The medieval Christian political philosophers who wrote and worked in the Latin language were influenced by translations of the political philosophers who wrote and worked in Arabic. Of the Islamic thinkers, the Latin philosophers were especially influenced by Avicenna (980-1037); of the Jewish thinkers, the Latins were especially influenced by Maimonides.
The most complete and detailed of the works of Avicenna is called The Healing. One part of The Healing is termed Metaphysics, or First Philosophy. This part of Avicenna’s great book was first published in Latin translation in Venice in 1495. Foley Center Library possesses two facsimiles of this book, one of which is displayed here. The facsimile is turned to the part of the book wherein Avicenna broaches political affairs directly.
The Healing was known to Albertus Magnus, who uses its understanding of political philosophy in his commentary on the Politics of Aristotle. Albert’s is the first commentary on the Politics to have been completed in the Middle Ages. The most current printed version of it dates to 1891. Foley Center’s copy of the book is open to a passage on page 22 in which Albert is following a teaching of Avicenna from The Healing.
Among the unfinished works of Thomas Aquinas is a letter On Kingship that is addressed to the King of Cyprus. In the letter, Thomas relies heavily on the teachings of Aristotle, but he also cites the same teaching from Avicenna that Albert includes in his commentary on the Politics (see item 24). The passage from Thomas’s letter is exhibited here. This is another volume of the edition being published by the Leonine Commission (see item 21).
Much more so than his teacher Albert, Thomas Aquinas was deeply influenced by the Latin translation of the Guide of the Perplexed of Moses Maimonides. Thomas’s reliance upon Maimonides is especially evident in those passages of his most famous work, The Summa of Theology, that deal with the nature of law. Maimonides is frequently cited by name by Thomas as an authority in matters pertaining especially to the Mosaic law. Special Collections at Foley Center possesses a 1580 printed edition of Thomas’s Summa theologiae. The volume from that edition on display is turned to a passage in which Thomas cites Maimonides by name while treating of political matters (Ia-IIae, q. 105, a. 2, ad 12).