De spermate: the Translation(?)

De spermate may have been translated into Latin in the eleventh century when interest in theoretical medical and natural-scientific knowledge was growing in the West, and translation and copying of texts on these topics was on the increase. There is no conclusive evidence corroborating some manuscript attributions of the translation to  Constantine the African (d. before 1098-1099) of Montecassino, author of the medical compendium Pantegni, though Southern Italy would not be an unlikely place of origin.  No early manuscripts from this region have so far been identified, however.  One of the earliest surviving manuscripts (mid-twelfth century) now in Paris, seems to have been written in Southern France, whereas there is also an early tradition of parts of the treatise in Bavaria (end of the twelfth c.). It is also possible that even the earliest versions represent a Latin compilation, not a translation. The Latin text starts to circulate in Transalpine Europe in mid-twelfth century, rapidly gaining popularity.  It has been suggested (Burnett) that Anselm, abbot of Bury St Edmunds, where the other mid-twelfth-century manuscript, the Cotton Galba E IV was produced, would have brought the text to England from a trip to Southern Italy.

23 November 2014