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Liber pantegni

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The Liber pantegni (παντεχνῆ "[encompassing] all [medical] arts") is a medieval medical text compiled by Constantinus Africanus (died before 1098/99) prior to 1086. It was dedicated to Abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino, before he ascension to the papacy that year. In 2010, the earliest known copy of the Pantegni, made at Monte Cassino under Constantine's supervision, was discovered.


The Pantegni is a compendium of Hellenistic and Islamic medicine, in large parts a translation from the Arabic of the Kitab al-Malaki "Royal Book" of Ali ibn al-Abbas al-Majusi. A distinction is made between theorica and practica, as it has been made before in the so-called Isagoge Johannitii, an earlier medical text that was originally written by Hunayn ibn Ishaq. Each part of al-Majusi's original, Theorica and Practica, had had ten books. In Constantine's version, however, perhaps because of damage when Constantine brought his books from North Africa to Italy, the Practica was never completed. Although the Theorica was translated in its entirety, extant manuscripts from the 12th century show only a three-book Practica, consisting of Book I on regimen, Book II on simple (uncompounded) medicinal substances, and Book III on surgery. Even this last book was left incomplete upon Constantine's death, and was only completed in 1114-15 by two other translators.

It was perhaps an acolyte of Constantine's who pieced together a "complete" version of the Practica, taking excerpts from several of Constantine's other translations (such as the Viaticum and his translation of Isaac Israeli's 10th-century book on fevers) and weaving them together into what passed as al-Majusi's full ten-book treatise. This "re-created" twenty-book Pantegni began to circulate in the 13th century and would be printed in 1515 under Isaac Israeli's name.

In 1127, Stephen of Antioch criticized the incompleteness and poor quality of Constantine's Pantegni and re-translated al-Majusi's Arabic treatise anew. This was known as the Liber regalis dispositionis. Nevertheless, Constantine's Pantegni proved to be the far more influential text; it now survives in over 100 manuscript copies, whereas Stephen's Liber regalis survives in only eight.


  • Opera omnia ysaac. Ed. Andreas Turinus. Lugduni 1515; Wolfenbüttel Digital Library
  • Constantini opera. Apud Henricus Petrus. Basileae 1536/39.
  • Eleventh-century manuscript version at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, National library of the Netherlands. This is the copy made at Monte Cassino under Constantine's supervision.
  • 978-952-107-056-3 Theorica Pantegni; the first part of Liber Pantegni as a facsimile and transcription of the Helsinki manuscript, which dates from the 2nd half of the 12th century. National Library of Finland, 2011.
  • Literature

  • "Constantine the African and Ali ibn al-Abbas al-Maǧusi: The Pantegni and Related Texts", The Journal of the American Oriental Society, Edited by Burnett and Jacquart, Studies in Ancient Medicine, vol. 10. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994.
  • Moritz Steinschneider: Constantinus Africanus und seine arabischen Quellen. In: Virchows Arch. 37 (1866) 351-416;
  • Charles Singer: A Legend of Salerno. How Constantin the Africain Brought the Art of Medicine to the Christians. In: Johns Hopkins Bulletin 28 (1917) 64-69;
  • Hermann Lehmann: Die Arbeitsweise des Constantinus Afrikanus und des Johannes Afflacius im Verhältnis zueinander. In: Archeion 12 (1930) 272-281;
  • References

    Liber pantegni Wikipedia