AO 1:03, Summer 1998
Origins: A Cure for the Common Cold?
Not quite. But Arab scholars laid the foundations of modern medicine.
In the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer identifies the authorities used by his Doctour of Physic. The list includes four Arab physicians: Jesu Haly (Ibn Isa), Razi (Al-Razi, or Rhazes), Avycen (Ibn Sina, or Avicenna) and Averrois (Ibn Rushd, or Averroes).
These four did not make Chaucers list only to add an exotic flavor to his late-14th-century poetry. Chaucer cited them because they were the great medical authorities of the ancient worldphysicians whose textbooks were being used in European medical schools and would continue to be used for centuries to come.