A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Olaf Pedersen

By Olaf Pedersen

The Almagest, via the Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, is crucial surviving treatise on early mathematical astronomy, providing historians worthwhile perception into the astronomy and arithmetic of the traditional world.

Pedersen's 1974 book, A Survey of the Almagest, is the latest in a protracted culture of partners to the Almagest. half paraphrase and half statement, Pedersen's paintings has earned the common compliment of historians and serves because the definitive introductory textual content for college kids drawn to learning the Almagest.

during this revised version, Alexander Jones, a exceptional authority at the heritage of early astronomy, presents supplementary details and remark to the unique textual content to account for scholarship that has seemed given that 1974. This revision additionally comprises numerous corrections to Pedersen's unique textual content which were pointed out in view that its publication.

This quantity is meant to supply scholars of the heritage of astronomy with a self-contained advent to the Almagest, aiding them to appreciate and have fun with Ptolemy's nice and classical paintings.

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Additional resources for A Survey of the Almagest: With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones (Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences)

Example text

1). Fig. 2). 37 s Fig. 2 Furthermore, travelling North we observe how stars gradually disappear forever from the Southern sky, at the same time as more and more stars become circumpolar in the Northern. 3). Fig. 3 The result is that the Earth must have a double curvature. Finally, Ptolemy draws attention to the well known experience that an observer on board a ship approaching the coast will see first the top of the mountains, then gradually more and more. It is interesting to compare this chapter with the classical text on the spherical shape of the Earth in Aristotle's work On the Heavens (ii, 14, 297 a).

It would have been interesting to see how such an anti-Aristotelian doctrine was dealt with in Ptolemy's other lost work On the Elements. 44 The Two Principles of the Motion of the Heavens Until now we have only discussed phenomena connected with the daily motion of the heavens around the axis through the poles. This motion causes all the stars to move on circles parallel to the equator. Ptolemy explains the etymology of this name by the fact that the equator always and everywhere is divided into two equal parts by the horizon just as day and night are equal at the dates when the Sun is on the equator [I, 8; Hei 1, 26].

In Ptolemy so much is clear that astronomy is not tainted with the obscurity and uncertainty ascribed to physics, notwithstanding the fact that it is concerned with the heavenly bodies. These bodies have a material character both to Aristotle and Ptolemy, although their matter is of a particular, ethereal nature. Nevertheless, this does not prevent astronomy from being of a loftier status than the other natural sciences. The solution of this puzzle seems to be that Ptolemy drew a different boundary between mathematics and physics from Aristotle's.

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