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Ptolemy-el-Garib (Arabic, more correctly al-gharīb, "Ptolemy the foreigner," explained as meaning "Ptolemy the unknown") was a Hellenistic pinacographer, probably of the Peripatetic school, who wrote a Life of Aristotle notable for its catalog of Aristotle's works. This work survives in an Arabic manuscript in Istanbul.[1]

Historical context[edit]

The excerpts known prior to this discovery were collected in Ingemar Düring's Aristotle in the Ancient Biographical Tradition (Göteborg 1957), pp. 221-231.

Marian Plezia has cast doubt on the idea that Ptolemy-el-Garib's Life was an important source of later Neoplatonic lives of Aristotle.


  1. ^ Gottschalk 1990 reported that an edition was in preparation by Marian Plezia and Józef Bielawski. Plezia died in 1996, Bielawski in 1997. A transcription of the Ms. Ayasofia 4833 fol. 10b-11a, 14b-18a (with the Catalogue of Aristotle's works) is now available in: Christel Hein, Definition und Einteilung der Philosophie. Von der spätantiken Einleitungsliteratur zur arabischen Enzyklopädie, New York: Peter Lang, 1985, pp. 415-439).


  • Hans Gottschalk, "The Earliest Aristotelian Commentators," in Aristotle Transformed (ed. Richard Sorabji, 1990), pp. 56f. n. 5.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ingemar Düring, "Ptolemy's Vita Aristotelis rediscovered," in Philomathes: studies and essays in the humanities in memory of Philip Merlan, ed. Robert B. Palmer and Robert Hamerton-Kelly (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1971), pp. 264-269 - includes an English translation of Ptolemy's preface.
  • Dimitri Gutas, "The spurious and the authentic in the Arabic Lives of Aristotle," in Pseudo-Aristotle in the Middle Ages: the Theology and other texts. Edited by Ryan William Francis, Kraye Jill, and Schmitt Charles Bernard. London: Warburg Institute. University of London 1986. pp. 15-36 (Reprinted as Chapter VI in D. Gutas, Greek philosophers in the Arabic tradition, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2000).
  • Marian Plezia, "De Ptolemaeo pinacographo," Eos 63 (1975), pp. 37-42.
  • ——, "De Ptolemaei Vita Aristotelis," in Aristoteles: Werk und Wirkung, vol. 1 (Aristoteles und seine Schule), ed. Jürgen Wiesner (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1985), pp. 1-11.

External links[edit]