Geber, John

, a physician and astronomer, who wrote a commentary on the “Syntaxis Magna” of Ptolemy, in nine books, and several other works, is supposed to have been a Greek by nation; some call him “the Arabian,” and others say that he was born at Seville in Spain of Arabian parents. There is as much diversity of opinion as to the age in which he flourished, some contending for the seventh, some for the eighth, and some for the ninth century. His commentary above mentioned was published at Nuremburg in 1533. In it he endeavoured to correct the astronomy of Ptolemy, but Copernicus called him rather | the calumniator of Ptolemy. He was a learned chemist, and as such has been mentioned with respect by the great Boerhaave; but he was also addicted to the reveries of Alchemy, and condescended to use occasionally a jargon suited to the mystic pretensions of those fanciful writers. Dr. Johnson was of opinion, that gibberish is best derived from this unintelligible cant of Geber and his followers: anciently, he alledges, it was written gebrish. Notwithstanding this, it is allowed that his writings contain much useful knowledge, and that the accuracy of many of his operations is surprizing. The other works of Geber now extant are, 1. “His Astronomy, or demonstrative work of Astrology” in nine books, printed at Nuremberg in 1533. 2; “His three Books on Alchymy,” published at Strasburg, with one “De investigatione perfect! Magisterii,” in 1530 and also in Italy from a ms. in the Vatican. 3. “On the Investigation of the truth of Metals, and on Furnaces, with other works,” Nuremberg, 1545. 4. “A book called Flos Naturarum,” published in 1473. 5. Also his “Chymica” printed by Perna, with the chemical works of Avicenna. All these were published in English at Leyden, by Richard Russel in 1668. His Almagest is also extant in Arabic. As a specimen of his language, he used to say, “my object is to cure six lepers,” meaning that he wished to convert six inferior metals into gold. 1

1 Moreri.