Poem on the Causes and Symptoms of Fevers


Although the colophon of this manuscript copy of al-Urjūzah fī asbāb al-ḥumīyāt wa ’alāmātihā (Poem on the causes and symptoms of fevers) attributes the work to Abu ʻAli Husayn Ibn Sina (born in Bukhara in 980, died in Hamadan in 1037; known in the Latin West as Avicenna), the actual authorship of this work remains uncertain. Attribution of Ibn Sina’s medical works is often problematic as many of the works commonly linked to this Persian polymath remain to be studied and authenticated as having been written by him. Ibn Sina was referred to by his successors in the Islamic world as al-Shaykh al-Ra’īs (the preeminent scholar), in recognition of the wide range of topics studied and treated by him, but in Europe his fame rested principally on his medical works, especially on al-Qānūn fī al-ṭibb (The canon of medicine), which was translated into Latin and remained part of the standard curriculum for medical students in Europe for centuries. Two of Ibn Sina's other medical works were translated into Latin and also widely known in Europe—al-Adwīya al-qalbīya (Cardiac medication) and his treatise on medicine al-Urjūza fī al-ṭibb (Versified manual  on medicine). It was due the popularity of these three works that Ibn Sina was referred to in the Latin West as princeps medicorum, or “prince of the physicians.” Al-Urjūzah fī asbāb al-ḥumīyāt wa ’alāmātihā does not appear in the authoritative lists of Ibn Sina’s works, although it shares the title word “al-Urjūzah with the more securely attested al-Urjūzah fī al-ṭibb. This word refers to the genre of versified text (generally, but not exclusively, written on medical topics). In this “Poem on the Causes and Symptoms of Fevers,” the short introduction, in which the author offers thanks to God and blessings to the Prophet Muhammad, is followed by 24 sections, treating general topics as causes for infection, as well as dealing with specific maladies such as continued or unremitting fever (sūnūkhus, from the Greek synochus), hectic or deep-rooted fever (al-diqq), and causus or ardent fever (exceptionally high fever, qūsūs). The copyist has listed his name as Muhammad al-Tabib (i.e., Muhammad the Physician) and states that he is a resident of Beirut and of Syrian extraction (al-shām [sic] nasaban wa al-bayrūtī maskanan). The manuscript, which contains 260 verses, has rubricated titles and is ornamented with a band of trefoils separating the hemistichs in each verse. It was completed “at noon, on the blessed Wednesday of the fourteenth of Jumādā II of the year 1071 AH” (February 14, 1661).

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

الأرجوزة في أسباب الحميات وعلاماتها

Type of Item

Physical Description

8 folios ; 195 x 140 millimeters



  1. A.Z. Iskandar, A Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts on Medicine and Science in the Wellcome Historical Medical Library (London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library, 1967).

Last updated: December 29, 2015