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Allen J. Fromherz

Egyptian author and historian, was born in Cairo. A famed historian and writer of the Futuh Misr, or the Conquest of Egypt the oldest preserved work on the subject Abu al Qasim ʿAbd al Rahman bin ʿAbd Allah Ibn ʿAbd al Hakam is also known for his description of the Muslim conquest of North Africa and Iberia Abu al Qasim was a member of a prominent Egyptian family of legal scholars His father ʿAbd Allah wrote a refutation of al Shafiʿi the famed founder of the Shafiʿi school of Islamic law and was brought to Baghdad to swear to the createdness of the Qurʾan He refused and was sent back to Egypt by the caliph al Maʾmun Indeed despite their wealth and initial prominence the ʿAbd al Hakam family was often persecuted for standing up for their principles especially for the preservation of traditional Maliki law an early ...

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Russell Hopley

Tunisian historian, was born in the city of al-Qayrawan to a father trained as a scholar of Islamic law and hadith. His full name was Abu Bakr ʿAbd Allah bin Muhammad al-Maliki. Al-Maliki’s father was a historian in his own right, and he is known to have authored a hagiography of the renowned Tunisian jurist Abu al-Hasan al-Qabisi (d. 1012). Al-Maliki received his early education in al-Qayrawan under several influential figures, including Abu Bakr ibn ʿAbd al-Rahman (d. 1040 or 1043) and Muhammad bin ʿAbbas al-Ansari (d. 1036). He also appears to have spent a brief period in Sicily studying with several scholars there.

Upon his return to al Qayrawan al Maliki embarked on a career teaching the various branches of the Islamic sciences Among his pupils was the important jurist Abu ʿAbd Allah al Mazari d 1141 who cites al Maliki affectionately in one of his extant legal opinions ...

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Kurt J. Werthmuller

Egyptian Christian author, was a patron of Copto-Arabic historical literature, long presumed to be the author of Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighboring Countries, a twelfth-century topographical survey of Christian sites and traditions in and around Egypt. The original author of the majority of that work was, in fact, Abu al-Makarim Saʿdallah Ibn Jirjis Ibn Masʿud, an elder of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Despite confusion regarding its authorship, Churches and Monasteries has proven to be a crucial text for the study of Coptic tradition, Christian-Muslim relations, and the twelfth-century Egyptian state and society in general and was in turn an important source to later medieval chroniclers and topographers.

Although little is actually known about the specifics of the life of Abu Salih his patronage of this important piece of medieval Egyptian historical literature suggests that he was of a well to do socioeconomic class and ...

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Stanley M. Burstein

grammarian, historian, and the author of the most important surviving accounts of ancient northeast Africa and the Red Sea basin. Unfortunately, little is known of the details of his biography. The only sources for his life are a few autobiographical remarks in the fragments of his works and a notice in Codex 213 of the Bibliotheca of Photius the ninth century CE scholar and patriarch of Constantinople These references indicate that Agatharchides was born probably about 200 BCE in the city of Cnidus on the west coast of modern Turkey and that his origins were comparatively humble Probably in the early second century BCE he immigrated to Egypt where he came to the attention of an official and adviser of Ptolemy VI r 180 145 BCE named Cineas who made Agatharchides his protégé It was probably Cineas who also introduced him to another Ptolemaic official the historian and diplomat ...

Article

historian, was born and raised in al-Qayrawan in Tunisia. He undertook his education in the various fields of Islamic learning at the hand of no fewer than eighty scholars, among them the jurists Abu Zakaria al-Barqi and Ibn ‘Abd al-Jalil al-Azdi. Like numerous other North Africans, al-Dabbagh embarked on a journey to the cultural capitals of the Islamic east to complete his education, and there exists notice of his having been granted a license to teach by several eastern luminaries, including the religious scholars Abu al-Fadl al-Sa‘di and Abu al-Qasim ibn al-Hasib. Following his return to al-Qayrawan al-Dabbagh began writing the work for which he is best known, the Ma‘lim al-iman fi ma‘rifat ahl al-Qayrawan a lengthy prosopographical treatise containing biographical notices of 390 holy men religious scholars and jurists who inhabited the region of al Qayrawan from the period immediately following the death of the Prophet until ...

