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No. 10. The book of the Composition of Alchemy

Transcribed with an introduction by Adam McLean

The Liber de compositione alchimiae is reputed the first text on alchemy to have been translated from Arabic sources into Latin. It is dated 1144 and thus it marks the beginning of the European concern with alchemy that has endured for nearly 900 years.
The translator was Robertus Castrensis, Robert of Chester, an English monastic scholar who based himself in Spain, and occupied himself in translating key works from Arabic to Latin, thus making them available to European culture. He is best known perhaps for his translation of the Koran and the Algebra of al-Kwarizimi.
It tells the story of the seventh century Morienus, and how he came to discover the secrets of alchemy through meeting an old adept called Adfar. It then tells how Morienus travelled to the court of King Khalid, a real Umayyad king, (died 704) who is said to be the person who introduced alchemy into Islam. A later section records a dialogue between Morienus and Khalid in which the secrets of the Magistery or work of alchemy are revealed.