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The A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography

Arabic and Greek Science and Philosophy

Form and Style in the Transmission to the Latin West
Professor Charles Burnett, The Warburg Institute, University of London
Ptolemy, [Almagest], LJS 268, 132v
Ptolemy, [Almagest: manuscript, Spain], A.H. 783 (1381), LJS 268, 132v

All lectures begin at 5:30pm

Monday, November 11: Fides Interpres
Tuesday, November 12:
Sensus huius litterae est
Thursday, November 14: Intentio mea in hoc libro

The lectures will draw on evidence from manuscripts in the Schoenberg Collection of University of Pennsylvania Library, and will be illustrated by examples from Arabic, Greek and Latin manuscripts and early printed books. The subject matter will range from mathematics, physics and metaphysics, to medicine, astrology and magic. Attention will be paid especially to the words of the translators, glossators and commentators themselves, as they endeavour to work out the most appropriate and clearest way of conveying the subject matter of their texts to their respective audiences.

Lecture 1: Fides Interpres. The different styles and approaches of the medieval translators from Arabic and Greek into Latin; from the literal to the paraphrastic; from the complete work to the epitome; revision and correction; the significance of the audience. 

Lecture 2. Sensus huius litterae est. The varieties in glossing technique; scholia versus readers’ glosses; images as glosses; conversations in the margin; continuities from Greek and Arabic into Latin; the university setting.

Lecture 3. Intentio mea in hoc libro. Long, medium and short commentaries; verse commentaries; commentaries on single books versus summae of several books; the ‘ego’ of the commentator; the scientific textbook. 

For more information: (215) 898-7088;

About the Rosenbach Lectures

Charles Burnett is Professor of the History of Islamic Influences in Europe, The Warburg Institute.

Professor Burnett studied for the BA in Classical in Cambridge University (May 1972) and achieved a PhD in Modern and Medieval Languages in the same university in June 1976. Having been a Junior Research Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, 1976-9, and a Senior Research Fellow, Warburg Institute, 1979-82, he was Leverhulme Research Fellow in the Department of History, at the University of Sheffield (1982-4 and 1985), interrupted by a year as Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1984-5). He was appointed Lecturer in the History of Islamic Influences in Europe at the Warburg Institute, University of London, in April 1985, and promoted to Professor in 1999. In 2018 Professor Burnett was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the Warburg Institute.