15

I am a professional mathematician and an avid Latinist, and I would like to be able to read and write mathematics in Latin. I prefer classical style, so I would like to read some ancient mathematical texts in Latin. Writing modern mathematics does require some adjustments, of course, but I would like to have some classical style examples.

Can someone suggest some ancient mathematical texts? I was unsuccessful at finding any. If there are many options, I would prefer something that is considered good style (like Caesar or Cicero in prose). Ancient translations from Greek or any other language to Latin are fine. I assume at least some parts of Euclid's Elements were translated in antiquity, but I could not find Latin translations made before 16th century. The text need not be an entire book on mathematics, as long as there is a part dedicated to it.

  • Boethius translated many Greek texts (mathematical and otherwise) into Latin, but I can't track down any of them. – James Kingsbery Mar 3 '16 at 18:10
  • 1
    @C.M.Weimer, a good answer would point out a piece of classical literature with mathematical content. An answer should come with a link, but the answer remains useful even if the link dies. Then one has to find a copy of the text whose details (name, author, date, etc.) are known. I have seen similar questions work well on other SE sites, but my SE experience is from different sites than yours. I think we should include questions of this kind, but that is of course for the community to decide. – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 3 '16 at 21:01
  • I think you're right. I was looking at plannapus' answer, but I realize you actually want the ancient sources, not modern links. The title led my astray! – C. M. Weimer Mar 3 '16 at 21:06
  • 1
    The question "where to find modern mathematics in Latin" also has an interesting answer: Riemann's prize submission to the Paris Academy, from 1861! – Matt F. Jul 16 '16 at 20:23
  • @MattF., that looks interesting as well. That is actually not far from what I work on as a mathematician, so I will certainly take a look. (For anyone curious: The Latin text can be found here in various formats.) – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 16 '16 at 20:46
8

The French national library has been scanning a lot of material throughout the years, available on their website Gallica. Using their advanced search tool we can narrow down to works in Latin about mathematics: here is a direct link to that query result.

Similarly on archive.org, by finding the collection on mathematics and narrowing down to those written in Latin one can find the following material.

In both cases however it should be noted that all material is from 1400 to 1900, I didn't see anything older than this unfortunately, so no ancient mathematicians there. Euler, Descartes, Huygens etc. however all wrote in Latin, so one can find their work at both those links. A couple of ancient Greek mathematicians are translated in Latin there, but the translations are all from the 18th/19th century.

Edit: I also found this website that contains a lot of ancient mathematicians' works, some of them translated in Latin, but, again, those translations (as far as I can see) are all post-15th century.

  • Thanks! Those look like useful resources. This does not really answer my question about ancient sources, but I appreciate the answer anyway. – Joonas Ilmavirta Mar 3 '16 at 8:33
  • And even if they do not have at this point any ancient sources, they might one day, when and if such a source (if it exists) is scanned. – plannapus Mar 3 '16 at 8:38
  • 1
    I think the question was about "ancient" sources, not mediaeval or early modern ones. Anyway, the corpus of ancient Latin literature is very well known and thoroughly researched and catalogued. Scanning a few more copies is not going to reveal any unknown works. – fdb Mar 28 '16 at 22:56
7

Boetius's Arithmetica is one example, from around 500 AD. See the manuscript here or text here.

  • This is very interesting, thank you. I will try to find the time to look deeper into this. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jul 16 '16 at 16:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.