Honain

, an Arabian, and celebrated translator of the ninth century, was a Christian and a native of Hira. Having quitted Bagdad, where he had been improperly treated, | he went to Greece, and remained there two years, studying the language, and collecting a library of the best writers. He then returned to Bagdad, and some time after went to Persia, where he learned the Arabic, and then finally settled at Bagdad, and executed very valuable translations of the Elements of Euclid, the Almagestus of Ptolemy, and the writings of Hippocrates and other Greek authors. At the desire of Almamon or Abdaliah III. he translated into Arabic all the works of Aristotle; and for every book of that philosopher is said to have received from Almamon its weight in gold. An anecdote very honourable to him is told by Abulfaragius. One day, after some medical conversation, the Caliph said to him, “Teach me a prescription by which I may take off any enemy I please, without being discovered.Honain declining to give an answer, and pleading ignorance, was imprisoned. Being brought again, after a year’s interval, into the Caliph’s presence, and still persisting in ignorance, though threatened with death, the Caliph smiled upon him, and said, “Be of good cheer, we were only trying thee, that we might have the greater confidence in thee.” As Honain upon this bowed down and kissed the earth, “What hindered thee,” says the Caliph, “from granting our request, when thou sawest us appear so ready to perform what we had threatened?” “Two things;” replied Honain, “my Religion, and my Profession. My religion, which commands me to do good to my enemies; and my profession, which was purely instituted for the benefit of mankind.” v Two noble laws," said the Caliph; and immediately presented him, according to the Eastern usage, with rich garments, and a sum of money. This Caliph was not only an, illustrious patron of the learned, but was himself no mean adept in several branches of science. He was well acquainted with astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy; and was frequently present at the conferences of learned men, entering with great spirit into the subjects of their debates. In the midst of the praise which is due to this Caliph, it must, however, be mentioned with regret, that, through an ill-judged partiality for his vernacular tongue, he gave orders that, after the Arabic versions were finished, the original Greek manuscripts should be burned. A similar folly seized the Caliphs of Africa: and to this cause we are, doubtless, to ascribe the entire loss of many ancient, writings. The diligence, however, with which this Caliph | cultivated and encouraged learning, cancels’ in some measure this disgrace, and leaves him entitled to an honourable station among philosophers. 1

1

Moreri. —Chaufepie. Brucker. See Almamon, vol. lit of this Dictionary.