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Alcabi .i. calcaneum et hoc apparet per Avicennam primo canonis fen quarta capitulo de flobotomia.


This entry only occurs in prints A and C. It is surprising that an important entry like Alcabi is missing from B and the mss.


Alcabi in Arabic translates into Latin as calcaneum {"heel"}, and the word occurs in Avicenna's first book of the Canon, fourth fen, in the chapter De flobotomia {"On phlebotomy"}.


Arabic /al-kaʕb/, here with article, means "knot, knob, node (of cane); joint, articulation; ankle, anklebone; heel (of the foot, of a shoe)" (Wehr s.v. ﻛﻐﺐ /kaʕb/). Perhaps Gerardus Cremonensis, the translator, preferred to keep the Arabic term because of its wide semantic range rather than to commit himself to the more precise Latin terms calcaneum or talus.

cf. Wehr (1976): ﻓﻦ /fann/ "kind, specimen, variety, …, scientific discipline, field of work, special field, speciality". Avicenna's "Canon of Medicine" ﺍﻟﻘﺎﻧﻮﻥ ﻓﻰ ﺍﻟﻄﺐ /al-qānūn fī al-ṭib/ Canon medicinae, is divided into five books ﻛﺐ /kutub/, sg. ﻛﺘﺎﺏ /kitāb/ liber, which are again subdivided into sections - sometimes called parts - ﻓﻨﻮﻥ /funūn/ sg. ﻓﻦ /fann/, v. s., often left untranslated as fen, and finally into chapters ﻓﺼﻮﻝ /fuṣūl/ sg. ﻓﺼﻞ /faṣl/ capitulum. There are other subdivisions which are however not relevant to this entry.

Simon is referring to Avicenna's Canon [Goehl], Liber primus, Fen quarta, Capitulum 20. De flebotomia, where Avicenna speaks of how a phlebotomy is best performed and he says: Dicemus ergo, quod ex venis pedis est sciatica, quae flebotomatur a parte silvestri alcabi {alchab (dazu Anm.: tali)} aut sub eo aut supra ipsum; et ligatur illud, quod est supra ipsum, a summitate coxae usque ad cabi {(annotation: talum)} et involvitur fascia fortiter aut instita - "Therefore we say: among the veins of the foot it is the {vena} sciatica {i.e. "sciatic vein"}, which is phlebotomised from the external side of alcabi {"the heel"} or under it or above it, and when above it is wrapped from the top of the thigh to the cabi {"heel"} and a bandage is applied firmly around it or a tourniquet".

It is interesting to note that the reference to the Canon given by Simon is still perfectly valid for e.g. 1, 4, Lyon edition (1522: 76, 4th col) [[1]].

See also Vázquez de Benito & Herrera (1989: 12), s.v. ALCAHAB, ALCHIAB.

Medicine-historical remarks:

For a survey and discussion of the practice of phlebotomizing the sciatic {better saphena minor or small saphenous} vein [[2]] see Missori, Domenicucci & Currà (2015: 30-6) [[3]].

WilfGunther 12:27, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

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