In this admirable study, Hasse demonstrates the significant position of Arabic writings among Renaissance philosophers, physicians, astrologers, and scholars. He targets the belief that Renaissance humanism’s turn to antiquity entailed the wholesale rejection of Avicenna, Averroes, Mesue, Rhazes, and other luminaries of the Arabic medieval tradition, who were attacked for their supposedly barbarous prose and their deviations from classical authorities. Despite humanists’ anti-Arabic polemics and ecclesiastical attempts at suppression, Italians who were associated with universities readily printed and translated Arabic works, incorporating them into understandings of medicine and nature. Hasse, going beyond the rhetoric of Renaissance authors, is more concerned with what they did with their sources than what they said that they did with them. Accordingly, he finds that anti-Arabic purists’ calls for the Hellenization of knowledge were impractical and, despite their proliferation in the 1520s and 1530s, went largely unheeded.

The volume is valuable in numerous ways. The...

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