Latin Averroes Translations of the First Half of the Thirteenth Century
Who translated Averroes’ Commentary on Aristotle from Arabic into Latin in the early 13th century, thus exercising a profound influence on European intellectual history? 12 of the 17 Averroes translations are anonymous. Since the 19th century, scholars have frequently suggested that Michael Scotus, Frederick II’s court astrologer in southern Italy was responsible for most of the anonymous translations. The key to solving this problem is in the translator’s use of particles and short phrases. A statistical analysis of particle use shows that six anonymous translations, and probably even a seventh, were by Michael Scotus, three by Wilhelm von Luna, one by Hermannus Alemannus and one by an unknown fourth translator. The second part of this study shows that, while Michael Scotus may have translated very literally, he nonetheless shortened Averroes’ Commentary in many places by phrases, sentences and whole paragraphs. These cuts were usually made to additions, repetitions and passages relating to Islam and the Arabic language. Michael Scotus’s clearly sought to create a readable and concise translation which would suit the interests of the Latin Christian readership as far as possible.