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Abdul Karim Bangura

Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi, or Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tarkhan ibn Uzalagh al-Farabi, was born in 870 c.e in Kazakhstan or Persia or Afghanistan Also known in the West as Alpharabius he is considered by many to be the greatest philosopher scientist and musicologist of his era and perhaps one of the greatest Muslim philosophers in all of history As a political philosopher al Farabi sought out answers to many of the most difficult questions facing the Islamic world during his lifetime He questioned the relations between humankind and God the role of the intermediary the influence of the divine law in private life and the limitations of the human mind He went beyond the divine law and searched for humankind s place in the universe and our relationship with nature society and the divine law He inquired about the different types of political institutions ...

Article

Alain M. Gowing

historian, composed an invaluable Roman History in Greek while living and working in Rome under the emperors Hadrian (ruled 117–138 CE) and Antoninus Pius (ruled 138–161 CE). What scant biographical details we possess derive from a few remarks about himself in his work, especially in the History s Preface Appian also evidently published an autobiography that has not survived We catch a further fleeting glimpse of his personality through extant letters exchanged with his friend Fronto the Roman jurist and man of letters from Numidia modern Algeria and Tunisia in Africa who helped to advance the historian s career by intervening on his behalf with Antoninus Pius By Appian s own reckoning he was a man of some stature in his native Alexandria who in his late twenties or early thirties moved to Rome to pursue his career soon after Hadrian took power in 117 The precise nature of ...

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Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd, more commonly known as Averroës, was born in Córdoba, Spain. His father, a judge in Córdoba, instructed him in Muslim jurisprudence. In his native city he also studied theology, philosophy, and mathematics under the Arab philosopher Ibn Tufayl and medicine under the Arab physician Avenzoar. Averroës was appointed judge in Seville in 1169 and in Córdoba in 1171; in 1182 he became chief physician to Abu Yaqub Yusuf, the Almohad caliph of Morocco and Muslim Spain. Averroës's view that reason takes precedence over religion led to his being exiled in 1195 by Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur; he was restored to favor shortly before his death.

Averroës held that metaphysical truths can be expressed in two ways: through philosophy, as represented by the views of Aristotle and through religion which is truth presented in a ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

was a major poet and scholar of the third century BCE. He was born at the end of the previous century in Kyrene (also Cyrene), the important Greek city on the coast of Africa west of Egypt in present-day Libya. He was of distinguished background: his homonymous grandfather was a member of the ruling elite of the city. The younger Callimachus immigrated to Alexandria in Egypt at an early age and became an intimate at the court of Ptolemaios II (who came to the throne in early 282 BCE). Callimachus was part of the developing intellectual presence around the Ptolemies, which at that time included the mathematician Euclid and the poets Theokritos and Apollonios of Rhodes. He was especially close to the queen, Arsinoë II, and wrote her eulogy.

When Arsinoë died around 270 BCE Callimachus may have fallen out of favor since little is known about him for ...

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Stanley M. Burstein

Stoic philosopher and the last important ancient historian of Egypt, was the son of Leonidas. Unfortunately, the evidence for his biography is confined to a handful of literary and papyrological texts. The most important of these texts is a letter of the Roman emperor Claudius dated to November 41 CE, in which Chaeremon is listed among the ambassadors to the emperor, who had defended the role of the Greeks in the anti-Jewish riots that had taken place in Alexandria three years earlier. His selection for such a responsible role indicates that Chaeremon was already an important figure in the Alexandrian Greek community at this time, suggesting that he was probably born no later than c. 10 CE. Although his prominence might suggest that Chaeremon belonged to one of the city’s aristocratic Greek families, the fact that he was also a hierogrammateus that is a sacred scribe one of the ...

