Gotthard Strohmaier#

The Heritage of Islam #


My work on the fate of the Greek heritage in Islam led to several discoveries, e.g. that the Greeks of antiquity may not be called Europeans (in the modern sense of the word); that it is not true that they were the first to invent a really functioning alphabet; that Asclepius held not only his well-known staff, but also an egg in his hand; that a fragment of Democritus in Arabic translation sheds new light on his atomic theory; that inscriptions with the name of Socrates are found even in far-away Samarcand; that a misogynous anecdote by Diogenes, found as a graffiti in the excavations of Herculaneum, exists also in collections of wise sayings in Arabic; that Lucian of Samosata was as funny a guy in personal life as in his writings, as to be seen by a remark of his contemporary Galen of Pergamum; that the anatomical term of the Vena "saphena" has its origin not in Greek, but in old Arabic; that a passage in sura 37 betrays an influence of a hostile pagan legend about Abraham; that an Arab ambassador became the victim of an alchemical deceit at the Byzantine court, with dire consequences for the development of alchemy in Islam; that the name Abu l-Abbas of the elephant sent by Harun al-Rashid to Charlemagne contains a mischievous allusion to sura 105; that Dante Alighieri had knowledge of a Hebrew text with obvious parallels to his "Commedia"; that the cultural and scientific stagnation of the Muslim world since the 15th century has mainly economic reasons, caused also by the trade across the Mediterranean.

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