Transmission of Greek and Arabic Veteri


diretta da
michele r. cataudella e giovanni salanitro




Atti del II Convegno internazionale
Catania, 3-5 ottobre 2007


Volume pubblicato con il contributo del
Dipartimento di Studi archeologici, filologici e storici dell’Università di Catania


È vietata la traduzione, la memorizzazione elettronica,
la riproduzione totale e parziale, con qualsiasi mezzo, compresa la fotocopia,
anche ad uso interno o didattico
Impaginazione e progetto grafico a cura di Athenaion
Copertina a cura di Milena Bobba
ISBN 978-88-6067-061-8

Transmission of Greek and Arabic veterinary literature*

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

1. Introduction.
The Arabic literature on equitation, hippology and veterinary medicine
increased between the 5th and 15th centuries AD. These treatises generally covered the whole field of equestrian knowledge and consisted of furūsīya, the
equestrian art, al-Cail, the hippology, and the principles of the care of horses
and farriery, called bay+ara1. One of the oldest Arabic treatises dealing with
hippology and hippiatry is the Kitāb al-furūsīya wa-l-bay+ara ascribed to
MUCAMMAD IBN YA‘qub IBN A}i ḤIZaM AL-ḪUTTaLi, who served in the second
half of the ninth century as equerry at the court of caliph al-Mu‛ta&im, alMutawakkil or al-Mu‛ta#id2. The treatise is considered to hold a key position
in the transmission of hippiatric knowledge from the Greek Hippiatrica to the
Arabic literature. A comparatively large number of Arabic manuscripts has
been handed down3.


The authors are grateful to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for the financial support of the project “Zur Kontinuität des hippiatrischen Erbes der Antike im
arabischen Sprachraum des Frühmittelalters” (Antrag PE 424/7-1; 7-3).
F. Viré, Faras, in B. Lewis - C. Pellat - J. Schacht (ed.), The Encyclopaedia of
Islam, 2, Leiden 1965, 784-787.
H. Ritter, Le parure des Cavaliers und die Literatur über die ritterlichen Künste,
«Der Islam» 18, 1929, 116-154.
The critical edition is forthcoming: M. Heide, Das Kitāb al-Bay+ara von MUCAMMAD IBN YA‘qub IBN A}i ḤIZaM AL-ḪUTTaLi. The following manuscripts were collated: Dublin, Chester Beatty Library: Arab. 3073, Arab. 3220, Arab. 3319; London,
British Museum: ADD 23416, Or 1523; Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale: 2812; Istanbul:
ACmad III.: 7405 A 1951; Istanbul: Fatih Library: Fatih 3608; Leiden Library of the
University: Or 528, Or 299 (1), Or 299 (2); Oxford, Bodleian Library: Pocock. 360;
Budapest, Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Könyvtára: Arab. O. 13. Fatih 3609 was
proved to be an anonymous, illustrated compilation of hippiatric texts. Three manuscripts Veliyüddin 3174, Aya Sofia 2898 and Fatih 3510 were discarded.


2. The Kitāb al-furūsīya wa-l-bay+ara.
The manuscripts of the Kitāb al-bay+ara comprise between 105 to 211
pages. They were written in Middle Arabic and range in date from the 13th to
the 18th century AD. The oldest manuscript is housed in the British Library
(Or 1523) and can be dated to the year 620 of the Hijra, or 1223 AD. We had
no access to three copies of the Kitāb al-furūsīya wa-l-bay+ara from the libraries of India, Iraq and Bursa4. Additional copies from Leiden, Istanbul, and
Vienna are likely not attributable to ibn a}ī Ḥizām5, whereas one manuscript
(Pocock. 360), previously ascribed to Theomnestos, was identified as the
work of ibn a}ī Ḥizām6. In 1936 Björck already stated that “very important
material would be hidden in the manuscript sections”7. Copies in Persian,
Turkish, Armenian, and Georgian language are known as well as retranslations from Armenian into Arabic8.
Those manuscripts which are preserved completely can be divided into
four parts: A general introduction with diverse quotations from the Qur’an,
poetry or religious literature9 is followed by a second part about the colours,


