Euclīdes in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

A celebrated mathematician of Alexandria, considered by some to have been a native of that city, though the more received opinion makes the place of his birth to have been unknown. He flourished B.C. 280, in the reign of Ptolemy Lagus, and was professor of mathematics in the capital of Egypt. His scholars were numerous, and among them was Ptolemy himself. It is related that the monarch having inquired of Euclid if there was not some mode of learning mathematics less barbarous and requiring less attention than the ordinary one, Euclid, though otherwise of an affable disposition, dryly answered that there was "no royal road to geometry" (μὴ εἶναι βασιλικὴν ἄτραπον πρὸς γεωμετρίαν). Euclid was the first person who established a mathematical school at Alexandria, and it existed and maintained its reputation till the Mohammedan conquest of Egypt. Many of the fundamental principles of the pure mathematics had been discovered by Thales, Pythagoras, and other predecessors of Euclid; but to him is due the merit of having given a systematic form to the science, especially to that part of it which relates to geometry. He likewise studied the cognate sciences of Astronomy and Optics; and, according to Proclus, he was the author of "Elements" (Στοιχεῖα), "Data" (Δεδομένα), "An Introduction to Harmony" (Εἰσαγωγὴ Ἁρμονική), "Phaenomena" (Φαινόμενα), "Optics" (Ὀπτικά), "Catoptrics" (Κατοπτρικά), "On the Division of the Scale" (Κατατομὴ Κανόνος), and other works now lost. His most valuable work, "The Elements of Geometry," in thirteen books, with two additional books by Hypsicles, has been repeatedly published -the first edition at Venice (1482) in a Latin translation from the Arabic. The first Greek text appeared at Basle in 1533. The edition of Peyrard is among the best. It appeared at Paris in 1814- 16-18, in 3 vols. This edition is accompanied with a double translation-one in Latin and the other in French. M. Peyrard consulted a manuscript of the latter part of the ninth century, which had belonged to the Vatican library, and was at that time in the French capital. By the aid of this he was enabled to fill various lacunae, and to reestablish various passages which had been altered in all the other manuscripts and in all the editions anterior to his own. The best recent edition is that of Heiberg, 5 vols. (1883-88). The only English edition of all the works ascribed to Euclid is that of Gregory (Oxford, 1703). See Dodgson, Euclid and his Modern Rivals (1879); Allman, Greek Geometry from Thales to Euclid (1889); and Ball, Short Hist. of Mathematics, pp. 48-57 (1888).

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