Language Grammar

Aristotle's Rhetoric in the East: The Syriac and Arabic by Uwe Vagelpohl

By Uwe Vagelpohl

The 2 centuries following the increase of the Abbasid caliphate in 750 witnessed a wave of translations from Greek into Syriac and Arabic. the interpretation and reception of Aristotle's "Rhetoric" is a major instance for the ensuing transformation of old studying within the Islamic global and past. at the foundation of a detailed textual research of the "Rhetoric", this research develops parts of a comparative "translation grammar" of Greek-Arabic translations. Contextualizing the research with an account of the textual heritage and the Syriac and Arabic philosophical culture drawing at the "Rhetoric", it throws new gentle at the internal workings of the "translation flow" and its effect on Islamic tradition.

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Extra resources for Aristotle's Rhetoric in the East: The Syriac and Arabic Translation and Commentary Tradition (Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science)

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Cf. François de Blois’ article “Zindīḳ” in EI², vol. , p. –. ⁹⁴ Gutas (, p. , ff). ⁹⁵ Tayeb El-Hibri (, p. ) argues that the blow the dynasty’s prestige and legitimacy suffered in the wake of the regicide helps to explain al-Maʾmūn’s subsequent autocratic tendencies, including the institution of the miḥnah and the adoption of the title ḫalīfat Allāh (“vicegerent of God”) instead of the customary ḫalīfat rasūl Allāh (“vicegerent of the Prophet of God”). ⁹⁶ Gutas (, p. ff, ).

According to Endress, all of the so-called “translations of al-Kindī” mentioned in various sources were in fact produced for him by others and belong to the output of an earlier generation of translators—which also explains why Ibn Rušd repeatedly complains about their deficiencies.    There is also evidence for revisions of older translated texts: the deficiencies in Arabic of most of the Syriac-speaking translators necessitated later revisions and corrections. ¹⁰⁸ Al-Kindī himself apparently revised some translations, albeit probably only in matters of style and vocabulary.

Rosenthal reckons that the first translations were produced around the year . g. of an alchemical work by a certain Iṣṭifān commissioned by the Umayyad prince Ḫālid, son of the Umayyad Caliph Yazīd I. (r. –), as a later invention; another alleged very early Arabic translation of the Syriac medical encyclopedia of Ahrun (fl. ⁷⁰ In his opinion, the available evidence suggests little beyond the fact that the earliest translations were restricted to practical subjects, especially medicine and alchemy.

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