Archimedes: Reception in the Renaissance

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With only Apuleius and Augustine as partialexceptions, Latin Antiquity did not knowArchimedes as a mathematician but only asan ingenious engineer and astronomer, servinghis city and killed by fatal distraction when inthe end it was taken by ruse. The Latin MiddleAges forgot even much of that, and whenArchimedean mathematics was translated inthe twelfth and thirteenth centuries, almost nointegration with the traditional image of theperson took place.With the exception of Petrarca, who knewthe civically useful engineer and the astrologer,fourteenth-century Humanists show no interestin Archimedes. In thefifteenth century,“higherartisans”with Humanist connections or educa-tion took interest in Archimedes the technicianand started identifying with him. In mid-century, a new translation of most works fromthe Greek was made by Jacopo Cremonensis,and Regiomontanus and a few other mathema-ticians began resurrecting the image of thegeometer, yet without emulating him.Giorgio Valla’s posthumousDe expetendiset fugiendis rebusfrom 1501 marks a watershed. Valla drew knowledge of the personas well as his works from Proclus and Pappus,thus integrating the two. Over the century, anumber of editions also appeared, theEditioprincepsin 1544, and a mathematical workfollowing the footsteps of Archimedes wasmade by Maurolico, Commandino, and others.The Northern Renaissance only discoveredArchimedes in the 1530s and for long onlysuperficially. Thefirst to express a (purelyideological) high appreciation is Ramus in1569, and thefirst to make creative use of hismathematics was Viète in the 1590s.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy
EditorsMarco Sgarbi
Number of pages7
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date2019
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-02848-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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