Encounters with Alcabitius: Reading Arabic Astrology in the Latin West, 950-1560


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Science


This project examines the transmission and reception in medieval and Renaissance Europe of the Introduction to Astrology, written by the tenth-century Arabic author al-Qabīṣī, known to his Latin readers as Alcabitius. First composed in Aleppo and translated into Latin in the twelfth century, the work became one of the most influential texts on astrology in medieval and early modern Europe, particularly at universities. A close study of different forms of readership—translations, annotations, commentaries, and materialities—demonstrates how attitudes and perceptions of Arabic astrology shifted or remained stable among diverse groups of medieval and early modern readers in Europe. The readership of the Latin manuscript and print traditions, understood in conjunction with a contextualized study of the Arabic original, reveals how the astrological tradition in Europe emerged and evolved by assimilating and adapting Islamic ideas.