A few months back I decided, for personal reasons, to begin a project that was absolutely useless practically speaking – something that nobody would care about and hardly anybody would read except for a handful of nerds. A no-pressure activity that wasn’t Netflix-binging with drool dripping from my jowels.
So I asked around and found an Aramaic commentary on Aristotle’s Organon from the 7th Century that nobody was working on, composed by a bishop named “George of the Arabs” that nobody seems to know anything about. I was the first to order a full scan of the manuscript (what we in the biz call a “MS”) from the British Library, which was a cool but expensive experience, and I’ve been typing away at a critical edition since around New Year. I might get around to starting a translation some time this Summer. If I feel like it.
Anyway, the scribe (who lived some time in the 8th Century since that’s when the “MS” dates to) was kind of a weirdo. For one thing, his name was apparently “Tedis,” (probably short for Theodore), and he repeatedly writes notes in the margins for his reader to pray for him (I guess I should since I’m literally the only person who’s ever read this thing). For another thing, when he got bored or had some empty space left on the page he would draw various kinds of poultry. I don’t know if he really liked chickens or he was just hungry, but I find it hilarious that a bishop wrote a full Aramaic translation and commentary on Aristotle’s logical treatises only to have it copied by some dude a hundred years later, and for that to be the only surviving manuscript of this work 1200 years in the future, all so that I can giggle at the chicken drawings. Checkmate, atheists.
I’m attaching a picture of my favorite page to this post. I have no idea whether it will show up above or below this text, but whatever. Enjoy.
Oh, and a special bonus is that these chicken drawings seem to accompany a chart of the different syllogistic figures, which I have a lot to say about – maybe in another post. But probably not. I’ve done enough for you already.