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Undoubtedly the most important of Abulcasis' contemporaries is the

famous physician whose Arabic name, Ibn Sina, was transformed into

Avicenna. He was born toward the end of the tenth century in the Persian

province of Chorasan, at the height of Arabian influence, and is

sometimes spoken of as the chief representative of Arabian medicine, of

as much importance for it as Galen for later Greek medicine. His

principal boo
is the so-called Canon. It replaced the compendium

Continens of Rhazes, and, in the East, continued until the end of the

fifteenth century to be looked upon as the most complete and best system

of medicine. Avicenna came to be better known in the West than any of

the other Arabian writers, and his name carried great weight with it.

There are very few subjects in medicine that did not receive suggestive,

if not always adequate, treatment at the hands of this great Arabian

medical thinker of the eleventh century. He copied freely from his

predecessors, but completed their work with his own observations and

conclusions. One of his chapters is devoted to leprosy alone. He has

definite information with regard to bubonic plague and the filaria

medinensis. Here and there one finds striking anticipations of what are

supposed to be modern observations. Nothing was too small for his

notice. One portion of the fourth book is on cosmetics, in which he

treats the affections of the hair and of the nails. He has special

chapters with regard to obesity, emaciation, and general constitutional

conditions. His book, the Antidotarium, is the foundation of our

knowledge of the drug-giving of his time.

Some idea of the popularity and influence of Avicenna, five centuries

after his time, can be readily derived from the number of commentaries

on him issued during the Renaissance period by the most distinguished

medical scholars and writers of that time. Hyrtl, in his Das Arabische

und Hebraeische in der Anatomie, quotes some of them,--Bartholomaeus de

Varignana, Gentilis de Fulgineis, Jacobus de Partibus, Didacus Lopez,

Jacobus de Forlivio, Ugo Senesis, Dinus de Garbo, Matthaeus de Gradibus,

Nicolaus Leonicenus, Thaddaeus Florentinus, Galeatus de Sancta Sophia. A

more complete list, with the titles of the books, may be found in

Haller's Bibliotheca Anatomica. For over three centuries after the

foundation of medical schools in Europe (and even after Mondino's book

had been widely distributed), Avicenna was still in the hands of all

those who had an enthusiasm for medical science.