13 July 2016
EUCLIDES (fl. c.300 B.C.). Elementa geometriae. Translated from Greek or Arabic into Latin by Adelard of Bath. Edited by Johannes Campanus. Venice: Erhard Ratdolt, 25 May 1482.
Chancery 2° (287 x 209mm). Collation: a10 b-r8 (a1r blank, a1v printer's address to Doge Giovanni Mocenigo, a2r text, r7v colophon, r8 blank). 137 leaves (of 138, without final blank). 45 lines and headline. Heading on a2r printed in red. Woodcut white-on-black vine three-quarter border opening text (Redgrave border 3, perhaps by Bernhard Maler), woodcut 11- and 5-line white-on-black initials, numerous woodcut text diagrams. Variant settings conform to GW main entry. Types: 3:91G, 7:92G, 7b:100R, 6:56G. (Small wormholes, somewhat heavier at beginning and end, a few marginal repairs, affecting a few letters in one leaf.) Modern flexible vellum. Provenance: several early annotations, also to a few diagrams, several additional diagrams, indicating a contemporary reader studying and correcting the text of the first several propositions.
FIRST EDITION of a work which has 'exercised an influence upon the human mind greater than that of any other work except the Bible' (DSB 4, p.415). The Elements were of such importance even in antiquity that Euclid became known simply as 'the Writer of the Elements' or 'the Geographer'. A brilliant compilation and refinement of earlier mathematical knowledge, it remained a standard textbook for more than two millennia. One of the most famous geometric proofs — 'Pythagoras's theorem' — is due to Euclid, and it is stated as proposition 47 in Book I. The 'decisive influence of Euclid's geometrical conception of mathematics is reflected in two of the supreme works in the history of thought, Newton's Principia and Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft' (DSB p.425). Books I-XIII are accepted as genuine, while book XIV is considered the work of Hypsicles and book XV by Isidorus Milesius.
The Elementa is not only 'ONE OF THE GREAT CLASSICS IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE [BUT ALSO] A MASTERPIECE OF EARLY TYPOGRAPHICAL ABILITY AND INGENUITY' (Bühler, p.102). It is also the first dated book with diagrams (Stillwell). HC *6693; BMC V, 285; Flodr 170 Eucl.1; GW 9428; Klebs 383.1; Norman 729; Redgrave 26; Sander 2605; PMM 25; Goff E-113.
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Please note that there is a repair at the upper, inner text block of e6-h6 with several letters replaced.
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