Gherardo da Cremona

La Chirurgia di Albucasis tradotta da Gherardo da Cremona

Letterato italiano (Cremona 1114-1187). Soggiornò a lungo a Toledo e ivi portò a termine la traduzione dall'arabo in latino dell'al-Magisti di Tolomeo. Proseguì poi la sua attività traducendo scritti di filosofia, aritmetica, algebra, geometria e soprattutto medicina, alcuni dei quali originali arabi e altri versioni dal greco in arabo. La sua opera fu di fondamentale importanza per la trasmissione nella cultura occidentale del pensiero scientifico arabo e greco.

Tra le sue traduzioni si elencano le seguenti: il Liber medicinalis Almansoris di Razi, dedicato al sultano del Khorasan, al-Mansur; De astronomia libri... (trigonometria sferica) di Jaber Ibn Alflah (Geber ibn Aphlas, fiorito intorno al 1145); De scientia motus orbis (astronomia) di Masha Allah (Messahalla, morto nell’815); Alamagest (Syntaxis mathematica) di Tolomeo e autori arabi; De figura sectore (trigonometria sferica) di Thabit Ibn Qurra (Thabit, 835-901); Canonis Avicennae di Ibn Sina (Avicenna, 980-1037); Breviarium medicinae di Yuhanna Ibn Sarabiyun (Serapione il Vecchio, IX-X sec.); De crepusculis (rifrazione atmosferica) di Ibn al-Haytham (Albazen o Allacen, 965-1038).

Council of Islamic Education - www.cie.org - 1999

Gerard of Cremona

A twelfth-century student of Arabic science and translator from Arabic into Latin; born at Cremona, in 1114; died in 1187. The place and date of Gerard's birth are not given in any document prior to the fourteenth century. Tiraboschi, in his "Storia della letteratura italiana", is at pains to refute the contention of some Spanish writers that Gerard was born, not at Cremona in Italy, but at Carmona in Spain. While conceding that Gerard spent a good many years at Toledo, Tiraboschi shows that Cremona and not Carmona is his birthplace.

In fact, the manuscripts of his writings style him Cremonensis, or Chremonensis (which seems to be a corrupt form of Cremonensis). From the "Chronicle" of the Dominican Francisco Pipino, who flourished about the year 1300, we learn, besides the place and date of his birth and death, that impelled by his interest in the works of the astronomer Ptolemy, he went to Toledo, and, applying himself to the study of Arabic, soon acquired so great a proficiency in that language that he was able to translate not only the "Almagest", but also the entire works of Avicenna, into Latin. He died in the year 1187 and was buried in the church of St. Lucy at Cremona, to which he bequeathed his valuable library.

The number of books which he translated from Arabic into Latin is said by Pipino to be seventy-six. Whether he is the author of original treatises is uncertain. The works sometimes attributed to him are almost certainly to be ascribed to Gerard of Sabbioneta, astrologer who lived in the thirteenth century.

He must have been a man of extraordinarily wide taste in scientific matters, for he translated, according to the "Chronicle" of Pipino, works on dialectic, geometry, philosophy, physics, and several other sciences. His activity as a translator, combined with the efforts in the same line of Michael Scott, and of the group of men who formed a regular college of translators at Toledo under the direction of Bishop Raymond, brought the world of Arabian learning within the reach of the scholars of Latin Christendom and prepared the way for that conflict of ideas out of which sprang the Scholasticism of the thirteenth century. In this work Gerard was a pioneer. If the description of his moral qualities given by Pipino is not overdrawn, he was a man whose single-minded devotion to the cause of science enabled him to overcome the difficulties which in those days were inevitable in a task such as he undertook.

William Turner
Transcribed by Gerard Loiselle
The Catholic Encyclopedia

GERARD OF CREMONA, 1114-1187, was the greatest of the early translators of Arabic works into Latin. He traveled to Toledo with the specific purpose of learning Arabic in order to translate Ptolemy's Almagest and other works not available in the Latin West into Latin. He was the most prolific of translators from Arabic into Latin, with the help of a Spanish Christian named Galippus. At Toledo Gerard found a wealth of Arabic works and worked diligently to translate them. He translated books in every field, and the catalogue of his translations is quite substantial, especially on astronomy, astrology, and alchemy. He translated a number of scientific writings of Aristotle, but the longest list is medical. As Haskins points out, most of Arabic science in general passed into the West at the hands of Gerard of Cremona.

Among his translations are the Kitab al-Medjisti or The Book of Almagest in 1175, which was widely circulated; al-Khwarizmi's Hisab al-Djabr wa' l-Mukabala with the Latin title al-Goritmi de numero indorum or The Book of Addition and Subtraction; Aristotle's Meteorologica (Meteorology), De caelo et mundo (On the Heavens), Physica (Physics), and Analytica Posteriora (Posterior Analytics); the Toledan Tables, also called the Alfonsine Tables, done for Alfonso the Wise of Castile c. 1172; Ibn-Sina's Qanun; the Kitab al-tibb al Mansuri (an encyclopedia of medicine) of Razis with the title Liber almansoris; and a medical compilation of Yahaya ibn-Sarafyun as Practica sine breviarum, which was very popular during the period.

Copyright © 1988, 1996 Jacqueline de Weever
Published by Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London.