St Cross Celebrates 'A Literary History of Medicine' Translation

St Cross Celebrates 'A Literary History of Medicine' Translation


literary history of medicine

St Cross Fellow Professor Emilie Savage-Smith has co-edited a new English edition of theʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah (d. 1270). European attempts to translate this medieval Arabic literary history of physicians, which includes more than 3,000 lines of poetry, have all been incomplete until this effort, A Literary History of Medicine, which has been published by Brill both in print (five hefty volumes) and on-line through their Open Access portal (generously funded by the Wellcome Trust).

A Literary History of Medicine is the earliest comprehensive history of medicine. It contains biographies of over 432 physicians, ranging from the ancient Greeks to the author’s contemporaries, describing their training and practice, often as court physicians, and listing their medical works, all this interlaced with poems and anecdotes. This new addition is the first complete and annotated translation, and it includes a new edition of the Arabic text showing the stages in which the author composed the work and several introductory essays, which provide important background.

On the 24th of January St Cross College hosted a reception and dinner to mark the occasion, for over the past seven years, St Cross College has acted as a home for meetings and working lunches for the team preparing the translation and edition of A Literary History of Medicine. The ‘ALHOM team’ included Emilie and St Cross Members of Common Room Alasdair Wilson and Daniel Burt.

Dan led the team's public engagement efforts by developing six educational card and board games related to medieval medicine. These games were tested at the History of Science Museum and at the celebration at St Cross, but are not yet available for purchase.


Riley Lewis
18 March 2020