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Annewies van den Hoek

Christian philosopher lived and taught in Alexandria toward the end of the second century In spite of his topographic nickname Clement did not originate in Alexandria but was born elsewhere possibly in Athens and was of non Christian origin He left a considerable body of writing not all of which survives His official name Titus Flavius Clemens may indicate that his family descended from a freedman of the household of T Flavius Clemens who was consul in 95 CE Before coming to Alexandria Clement traveled around looking for mentors but the only teacher whom he mentions by name is Pantaenus According to Eusebius Pantaenus headed a school of sacred learning in Alexandria and Clement was his successor Other information indicates that Clement left Alexandria in 202 203 perhaps to avoid persecution He may have gone to Palestine as some have argued or to Cappadocia as tradition has it Clement displays ...

Article

Georgia L. Irby-Massie

Academic Skeptic philosopher from Carthage, son of Diognetus, was born in Carthage (near present-day Tunis) in 187/186 BCE. Carthage was a colony founded by Phoenicians from Tyre, the culture was Punic, and Clitomachus was originally called by the Punic name Hasdrubal (he may have adopted or received the Greek name upon arriving in Athens). Well educated in Academic, Peripatetic, and Stoic tenets, he taught philosophy in Carthage in the Punic language.

Clitomachus traveled to Athens to study philosophy either at age forty 147 146 BCE or twenty four 163 162 BCE For nineteen years he studied under Carneades of Cyrene the Skeptic 214 130 129 BCE who fostered Clitomachus s renowned diligence and industry Carneades s most famous pupil he remained his mentor s companion into old age In 140 139 BCE he founded a school in the Palladium which he maintained for a decade Returning to the Academy he ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

North African translator, was born near Tunis in the early eleventh century (scholars estimate between 1010 and 1015). Constantinus Africanus (Constantine the African) was famed for introducing many principles of Arab medicine and scientific enquiry to the northern shores of the Mediterranean. The first known biographies of Constantinus Africanus were written and modified by Christian monks from the monastery of Monte Cassino. This occurred several decades after his death. As such, much of the information on the life of Constantinus must be seen trough the lens of these monastic sources. As a convert from Islam to Christianity, he was held up not only as a rare success of conversion but as an example of the intellectual accomplishments of Monte Cassino.

The writings of Petrus Diaconus a monk at Monte Cassino who wrote one of the earliest biographies claimed that Constantinus Africanus was born in Carthage and traveled throughout the ...

Article

Yusuf Nuruddin

Harold Cruse (8 March 1916–20 March 2005), an iconoclastic social critic and a largely self-educated cultural historian, achieved distinction as the preeminent African American dissident public intellectual of the 1960s. Although he authored several books, his reputation rests largely on his monumental work The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967), a flawed yet brilliant, imaginative, sweeping, and provocative polemic. A thematically united collection of essays, Crisis presents a withering assessment of the black intelligentsia for its self-defeating embrace of both liberal and radical integrationist politics, especially its involvement in the Communist Party, of which Cruse was once a member.

Within the Communist Party and other leftist organizations black political interests according to Cruse historically have been subordinated to white political interests including Jewish and white ethnic nationalisms As a remedy Cruse calls upon the black intelligentsia to abandon its bankrupt integrationist strategies and embrace its ...

Article

Eugenio Fantusati

Roman writer and prefect in Egypt, was born in Fréjus, in present-day France, in 69 BCE. Before devoting himself to a political career, he showed significant literary talent. He belonged to the neoteric school— a poetic society inspired by the Alexandrine traditions—of Valerius Cato and Catullus and composed four books of elegies, now almost entirely lost, entitled Amores, in which he mourned over his unlucky love for the young girl Lycoris.

A personal friend of Augustus and Virgil Gallus received his first political appointment at the age of thirty eight when immediately after the Battle of Actium he was named to the position of praefectum fabrum supervisor of the corps of engineers in Cyrenaica There with the cooperation of Pinarius Scarpa the commander of Antony s forces in Libya he had ensured the obedience of the rebellious countries thereby depriving Antony of the possibility of mounting a defense in ...

