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Apuleius, Lucius  

R. Conrad Barrett

Numidian author and orator was born a citizen of Rome in c 125 CE in the town of Madauros in the province of Africa an area that had become Roman territory in 146 BCE His home town was 140 miles 225 kilo meters southwest of ancient Carthage the site of the modern city of Tunis Perhaps as a child Apuleius learned first the native Berber dialect certainly he heard Greek in his home and outside it as well as the language of all government Latin This language became Apuleius s major one he had it seems a solid but not equal facility in Greek After schooling in Carthage the major city of the province Apuleius traveled to Athens Greece for further study where he studied rhetoric and philosophy to learn more especially about the thought of Plato He then went to Rome for more education in rhetoric all of it ...

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Athanasius, of Alexandria  

Stacey Graham

bishop and patriarch of Alexandria, theologian, author, and doctor of the Church, is significant for his staunch opposition to Arianism, his prolific theological works, and his exile-ridden episcopate during a tumultuous time for Church and imperial politics. His most influential work is the seminal hagiography of Western monasticism, Life of Anthony.

Athanasius was born in Alexandria Egypt probably in the year 296 though possibly as late as 300 At an early age he came to the attention of Alexander the patriarch of Alexandria who ordained him as a priest and brought him into the patriarch s service Alexandria in the fourth century cultivated a mixture of intellectual philosophical and religious schools of thought from its long standing pagan Jewish and Christian communities The city was economically vital as the main grain supplier for the imperial capital at Constantinople and it ranked third among the four patriarchates in the early ...

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Ibn al-Qifti  

John Alden Williams

Egyptian Arab scholar, writer, patron, and administrator under the Ayyubid rulers of Aleppo, was born Jamal al-Din Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Yusuf ibn Ibrahim ibn Abd al-Wahid al-Shaybani to a judge’s family in Qift in Upper Egypt, the town on the Nile nearest to the Red Sea, and thus on the most convenient route from Egypt to the two holy cities of Arabia for those going on the Hajj in that era.

There is ambiguity in the sources for his biography that may be due to the gratitude of the encyclopedic biographer and geographer Yaqut al Rumi or al Hamawi whose patron Ibn al Qifti became near the end of Yaqut s life Ibn al Qifti s maternal grandmother was an Abyssinian slave girl This was not a distinguished pedigree and typically such a woman would have been a slave concubine The chronicler Yaqut reports improbably that she was raised ...

Article

Ibn Battuta, Muhammad ibn Abdullah  

John Calvert

Moroccan writer and explorer, was born in Tangier, Morocco, into a well-respected Berber family of judges who adhered to the Maliki school of jurisprudence. Toward the end of his life he recounted his journeys in a book entitled A Gift to the Observers Concerning the Curiosities of Cities and the Marvels Encountered in Traveling. The work is one of the principal sources available to modern researchers for the social, economic, and political conditions of the fourteenth-century Islamic world. Although not as well known, Ibn Battuta’s travels were more extensive than the journeys of his younger European contemporary, Marco Polo. Over a period of twenty-eight years, he crossed the breadth of Africa and Asia and visited the equivalent of approximately forty-four modern countries. He combined his travels with scholarly pursuits, or with professional posts such as that of judge (qadi in cities along the way A native speaker ...

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Ibn Battutah  

Barbara Worley

Like the majority of North Africans, Ibn Battutah (whose full name was Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad ibn’Abd Allah al-Lawati at-Tanji ibn Battutah) was ethnic Berber, and his family traced its ancestry to the nomadic Luwata ethnic group originating in Cyrenaica west of the Nile Delta. Born into the Muslim religious elite in Tangier, Morocco, he would have received a classical literary education in addition to rigorous studies in Islam.

Ibn Battutah wrote poetry in addition to traveling across Africa, Arabia, Asia Minor, India, and China. Most important of his works are his descriptions of the life and culture of peoples of the Niger Basin and Central Sahara, among the earliest and by far the most detailed. After Ibn Battutah returned from his voyages he recounted his observations to Ibn Juzayy, who recorded and edited them at Fès, in Morocco.

At the age of twenty-one, Ibn Battutah set out on ...

