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The Physician of the Caliphs


Hunayn ibn Ishaq (803-873 AD) was a Christian physician of Arab descent. He, with other Nestorian physicians, practised the medicine taught by the Ancient Greeks. He was personal physician to eight caliphs and rose to such prominence that his contemporaries dubbed him ‘a source of science and a mine of virtue’. He also transmitted to the Abbasids a great number of Greek medical and non-medical works, translating them into Arabic, often from earlier Syriac versions and, as with other Christian physicians, enjoyed a de facto monopoly on exercising Greek medicine in the Abbasid Empire, commenting and adding on the works he had translated. Hunayn ibn Ishaq left a sketchy account of his life. Nabil Saleh has written a novel that purports to complete it, re-creating the background of the Abbasid court where he moved, and giving a glimpse of the daily life in Baghdad and Byzantium during the ninth century AD.

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Dimensions 198 × 126 cm
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