Notifications
Clear all

Research reference request


belmurru
(@belmurru)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

A plea for help with an obscure reference.

For anyone with convenient access to a good academic library or a national library, I'm looking for a line (or two) from this book -

H.J. Drossart Lulofs and E. L. J. Poortman, Nicolaus Damascenus, De Plantis. Five Translations (Amsterdam : North Holland Publishing Company, 1989).

Believe it or not, it does have something to do with Thelema, specifically one of the few extra-biblical occurences of the term. This will make it into a footnote in an article from 1965 I'm translating (for LAShTAL readers, of course, as the only ones who might appreciate it).

To briefly explain, the text De plantis (on plants), falsely attributed to Aristotle, was originally written in Greek, probably by Nicolaus of Damascus late in the 1st century b.c.e., but this original Greek text has been completely lost. It was translated into Syriac at some point, a text which has been only partially preserved, and this Syriac text was translated into Arabic in the 9th century, which survives entirely. The Arabic text was translated into Latin in the late 12th century, and from the Latin it was re-translated into Greek in the 15th century.

My author, Per Nykrog, mistakenly believed that the occurrence of θέλημα in the text belongs to the classical period, but that is beside the point of my explanatory footnote. What I want to know is what term the Arabic translator, and if it is extant the Syriac translator, used in the place where the Latin translation has "voluntatis":

"Desiderium enim non est nisi ex sensu, et nostrae voluntatis finis ad sensum convertitur."

Which the Greek retro-translation of the 15th century rendered with θελήματος -

"ἡ γὰρ ἐπιθυμία οὐκ ἔστιν εἰ μὴ ἐξ αἰσθήσεως, καὶ τὸ τοῦ ἡμετέρου δὲ θελήματος τέλος πρὸς τὴν αἴσθησιν άποστρέφεται"

(For desire does not exist apart from sensation, and the accomplishment of our will depends upon sensation.)

If anyone is able to do it, but doesn't read Arabic or Syriac, don't worry: all the texts are translated into English, I understand, and the typical way is facing pages (I can't see excerpts from the book anywhere, however, so I can't say for sure).  Another way to find it is to find the place in the Latin text - it is part I, chapter 2, very near the beginning. It should probably be divided into paragraphs as sections, and thus it is in the second paragraph. Then look for roughly the same place in the Arabic (and, if it is extant, the Syriac).

All told, it should be no more than 6 to 10 pages, if you can photocopy or photograph them with your portable, and post them to me.

I will be profoundly grateful for anyone who can help me, and proudly acknowledge your help in the note (or not, if you don't want it).

PM me if you prefer that way to discuss details or problems.

Thank you in advance for the blessed soul who can help this desperate scholar.


Quote
William Thirteen
(@williamthirteen)
Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 1096
 

hi belmurru,

a quick check at the State Library here in Berlin indicates availability

http://stabikat.de/DB=1/XMLPRS=N/PPN?PPN=042675359

i would be happy to run by there sometime in the next week or so and see if I can copy the necessary pages.  I needed to go there anyway to check on ordering a text by Martha Küntzel. Are you able to wait a week or so?

cheers,
William


ReplyQuote
belmurru
(@belmurru)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  
"WilliamThirteen" wrote:
a quick check at the State Library here in Berlin indicates availability

http://stabikat.de/DB=1/XMLPRS=N/PPN?PPN=042675359

... Are you able to wait a week or so?

I most certainly am, William. Thank you very much for offering to look at it. My own interlibrary loan, out here to a small provincial town, has a rather high fee and probably a longer wait.

I wish I could give you page numbers, but the book can't be sampled anywhere, it seems. You'll have to be my eyes.

Basically it is just the first couple of pages of the Arabic text, enough to include I,2, and whatever manuscript information they give in the Introduction - I have read that they use the five extant Arabic manuscripts. I understand there is also a full lexical index, but I don't know if it cross-references terms, so that, for example, θελήματος τέλος would be cross-referenced to whatever the Arabic term is (and of course the Syriac, if that part is the part that is preserved).

If I can offer any other suggestions, please ask. Or maybe you can text me in real-time, and we can go from there.

Cheers in return, from Béziers,
Ross


ReplyQuote
the_real_simon_iff
(@the_real_simon_iff)
Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1935
 

93, belmurru!

Does it have to be this exact edition? I have online this edition:

Nicolai Damasceni De plantis: libri duo Aristoteli vulgo adscripti
Nicolaus  , Lipsiae, 1841

The book you mention is available (and waiting for me to pick up) on January 16. But maybe the edition from 1841 is fine too? It might be you don't need an account to see it (or if I might be helpful).

