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Apollonius Pergaeus (late 3rd century BCE - early 2nd century BCE).

Apollonii Pergei Philosophi, Mathematicique excellentissimi Opera. Per Doctissimum Philosophum Ioannem Baptistam Memum Patritium Venetum, Mathematicharumque Artium in Vrbe Veneta Lectorem Publicum. De Graeco in Latinum Traducta. & Nouiter Impressa Venice, Bernardino Bindoni for Giovanni Maria Memmo, 1537

€ 35.500
The great Geometer A milestone in the history of mathematics
Apollonius Pergaeus (late 3rd century BCE - early 2nd century BCE).. Apollonii Pergei Philosophi, Mathematicique excellentissimi Opera. Per Doctissimum Philosophum Ioannem Baptistam Memum Patritium Venetum, Mathematicharumque Artium in Vrbe Veneta Lectorem Publicum. De Graeco in Latinum Traducta. & Nouiter Impressa. Venice, Bernardino Bindoni for Giovanni Maria Memmo, 1537

Folio (305x220 mm). Collation: a-p6. 88, [2] leaves. Complete with fol. p6 blank. Roman and italic type. Bindoni's printer's device on fol. p5v, showing Saint Peter enthroned, with the letters ‘.S.' and ‘.P.' Title-page printed in red and black, within a four-sided border of six different woodblocks depicting philosophers, poets, and scientists of antiquity, most of which are labelled on the block; in the lower panel an enclosed garden with fountains; below the title, a woodcut portrait of Apollonius Pergaeus handling mathematical attributes on a landscape ground. Numerous woodcut diagrams in text; woodcut decorated initials, some on criblé ground. Vellum binding from an antique antiphonal; red edges. A good, and wide-margined copy, a stain on lower margin of fol. o6.

Provenance: removed stamp on the title-page and on the verso of the last leaf; ticket of Libreria Antiquaria Mediolanum, Milan.

The rare first Latin edition of the first four books of Κωνικα? (Conics) by the famous Apollonius of Perga, the only work of Greek mathematics to rival those of Euclid and Archimedes in importance.
Apollonius' fame rests on the Conics, a treatise that investigates the generation and mathematical properties of conic sections and introduces the terms parabola, ellipse, and hyperbola. Originally comprising eight books, the first four books survive in Greek, while Books V-VII survive only in the Arabic version (later translated into Latin by Abraham Ecchellensis and published in 1661), and Book VIII is lost. The editio princeps appeared only in 1710, edited by the celebrated astronomer Edmund Halley. The Conics became the canonical treatise on this subject. Held in such high esteem, it was commented on by the most eminent mathematicians of the seventeenth century, including Pierre de Fermat and Isaac Newton. “It is hard to underestimate the effect of Apollonius on the brilliant French mathematicians of the seventeenth century, Descartes, Mersenne, Fermat, and even Desargues and Pascal, despite their very different approach. Newton's notorious predilection for the study of conics, using Apollonian methods, was not a chance personal taste” (DSB ed. 1981, p. 191).
This milestone in the history of mathematics was translated into Latin by the Venetian nobleman Giovanni Battista Memmo (ca. 1466-1536), who lectured in mathematics at Venice and based his version on a still unidentified manuscript close to the codex Canon. gr. 106 of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Its posthumous publication was sponsored by Memmo's nephew Giovanni Maria (1503/04-1579) and dedicated to Cardinal Marino Grimani (1488/89-1546), Patriarch of Aquileia.
Apollonius' Opera are introduced by a title-page in red and black framed within a fine four-sided border portraying a series of authors from Greek and Latin antiquity in dialogue with one another, while the lower panel represents an enclosed garden or hortus conclusus, sealed – according to an iconography established by King Solomon's Song of Songs – with fountains. At the centre, a woodcut portrait of Apollonius, handling a compass and showing a table with rough drawings of geometrical figures and constructions. Both the small vignettes of poets, philosophers and historians and the larger depictions of the enclosed garden are re-uses of woodblocks previously employed by Venetian printer Bernardino Bindoni for the title-page of the 1535 edition of the Supplementum supplementi delle croniche by Giacomo Filippo Foresti. By contrast, the two vignettes depicting each two pairs of scientists in ‘Oriental' manner belong to a different series, and the figures are not labelled on the block. Most intriguingly, one of the figures depicted in the vignette on the right side could be interpreted as another portrait of Apollonius, in this case handling an instrument that is curiously similar to the so-called Apollonius cone.

STC Italian 34; Dibner 101; Stillwell Awakening, 139; Hoffmann I, p. 205; M. Decorps-Foulquier, Recherches sur les Coniques d'Apollonios de Perge? et leurs commentateurs grecs: histoire de la transmission des livres I-IV, Paris 2000; M. N. Fried – S. Unguru, Apollonius of Perga's Conica. Text, Context, Subtext, Leiden 2001, esp. pp. 1-15; A. Gaspari, “Riflessioni su codici recentiores di testi matematici e sul prestito e sulla copia di manoscritti greci le copie ‘simultanee'”, C. Brockmann et al. (eds.), Griechisch-byzantinische Handschriftenforschung, Berlin-New York 2020, pp. 427-436, 838-839; Essling 667-668; Sander 480.

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