Bankipore nr. 114, Awad Iraq Museum nr. 7-8, Bursa Hüseyin Çelebi 833 (M.
Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam, Leiden/Köln 1970, 220; A. Dietrich, Medicinalia
Arabica, Göttingen 1966, 162).
Leiden 299 (3) Warn., Aya Sofia 3607, Wien 1478, 1479 (Heide, op. cit., Einleitung).
R. G. Hoyland, Theomnestus of Nicopolis, Ḥunayn ibn IsCāq and the beginnings
of Islamic veterinary science, in R.G. Hoyland - Ph. F. Kennedy (ed.), Islamic Reflections, Arabic Musings: Studies in Honour of Alan Jones, Cambridge 2004, 150-169.
G. Björck, Griechische Pferdeheilkunde in arabischer Überlieferung, «Le Monde Oriental» 30, 1936, 1-12, here 8.
Ritter, op. cit., 116-154; J. von Somogyi Die Stellung ad-Damīrīs in der arabischen Literatur, «Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes», 56 1960, 192206; J. Dum-Tragut, Kilikische Heilkunst für Pferde. Das Vermächtnis der Armenier,
Hildesheim 2005, 31-33 (three manuscripts are known, which were translated from
Armenian into Arabic: British Library MS Or. 3133, National Library of Medicine
Bethesda MS A4, Library Gotha MS 2087 and Heide, op. cit., Einleitung (Chester
Beatty Library 3889)).
In almost each manuscript the scribes hinted to the fact that the Kitāb al-bay+ara
would be useful for the “Gihad on the path of Allah” (Arab. 3220). Horses therefore
were exploited for military purposes, whereas cattle, donkeys and dromedaries were
mainly used for transportation, see F. Altheim - R. Stiehl, Die Araber in der alten
Welt, Berlin 1967, 293-296. Horses were also bred for hunting, horse-racing and the
equestrian art, F. Vire, op. cit., 784-787; K. W. Ammon, Nachrichten von der Pferdezucht der Araber und den arabischen Pferden, Nürnberg 1834, reprint Hildesheim



qualities and congenital defects of the horse and finally leads to the hippiatric
part, which is in most cases subdivided into the description of the ailments
and the prescriptions for their cure.
The hippiatric part, the Kitāb al-bay+ara, dedicates about 150 paragraphs
to aetiologies and symptoms and about 400 paragraphs to therapeutic procedures. Whereas in two copies10 both sections have been intertwined, the symptoms or maladies and their treatments are kept separately in most manuscripts. The latter approach will be taken for the critical edition.
The first section which deals with the aetiologies and symptoms is divided into two chapters: The first chapter is entitled “The defects, which happen to the horse” and totals 27 diseases, touching mainly problems of the extremities. The second chapter is called “Characteristic features of the horse
diseases and their symptoms”. It covers §§ 28 to 186 and focuses on the descriptions of diseases of all fundamental organs such as systemic diseases
(e.g. example glanders) or diseases of the digestive system (e.g. colic). The
section about the therapies contains the prescriptions and several longer lists
of recipes. The headlines of these recipes usually refer to the diseases, but
sometimes descriptions of their symptoms are lacking.
The paragraphs exhibit a rather uniform structure: Each headline mentions the name of the disease, its localisation, and sometimes even a few
symptoms. The description of these diseases is comparatively short and has
mostly a prognosis attached. Whereas the authors of Late Antiquity explained
the origin and pathogenesis of an ailment by means of the humoral theory,
ibn a}ī Ḥizām had a tendency to shorten this part. Sometimes he mentioned
the causes of a specific disease only in the prescriptions, as e.g. a certain disease called “Hamar” corresponding to the Greek term krithiasis. Apsyrtos
wrote that the name of the disease is deduced from the following incident:
When a horse eats barley after running, the barley cannot be digested and
spreads under the skin and into the body11. Ibn a}ī Ḥizām however, started
his description of the same malady with the following symptoms: The horse
is breathless, it is disturbed and suffers from arthralgia12. In two recipes ibn

1972, 11 ff.; J. von Hammer-Purgstall, Das Pferd bei den Arabern, «Denkschriften der
Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Classe» 7,
1856, 147-204, here 201.
Chester Beatty Library: Arab. 3073 and Fatih Library: Fatih 3609.
CHG I, II: E. Oder - C. Hoppe (ed.), Corpus Hippiatricorum Graecorum, vol. I,
Hippiatrica Berolinensia, Leipzig 1924 and vol. II, Hippiatrica Parisina, Cantabrigiensia, Londinensia, Lugdunensia, Leipzig 1927; here CHG I, 49.
Heide, op. cit., § 33a.



a}ī Ḥizām recommends to avoid feeding of barley13, an indication that he was
aware of the dietary cause of laminitis. This abridgement does not indicate a
lack of understanding of the humoral theory, but rather betrays the intention
of the author to write a manual with the practitioner in view.
To a certain extent, this assumption is affirmed by the clear style of the
language: Illustrative comparisons were used, for example, to describe the
size of a swelling, which ibn a}ī Ḥizām compared to an apple. Likewise, he
compared the consistence of an unguent to clay. The same metaphorical diction, however, is found in chapters that derive from the Arabic Theomnestos
and from the Greek Hippiatrica. In the paragraph about the “dry glanders” all
authors agree that the specific cough caused by this malady sounds similar to
a horse that has choked on a small bone14.
The way the therapies are dealt with in the Kitāb al-bay+ara can be compared to other hippiatric treatises from Late Antiquity. The indication in the
headline is usually followed by an enumeration of the ingredients and their
quantities, as well as the preparation, the mode and site of application. The
selection of substances seems to be guided by the principles of the humoral
theory. Some ingredients, however, are apparently of Arabic origin, as the fat
of the camel hump (§ 1b) or borax-salt from Kirman (§ 1e). About 400 different herbals, minerals and animal drugs could be counted. In the translation
the Arabic terms will be presented together with their Greek and German
equivalents, in the veterinary commentary their function and effects will be
analysed. From a modern perspective, the combinations of drugs employed in
the Kitāb al-bay+ara may be regarded as useful even today. Some of these
substances are still recommended in recent veterinary pharmaceutical works,
like coriander for the treatment of indigestions15. For each disease ibn a}ī
Ḥizām provides a selection of different, partly complementary therapeutic
measures, starting with therapies for less severe cases and ending with treatments for patients with advanced stages.
3. The Greek sources of the Kitāb al-bay+ara.
3.1. Theomnestos.
Up to now it has been opinio communis that the texts of the Greek authors


Heide, op. cit., §§ 33b, c.
CHG I, 25; P. Kämpf, Die Kapitel über Erkrankungen im Brustraum und Hufrehe im Corpus Hippiatricorum Graecorum, Diss. med. vet., München 1984, 35; S.
Saker, Die Pferdeheilkunde des Theomnest von Nikopolis in arabischer Übersetzung,
Diss. phil., Marburg forthcoming, ch. 3, 25-29; Heide, op. cit., § 29a.
J. Reichling - R. Gachnian-Mirtscheva - M. Frater-Schröder - R. Saller - A. Di
Carlo - W. Widmaier, Heilpflanzenkunde für Tierärzte, Berlin/Heidelberg 2005, 77-79.



of Late Antiquity known from the Corpus Hippiatricorum Graecorum served
as a basis for the early phase of the Arabic hippiatric tradition16. The Arabic
translation of the hippiatry of Theomnestos seems to mark the starting point
of the Greek influence on early Arabic hippiatric literature17. Theomnestos is
estimated one of the most experienced authors of Late Antiquity18. Two Arabic manuscripts have been handed down, each with 96 chapters19. Beginning
with a short introduction, the most important diseases and symptoms such as
glanders, headache, fever, cough, pain of all essential organs and serious
maladies like tetanus and bites of snakes and other animals are described as
well as different cures. The cures are mentioned immediately after the descriptions of the diseases. Theomnestos’ book closes with twenty chapters,
containing recipes for all kinds of ailments20. All in all 88 chapters of the
Arabic Theomnestos correspond to the manuscripts B, M, C of the Greek
Hippiatrica and 62 chapters correspond especially well to the M recension. In
the M recension of the Greek Hippiatrica, however, only 72 excerpts have
been ascribed to Theomnestos21. This difference of 24 chapters between the
Arabic version of Theomnestos and the M recension could refer to the compiler of the Greek Hippiatrica, who had left out these passages, because they
overlapped with the texts of other authors22. In view of the various repetitions
in this compilation and the presence of ten recipes in the M recension without
parallels to the Arabic version, it seems more likely that more detailed versions of Theomnestos’ treatises must have been available to the Greek com-


Björck, op. cit., 8.
Saker, op. cit., Einleitung. Since the 9th century AD an increasing inventory of
specialised works about the horse, his use for riding and hunting, and an important
collection of veterinary literature has developed. The translation of Theomnestos treatise is dated to the middle of the ninth century (Ullmann, op. cit., 218).
J. Schäffer, Die Rezeptesammlung im Corpus Hippiatricorum Graecorum Band
I (Kapitel 129, 130; Appendices 1-9), Diss. med. vet., München 1981, 11; A. McCabe,
A Byzantine Encyclopaedia of Horse Medicine, Oxford 2007, 181.
The translation and edition of the manuscripts Köprülü 959, Paris BN 2810 will
be published by Susanne Saker. Both manuscripts ascribe the translation of the Greek
text of Theomnestos into Arabic to Ḥunain ibn IsCāq, but the terminology used for a
number of diseases and drugs argue against this assumption (Saker, op. cit., Einleitung).
Only few diseases of the extremities were mentioned: The luxation of the
shoulder (ch. 50), the bruised heel (ch. 61), the remedies against joint disease, the hydarthrosis of the fetlock joint and the distortion (ch. 86, 87, 93).
McCabe, op. cit., 181.
Hoyland, op. cit., 158.



piler and the Arabic translator.
There are not only some chapters which run parallel to the Greek Hippiatrica (e.g. the various recipes for pain of the liver23), there are also several
references to other sources and to Theomnestos himself. All this indicates
that the Arabic manuscripts are based on a compilation rather than on the original treatise of Theomnestos. Susanne Saker differentiates between quotations of Nephon, Kassius, and Agathotychos, authors which were integrated
in Theomnestos work formerly, and chapters, where the name of Apsyrtos is
mentioned in the heading or which were ascribed to him with the words “also
from him” such as in the chapters 28 and 29. In this case, Theomnestos’
name is mentioned in the following chapter to indicate the recurrence to his
work24. This hints at an apparent integration of these quotations, which is
known from the Greek Hippiatrica too: In the Greek Hippiatrica the chapter
about heparalgia is entitled with “another of Kassius from the treatise of
The work of Apsyrtos represents the principal source of Theomnestos’
treatise. Apsyrtos’ name, however, is only cited once in the chapter about
mange, while Theomnestos rephrased the text of Apsyrtos several times
without acknowledging him26. Apart from these verbatim adaptations the
Arabic version quotes Apsyrtos eight times in the headings, which in the
Greek compilation had been formulated as letters ascribed to him27. These
apparent citations argue for an authored text, as do the introductions to new
chapters as well as personal annotations, recurrent formulations and the uniformity of the chapters28.
Already Björck suggested that ibn a}ī Ḥizām employed mainly the treatise of Theomnestos: “We assert confidently that Ibn abī Hazm had the Arabic translation of the (in the Greek language only partly preserved) book of
Theomnestos before him, made in the school of Hunain ibn IsCaq”29. He documented this dependency by 37 parallels between the Greek Hippiatrica and