Maybe this helps

Love=Law
Lutz


ReplyQuote
belmurru
(@belmurru)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  
"the_real_simon_iff" wrote:
Does it have to be this exact edition?

Thanks, Lutz. But yes, it has to be the Lulofs-Poortman 1989, since this has the Arabic text, from five manuscripts. The Arabic text - and only from a single manuscript - wasn't published until 1934. 

Meyer's 1841 is the Alfredus 12th century Latin translation, from which I quoted.

I'm sorry I didn't make that clear.

The book you mention is available (and waiting for me to pick up) on January 16.

Are you saying you reserved it too? Wonderful! A veritable flood of fellow erudites. I hope you two aren't going to be fighting over the book (I don't know if you are in Berlin, like William). 

There is probably some interest in discussing this, once the Arabic term is known. And when we know what the Syriac is, if it is in the surviving portion (it would be interesting to know if it is a semitic cognate or different altogether). It would be best done in terms of Nykrog's analysis of the three classical occurrences, along with the biblical usage (Septuagint and New Testament), so I'd better get a move on finishing this translation!


ReplyQuote
the_real_simon_iff
(@the_real_simon_iff)
Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1935
 

belmurru, 93!

You probably made it clear, but I didn't get it.

Anyway, I am in Munich, so there will be no fighting with William. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is just two minutes from work, so if for some reason William encounters a delay, you have a backup copy reserved here in Bavaria! Our state library even has the 12th century edition online, very nice...

All best, I am looking forward to see what you are after...

Love=Law
Lutz


ReplyQuote
belmurru
(@belmurru)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  

Lutz and William, I forgot to note the Hebrew translation that they include as well (Lulofs-Poortman include everything; my impression is that this book is a masterpiece of erudition, well worth having for anyone with the slightest interest in the medieval transmission of classical texts - if only academic publishing were not such extortion! One of my bugbears...)

The Hebrew is also translated from the Arabic, so it stands in the same relation to the lost original as the Latin one does, but I would be interested to know what Hebrew word is used here. In the LXX (Septuagint - Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, along with Hellenistic Jewish texts composed in Greek, abbreviated LXX.) the Hebrew word translated θέλημα most often is חפץ (ChFTz); the second is רצון (RTzVN). I wonder what word the medieval Jewish translator used?


ReplyQuote
William Thirteen
(@williamthirteen)
Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 1096
 

if only academic publishing were not such extortion!

well, we all know that academics are just rolling in filthy lucre!


ReplyQuote
belmurru
(@belmurru)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  
"WilliamThirteen" wrote:

if only academic publishing were not such extortion!

well, we all know that academics are just rolling in filthy lucre!

LOL

If only... but, besides the issue of the price of textbooks, particularly in the sciences, which is another scandal, I'm thinking of scholarship in the humanities when published by companies like Brill (a publically traded company), which has a few hundred academic libraries on standing order for their catalogue in this or that field, and which libraries have to set their budgets to pay the prices that these publishers more or less arbitrarily set, according to these standing orders. It's a longstanding, delicate, cannibalistic dance between institution and publisher, it has nothing to do with royalties for the author (who earn their living teaching, in most cases).


ReplyQuote
belmurru
(@belmurru)
Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1092
Topic starter  
"belmurru" wrote:
I'm thinking of scholarship in the humanities when published by companies like Brill (a publically traded company), which has a few hundred academic libraries on standing order for their catalogue in this or that field, and which libraries have to set their budgets to pay the prices that these publishers more or less arbitrarily set, according to these standing orders. It's a longstanding, delicate, cannibalistic dance between institution and publisher, it has nothing to do with royalties for the author (who earn their living teaching, in most cases).

Not to get too far off-topic, but there are a lot of academics who would like to change this situation. Among articles you could start with is this older piece by George Monbiot in the Guardian, 2011 -

e.g. -

"Of course, you could go into the library (if it still exists). But they too have been hit by cosmic fees. The average cost of an annual subscription to a chemistry journal is $3,792. Some journals cost $10,000 a year or more to stock. The most expensive I've seen, Elsevier's Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, is $20,930. Though academic libraries have been frantically cutting subscriptions to make ends meet, journals now consume 65% of their budgets, which means they have had to reduce the number of books they buy. Journal fees account for a significant component of universities' costs, which are being passed to their students."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/academic-publishers-murdoch-socialist
etc.


ReplyQuote
Share: