Interactions between Science, Religion, and Literature
Edited By Luis Arturo Guichard, Juan Luis García Alonso and María Paz de Hoz
Note on a passage of the Arabic translation of Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses: Sébastien Moureau
Note on a passage of the Arabic translation of Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses
I have been asked by Anne Tihon to study a passage of Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses and to analyze in detail the Arabic translation in comparison with the Greek text, in order to examine whether the translation might in a way deviate from the meaning of the Greek text. The question was specifically directed to the translation of the Greek terms ύποϰείμενον and ύπόθεσις. The sentence is found in the beginning of the prologue of the Hypotheses: Ptolemy explains that the celestial movements are usually demonstrated by scientists by the means of celestial spheres, which do not allow one to see the mechanisms underlying the celestial movements. The extracts quoted hereafter present J.-L. Heiberg’s edition of the Greek text, a translation proposed by Anne Tihon, the medieval Arabic translation edited by R. Morelon, and a personal translation of the Arabic text, with a word for word translation in a note to help the non-Arabist reader.
Heiberg, op. min., p. 70, ll. 19–23:
ό γὰρ τοιοῦτος καὶ χωρὶς τοῦ διημαρτῆσθαι τὰς ὑποθέσεις τὸ φαινόμενον παρίστησι μόνον καὶ οὐ τὸ ὑποκείμενον, ὥστε της τέχνης καὶ μή τῶν ὑποθέσεων γίνεσθαι τὴν ἔνδειξιν.
For such a way, apart from the fact that it errs in the hypotheses (ὑποθέσεις), supplies only the appearance of things and not what is underlying (τὸ ὑποϰείμενον), so that there is a demonstration that is technical yet not of the hypotheses (ὑποθέσεων) (transl. Tihon).
Morelon, p. 17, ll. 1–4:
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car cette sorte de sphères, étant donné ce qu’elle...
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