Commentary on the Chapter Nine of the Book of Medicine Dedicated to Mansur


This work is a commentary in Latin by Italian professor and physician Giovanni Arcolani (died 1484, also known as Ioannis Arculani) on the ninth book of Kitāb al-ṭibb al-Manṣūrī (The book of medicine dedicated to Mansur) by the renowned Persian polymath Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn Zakarīyā Rāzī (circa 865–circa 925). Known in the Latin West as Rhazes or Rasis, Rāzī was born in Rayy, just south of Tehran. He is generally considered one of the towering figures in medicine in the medieval period. His influence on the development of medicine in the Islamic world and in Europe was surpassed only by that of his fellow Persian scientist, Ibn Sinā (Avicenna in the Latin West). Rāzī studied alchemy, music, and philosophy early in life, before turning to medicine. He became the head of the hospital in Rayy and subsequently held the same post in Baghdad. Rāzī’s considerable clinical experience and the care with which he made and recorded clinical observations helped make him the preeminent clinical physician in the Islamic world. As one of the most important figures in medieval alchemy, he also gave detailed descriptions of many chemical processes such as distillation, calcination, and filtration. The scientist and scholar Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Bīrūnī (973–circa 1048), a collector of Rāzī’s works, listed 184 works by Rāzī, 56 of which are devoted to medicine and related subjects. Rāzī’s most important medical work is the immense encyclopaedia Kitāb al-Hāwī, which achieved great renown in the Latin West under the title Continens. In 25 volumes, the work is rich with observational and experimental information. It was translated into Latin by the Jewish physician Fara̲j̲ ibn Sālim (known as Farraguth in the Latin West) for King Charles of Anjou in 1274. It was first printed in Brescia, Italy in 1486 and repeatedly thereafter. The Kitāb al-ṭibb al-Manṣūrī is a shorter work that lists the diseases afflicting the body in order, from head to foot. This book was dedicated to Manṣūr ibn Isḥāq, the Sāmānid governor of Rayy (whence its title). It also was translated into Latin in the 13th century. The ninth part of the work, on therapeutics, was often issued on its own. This commentary was published in 1542 in Venice by the shop of Luca-Antonio Giunta (1457–1538) and has some engravings of the surgical instruments mentioned by Rāzī.

Last updated: June 17, 2014