Saker ch. 28-31 and CHG I, 160-162.
Saker, op. cit., Einleitung.
CHG I, 161.
McCabe, op. cit., 202.
Exemplarily the title of chapter 15 is called “A description for diagnosing a feverish horse according to Apsyrtos”. In the first sentence Theomnestos refers to
Apsyrtos: “Already Apsyrtos has written about the feverish horse praiseworthy things,
whose parts about diagnosis and treatment I will explain you” (Saker, op. cit, ch. 15).
Hoyland, op. cit., 159.
Björck, op. cit., 9. Hoyland recently confirmed this observation; see Hoyland,
op. cit., 160.



quotations of ibn a}ī Ḥizām in the books of ibn al-‘Awwām, available to him
in the translation of Clément-Mullet. Furthermore, he compared the Greek
Hippiatrica with Perrons translation of the an-Nā&irī of ibn al-Mun{ir30. Today, the accordance of 80 chapters of the Arabic treatise of Theomnestos with
the Kitāb al-bay+ara of ibn a}ī Ḥizām can be evidenced. Ibn a}ī Ḥizām, the
alleged author of the Kitāb al-bay+ara, integrated these chapters into his text
without acknowledging any source. Although the translation of both treatises
might have been made by the same school, there are some noteworthy lexical
and syntactical differences: For example in Theomnestos text diarrhoea has
been translated with {arab, whereas the Kitāb al-bay+ara labelled these
symptoms as “bovine disease”. Furthermore, the number of paragraphs of the
Kitāb al-bay+ara exceeds the number of chapters in the Arabic treatise of
Theomnestos considerably. One could therefore argue that additional sources
of Greek origin must have been available to the author of the Kitāb albay+ara, which were not handed down in any form as far as we could ascertain.
3.2. Hippiatrica.
More than 40 paragraphs from the Kitāb al-bay+ara show parallels to the
Greek Hippiatrica, in particular to the texts of Theomnestos and Hierokles.
These paragraphs are absent from the Arabic version of the treatise of
Theomnestos. The first part of the Kitāb al-bay+ara, which specifies mainly
diseases of the extremities, has almost no parallels in the Hippiatrica. This
part of the Kitāb al-bay+ara, however, may depend on Greek sources as
well31. This assumption is corroborated by the uniform structure of the whole
book and the consistent lexical and syntactical style. In addition, one of the
London copies lists five recipes of the first part and attributes them to a certain “Byzantine hippiater named Aristotle”32, and in one paragraph ibn ahi
Hizam refers to “old books” and “the Ancients”33. These treatises could have
been written by authors that were not considered by the compiler of the
Greek Hippiatrica but nevertheless were available to the author of the Kitāb
Contrary to the first part of the Kitāb al-bay+ara, the second and the third
parts display an increasing number of parallels to the Greek Hippiatrica as
well as to the Arabic manuscripts of Theomnestos.


J.-J. Clément-Mullet, Ibn al-’Awwâm: Le Livre de l’agriculture, Kitâb alFilâha, traduction de l’arabe de J.-J. Clément-Mullet, revue et corrigée, introduction
de Mohammed El Faïz, Arles 2000; N. Perron, Le Nâcérî, Paris 1852-60.
Heide, op. cit., Einleitung.
Heide, op. cit., §§ 1d, e, h, §§ 3d, g.
Heide, op. cit., § 63f, § 28a.



Different degrees of parallels can be differentiated: First of all, verbatim
quotations, for example the description of dry glanders, were observed: The
Greek text of Theomnestos in the Hippiatrica and the Arabic version starts
this chapter with the pathogenesis according to the humoral theory. Ibn a}ī
Ḥizām, however, quotes only the passage about the symptoms except for one
symptom, the refusing of food, which is missing in the Kitāb al-bay+ara.
Kitāb al-bay+ara, § 29a:
“Symptoms of dry glanders”

…which causes, that the
body of the animal loses
weight, its belly is constricted and its skin becomes wrinkled, rough
and hard, so that you can
hear a sound like a drum,
when you beat at its side
with your hand. If you
provoke it to cough, it is
not able to cough and
opens the mouth and is
stimulated to cough, but it
cannot cough. It is in a
state as if it would have
choked on a small bone.
When all these symptoms
become visible, it is
deemed to die and cannot
be cured anymore.

