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March 2, 1963

Avicenna's poem on medicine.

JAMA. 1963;183(9):812. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700090132045

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To all who have the slightest interest in medical history, this volume fills a long-term want, as it presents for the first time an English translation of Avicenna's important work, the Poem on Medicine. There is a vast difference between reading about a great physician and reading his actual works, and hitherto the writings of Avicenna have been available only to determined scholars. The translator admits his heavy reliance on a recent French translation from the Arabic and indicates that his own competence in Arabic is not high. Nevertheless, the text reads fluently, with only occasional baffling passages.

Unfortunately, the introductory and concluding sections are disappointing. Avicenna's teachings closely followed those of Hippocrates and Galen, and any reader without thorough knowledge of these classic authors cannot appreciate the medieval text. Krueger does not expound the basic principles which underlie Greek and Roman medicine, or does he indicate, for the unintiated,

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