Potestas Essendi

A Virtual Space for Thoughts on the Middle Ages, by Nicola Polloni

The Toledan Translation Movement

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The first video-lecture of the research seminar The Penetration of Arabic Philosophy into the Latin Philosophical Tradition (1162-1215) is online [GO to the seminar webpage]. The seminar, organised by the Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ International Working Group (AAIWG) is composed of four video-lectures that will be uploaded on the dedicated Youtube channel during the next weeks.

The first video-lecture is centred on the rise and development in Toledo of the Arabic-into-Latin translation movement in the second half of the twelfth century. A short presentation of the cultural landscape of the twelfth-century philosophical debate offers the context on which and from which the first translations were realised with the aim of providing new scientific and philosophical texts to the Latin scholars. Mirroring the rising Greek-into-Arabic translations that were taking place between Southern Italy and the Byzantine territories, a first generation of translators spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula (and beyond), making available to the Latin audience a wide number of scientific writings. A fact directly related to the developments of the political situation after the taking of Toledo (1085) and the Almoravid dominion in Al-Andalus.

The passage to the second generation of Arabic-into-Latin translators is marked, too, by the socio-political situation of the Iberian Peninsula. In the second half of the century, the main centre of the translating activity is Toledo, and the lecture considers the different factors that made possible the establishment of the translation movement in that town. Finally, the biographies and contributions of the three most important Toledan translators – Gerard of Cremona, Dominicus Gundissalinus, and Michael Scot – are briefly presented and discussed, pointing out the pivotal role they played in the ‘philosophical revolution’ that was going to take place in Latin Europe thanks to the ‘new’ works translated into Latin.

Thematic articulation of the lecture

  • The Twelfth-Century Philosophical Landscape
  • The Rise of the Arabic-into-Latin Translation Movement
  • Toledo and the Translation Movement
  • Gerard of Cremona
  • Dominicus Gundissalinus
  • Michael Scot

 

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