Under this name a short Greek treatise on Fevers was published in 1749, 8vo. Amstel. et Lugd. Bat., with the title, "Synesius de Febribus, quem nunc primnum ex Codice MS. Bibliothecae Lugduno-Batavae edidit, vertit, Notisque illustravit Jo. Steph. Bernard. Accedit Viatici Constantino Africano interprete lib. vii. pars."
The medical contents of this little work do not require any particular notice here.
It is probably the earliest Greek medical work containing a distinct account of the Small Pox and Measles (100.9, p. 288, Περὶ τῆς φλυκταινούσης λοιμικῆς
, καὶ τῆς ἑτέρας λεπτῆς καὶ πυκνῆς λοιηικῆς
), and the author's description of these diseases and his directions respecting their treatment, agree upon the whole very nearly with those given by Rhazes. [RHAZES.]
Date and Authorship
There are several questions respecting the date and authorship of this work which have never hitherto been completely and satisfactorily settled, and which therefore require to be discussed here. Bernard published the work under the name of Synesius,
because the author is so called in the Leyden Catalogue (p. 394.65), and also at the back
of the MS. (Bernard's Pref. p. xviii.); but, as there appears to be no good authority for attributing it to a physician of this name, we must first try to determine who was the author of this Greek fragment, - for the very first lines show that it is not a complete work in itself.
There exists in MS. in several European libraries rather a long Greek medical work, divided into seven books, and entitled, Βίβλος λεγομένη Τὰ Ἔφόδια τοῦ Ἀποδημοῦντος
, συντεθειμένη παρὰ Ἔπρου Βγζαφὰρ τοῦ Ἔβη Ἐλζηζὰρ
, ηεταβληθεῖσα εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα γλῶσσαν παρὰ Κωνσταντίνου πρωτασηκρήτον τοῦ Ῥηγίνου
, a full account of which may be found in Lambecii Catal. Biblioth. Vindob.
vi. p. 284 &c. ed. Kollar, and Bandinii Catal. Biblioth. Laurent.
vol. iii. p. 142.
There is a MS. of this work in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Laud, Gr. 59
), which the Writer has had an opportunity of examining, and he finds that the printed work corresponds to the commencement of the seventh book of the MS.
He has collated the printed book partially
with the MS. from beginning to end, and finds that two of the chapters are transposed, and that the differences of reading are very numerous; but that the substance, and in general the words also, are so exactly the same that there can be no doubt about the identity of the two works, unless (which is just possible,) they should turn out to be two different (but very literal) translations of the same original treatise.
Probably written by Constantinus Africanus
It is therefore tolerably certain that the Pseudo-Synesius is, in fact, the writer commonly known by the designation of Constantinus Africanus, of whom it is necessary to say a few words here, as he is not mentioned in the first volume of this work, because all his published works are written in the Latin language, and he himself lived later than the date fixed on for the admission of Roman writers.
He was a native of Carthage in the eleventh century, who spent nearly forty years in travelling in different parts of Asia, where he acquired a knowledge of many useful sciences, and also of several Eastern languages. Upon his return to Africa he was forced, apparently by the jealousy of his countrymen, to leave once more his native land, and settled in Calabria, where he was taken into the service of the Duke Robert Guiscard, and whence he is sometimes called in Greek MSS. Κωνστ. ὁ Ῥηγῖνος
. Hence also his title of Πρωτασηκρῆτις
, that is, Protosecretarius,
a word whose meaning may be found in the glossaries of Du Cange and Meursius, and which, in the case of Censtantinus, has occasioned his being somctimes called (by a curious series of errors) " Asyncritus " and " Asynkitus." (See Lambec. loco cit.
At last he became a monk in the Monastery of Cassino, A. D. 1072, where he employed part of his time in writing and translating various medical works, and where he died at a great age, A. D. 1087.
It is not necessary to mention here all his numerous works, a list of which may be found in Fabricius, Bibl. Gr.
vol. xiii. p. 124, ed. vet., and in Choulant's Handb. der Bücherkunde für die Aeltere Medicin.
They were collected and published in 2 vols. fol. Basil. 1536, 1539.
The only one of his writings with which we are at present concerned is that which consists of seven books, and is entitled, "De omnium Morborum, qui Homini accidere possunt, Cognitione et Curatione," or in some other editions simply "Viaticum."
This work is the same as the Ἐφόδια τοῦ Ἀποδημοῦντος
mentioned above, and consequently contains (at the beginning of the seventh book) the Pseudo-Synesius " De Febribus."
It appears also that Constantinus is the author of both works, or, in other words, that he translated the original work into both Greek and Latin. The Latin work indeed (at least as we now possess it,) does not profess to be merely a translation, and this circumstance, added to a similar omission in the case of one of his other works, has exposed Constantinus to the charge of plagiarism and dishonesty,--but whether the accusation be altogether well-founded or not, the Writer is unable to decide, as he has never had occasion to examine the other work alluded to with sufficient minuteness to enable him to form an opinion on the subject. (See Russell's Nat. Hist. of Aleppo,
Append. p. xii. &c.)
Name and author of the Original work
It only remains to determine the name and author of the original work; for, even if we had not the title of the Greek MSS. to aid us, it would be sufficiently evident from the inspection of the Pseudo-Synesius that the fragment is translated from the work of some oriental author; the writer not only making constant mention of the natural productions of Eastern countries, but also having preserved two Arabic words in Greek characters. 1
The name of the writer so strangely metamorphosed in the titles of the Greek MSS. of Constantinus is Abú Ja'far Ahmed Ibn Ibrahím Ibn Abí Cháled,
who is also called Ibnu-l-Jezzár.
Constantinus never gives his author's complete name, but calls him sometimes Abú Jafar Ibnu-l-Jezzár,
sometimes Ahmed Ibn Ibrahím Ibn Abí Cháled ;
which has led Lambecius and Bandini, in their excellent catalogues, to state that the original work " partim ab Epro filio Zaphar nepote Elgzezar, partim autem ab Achmede filio Abrami, nepote Chaletis medici, primum fuit compositum." Ibnu-l-Jezzár was a pupil of Ishak Ibn Soleiman Al-Isráílí (commonly called Isaac Judaeus
), and lived at Kairowán in Africa.
He died at a great age, A. H. 395 (A. D. 100 4/5).
He was a man of considerable eminence, and wrote several works on medicine, metaphysics, history &c., some of which are extant in MS. in different European libraries.
The only one of these with which we are here concerned is entitled Zádu-l-Musáfer,
" Viaticum Peregrinautium," and consists of seven books.
There is an incomplete Arabic MS. of this work in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Hunt. 302
), which the Writer has examined partially
throughout, more especially the part corresponding with the Pseudo-Synesius; and he finds (as Reiske had done before him,) that it agrees (upon the whole) very exactly with the Greek and Latin translations mentioned above.
A more minute examination of the Arabic, Greek, and Latin texts will probably enable some future editor to give some further information respecting the two transltions : the Writer can only say of the conjecture that the Latin version was made from the Greek rather than from the original Arabic, that it appears to him to be wholly without foundation, inasmuch as the Latin translation in some places agrees more closely with the Arabic text than with the Greek. Ibnu-l-Jezzár's work was also translated into Hebrew by Rabbi Moshe Ben Tibbon (Uri, Catal. MSS. Hebr. Bibl. Bodl.
§ 413), and thus enjoys the singular honour of having been translated into no less than three languages during the middle ages.
For further information see Bernard's Preface to Synesius; Nicoll and Pusey's Catal. MSS. Arab. Bibl. Bodl.
p. 587; Wüstenfeld, Gesch. der Arab. Aerzte und Naturforscher,
§ 120; Choulant, Handb. der Bücherkunde für die Aeltere Medicin,
§§ 46, 70, 90.