Translating Scientific Works from Antiquity to the Medieval World

This guide is meant to help students when researching translated work, specifically when dealing with ancient Greek scientific texts in the medieval period. Many of these ancient texts underwent editing depending on their content, and were used first by Arabic scholars and then were later translated into Hebrew and Latin in order to transmit scientific knowledge to the Western world.

Online Databases

Loeb Library Classics This website is a great overview of classical literature. Many of the translations have side-by-side translation in English. Public Access) Perseus Digital Library Public Access) JSTOR UCLA Access Only)

Helpful Wikipedia Articles

Both of these articles provide a comprehensive overview of the translation of Greek classical works, mostly related to natural sciences and mathematics in the Islamic courts, and their eventual translation into Latin in Western Europe.

Transmission of the Greek Classics

Latin Translations of the 12th Century

Selection of Relevant Written Resources

Al-Khalili, Jim. The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance. New York: Penguin Press, 2011.

This book covers the scientific knowledge that was produced in the Islamic courts between the 9th and 11th centuries. It also discusses how Greek works were being preserved by translating the works into Arabic. These same works, and the commentaries created by Arabic scholars would be later translated into Latin.

Beckwith, Christopher I. Warriors of the Cloisters: The Central Asian Origins of Science in the Medieval World. Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2012.

This book is more focused on how the recursive argument method developed and spread from Central Asia through the Islamic Courts into Western Europe. The recursive argument method was the most popular form of 'scientific' study in the middle ages. Beckwith performs in-depth analysis of texts from Central Asia, Middle East, and Europe to trace the use of the recursive argument.

Haskins, Charles Homer. Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1967.

Most of the book explains the history and process in which scientific literature, originally written in Arabic and Greek, would be translated into Latin and Hebrew. These works would shape the study of medicine in Western Europe.

Laughlin, Burgess. The Aristotle Adventure. A Guide to the Greek, Arabic, and Latin Scholars Who Transmitted Aristotle's Logic to the Renaissance. Flagstaff, Arizona: Albert Hale Publishing, 1995.

This book discusses how the works of Aristotle were preserved from around 330 CE to the modern age. The author covers the translation of his works through the individuals who published, studied, and taught Aristotle's works.

Reynolds, L. D., and N. G. Wilson. Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. (Call Number PA47 .R4 1991 in UCLA)

This book is concerned with the history of classical literature, not restricted to scientific texts, from antiquity to the Renaissance. It discusses how information was transformed and the apparatus' in which they were created such as Greek texts being printed for the first time by Aldus Manutius. The path of transmission is Western-centric, and does not focus on the Islamic court's participation in the preservation of Greek and Latin texts.

Science Translated: Latin and Vernacular Translations of Scientific Treatises in Medieval Europe. Edited by Michele Goyens, Pieter de Leemans. An Smets. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2008.

This book is focused with the action of translation of scientific knowledge from Arabic to Latin. It provides insight into the difficult process of creating scientific vocabulary that Latin translators had to grapple with.

Overview of Relevant Call Numbers

PA-Greek and Latin Language and Literature

PA111-199 Greek & Latin Language

PA201-1179 Greek Philology & Language

PA1001-1179 Medieval & Modern Greek

PA2001-2995 Latin Philology & Language

PA3000-3049 Classical Literature (In General)

PA3050-5868 Greek Literature

PA3300-3371 Papyri

PA6000- Latin Literature

R126-127 Ancient Medical Works

R135 History of Ancient Medicine