Archimedes: Knowledge and Lore from Latin Antiquity to the Outgoing European Renaissance

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With Apuleius and Augustine as the only partial exceptions, Latin Antiquity
did not know Archimedes as a mathematician but only as an ingenious engineer
and astronomer, serving his city and killed by fatal distraction when in the
end it was taken by ruse. The Latin Middle Ages forgot even much of that, and
when Archimedean mathematics was translated in the 12th and 13th centuries,
almost no integration with the traditional image of the person took place.
Petrarca knew the civically useful engineer and the astrologer (!); no other
fourteenth-century Humanist seems to know about Archimedes in any role. In
the 15th century, however, “higher artisans” with Humanist connections or
education took interest in Archimedes the technician and started identifying
with him. In mid-century, a new translation of most works from the Greek was
made by Jacopo Cremonensis, and Regiomontanus and a few other
mathematicians began resurrecting the image of the geometer, yet without
emulating him in their own work.
Giorgio Valla’s posthumous De expetendis et fugiendis rebus from 1501 marks a
watershed. Valla drew knowledge of the person as well as his works from
Proclus and Pappus, thus integrating the two. Over the century, a number of
editions also appeared, the editio princeps in 1544, and mathematical work
following in the footsteps of Archimedes was made by Maurolico,
Commandino and others.
The Northern Renaissance only discovered Archimedes in the 1530s, and for
long only superficially. The first to express a (purely ideological) high
appreciation was Ramus in 1569, and the first to make creative use of his
mathematics was Viète in the 1590s.
TidsskriftGanita Bharati
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)1-22
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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