Gerard of Cremona

Gerard of Cremona

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Gerard of Cremona (c. 1114–1187) was an Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 translator of Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 scientific works found in the abandoned Arab libraries
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 of Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

He was one of the most important scholars among the Toledo School of Translators
Toledo School of Translators
The Toledo School of Translators is the name that commonly describes the group of scholars who worked together in the city of Toledo during the 12th and 13th centuries, to translate many of the philosophical and scientific works from classical Arabic, classical Greek, and ancient Hebrew.The School...

 who invigorated medieval Europe in the twelfth century by transmitting ancient Arabic, Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Jewish knowledge in astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

 and other science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

s, and making them available to every literate person in Europe. One of his most famous translations is of Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

's Almagest
Almagest
The Almagest is a 2nd-century mathematical and astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Written in Greek by Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman era scholar of Egypt,...

from Arabic texts found in Toledo. Gerard has been mistakenly credited as the translator of Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

's Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine
The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopedia of Galenic medicine in five books compiled by Ibn Sīnā and completed in 1025. It presents a clear and organized summary of all the medical knowledge of the time...

(see below).

Life


Gerard was born in Cremona
Cremona
Cremona is a city and comune in northern Italy, situated in Lombardy, on the left bank of the Po River in the middle of the Pianura Padana . It is the capital of the province of Cremona and the seat of the local City and Province governments...

. Dissatisfied with the meager philosophies of his Italian teachers, Gerard followed his true passions and went to Toledo. There he learned Arabic, initially, so that he could read Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

's Almagest
Almagest
The Almagest is a 2nd-century mathematical and astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Written in Greek by Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman era scholar of Egypt,...

, which had a traditionally high reputation among scholars, but which, before his departure to Castile, was not yet known in Latin translation. (The first Latin translation was made, from the Greek around 1160 in Sicily). Although we do not have detailed information of the date when Gerard went to Castile
Castile (historical region)
A former kingdom, Castile gradually merged with its neighbours to become the Crown of Castile and later the Kingdom of Spain when united with the Crown of Aragon and the Kingdom of Navarre...

, it was no later than 1144.

Toledo, which had been a provincial capital in the Caliphate of Cordoba
Caliphate of Córdoba
The Caliphate of Córdoba ruled the Iberian peninsula and part of North Africa, from the city of Córdoba, from 929 to 1031. This period was characterized by remarkable success in trade and culture; many of the masterpieces of Islamic Iberia were constructed in this period, including the famous...

 and remained a seat of learning, was safely available to a Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 like Gerard, since it had been conquered from the Moors
Moors
The description Moors has referred to several historic and modern populations of the Maghreb region who are predominately of Berber and Arab descent. They came to conquer and rule the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. At that time they were Muslim, although earlier the people had followed...

 by Alfonso VI of Castile
Alfonso VI of Castile
Alfonso VI , nicknamed the Brave or the Valiant, was King of León from 1065, King of Castile and de facto King of Galicia from 1072, and self-proclaimed "Emperor of all Spain". After the conquest of Toledo he was also self-proclaimed victoriosissimo rege in Toleto, et in Hispania et Gallecia...

 in 1085. Toledo remained a multicultural capital, insofar as its rulers protected the large Jewish and Muslim quarters, and kept their trophy city an important centre of Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 and Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

. One of the great scholars associated with Toledo was Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra
Abraham ibn Ezra
Rabbi Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra was born at Tudela, Navarre in 1089, and died c. 1167, apparently in Calahorra....

, Gerard's contemporary. The Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of Toledo adopted the language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

 and many customs of their conquerors, embodying Mozarabic culture
Mozarab
The Mozarabs were Iberian Christians who lived under Arab Islamic rule in Al-Andalus. Their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, but did however adopt elements of Arabic language and culture...

. The city was full of libraries and manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

s, and was one of the few places in medieval Europe where a Christian could be exposed to Arabic language and culture.

In Toledo Gerard devoted the remainder of his life to making Latin translations from the Arabic scientific literature.

Gerard's translations



Gerard of Cremona's Latin translation of the Arabic version of Ptolemy’s Almagest
Almagest
The Almagest is a 2nd-century mathematical and astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Written in Greek by Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman era scholar of Egypt,...

made c. 1175 was the most widely known in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 before the Renaissance. Unbeknownst to Gerard, an earlier translation of the Almagest had already been made in Sicily from the original Greek c. 1160 under the aegis of Henricus Aristippus, although this version was not as widely used in the Middle Ages as Gerard's version. George of Trebizond
George of Trebizond
George of Trebizond was a Greek philosopher and scholar, one of the pioneers of the Renaissance.-Life:He was born on the island of Crete, and derived his surname Trapezuntius from the fact that his ancestors were from Trebizond.At what period he came to Italy is not certain; according to some...

 and then Johannes Regiomontanus
Regiomontanus
Johannes Müller von Königsberg , today best known by his Latin toponym Regiomontanus, was a German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, translator and instrument maker....

 retranslated it from the Greek original in the fifteenth century. The Almagest formed the basis for Western astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 until it was eclipsed by the theories of Copernicus.

Gerard edited for Latin readers the Tables of Toledo
Tables of Toledo
The Toledan Tables, or Tables of Toledo, were astronomical tables which were used to predict the movements of the Sun, Moon and planets relative to the fixed stars...