Arabic Theomnestos, ch.
3, § 24-29: “Description of
a medicine for dry glanders”

CHG I, ch. 2, § 21:
Theomnestos “About dry

This disease arises, if putrid humores, not phlegm
but two galls, affect areas
around heart and lung.
Therefore dry glanders
arises, which is indicated
by this means:
The animal loses weight,
its flanks are constricted,
the skin becomes wrinkled. When you beat at its
side, you can hear a sound
like a drum. It does not eat
and if you provoke it to
cough, it is not able to
cough, opens the mouth
and is stimulated to cough,
but cannot cough. It is in a
state, as if it would have
choked on a small bone,
which would be fatal.
When this happens, the
disease takes possession of
it and it will perish very
soon. It is difficult to cure
an animal in this state.

Dry glanders arises, if the
humores become putrid
and areas around heart and
lung are affected. These
humores consist surely not
of phlegm and blood, but
of two galls. Therefore,
dry glanders arises.
By this you can recognize
the dry form: The animal
loses weight, its flanks are
constricted, the skin becomes wrinkled. You can
hear a sound like a drum,
when you beat at the side
with your hand. It does not
eat, and if you provoke it
to cough, it is not able to
cough and opens the
mouth and is stimulated to
cough, but cannot cough.
It is in a state as if it
would have choked on a
small bone. When all these
symptoms become visible,
the disease will soon take
possession of it and it will
be sick. It is not possible
to cure such an animal.



Additionally to such close resemblances in contents, the Kitāb al-bay+ara
also shows parallels in the structure. In the Kitāb al-bay+ara there are also
several longer sequences of prescriptions without special symptoms, for example §§ 111b-z, which have already been observed in the Arabic treatise of
Theomnestos (chapters 76-96) as well as in the M and B recension. They
could refer to the pharmacopoea assembled in the manuals of Apsyrtos,
Theomnestos, and Hierokles. This structure again corresponds to the one observed in other medical treatises34.
On the other hand, the structure of the Kitāb al-bay+ara differs from the
Greek Hippiatrica and the Arabic treatise of Theomnestos in one major aspect: Whereas in the latter sources the descriptions of the diseases are always
presented together with the cures, almost all copies of the Kitāb al-bay+ara
keep the diseases apart from their cures35.
Another particular feature, a case of “rearrangement” is found in the
recipe for the disease called “‘Uqāl” (§ 15a): ‘Uqāl refers to a kind of lameness of the hind leg of an animal, caused by a distorted femoral tendon. Moving forward the animal adducts its leg closely to his belly. This description is
similar to a disease known as the “cock’s gait”, which is characterised by an
idiopathic and spasmodic adduction of one or both hind legs36. For the
therapy of the ‘Uqāl, ibn a}ī Ḥizām recommends a recipe of a warming or
even heating medicine (§ 15b[2]), well known from Theomnestos’ famous
story about tetanus, which affected the horses of emperor Licinius during the
winter-passage over the alps. This remedy consists of 35 ingredients and was
recommended for each kind of spasm caused by hypothermia. Ibn a}ī Ḥizām
applies this therapy for treating the ‘Uqāl, in accordance with what its original context might have been. Although the descriptions of tetanus in the
Kitāb al-bay+ara (§§ 58a-h, 72a-e) show a lot of parallels to the Arabic text
of Theomnestos and the Greek Hippiatrica37, this particular recipe is missing
here. Theomnestos, on the other hand, adds this recipe against spasm at the


G. Björck, Zum Corpus Hippiatricorum Graecorum. Beiträge zur antiken Tierheilkunde, Uppsala 1932, 27.
This separate arrangement could refer to earlier medical texts. Galen, for example, wrote a separate volume on the pathology of different human body parts. The
therapeutic measures are presented in a second volume. The Kitāb al-bay+ara has
sometimes references to human medicine. In the introduction its importance was
equated to Galen’s qerapeutikh; mevqodo". The author of the treatise an-Nā&irī, which
was written 500 years later and arranged more differentiated, used the same structure
(Heide, op. cit., Einleitung).
O. Dietz - B. Huskamp, Handbuch der Pferdepraxis, Stuttgart 2006, 899-900.
Saker, op. cit., ch. 48, 31-42; CHG I, 185.



end of chapter 48. His short mentioning, that he had found this recipe “in
books”, could be the key for understanding this rearrangement: Both authors,
Theomnestos and ibn a}ī Ḥizām, used these old sources, but Theomnestos
added this recipe to tetanus, whereas the author of the Kitāb al-bay+ara considered it more useful to treat a specific condition of the tendons.
Kitāb al-bay+ara
§ 58a and § 72a
§ 58b – g and § 72b-e
§ 58h

Arabic Theomnestos
ch. 46, 1-7
ch. 46, 9 - ch. 47, 14
ch. 48,1-5
ch. 48,6-26
ch. 48, 27-30

§ 15b[2]: ‘uqāl

ch. 48, 31-42

symptoms of tetanus
therapy of tetanus
symptoms of tetanus
Theomnestos: Licinius,
winter-passage over the
Preface: recipe: “found
in books“
Recipe: 35 ingredients

