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Avicenna Fragment


Pádraig Ó Macháin, University College Cork

Aoibheann Nic Dhonnchadha, School of Celtic Studies

31 August 2018.

15th cent. Vellum, written in double column. Textual analysis suggests that this originally formed the outer bifolium of a gathering. Until August 2018 this bifolium was used as a secure cover for sixteenth-century printed book (167×100mm, spine 15mm); to suit this purpose it had been cut along the top and along the outer columns, with severe loss of text, and folded four times. Now detached, flattened and conserved as a single sheet (245–7×335mm).

Contains a fragment of Book 1 of the Canon of Avicenna (c.980–1037), translated into Irish, evidently with some abbreviation, from the Latin of Gerard of Cremona (d. 1187).



[1]r , left-half of leaf. Originally blank. Outer portion, comprising outer surface of back flap of cover prior to detachment, bears writing in English (12 lines) in 16th-cent. (?) hand; inner portion, comprising outer surface of back cover of book prior to detachment, bears writing in English (4 lines) in 17th-cent (?) hand. Otherwise blank.

[1]ra . [Avicenna Canon, bk 1, prologue; fen 1, doctrina 1, chs 1–2; doctrina 5, summa 1, chs 4–6.] Acephalous. Beg. here cathuir renabur Toletus ⁊ is iat so sis briathra Abo Ali Auitcenna (I)n primis Deo gracias agemus sicut sui ordinis celsitudo et beneficii ipsius multitudo meretur [= Avicenna Liber canonis (Venice 1507) f. [iii]ra3]. Foll. sections beg. (a) (D)ico ergo quod [medicina est sci]encia qua hu[mani corporis] dispocitiones [noscuntur] ex parte qua sanantur ⁊ ab ea [remouentur ut habita] sanitas conseruetur ⁊ amissa re[cuperetur] (f. [1]rb21) [= Avicenna, f. 1ra4 (bk, ‘De diffinitione medicine’)] ; (b) (S)ciencia non adquiritur nec completur cum causas habuerit nisi per sui causasiatur [sic; leg. causas sciatur] (f.[1]vb1) [= Avicenna, f. 1rb16 (bk, ‘De subiectis medicine’)]. Chasm in text after f. [1]vb which breaks off (in ch. 2) reighion ⁊ inad aittreabhtha catracha ⁊ cumscugad ⁊ cumsanad ⁊ aicidi na h [= Avicenna, f. 1rb47]. Text resumes f. [1]vc (MS with tops of letters on first line cut away) An .4. caibidil danatomia an geill ⁊ na sron [= Avicenna, f. 9va31]. Remaining sections beg. (c) (O)ssium quidem mandibule et / temporis numerum decla / [rabimus] (MS with letters cut away following cenn fo eite, f. [1]vc1] (f. [1]vc2) [= Avicenna, f. 9va32 (bk 1.1.5. summa 1.4, ‘De anatomia ossium mandibularum et narium’)]; (d) (D)entes quidem sunt [.xxxii.] in numero (f. [1]vd6) [= Avicenna, f. 10ra16 (bk 1.1.5. summa 1.5, ‘De anatomia dentium’)]; (e) (D)orsum propter quat[uor iuuamenta] fuit creatum (f. [1]vdx) [= Avicenna, f. 10rai (bk 1.1.5. summa 1.6, ‘De iuuamento dorsi’)]. Text breaks off (in ch. 6) with f. [1]vd ceadtarbhacht dibh abeith mar hslige acon [= Avicenna, f. 10raw].

Note that fragment contains two short interpolations. The first (f. [1]rb5–6) cites Arnaldus de Villa Nova (d. 1311) (MS arnalldus de uilla nova) and quotes an aphorism of his, together with its Irish translation (MS Omnis m / .i. is on oibrigtheoir ard ata tidlucad gac); though mutilated, the manuscript reading is sufficient to confirm that the aphorism in question is Omnis medela procedit a summo bono, the opening aphorism in Arnaldus de Villa Nova, Medicationis parabolae [= Arnaldi Villanovani ... Opera omnia (Basel 1585) col. 913i (Doctrina 1, aphorismus 1)].

The second interpolation (f. [1]v [1]v d26–31) cites the Pantegni of Constantinus Africanus (d. before 1098/9) (MS Adearur in .i.o a pantegni), and sets out the teaching of Pantegni on the roots of the teeth [= Omnia opera Ysaac (Lyons 1515) [second foliation] f. 6ra28–32 (see also ibid., lines 17–27), i.e. Pantegni (Theorica), bk 2.3 (‘De ossibus capitis’)].

It may also be noted that, as far as is currently known, this copy of the Irish translation of Avicenna's Canon is unique.