Book Launch: The Secret of Secrets

Book Launch: The Secret of Secrets
14 Feb 2020, 18:00 to 14 Feb 2020, 20:00
Other Events
Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB

A Round Table to mark the publication of The Secret of Secrets: The East Slavic Version, edited by W. F. Ryan and Moshe Taube (Warburg Institute Studies and Texts 7)

Chair: Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute)

Will Ryan (Emeritus Professor, Warburg Institute) ‘The Pseudo-Aristotelian Secret of Secrets in Russia’

Moshe Taube (Emeritus Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) ‘The Pseudo-Aristotelian Secret of Secrets in the Context of the 15th-century Slavic Translations from Hebrew’

Followed by a reception in the common room.

The original Arabic Secret of Secrets was probably compiled from multiple sources, and dates from about the tenth century. It purports to be the advice of Aristotle to his pupil Alexander the Great on all the knowledge – political, ethical, military, medical, and occult – needed by a great king. It also advocates astrology and alchemy. It was translated into Latin, Hebrew, and many European languages. It has been described as one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages. The Hebrew version was translated into a variety of East Slavic, probably in Kiev before 1483, and survives in one Ruthenian and twenty-four Old Russian copies. 

This idiosyncratic Slavic translation contains many deviations from the Hebrew text and many interpolations, the most important of which are a physiognomy by Razes and treatises on poison, sex, and asthma by Maimonides. This version is known to have been in the libraries of at least two Russian tsars and two Patriarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church in the 16th and 17th centuries. The edition contains a historical introduction, the Slavic text with manuscript variants, an analytical Slavic glossary, and an English translation with extensive notes. 


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