As can be seen from the description of tetanus in the Kitāb al-bay+ara
some prescriptions are mentioned twice. This sort of double transmission is
mainly observed in recipes originating from the Hippiatrica38. Interestingly
these paragraphs transmitted twice show some peculiarities: The language of
the first mentioning in the Kitāb al-bay+ara seems less elaborate compared
with the later, more detailed doublet. The later paragraphs are usually similar
but not identical to the Arabic copies of Theomnestos, whose text corresponds in turn more to an assumed earlier Greek version than to the Hippiatrica. This process of polishing with progressing composition can be exemplified by the following paragraphs: The first text, “a recipe for the treatment of
dyspnoea” (§ 61b) differs from its doublet (§ 148c) in the Kitāb al-bay+ara in
several ways. First of all, the heading of § 148c reads “a recipe for the treatment of overexertion”. These two recipes correspond to chapter 25 of the
Arabic text of Theomnestos, entitled “a recipe for orthopnoe from travelling
and gallop”. A shorter version of Theomnestos’ recipe can be found in the M
recension. A more detailed prescription, which is ascribed to Apsyrtos, can
be found in the B recension39. The treatment in the B recension is entitled “a
further (medicine) for horses with strained breathing after a march”. Para-


§§ 38b//183b; 48d//150b; 53b-c//111j,l; 61b//148c; 70c//147b-c; 71//93; 77bc//83b and without parallels in the Greek Hippiatrica 100b//167b, (Heide, op. cit.,
CHG II, 36; CHG I, 253.



graph 61b continues after its superscription with the irrelevant phrase “infuse
into a horse, whose condition corresponds to this case”, which is also mentioned shorter in the Arabic text of Theomnestos “infuse into a horse which is
in this condition”. The advice of § 61b, that wine and honey had not to be
mixed with any medicine, is not in the doublet, but in the Greek and Arabic
text of Theomnestos. On the other hand, § 148c mentions precisely that the
water, which should be used to solve the saffron, should have a tepid temperature. The quantity is given in § 61b as mi%qāl, whereas in § 148c two different measurements are mentioned, namely the “ra+l” and a special amount,
that can be taken with three fingers. Apsyrtos’ version exhibits two other informative details: the medicine had to be applied seven days and the amount
of water, which had to be added two times, was specified as a kotyle40.
These examples evidence various degrees of reworking of these recipes.
Closest to the original may be the quotation in the Kitāb al-bay+ara. It appears smoothened remodelled in the Arabic version of Theomnestos. Finally
a very polished and pleasing form occurs in the Greek Hippiatrica.
The similarities on the one side, and the differences in content, structure
and form on the other side between the Kitāb al-bay+ara and the Greek Hippiatrica support the assumption, that the Kitāb al-bay+ara is based on an
earlier collection of Greek hippiatric texts41. This hypothesis is affirmed by
an homoioteleuton, which crept in between two paragraphs following each
other in the Kitāb al-bay+ara (§ 62). The first version (§ 62b) is found in the
Greek Hippiatrica as well as in the Arabic treatise of Theomnestos, the second (§ 62d) was possibly eliminated by a Byzantine compilator42.
One Arabic manuscript, Fatih 3609, betrays proximity in its way of adumbration to Byzantine-Greek manuscripts43.
4. Indian sources.
References to Indian savants, Indian physicians, and an Indian king are
mentioned at the title and colophon of three manuscripts and in the
hippological part of most of the manuscripts44. In two manuscripts the name


About Theomnestos’ adaption of Apsyrtos’ text see McCabe, op. cit., 202 ff.
Heide, op. cit., Einleitung.
Heide, op. cit., Einleitung.
E. G. Grube, The Hippiatrica Arabica illustrata. Three 13th century manuscripts and related material, in A survey of Persian art, edited by A. U. Pope - P.
Ackerman, Vol. XIV, Proceedings, The IVth International Congress of Iranian Art and
Archaeology, Part A, London 1967, 3138-3155.
Heide, op. cit., Einleitung.



