Aristotle Beyond the Academy

Aristotle in Arabic

Study Aristotle in Arabic. Aristotle teaches disciples in an illuminated 13th-century manuscript of Kitāb mukhtār al-ḥikam wa-maḥāsin al-kalim (مختار الحكم ومحاسن الكلم), the Selected Maxims and Aphorisms.

MS Ahmed III 3206, in the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, contains a compendium of biographical notices and sayings of 21 ancient sages, mainly Greeks, including Seth, Hermes, Homer, Solon, Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Diogenes, Socrates (below, seated on a rock), Plato, Galen and Alexander the Great. The author was the 11th-century philosopher and polymath Abu al-Wafa’ al-Mubashshir ibn Fatik, ابو الوفاء المبشّر بن فاتك

He was born in Damascus and worked in Egypt during the Fatimid Caliphate which ruled over most of North Africa. He was highly honoured by heads of state as well as scholars.

Our Jordanian twitter friend @ZaynStarzer says the inscription refers to philosophers who know their own limits, do not oppress themselves with rigid thinking, and know the difference between what is wrong and right. They always try to achieve the mean in eating, clothing, comportment and sex. Aristotle has to hand knowledge of the laws of nature that god created, which inform mechanics and astronomy.


Durham UniversityDurham University Centre for Classical ReceptionLeverhulme Trust