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Rhazes

Ῥαζῆς), the author of a Greek medical treatise Περὶ Λοιμικῆς, which was published at the end of Alexander Trallianus, 1548, fol. Lutet. Paris. ex offic. Rob. Stephani. His real name is Abú Becr Mohammed Ibn Zacaríyá Ar-Razi, who was born (as his name implies) at Rai, a town in the north of 'Irák 'Ajemi, near Chorásán, probably about the middle of the ninth century after Christ ; and died either A. H. 311 (A. D. 923, 924), or perhaps, more probably A. H. 320 (A. D. 932).


Works


On the Small Pox and Measles

The treatise in question is in fact no other than his well known work, Fí Jadarí wal-Hashah, On the Small Pox and Measles, which was translated from the original Arabic into Syriac, and from that language into Greek. Neither the date nor the author of either of these versions is known; but the Greek translation (as we learn from the preface) was made at the command of one of the emperors of Constantinople, perhaps, as Fabricius (Bibl. Gr. vol. xii. p. 692, ed. vet.) conjectures, Constantine Ducas, who reigned from 1059 to 1067. In one of the Greek MSS. at Paris, however (§ 2228, Catal. vol. ii. p. 465), it is attributed to Joannes Actuarius [ACTUARIUS] ; and, if this be correct, the emperor alluded to will more probably be Andronicus II. Paleologus, A. D. 1281-1328.

Editions

It was from this Greek translation (which appears to have been executed either very carelessly, or from an imperfect MS.), and from Latin versions made from it, that the work was first known in Europe, the earliest Latin translation made directly from the original Arabic being that which was published by Dr. Mead, in 1747, 8vo. Lond., at the end of his work De Variolis et Morbillis. The Arabic text was published for the first time by John Channing, in 1766, 8vo. Lond, together with a new Latin version by himself, which has been reprinted separately, and which continues to be the best up to the present time.

Translations

Altogether the work has been published, in various languages, about five and thirty times, in about three hundred and fifty years, -- a greater number of editions than has fallen to the lot of almost any other ancient medical treatise.

The only English translation made directly from the original Arabic is that by Dr. Greenhill, 1847, 8vo., London, printed for the Sydenham Society; from which work the preceding account is taken.


Assessment

It may be added that the particular interest which the work has excited, arises from the fact of its being the earliest extant medical treatise in which the Small Pox is certainly mentioned; and accordingly the Greek translator has used the word λοιμικὴ to express this disease, there being in the old Greek language no word that bears this signification.

[W.A.G]

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