of “Čna”, an Indian savant, living in the 3rd century B.C., is cited45. After the
Islamic invasion of India hippological and hippiatric texts in Sanskrit were
translated into Arabic or Persian. One other Indian source has been studied
by Björck, who evidenced thirteen parallels between ibn al-‘Awwāms agricultural compendium Kitāb al-filāCa and the treatise of Hippocrates Indicus46. Although ibn al-‘Awwāms work coevally and extensively cites the
Kitāb al-bay+ara of ibn a}ī Ḥizām, we could not find any trace of Hippocrates Indicus in ibn a}ī Ḥizāms’ work.
5. Ibn a}ī Ḥizāms share to the Kitāb al-bay+ara.
On the titles or colophons of eight manuscripts ibn a}ī Ḥizāms’ name is
mentioned more or less completely. Three manuscripts, however, do not refer
to him at all, and two are ascribed to another author. In addition, the titles of
eleven recipes refer to a certain hippiater named Abu Yūsuf47. Two times this
Abu Yūsuf is mentioned to be ibn a}ī Ḥizāms’ father. At the title page of one
manuscript Abu Yūsuf forms part of ibn a}ī Ḥizāms’ name. Ibn a}ī Ḥizāms’
name is never mentioned in textu, so the degree of kinship between Abu
Yūsuf and ibn a}ī Ḥizām remains unclear. The Nisba „al-Ḫuttalī“, the indication of ibn a}ī Ḥizāms derivation, refers probably to Ḫuttal(an), a region on
the upper Oxus, today Amu Darya, whose brindled and deftly horses were
well known48. Ibn a}ī Ḥizām was equerry at the court of al-Mu‛ta&im, alMutawakkil49 or al-Mu‛ta#id50. Under the rule of al-Mu‛ta&im, an excellent
horse expert51, the court moved in 223 A.H./838 A.D. from Bagdad to
Samarra, where the stables of the horses of the caliph and his officers were
located along the main street52. About the number and splendid decoration of
these horses it is reported: “Il y avait d’un côté 500 chevaux avec autant de
selles (markab) d’argent et d’or, de différentes espèces, sans couvertures. De
l’autre côté il y avait 500 chevaux avec autant de housses en soie à dessins et
de voiles. Chaque cheval était tenu par un homme de la classe des šākiriyya


Ritter, op. cit., 123; Heide, op. cit, Einleitung.
Björck, Griechische Pferdeheilkunde…, cit., 3.
Heide, op. cit., Einleitung.
S. Digby, War-Horse and Elephant in the Dehli Sultanate. A study of military
supplies, Oxford 1971, 35; D. Alexander (ed.), Furusiyya, 2, Riyadh 1996, 192.
During the reign of al-Mutawakkil an “important and very effectively active
school of translation and scientific research” was established (Grube, op. cit., 3138).
Ullmann, op. cit., 217-220.
Viré, op. cit., 119.
F. Viré, I&+abl, in E. Van Donzel - B. Lewis - C. Pellat (ed.), The Encyclopaedia
of Islam, 4, Leiden 1978, 213-219.



(soldats réguliers)”53. This great number of horses and their decoration might
probably reflect the dimension of responsibility, with which an equerry like
ibn a}ī Ḥizām was entrusted.
One third of the paragraphs of the Kitāb al-bay+ara shows similarities to
chapters of the Arabic treatise of Theomnestos and to the Greek Hippiatrica,
but they were partly reworked and adapted to practical demands by an experienced author as well as linked with back- and cross-references. The personal recommendations, the ethical remarks about the veterinary profession
and specifics like the very short descriptions and the practical character of the
therapeutic methods without any superstitious elements54 strongly point to a
horse expert, who could have added these remarks to the Kitāb al-bay+ara,
using an early Greek compilation or different manuscript as a starting point.
For example, ibn ahi Hizam rarely recommends the use of phlebotomy,
whereas according to the humoral theory this method was an important component of the therapy of the Greek hippiaters55.
The names of most diseases or pharmaceutical substances refer to terms
of Greek origin, but there are several diseases without equivalent, for example the eye disease called “RīC as-Sabal”, that is “wind of the loose-hanging
veil”, which means a film covering the eye (§ 127a). Some eye diseases and
their cures likely may have been copied from human ophthalmological
works, of which a considerable number has been translated into Arabic. This
can be exemplified by a recipe against the stye, which grows on the lids. Its
cure has been reformulated by using sources of human ophthalmology: “For
this lid make a warm compress with white wax and take a fly, tear off its head
and rub this area with its body. This will, God willing, help him”56. This
therapy of the stye is known from the texts of Galen and especially of Ḥunain
ibn IsC=q, but not in the Greek Hippatrica. Ḥunain ibn IsC=q wrote his book
on the ten treatises of the eye using the texts of Paulus of Aegina and Galen.
Later, this very same therapy is also found in the works of ibn a}ī Ḥizām, to
be repeated at a later stage by ibn al-‘Awwām and ibn al-Mun{ir57.


M. Hamidullah, Nouveaux documents sur les rapports de l’Europe avec l’orient
musulman aux moyen âge, «Arabica» 7, 1960, 281-300.
Björck referred the “considerable number“ of recipes with magical character,
only found in the M recension, to a grimoire of Apsyrtos. They were nearly complete
eliminated in the B recension (Björck, Zum Corpus…, cit., 30).
Theomnestos followed the dogmatic humoral theory and differentiated two
kinds of bile (Björck, Zum Corpus…, cit., 55).
Heide, op. cit., § 160d.
V. Weidenhöfer, Ophthalmology in the early Arabic hippiatric literature, in
Proceedings of the 37th International Congress of the World Association for the His-



