Averroes’ Middle Commentary on Aristotle’s Rhetoric: Arabic-English Translation, with Notes and Introduction (Paperback)
Abū al-Walīd Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Rushd (d. 1198 AD), known as Averroes in the West, wrote one of the most significant medieval Arabic commentaries on Aristotle’s famous treatise, Rhetoric. Averroes worked within a tradition that included the Muslim philosophers Al-Farabi (d. 950) and Avicenna (d. 1037), who together built an early canon introducing Aristotle’s writings to the academies of medieval Europe. Here, for the first time, Lahcen El Yazghi Ezzaher translates Averroes’ Middle Commentary into English, with analysis highlighting its shaping of philosophical thought.
Ibn Rushd was born into a prominent family living in Córdoba and Seville during the reign of the Almoḥad dynasty in the Maghreb and al-Andalus. At court, he received support to write a body of rhetorical commentaries extending the work of his Arabic-Muslim predecessors, a critical step in fostering Aristotle’s influence on European scholasticism and Western education. Ezzaher’s meticulous translation of Averroes’ Middle Commentary reflects the depth and breadth of this engagement, incorporating a discussion of the Arabic-Muslim commentary tradition and Averroes’ contribution to it. His research illuminates the complexity of Averroes’ position, articulating the challenges Muslim scholars faced in making non-Muslim texts available to their community. Through his work, we see how people at different historical moments have adapted intellectual concepts to preserve rhetoric’s vitality and relevance in new contexts.
Averroes’ Middle Commentary exemplifies the close connections between ancient Greece and medieval Muslim scholarship and the ways Muslim scholars navigated an appreciation for Aristotelian philosophy alongside a commitment to their cultural and religious systems.
“This translation lends fresh insight into an essential period in the medieval Arabic translation movement by demonstrating how Averroes’ critical perspectives emerged from and contributed to a cross-pollination of nationalism, intellectualism, orthodoxy, and faith. Ultimately, Lahcen El Yazghi Ezzaher helps us to read both Averroes and the Rhetoric with added complexity, recognizing a tradition of Arabic commentary that is rooted in surprisingly diverse religious and philosophical traditions.”—Tarez Samra Graban, coeditor of Global Rhetorical Traditions
“Ezzaher's translation illuminates the complicated network that sustained Aristotle’s influence, the ways in which ancient texts maintain their vitality, and about the dynamic interaction between rhetoric and culture.”—Lois Agnew, author of Thomas De Quincey: British Rhetoric’s Romantic Turn