Article

John Marincola

Greek historian was born in Halicarnassus modern Bodrum in southwestern Turkey in the early fifth century BCE Little is known about his life his parents names are recorded as Lyxes and Dryo and his brother s as Theodorus He is said to have been the nephew or cousin of Panyassis fifth century BCE a poet who wrote on historical themes including the foundations of Greek cities in Ionia the name in antiquity for the western coastal area of modern day Turkey He was supposedly expelled from Halicarnassus by its ruler Lygdamis went into exile and then returned with allies to Halicarnassus and succeeded in overthrowing Lygdamis Finding however that his fellow citizens were displeased with him he went into exile traveled throughout the Mediterranean world visited Athens where he befriended the playwright Sophocles and even participated in a joint venture planned by several city states to establish a Greek settlement ...

Article

Niall Finneran

Herodotus (c. 485–425 b.c.e.) is one of the most important historical writers of antiquity. Born in the city of Halicarnassus, Asia Minor, he is regarded as bringing an “Asian” perspective to Greek historical writing. His writings are an amalgam of geography and history, framed from firsthand observation as well as secondhand accounts, a mixture of sober historical fact as well as reports of the exotic and miraculous. Herodotus’s Histories comprises nine volumes each named after a Muse the mode of expression full of dramatic digressions and asides suggests that it was written to be declaimed aloud in front of an audience Herodotus s legacy is immense he is regarded as a founding father of history The implications for Herodotus s works for Africanists are significant they represent some of the first recorded encounters between the Greek European worldview and the African world specifically dealing with detailed descriptions of ...

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Troy Leiland Sagrillo

Egyptian grammarian and philosopher from Phenebythis in the Panopolite nome of Upper Egypt, was teaching in Alexandria by c. 485, during the reign of the Eastern Roman emperor Zeno (reigned 474–475 and again 476–491). He was active during the episcopacy of Patriarch Peter III “the Stammerer” of Alexandria (in office 480–488) and still active under Athanasius II (in office 488–494). His father was Asclepiades, a pagan grammarian who taught in the mouseion of Alexandria and himself the probable author of several works concerning pharaonic history and religion; his mother is unknown. Horapollon’s grandfather may have been the earlier grammarian also named Horapollon, who lived during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II and taught in Alexandria and Constantinople.

According to the Syriac Life of Severus written by Zachariah of Mytilene Zacharias Scholasticus c 465 to after 536 Horapollon and several of the leading Neoplatonist philosophers of Alexandria were publicly mocked ...

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Hypatia  

Michael A. B. Deakin

Alexandrian astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher, was the first woman mathematician of whose life and work we have reasonably detailed and secure knowledge. She was active as a public figure, taking a leading part in the civic affairs of Alexandria and also delivering popular lectures on philosophy: a Neoplatonist philosophy heavily influenced by mathematics. She also taught students the intricacies of technical mathematics and astronomy. Her public profile alone was probably distinguished enough to earn her a place in history, but this has been cemented by the lurid nature of her death. She died in 415, murdered by a crowd of Christian zealots who seized her, stripped her, and proceeded to dismember her and to burn her mangled corpse. Undoubtedly this further circumstance has served to keep her name alive.

Hypatia was the daughter of the mathematician Theon and taught both mathematics and philosophy in the then Greek city of Alexandria ...

Article

Russell Hopley

historian and jurist, was born in Tadla in the region north of the Moroccan High Atlas. His full name was Abu Yaʿqub Yusuf ibn al-Zayyat al-Tadili. As a young man, al-Tadili was a follower of the venerated twelfth-century Moroccan mystic Abu ʾl-ʿAbbas al-Sabti (d. 1204). He received an education in the various fields of Islamic law, and he subsequently accepted the position of qadi among the Ragraga Berbers west of Marrakesh. Al-Tadili is best known for the hagiographical collection he authored, the Tashawwuf ila rijal al-tasawwuf, that includes biographical notices on 279 holy men and mystics who lived in North Africa from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. Most of the mystics dealt with in the Tashawwuf were active in southern Morocco; however, there are several notices concerning prominent holy men from Fez, Meknes, Ceuta, Tlemcen, and Bijaya. Al-Tadili remarks in the prologue to the Tashawwuf that his ...