Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Arabic Galen summaries are numerous and diverse. For the purposes of this project, we shall construct a representative corpus of summaries that cover some of the most important authors, genres and Galenic source texts. This corpus will have a diachronic and a synchronic component: the first assembles all extant summaries of specific Galen works, the second the summaries of specific authors. The corpus will serve to establish the working methods of individual authors and trace changes in the choice of material, editorial approach and methodology.

The diachronic view: summaries of specific Galenic works

The choice of Galenic works for the diachronic component has been guided by several criteria: the place of the base texts, i.e. the Galenic treatises that were summarised, in the curriculum, the number of summaries they attracted, and the prominence of their authors. Preference has been given to texts for which most of the known summaries are preserved and, if possible, edited or available electronically; we also take into account the length of the summaries and the corresponding Galen text. On this basis, we have selected the following works:

  • Galen, On Mixtures: part of the Sixteen Books, all nine known summaries, representing a spread of authors, survive. The Arabic base text remains unedited but an edition of the Alexandrian Summary is in preparation; Ibn Rušd’s Exposition (talḫīṣ) has been edited by Vázquez de Benito 1984 and Anawati and Zayid 1987. All other summaries are extant in manuscript.
  • Galen, On the Elements According to the Opinion of Hippocrates: part of the Sixteen Books, seven of the eight known summaries, some written by famous physicians, survive. The Arabic of the base text and three summaries are edited (Sālim 1986; Walbridge 2014; a ‘brief abridgement’ ascribed to Ḥunayn by Bos and Langermann 2015; Ibn Rušd’s Exposition by Vázquez de Benito 1984 and Anawati and Zayid 1987). The remaining summaries are extant in manuscript.
  • Galen, The Method of Healing: part of the Sixteen books, nine out of ten known summaries are extant. An edition of the Arabic of the base text is underway. Besides longer attributed summaries, there are a few shorter, anonymous ones that survive, one in tabular format. The length of the base text and some of the summaries means that we shall concentrate on the first two books of the original.
  • Galen, Commentary on Hippocrates’ Aphorisms: only three of the six known summaries are extant, but two of them and the base text have been made available electronically by the Manchester “Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms” project.
  • Galen, Commentary on Hippocrates’ Epidemics: all four known summaries are extant and most have been transcribed along with the base text as part of the “Warwick Epidemics” project.
The synchronic view: summaries by specific authors

For the synchronic component, we sought summary authors who were well-known authorities and wrote series of summaries which are representative of the range of genres.

Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq, the most prolific author who wrote several types of summaries, is a natural choice. We shall mainly rely on those summaries that are edited (Bos and Langermann 2015) or available electronically. Three other authors are also well suited to analysis, namely Ṯābit ibn Qurrah, Ibn al-Ṭayyib, and Ibn Riḍwān. For each of these, up to a dozen summaries survive in manuscript compilations. A few are edited (Weisser 1983, Denooz 1999, Lyons 1963), several more are available electronically.