Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Les Traduccions hebrees del Regiment de sanitat d'Arnau de Vilanova

Eduard Feliu


Arnau de Vilanova was born in around 1240, probably in the diocese of
Valencia, to which he had ties until his death.

Arnau began to study medicine in around 1260 in Montpellier. It was there
that he married Agnès Blasi, who came from a renowned family of merchants
and doctors. The couple lived in Valencia from 1276 to 1281, where their
daughter Maria was born and where they always owned a considerable amount
of real estate and chattel.

Arnau was appointed doctor to King Peter the Great in 1281, shortly before
the latter set sail from Portfangós to Sicily to claim the rights of his wife, Constance.
The king?s absence meant that Arnau had enough time on his hands to
translate a number of works by Arab authors to Latin. Arnau served Peter the
Great closely during the final years of the king?s life and was at his side when he
died in November 1285. Arnau?s ties with Valencia were strong during the reign
of Alfonso the Liberal (1285-1291), but the focus of his medical activity gradually
shifted to Montpellier, where he wrote most of his works.

In 1293, Arnau became royal doctor to James II of Catalonia-Aragon (1267-
1327, also known as James the Just), as well as the king?s spiritual ad-visor. King
James married Blanche of Anjou, daughter of Charles of Naples, in October
1295. Beautiful and fertile, Blanche gave birth to 10 children during her 14-
year marriage to the king. Hypochondria was a notoriously prominent feature
in the life of the royal couple and, together with the plagues of the era, it caused
them to change home repeatedly in search of a healthier environment.

Considering that prevention is better than cure, Arnau wrote a Regimen sanitatis in Latin for King James II between 1305 and 1308, a work containing
frequent references to the monarch?s status and his ill health. Given that the
work also had potential benefits for common people, the queen ordered Berenguer
Sarriera, the court?s surgeon, to translate it from Latin to Catalan, which
he must have done between 1307 and 1310.

Two manuscripts of Sarriera?s full version of the work in Catalan have been
preserved. One is kept in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid (code 10078) and the other in the Biblioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona (code 1829). There is also
an abridged version of the Catalan text in the Vatican Apostolic Library (code
Barb. lat. 311). Rather than the original Latin text, it was the Catalan version,
in both its full and abridged forms, that was translated into Hebrew.

Word of Hebrew translations of Arnau de Vilanova?s works has mainly reached
us from 19th century scholars. The information that they set out in their works
was used and repeated by many 20th century authors, who were convinced of its
accuracy. We now know, however, that the confusion arising from the information
related by the aforementioned scholars with regard to Hebrew translations of
the Regimen sanitatis essentially stems from the fact that they were only aware
of the existence of the Latin version of the work, published in the 16th century,
and never suspected that it had been translated into Catalan in Medieval times.
The translators named in the prologues to or colophons of the Hebrew translations
of the Regimen sanitatis constitute a source of further confusion, due to their
identities having been determined on the basis of poorly founded speculation.

There are Hebrew versions of the full work in the following manuscripts:
Paris MSS, Hébreu 1128 and 1176, translated from Catalan by Samuel ben
David Eben-Shoham, a native of Corfu, in Taranto in 1466, with a colophon
by the translator (only found in MS Hébreu 1128).

New York MS, 8111, translated by Joseph ben Judah ha-Sefaradi, with a
prologue by the translator, but without a date. Moscow MS, Evr. 209, contains
the same translation, but in fragments and without the prologue.

There are Hebrew versions of the abridged text in the following manuscripts:
Munich MS, Cod. hebr. 288, translated by Israel ben Joseph Caslarí, with
an extensive introduction by the translator. The same version is found in Lyon
MS, Hébreu 15 (13), and Saint Petersburg MS, Evr. B-290, minus the introduction
in both cases.
Vatican MS, Vat. hebr. 366, firstly contains a translation from Latin of
chapter 18 on haemorrhoids, with a colophon. It is followed by a translation
of the abridged version, as if it were a separate work, from chapter 11 to the end.


El Escorial MS, G-III-20, translated by Crescas des Caslar, according to the
colophon by the translator, in which no date is specified. The same work, minus
the colophon, can be found in Munich MS, Cod. hebr. 288, Vatican MS,
Vat. hebr. 366, and Florence MS, Plut. 88.26. Lyon MS, Hébreu 15 (13), and
Moscow MS, Evr. 209, contain parts of the work (the same parts in each case).

Second regimen (= John of Toledo?s De conservanda Sanitate)

Vatican MS, Vat. hebr. 366, Lyon MS, Hébreu 15 (13), and Saint Petersburg
MS, Evr. B-290, all contain the Second regimen, which, in each case, forms
a single unit with and is preceded by the translation of the abridged version of
Arnau de Vilanova?s Regimen sanitatis, and features a colophon by the translator,
Crescas des Caslar, dated 1327/28. The Second regimen also appears in Munich
MS, 288, but the translator?s name and the date are not specified.

New York MS, 8111, contains a different translation of the Second regimen,
in this case entitled «Brief Regimen sanitatis of the Aforementioned Christian»
(i. e. Arnau de Vilanova). The translation in question is preceded by the authentic
Regimen sanitatis in the manuscript.


Samuel ben David Eben-Shoham translated the full text of Arnau de Vilanova?s
Regimen sanitatis, in 1466 (Paris MSS, Hébreu 1128 and 1176).

Joseph ben Judah ha-Sefaradi translated the same work at an unspecified
date (New York MS, 8111). Following the Regimen sanitatis, the manuscript in
question contains a Hebrew translation of the Second regimen which differs
from that produced by Crescas des Caslar, probably carried out by Joseph ben
Judah ha-Sefaradi himself.

Israel ben Joseph Caslari translated the abridged text (Munich MS, Cod.
hebr. 288, and fragments in Vatican MS, Vat. hebr. 366, Saint Petersburg MS,
Evr. B-290, Lyon MS, Hébreu 15 (13), and Moscow MS, Evr. 209) at an unspecified
date, although it is stated in the prologue that Arnau de Vilanova had
written the work 20 years earlier. Given that the Regimen sanitatis was written
between 1305 and 1308, and that Berenguer Sarriera translated it from Latin
immediately (prior to 1310, the year in which Queen Blanche died), the reference
to a 20-year period suggests that Israel ben Joseph Caslari translated the
abridged version at the same time as Crescas des Caslar was translating the Second
, a task completed in 1327/28, according to the translator himself.

Crescas des Caslar translated the Second regimen (i. e. John of Toledo?s Book of
health preservation
, attributed to Arnau de Vilanova) in 1327/28 (Vatican MS,
Vat. ebr. 366, Lyon MS, Hébreu 15 (13), Saint Petersburg MS, Evr. B-290, and
Munich MS, Cod. hebr. 288; the translator?s name is not specified in any of these
manuscripts). He also translated the text of the Arnaudina at an unspecified date
(El Escorial MS, G-III-20, a translation that also appears in Munich MS, Cod.
hebr. 288, Vatican MS, Vat. ebr. 366, and Florence MS, Plut. 88.26, as well as in
fragments in Lyon MS, Hébreu 15 (13), and Moscow MS, Evr. 209).

This article is accompanied by a full transcription of the Hebrew version of the Regimen sanitatis, as contained in Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS Hébreu
1128, plus a glossary of names of plants and animals mentioned in the text.

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