, the most accurate compilation of astronomical data ever seen in Europe at the time. The Tables were partly the work of Al-Zarqali, known to the West as Arzachel
Arzachel
', Al-Zarqali, Ibn Zarqala , Latinized as Arzachel, was an instrument maker and one of the leading theoretical and practical astronomers of his time. Although his name is conventionally given as al-Zarqālī, it is probable that the correct form was al-Zarqālluh. He lived in Toledo in Castile,...

, a mathematician and astronomer who flourished in Cordoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

 in the eleventh century.

Al-Farabi
Al-Farabi
' known in the West as Alpharabius , was a scientist and philosopher of the Islamic world...

, the Islamic "second teacher" after Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, wrote hundreds of treatises. His book on the sciences, Kitab al-lhsa al Ulum, discussed classification and fundamental principles of science in a unique and useful manner. Gerard rendered it as De scientiis (On the Sciences).

Gerard translated Euclid
Euclid
Euclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...

’s Geometry
Euclid's Elements
Euclid's Elements is a mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria c. 300 BC. It is a collection of definitions, postulates , propositions , and mathematical proofs of the propositions...

and Alfraganus's Elements of Astronomy.

Gerard also composed original treatises on algebra
Algebra
Algebra is the branch of mathematics concerning the study of the rules of operations and relations, and the constructions and concepts arising from them, including terms, polynomials, equations and algebraic structures...

, arithmetic
Arithmetic
Arithmetic or arithmetics is the oldest and most elementary branch of mathematics, used by almost everyone, for tasks ranging from simple day-to-day counting to advanced science and business calculations. It involves the study of quantity, especially as the result of combining numbers...

 and astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

. In the astrology text, longitudes are reckoned both from Cremona and Toledo.

In total, Gerard of Cremona
translated 87 books from the Arabic language,
including such originally Greek works as Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

's Almagest
Almagest
The Almagest is a 2nd-century mathematical and astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Written in Greek by Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman era scholar of Egypt,...

, Archimedes
Archimedes
Archimedes of Syracuse was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics, statics and an...

' On the Measurement of the Circle, Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's On the Heavens
On the Heavens
On the Heavens is Aristotle's chief cosmological treatise: it contains his astronomical theory and his ideas on the concrete workings of the terrestrial world...

, and Euclid
Euclid
Euclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...

's Elements of Geometry
Euclid's Elements
Euclid's Elements is a mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria c. 300 BC. It is a collection of definitions, postulates , propositions , and mathematical proofs of the propositions...

; such originally Arabic works as al-Khwarizmi
Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi
'There is some confusion in the literature on whether al-Khwārizmī's full name is ' or '. Ibn Khaldun notes in his encyclopedic work: "The first who wrote upon this branch was Abu ʿAbdallah al-Khowarizmi, after whom came Abu Kamil Shojaʿ ibn Aslam." . 'There is some confusion in the literature on...

's On Algebra and Almucabala
The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing
, also known under a shorter name spelled as Hisab al-jabr w’al-muqabala, Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala and other transliterations) is a mathematical book written in Arabic in approximately AD 820 by the Persian (Arabic for "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing", in...

, Jabir ibn Aflah
Jabir ibn Aflah
Abū Muḥammad Jābir ibn Aflaḥ was a Muslim astronomer and mathematician from Seville, who was active in 12th century Andalusia. His work Iṣlāḥ al-Majisṭi influenced Islamic, Jewish and Christian astronomers....

's Elementa astronomica,
and works by al-Razi
Al-Razi
Muhammad ibn Zakariyā Rāzī , known as Rhazes or Rasis after medieval Latinists, was a Persian polymath,a prominent figure in Islamic Golden Age, physician, alchemist and chemist, philosopher, and scholar....

 (Rhazes),

A second Gerard Cremonensis



Some of the works credited to Gerard of Cremona are probably the work of a second Gerard Cremonensis, more precisely Gerard de Sabloneta (Sabbioneta
Sabbioneta
Sabbioneta is a town and comune in the province of Mantua, Lombardy region, northern Italy. It is situated about 30 km north of Parma, not far from the northern bank of the Po River...

) (thirteenth century). His best work translated Greek/Arabic medical texts, rather than astronomical ones, but the two translators have understandably been confused with one another. His translations from works of Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

 are said to have been made by order of the emperor Frederick II
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

.

Other treatises attributed to the "Second Gerard" include the Theoria or Theorica planetarum, and versions of Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

’s Canon of Medicine— the basis of the numerous subsequent Latin editions of that well-known work — and of the Almansor of al-Razi ("Rhazes" in Latin-speaking Europe). The attribution of the Theorica to Gerard of Sabbionetta is not well supported by manuscript evidence and should not be regarded as certain.

See also

  • Toledo School of Translators
    Toledo School of Translators
    The Toledo School of Translators is the name that commonly describes the group of scholars who worked together in the city of Toledo during the 12th and 13th centuries, to translate many of the philosophical and scientific works from classical Arabic, classical Greek, and ancient Hebrew.The School...

  • Latin translations of the 12th century
  • Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe
    Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe
    Islamic contributions to Medieval Europe were numerous, affecting such varied areas as art, architecture, medicine, agriculture, music, language, and technology. From the 11th to 13th centuries, Europe absorbed knowledge from the Islamic civilization...


External links