Who was John of Alexandria?

John of Alexandria (fl. 600–42) was a Byzantine medical writer who lived in Alexandria, in present-day Egypt.

He is thought to be the author of a commentary on Galen’s De sectis, a Latin version of which survives in several manuscripts. He wrote a commentary on Hippocrates’ book about the foetus (In Hippocratis De natura pueri commentarium), which survives in one Greek manuscript and in a 13th-century Latin version made for King Manfred of Sicily. He also wrote a commentary on the sixth book of Hippocrates’ Epidemics (In Hippocratis Epidemiarum librum VI commentarii fragmenta), known from an anonymous Latin translation and from extracts from the Greek original, entered in the margins of a Greek translation of an Arabic medical text.

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Alexandria)

Additionally, we bring to your knowledge the paper entitled “John of Alexandria Again: Greek Medical Philosophy in Latin Translation” by Vivian Nutton:


It is a brave scholar who ventures into the murky world of Late Antique medicine in search of information on earlier theories. Not only may the opinions of a Herophilus or a Galen be distorted by their distant interpreters, but frequently the texts themselves present serious challenges to understanding. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Latin versions made from Greek philosophical and medical commentaries, which interpose an additional linguistic barrier before one can make sense of sometimes complex arguments. Yet as R. J. Hankinson has shown in his recent note on John of Alexandria, there is much to be gained from these forbidding works. But while he has succeeded in elucidating much of the technical terminology and argument that lies behind one of these translations, his lack of familiarity with the textual basis of the relevant commentary has both led him into error and prevented him from resolving still more of its difficulties. His ignorance is easily pardonable, for, as will be shown, modern editors have unwittingly conspired to block the way to the truth, and the essential secondary literature has been published in journals and theses rarely accessible to the classicist.

(Source: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/classical-quarterly/article/john-of-alexandria-again-greek-medical-philosophy-in-latin-translation/B40536E89F9405A796AF85BE0799335C)

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