Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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m^^^^^^^r          PREFACE.                                       xli

the reverse of what it is in Islam, " and if ever a custom
of theirs resembles one of ours, it has certainly just the
opposite meaning " (i. 179). Much more certainly than
to Alberuni, India would seem a land of wonders and
monstrosities to most of his readers. Therefore, in
order to show that there were other nations who held
and hold similar notions, he compares Greek philosophy,
chiefly that of Plato, and tries to illustrate Hindu
notions by those of the Greeks, and thereby to bring
them nearer to the understanding of his readers.

The role which Greek literature plays in Alberuni's Greek and
work in the distant country of the Paktyes and Gandhari leis.
is a singular fact in the history of civilisation. Plato
before the doors of India, perhaps in India itself ! A
considerable portion of the then extant Greek literature
had found its way into the library of Alberuni, who
uses it in the most conscientious and appreciative way,
and takes from it choice passages to confront Greek
thought with Indian. And more than this : on the
part of his readers he seems to presuppose not only that
they were acquainted with them, but also gave them
the credit of first-rate authorities. Not knowing Greek
or Syriac, he read them in Arabic translations, some of
which reflect much credit upon their authors. The
books he quotes are these :—

Plato, Pluedo.

Timceus, an edition with a commentary.
Leges.    In the copy of it there was an appendix relating
to the pedigree of Hippokrates.
Proclus,   Commentary  on  Timceus   (different   from   the  extant

Aristotle, only short references to his Physica and Metaphysica.

Letter to Alexander.
Johannes Grammaticus, Contra Proclum.
Alexander  of   Aphrodisias,   Commentary  on  Aristotle's  ^vffiKri

ApoUonius of Tyana.

Porphyry, Liber historiarum philosophorum (?).
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