Dominicus Gundissalinus, also known as Domingo Gundisalvi or Gundisalvo (c. 1115 – after 1190), was a philosopher and translator of Arabic to Medieval Latin active in Toledo. Among his translations, Gundissalinus worked on Avicenna's Liber de philosophia prima and De anima, Ibn Gabirol's Fons vitae, and al-Ghazali's Summa theoricae philosophiae, in collaboration with the Jewish philosopher Abraham Ibn Daud and Johannes Hispanus.[1] As a philosopher, Gundissalinus crucially contributed to the Latin assimilation of Arabic philosophy, being the first Latin thinker in receiving and developing doctrines, such as Avicenna's modal ontology or Ibn Gabirol's universal hylomorphism, that would soon be integrated into the thirteenth-century philosophical debate.


Born presumably in the Iberian Peninsula around 1115–1125, Gundissalinus received his education in Chartres, supposedly following the teaching of William of Conches and Thierry of Chartres.[2][3] Since 1148, Gundissalinus is in Castile: the capitular archives of Segovia refer to him as archdeacon of Cuéllar, a small town not far from Segovia, where he presumably spent around 14 years, regarding which almost no information is available.[4] Following Ibn Daud's request to the archbishop of Toledo, John II, to start a series of translations into Latin of Avicenna's Kitab al-Shifāʾ, Gundissalinus moved to Toledo in 1161–1162, where he worked with Ibn Daud on the translation of Avicenna's De anima, realised before 1166.[5][6]

Gundissalinus remained in Toledo for twenty years, collaborating with Abraham Ibn Daud and Johannes Hispanus to the realisation of around twenty translations of Arabic works into Latin. In the Castilian capital, Gundissalinus also wrote his philosophical treatises.[7] The Toledan chapter names Gundissalinus for the last time in 1178 but he presumably remained in Toledo at least until 1181, when a document written in Arabic mentions his name.[8][9]

The last record witnessing Gundissalinus alive is the report of a meeting between the chapters of Segovia and Burgos, held in Segovia in 1190.[10] It is probable that the last years of Gundissalinus's life were spent in that Castilian town, and he died sometime after 1190.[1]

Translations of Gundissalinus

Together with Avendauth, that is, Abraham ibn Daud, and Iohannes Hispanus, Gundissalinus translated around twenty philosophical works from Arabic to Latin, which decisively marked the passage from Platonism to Aristotelianism typical of Latin speculation of the 13th century. Translations traditionally attributed to Gundissalinus are:

Alexander of Aphrodisias, De intellectu et intellecto al-Farabi, De intellectu et intellecto al-Kindi, De intellectu Avicenna, De anima seu sextus naturalium Avicenna, De convenientia et differentia subiectorum al-Farabi, Exposición del V libro de los Elementa de Euclide pseudo al-Kindi, Liber introductorius in artem logicae pseudo al-Farabi, De ortu scientiarum Isaac Israeli ben Solomon, Liber de definitionibus Avicenna, Logica Avicenna, De universalibus Al-Ghazali, Logica Avicena, Liber de philosophia prima Avicena, Liber primus naturalium, tractatus primus Avicenna, Liber primus naturalium, tractatus secundus al-Ghazali, Metaphysica Avicebron, Fons vitae Pseudo-Avicena, Liber caeli et mundi al-Farabi, Liber exercitationis ad viam felicitatis al-Farabi, Fontes quaestionum Avicenna, Prologus discipuli et capitula Avicenna, De viribus cordis


Dominicus Gundissalinus also wrote five philosophical works, in which he embraces the ideas of Avicenianna and al-Gabirol, combining them with the Latin philosophical tradition, and particularly Boethius together with some authors of his time, such as the philosophers of the School of Chartres or Herman of Carinthia. Gundissalinus' treatises show his deep knowledge of Arabic-Hebrew philosophy, and there are the three philosophical disciplines that characterize his thought: metaphysics, epistemology and psychology. The five treatises of Dominicus Gundissalinus are:

In addition to these five treatises, on which scholars agree, the De immortalitate animae has also been traditionally attributed to Gundissalinus, a text that the majority of the academic community nevertheless attributes to William of Auvergne. Gundissalinus' works were well received. both in the Latin philosophical field, and in the Hebrew.

See also


  1. ^ a b Polloni, Nicola (2016-10-12). "Elementi per una biografia di Dominicus Gundisalvi". Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Âge (in Italian). Tome 82 (1): 7–22. doi:10.3917/ahdlm.082.0007. ISSN 0373-5478.
  2. ^ Fidora, Alexander, 2011, 'Le débat sur la création: Guillaume de Conches, maître de Dominique Gundisalvi?', in B. Obrist - I. Caiazzo (eds.), Guillaume de Conches: Philosophie et science au XIIe siècle, Firenze, 271-288.
  3. ^ Polloni, Nicola (2015-01-01). "Thierry of Chartres and Gundissalinus on Spiritual Substances: The Problem of Hylomorphic Composition". Bulletin de Philosophie Médiévale. 57: 35–57. doi:10.1484/J.BPM.5.110804. ISSN 0068-4023.
  4. ^ Villar García, L.M., 1990, Documentación medieval de la Catedral de Segovia (1115-1300), Salamanca, 91.
  5. ^ Hernandez, J., 1985, Los Cartularios de Toledo. Catalogo Documental, Madrid, 130.
  6. ^ Bertolacci, Amos, 2011, 'A Community of Translators: The Latin Medieval Versions of Avicenna’s Book of the Cure', in C. J. Mews- J. N. Crossley (eds.), Communities of Learning: Networks and the Shaping of Intellectual Identity in Europe 1100-1500, Turnhout, 37-54
  7. ^ Polloni, Nicola (2017). Domingo Gundisalvo. Una introducción. Madrid: Editorial Sindéresis. ISBN 978-84-16262-34-2.
  8. ^ D'Alverny, Marie-Thérèse, 1989, 'Les traductions à deux interprètes, d’arabe en langue vernaculaire et de langue vernaculaire en latin', in G. Contamine, (ed.), Traduction et traducteurs au Moyen Âge. Actes du colloque international du CNRS organisée à Paris, Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes, les 26-28 mai 1986, Paris, 193-206.
  9. ^ Alonso Alonso, Manuel, 1943, 'Notas sobre los traductores toledanos Domingo Gundisalvo y Juan Hispano', al-Andalus 8: 155-188
  10. ^ Villar García, L. M., 1985, Documentación medieval de la Catedral de Segovia (1115-1300), Madrid, 135.