Themistii In libros Aristotelis De Caelo paraphrasis

The Greek original is lost.

Some fragments are transmitted through Simplicius and Philoponus. In the bio-bibliographical sources, we are told that the Paraphrase was translated into Arabic, but this Arabic translation is lost. The Fihrist (K. al-Fihrist, Flügel: 250,30) attributes an Arabic translation, or rather the emendation of a previous Arabic translation, to Yaḥyā ibn ‘Adī (m. 974). According to Ibn al-Sarī (al-Ṣalāḥ, d. c. 1153), Themistius’ Paraphrase was first translated from Syriac into Arabic by Mattā ibn Yūnus; then, Yaḥyā ibn ‘Adī revised this translation (ed. Türker: 57,24–58,1 and 68,7–9). The existence of a Syriac translation is a problematical issue still opened. His Paraphrase has come down to us in the Hebrew translation of Zeraḥyah ben Yiṭhāq ben Shealtiel Ḥen (Gracian) ha-Sefardi carried out in Rome in 1284. This Hebrew translation has come down to us and it is edited (CAG V/4 1902; see Zonta 1994, Coda 2012 and 2015). Zeraḥyah’s Hebrew translation of Themistius’ Paraphrase was in turn translated into Latin by Moshe Alatino (d. 1605), between 1568 and 1573 (cf. Coda 2016). Alatino’s Latin translation of Themistius’ Paraphrase was first published in Venice by Simone Galignano in 1574; both the Hebrew and the Latin versions are edited (CAGV/4 1902); the critical edition is in preparation by E. Coda. Themistius developed an original interpretation of Aristotle’s use of the term “heaven” (the discussion on this definition also refers to a passage of the Physics IV, 5,212b7–13). He distinguishes between the outermost sphere and the inner spheres. According to him, the term “heaven” refers to the outermost sphere. Since the outermost sphere does not have anything surrounding it, it has as its place the convex surface of the sphere immediately surrounded by it. Hence, the place of the outermost sphere is an equal and separate limit, but not a surrounding limit. The place of all the other spheres is the limit of the body surrounding them, that is, the concave surface of the spheres which respectively surround them. At variance with the place of the outermost sphere, the place of all the other spheres is a surrounding, equal, and separate limit, and it is what is called an essential place (see also CAG V/2: 120, and Coda 2014). Themistius conceives of the heavens as ensouled, and explains the movements of the heavenly bodies as caused by their souls’ desire to imitate the immobility of the First Cause: God. In his paraphrase of Book Lambda, he manages to make the De Caelo completely agree with the Metaphysics (Coda 2017). Several quotations of the Paraphrase of On the Heavens are preserved by Averroes (the passages are listed in Carmody 2003:763). The Hebrew is quoted by Yiṣḥaq Abravanel (1437–1508, She’elot u’Tešuvot le Rabbi Saul Ha-Kohen 1574, first noted by Steinschneider, Die Hebräischen Übersetzungen: 126 n. 127; also mentioned in Zonta 1994:418 n. 65) and by the translator Zeraḥyah itself, who quotes it (CAG V/4: Hebr. 1,29–2,1) in his own commentary on Maimonides’ Guide (noted by Ravitzky ‘ The thought of Zerahiah’ 101). It has been shown that the Paraphrase influenced Crescas (c. 1340–1410/1411, Wolfson 1971 2:396–397, 432–437, 597).

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