, alia feminini, feminini ut Taurus, Cancer, Virgo — scias te ipsam numquam habiturum. Explicit.’


A text in two parts (two books in Aristotle’s version), comprising (1) a general introduction to astrology, and (2) a collection of iudicia consisting mainly of interrogations based on various celestial configurations, in particular the position of the ruler of the ascendant and other planets in the houses. This text exists in two versions, one attributed to Ptolemy and the other to Aristotle, both of which seem to derive from a common, lost source which was probably translated or adapted from Arabic (both versions include Arabic words). No Arabic counterpart is known, but a Hebrew version of the second part has been recently identified as Kelal ha-Sheʾelot le-divrei Talmai (‘All the Questions According to Ptolemy’) by Shlomo Sela, who showed that this Hebrew version was translated from the Arabic. Ptolemy’s Iudicia was used by Raymond of Marseilles in his Liber iudiciorum (1141) and gave rise to an anonymous commentary which can be dated to c. 1138 (C.4.7). The text – or the common source – may be as old as the tenth century for it shares characteristics in style and content, including several identical chapters, with the Alchandreana. The text is said to have been addressed by Ptolemy to his son ‘Ariston’ or ‘Eriston’ (cf. ‘fili mi Eriston’ in the fifth chapter, MS London, BL, Harley 5402, f. 1r; the name ‘Ariston’ is given in the title of several manuscripts). By contrast, Aristotle’s version is said to have been addressed to king ‘Alco(n)’. The manuscripts listed below are those of Ptolemy’s version only. Aristotle’s version is extant in some 15 manuscripts, five of which bear attribution not to Aristotle, but to Ptolemy: Catania, BU, 87, s. XV, f. 89ra-101va (‘Incipit Ptholomei liber’); Madrid, BN, 10009, s. XIII, f. 109ra-117vb (‘Incipit Ptholomei liber… Explicit hic liber qui dicitur Tholomei’); Venice, BNM, lat. VIII.44 (3715), s. XV, f. 31r-45v (‘Istam doctrinam dedit Ptholomeus filio suo…’); Vienna, ÖNB, 2311, s. XIII, f. 97ra-104rb (‘Incipit Ptolomey liber’); Wolfenbüttel, HAB, 51.9 Aug. 4° (3549), s. XIII, f. 69r-91r (‘Hunc tractatum edidit Ptolomeus unus de regibus Egipti, nec est idem Ptolomeus qui edidit Almagestum vel Quadripartitum sed diversus’, added note f. 69r). Likewise, two manuscripts of Ptolemy’s version ascribe the text to Aristotle: Erfurt, UFB, Amplon. Q. 374 (‘Sequitur liber Aristotelis’); London, BL, Cott. App. VI (‘Liber iste est Aristotelis in scientia ipsius astronomie… Hic terminatur astronomia Aristotelis cum expositione eius’).


Two manuscripts (Bernkastel-Kues, CSB, 209 and Budapest, MTAK, K 440) have a reworking of the text, which is possibly the work of Bartholomew of Parma (fl. 1286-1297). On this reworking, see C. Burnett, ‘Partim de suo et partim de alieno: Bartholomew of Parma, the Astrological Texts in MS Bernkastel-Kues, Hospitalsbibliothek 209, and Michael Scot’, in Seventh Centenary of the Teaching of Astronomy in Bologna, 1297-1997, eds P. Battistini, et al., Bologna, 2001, 37-76: 51-57.


F. J. Carmody, Arabic Astronomical and Astrological Sciences in Latin Translation. A Critical Bibliography, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1956, 17 (no. 7a-b) and 20 (no. 31); C. Burnett, ‘What is the Experimentarius of Bernardus Silvestris? A Preliminary Survey of the Material’, Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Age 44 (1977), 79-125: 81-84 (reprinted in C. Burnett, Magic and Divination in the Middle Ages. Texts and Techniques in the Islamic and Christian Worlds, Aldershot, 1996, XVII); C. B. Schmitt, D. Knox, Pseudo-Aristoteles Latinus. A Guide to Latin Works Falsely Attributed to Aristotle Before 1500, London, 1985, 35-37 (nos. 49-51); D. Juste, Les Alchandreana primitifs. Étude sur les plus anciens traités astrologiques latins d’origine arabe (Xe siècle), Leiden-Boston, 2007, 273-275; C. Burnett, ‘Aristotle as an Authority on Judicial Astrology’, in Florilegium Mediaevale. Études offertes à Jacqueline Hamesse à l’occasion de son éméritat, eds J. Meirinhos, O. Weijers, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2009, 41-62; D. Juste, ‘Les textes astrologiques latins attribués à Aristote’, Micrologus 21 (2013), 145-164: 150-153; S. Sela, ‘What is Tractatus particulares, a Four-Part Work Assigned to Abraham Ibn Ezra? A Study of Its Sources and General Features’, Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Âge 86 (2019), 141-195: 155-160; S. Sela, Abraham Ibn Ezra Latinus on Elections and Interrogations. A Parallel Latin-English Critical Edition of Liber Electionum, Liber Interrogationum, and Tractatus Particulares, Leiden-Boston, 2020, 64-66 and 505-509.


One chapter (on the querant’s secret thoughts) has been edited in its Hebrew and Latin versions, together with English translations, by Sela, Abraham Ibn Ezra, 505-509.



Latin commentaries