Article

Nuʿman, al-Qadi al-  

Sumaiya Hamdani

North African judge and author, was born sometime around the turn of the tenth century CE (or early 900s), into a North African Sunni family residing in what is today Tunisia, and yet he rose to become the preeminent author and legal authority for a Shia dynasty that established itself in North Africa in 909 and eventually ruled an empire that included Egypt, Syria, and Arabia until 1171. His full name was Al-Qadi (or judge) Abu Hanifa al-Nuʿman (first name) b. (son of) Muhammad b. Mansur b. Ahmad b. Hayyun al-Tamimi (tribal name).

Although al-Nuʿman was prolific and prominent, extremely little is known of his family and life before he joined the service of this Shiite dynasty, the Fatimids, in 925. A North African biographical dictionary from a slightly later period notes that his father Muhammad was among the few Sunni Muslim ulama or religious scholars of North ...

Article

Plotinus  

Andrew Smith

Hellenistic philosopher, founder of Neo-Platonism, was born probably in Lycopolis in Egypt. He took up the study of philosophy relatively late in life at the age of twenty-seven and attended the philosophical schools of Alexandria, where he was particularly impressed by Ammonius Saccas, about whom little is known. After the failure of the military expedition of the Emperor Gordian to Persia, which he had joined in order to make contact with the Brahmans, he moved to Rome where he founded his own school in a private house. His philosophical treatises, the Enneads, were composed late in life and represent his mature thought.

As a follower of Plato he considered his task to be the careful exposition of Plato s real meaning To this end he creatively adopted many Aristotelian ideas as well as Stoic concepts His interpretation of Plato led him to identify Plato s Good with a principle ...

Article

Possidius  

Eric Fournier

was a Christian bishop and biographer of Augustine of Hippo. What we know about Possidius comes mainly from his own Life of Augustine. A few of Augustine’s own Letters (91, 101, 104, 137, 245, and 23*A) and the notice of Prosper’s Chronicle (Epitoma Chronicon for the year 437 CE provide additional details With such meager sources it is not surprising that we ignore the exact date and location of his birth although it is likely that he was born in the vicinity of Hippo Regius between 360 and 370 This supposition comes from the fact that Possidius is first securely attested in 391 as a companion of Augustine in the latter s newly established monastery of Hippo By Possidius own admission this was the beginning of a close friendship that lasted the better part of four decades There the brightest young promising Christian men of North Africa ...

Article

Ptolemy  

Prudence Jones

was an ancient Alexandrian astronomer geographer and philosopher Almost nothing is known about the life of Claudius Ptolemy or as he would have called himself Claudius Ptolemaeus From astronomical observations he made in Alexandria we know he was active between 127 and 141 CE As a scientist in Alexandria he was probably connected with the Library of Alexandria His name indicates that he was a Roman citizen and that citizenship was probably conferred upon him or upon one of his ancestors by someone named Claudius perhaps even the emperor Claudius He shares the name Ptolemy with the rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty which controlled Egypt from 323 to 30 BCE although there is no evidence that he was related to that family The name Ptolemaeus could indicate that he was born in the Egyptian city of Ptolemais but it is not known whether he was born there or at Alexandria ...

Article

Turmeda, Anselmo  

Matthew K. Myers

Franciscan friar who converted to Islam and wrote polemical works supporting Islam against Christianity, was born in what is now known as Palma, Mallorca. Turmeda was his father’s only son and was possibly of Jewish descent. Mentioned as a witness in the will of James IV (c. 1336–1375), pretender to the throne of Mallorca, Turmeda’s father, Pere Silvestre, was a prominent figure in the community and a member of the weavers’ textile guild. Turmeda was conversant in both Catalan and Arabic as well as being experienced with Italian, French, Castilian, Latin, and Aramaic, allowing him to function as an interpreter and rise to positions of authority and prominence under the Hafsid Sultan of Tunis Abuʿl-Abbas Ahmad (r. 1370–1394) and his son Abu Faris ʿAbd al-Aziz (r. 1394–1434). The account of his conversion to Islam from Christianity is among the few such extant works.

Turmeda undertook training for the Christian priesthood ...