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Ibn Abi Usaibia

Ibn Abi Usaibia (1203-1270) (Arabic: ابن أبي أصيبعة موفق الدين أبو العباس أحمد بن القاسم بن خليفة الشعري الخزرجي‎, Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa Muʾaffaq al-Dīn Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Ibn Al-Qāsim Ibn Khalīfa al-Khazrajī), an Arab physician and historian, was born at Damascus, a descendant of the Banu Khazraj tribe and the son of an oculist, and studied medicine at Damascus and Cairo. In 1236 he was appointed physician to a new hospital in Cairo, but he surrendered the appointment the following year to take up a post given him by the amir of Damascus in Salkhad near that city. There he lived and died.

Lives of the Physicians

He wrote ʿUyūn ul-Anbāʾ fī Ṭabaqāt ul-Aṭibbāʾ (Arabic: عيون الأنباء في طبقات الأطباء‎), or Lives of the Physicians, which in its first edition (1245-1246) was dedicated to the vizier of Damascus. This he enlarged, though it is uncertain whether the new edition was made public in the lifetime of the author. An edition was published by August Müller (Königsberg, 1884). This work is notable as a source for Aristotle's biography (see Düring, Aristotle in the Ancient Biographical Tradition, pp. 213ff.). Its material on Pythagoras' biography is included as an appendix to Angelo R. Sodano, Vita di Pitagora (Milan, 1998).

In late 2013, the A Literary History of Medicine Project (ALHOM) was launched. This Wellcome Trust funded joint University of Oxford/University of Warwick project will make Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah's "The Best Accounts of the Classes of Physicians" available for the first time in a reliable and readable translation and study, as well as a critical edition of the text itself, resulting in a step-change in our knowledge of medical history in Medieval Islam.


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