Albertus Magnus, on Animals: A Medieval Summa Zoologica

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9780801848230: Albertus Magnus, on Animals: A Medieval Summa Zoologica

This is a translation of Albert the Great's mid-13th century treatise on living things, "De Animalibus", considered to be one of the most valuable contributions to the history of science, ranking in importance with the writings of Aristotle and Linnaeus. The text covers human anatomy, reproductive theories, equine and canine veterinary medicine, folk remedies against household pests, advice on training a falcon, theories on whether an ostrich will eat iron, and cures for rabies and sterility. Drawing on all available source materials, the editors present a fully annotated English version of this work. They explain that it is a "summa" in both senses of the word, being a summary of all contemporary knowledge in a given field, and also an epitome or highest expression of it. Whether Albert writes of his early experience in falconry or relates what he learned in conversations with fishermen, soldiers and craftsmen, the text draws the reader into a real world where the lure and lore of animals is of paramount importance. The subjects range from castrated philandering priests who nonetheless manage to produce children in medical marvels, to physiognomic traits.

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"Thanks to the efforts of Kitchell and Resnick, Albert's historic contributions to both history and philosophy of science wil no longer remain the preserve of medievalists alone... The translation is clean, precise, and occasionally elegant." -- Michael W. Tkacz, Review of Metaphysics

"This first complete English translation of the monumental De animalibus of Albert the Great, a labour of many years for its translators, fills a gap which has long been bemoaned in medieval studies." -- Graeme Dunphy, Modern Language Review


Kenneth F. Kitchell, Jr., is associate professor of classics at Louisiana State University. Irven Michael Resnick holds the Chair of Excellence in Judaic Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

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