AVICENNA’S MEDICAL DIDACTIC POEM: URJUZEHTEBBI
Historical research shows that many physicians experienced in medical sciences are also talented in art, literature and poetry. Avicenna was a sage who was skilled in poetry in addition to philosophy and medicine. He wrote two different types of poetry: those meant to be enjoyed for their literary qualities of novelty and imagination, and his didactic Urjuzeh. Didactic poems are different from poetry evoked by imagination and feeling. In didactic poetry, the poets want to learn science and philosophy, whether spiritual, ethical or practical to the readers. Rhyme and poetry were often used for scientific writing in Avicenna’s era, and were considered a method for memorizing scientific information and raising students’ interest in difficult scientific concepts. Verse was used to simplify the didactic content, ease memorization and make difficult scientific issues more attractive. In medieval Persia, students of medicine had learned the basics of philosophy before starting medical courses. Poetry could help the students memorize the poem itself in combination with its meaning, in a way that was better and easier than prose. Avicenna’s masterpiece, UrjuzehTebbi, comprises a perfect course in traditional Persian medicine in rhyming text written in Arabic. This great work was translated into Persian at the research centre for traditional medicine and history of medicine. We hope that the Persian translation of Urjuzeh Tebbi will allow students and experts to better appreciate the role of didactic poems in compiling and transmitting the concepts of Iranian medicine.
Key words: Avicenna; Didactic Poetry; Traditional Persian Medicine; Urjuzeh-Tebbi