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Constantine the African (c. 1020- d. before 1099)

Constantine, known as Constantine the African, was a Muslim scholar from Tunisia whose translations of Arabic texts influenced European medical teaching for centuries. He was thought to have studied medicine in Africa and Baghdad. Having travelled widely through Islamic countries, Constantine had knowledge of Greek, Babylonian and Indian medicine as well as Islamic. A book collector, he travelled to Salerno in Italy, possibly as early as 1065. Encouraged by the local archbishop, he began to translate his extensive collection of medical texts from Arabic into Latin. Over the next 20 years he continued to translate Arabic books and encyclopedias and taught medicine at the Salerno school. He also translated Arabic editions of Hippocrates and Galen, reintroducing aspects of their work to Europe.

Constantine's translations spread throughout Europe remarkably quickly, and helped establish Salerno's reputation as a centre for medical learning. Converting to Christianity, Constantine entered the Monte Cassino monastery and lived there as a Benedictine monk until his death.

Related Themes and Topics

Bibliography

V L Bullough, The Development of Medicine as a Profession (Basel: Karger, 1966)

C Burnett and D Jacquart (eds), Constantine the African and ‘Alī ibn al-‘Abbās al-Magūsī: The Pantegni and Related Texts (Leiden: Brill, 1994)

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