6. The influence of the Kitāb al-bay+ara on the later hippiatric literature.
The influence of the Kitāb al-bay+ara on the transmission of the hippiatric
knowledge is not only evidenced by the great number of handed down manuscripts. It is also visible through extensive quotations in later Arabic literature, for example in the Kitāb al-filāCa, composed by ibn al-‘Awwām. Ibn al‘Awwām supposedly lived in Seville in the second half of the twelfth century.
Already Björck assumed ibn a}ī Ḥizām as mediator of its Greek sources and
Heide confirmed this assumption by evidencing 126 explicit parallels between ibn a}ī Ḥizām and ibn al-‘Awwām58.
Two famous, illustrated manuscripts which were ascribed to ibn al-ACnaf,
housed in the library of Cairo and dating to the year 605 / 120959 are currently collated for a critical edition at the University of Marburg. The first
eight of a total of 30 chapters deal with hippology. Up to now we can say that
the contents corresponds only in part to the Kitāb al-bay+ara. The text features, however, many Persian terms of drugs and has in addition some recipies to cure sheep, cattle, and camels60.
Another author, who benefitted indirectly from the hippiatric treatises of
Late Antiquity by mediation of the Kitāb al-bay+ara, was Abū Bakr ibn alMun{ir, veterinarian at the court of the Egyptian sultan an-Nā&ir ibn
Qalāwūn. About 20% of his work, written in the first third of the 14th century,
shows clear parallels to the Kitāb al-bay+ara61. A third of ibn al-Mun{irs descriptions seems to be independent of any known sources. However, the anatomical knowledge as well as the way the author structures his text betrays an
enormous progress of hippiatric knowledge in comparison to earlier works.
In addition to these works, there are early translations of the Kitāb albay+ara such as the Persian book “Do Faras Nameh”, dated to the 11th to 13th
centuries, and an anonymous Armenian treatise written at the end of the 13th
century.62 Further information about its distribution in the medieval Near East
will be expected from the translation of Turkish and Persian manuscripts.

tory of Veterinary Medicine edited by F. R. Vázquez - J. M. M. Rodríguez - J. G. F.
Álvarez, Leon 2006, 677-684.
Björck, Zum Corpus…, cit., 46-47.
Ullmann, op. cit., 220.
Personal information of M. V. Ritz.
K. Schwind, Die Pferdeheilkunde Abu Bakrs, Teil II. 2. Band, 5. Abschnitt, Kapitel XI-XXXIV, 2. Band, 7. Abschnitt, Kapitel XXVIII-LVI, 2. Band, 8. Abschnitt, Kapitel I-LXXI. Übersetzung und Vergleich mit pferdeheilkundlichen Schriften der Spätantike und des islamischen Mittelalters, Diss. med. vet., München 2006, 230.
E. Shirzadian, „Faras-Nameh“. Ein persischer Text über Pferdeheilkunde aus
dem 11.-13. Jahrhundert, Diss. med. vet., München 1991; Dum-Tragut, op. cit.



Its influence on the European veterinarian tradition, however, seems to be
marginally, although famous translations of Arabic scientific literature originated especially from South Italy63. There is one manuscript, assumedly
translated by Moses of Palermo, which contains the Latin treatise of Hippocrates Indicus. Together with this treatise an anonymous Liber marescalcie
was transmitted64. The latter shows three parallels with the Kitāb al-bay+ara.
They obviously have been taken from Arabic sources65.
7. Conclusions.
The Kitāb al-furūsīya wa-l-bay+ara can be considered as an important
source of hippiatric knowledge during Late Antiquity, which is evidenced by
the similarity of one third of its content with the texts of Theomnestos,
Apsyrtos, and Hierokles. An even higher degree of dependency on Greek
sources can be assumed, when analysing the contents and structure of the remaining passages. They possibly refer to a Greek hippiatric collection, which
antedates the Greek copy of Theomnestos’ book.
Ibn ahi Hizam, conceivably using a Greek compilation as a starting point,
took up the hippiatric knowledge of the authors of Late Antiquity and added
observations from his own experience to it. The result was a veterinary
manual that fulfilled practical demands. Via the Kitāb al-furūsīya wa-lbay+ara the treatises of the Greek hippiaters were integrated to a hitherto unknown extant into the Arabic hippiatric literature from the Iberian Peninsula
to the Near and Middle East. As seen from the current state of research, the
European medieval hippiatric medicine seems to have been influenced by the
Arabic tradition only on a very small scale, in contrast to its human counterpart.
Desiderata of research still remain, though, such as a detailed analysis of
the possible human medical sources66 as well as the extant and form of veterinary reworking for each disease and recipe. With the final completion of
our project a precise evaluation of the enrichment of hippiatric knowledge
through the Kitāb al-furūsīya wa-l-baytara will hopefully be possible.


K.-D. Fischer, “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!”. Versions of Greek
Horse Medicine in Medieval Italy, «MHJ» 34, 1999, 123-138.
Björck, Griechische Pferdeheilkunde…, cit., 6.
Heide, op. cit., § 1b, f; G. Sponer, Die Pferdeheilkunde des Ipocras Indicus,
Diss. med. vet., Hannover 1966, 60.
Björck evidenced a few medical terms and parallels to human medicine and
reasoned that “it is in the nature of this profession that the veterinarians were at all
times deeply indebted to the physicians” (Björck, Zum Corpus…, 31-44, 71-87).


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