Only those who attempt it can appreciate how difficult it is to make a tolerable European translation even of an easily intelligible Arabic text. A literal translation would be wooden. We have often to alter the entire construction and to insert all manner of words foreign to the Arabic to make the context clear. On the other hand the translator must avoid employing the same expression in rapid succession, a procedure which is common in Arabic even if we make allowance for the figura etymologica and the like.
[Sidenote: Ibn Qutaiba and Ibn Moqaffa.]
I only know two passages in this chapter which are quoted by Arabic authors. Brockelmann informs me that no quotation from our chapter occurs in the unpublished portion of the Uyun of Ibn Qutaiba. Unless I am mistaken the excerpts in this book from Kalila wa Dimna are not always correct. Ibn Qutaiba was concerned more with the sense than with the phraseology of Ibn Moqaffa.
Who undertook to transcribe and translate this Indian Book (Kalila wa Dimna).
My father belonged to the Warrior class, my mother came of an eminent priestly family. One of the earliest boons which the Lord conferred on me was that I was the most favourite child of my parents and that they exerted themselves more for my education than for my brothers. So when I was seven years old they sent me to a children’s school.
[This was required to be mentioned in his case inasmuch as it could not have been necessary or usual for a child of distinguished parentage in early Persia to be educated in a public school.]
When I had learnt the ordinary writing I was thankful to my parents and perceived something in knowledge.
[In spite of the wide divergence in the Arabic texts and translations the sense of the original is clear. Note the reference to the difficult nature of the Pehlevi syllabary. Only the Spanish version has a good deal more about the schooling.]
[Sidenote: Appreciation of the healing art.]
And the first branch of science to which I felt inclination was medicine. It had a great attraction for me because I recognised its excellence and the more I acquired it the more I loved it and the more earnestly I studied it. Now when I had progressed sufficiently far to think of treating invalids I took counsel with myself and reflected in the following manner on the four objects for which mankind so earnestly strive. “Which of them shall I seek to acquire with the help of my art, money, prosperity, fame, or reward in the next world”? In the choice of my calling the decisive factor was my experience that men of understanding praise medicine and that the adherents of no religion censure it. I found, however, in medical literature that the best physician