Greek Mathematics and its Modern Heirs

For over a thousand years--from the fifth century B.C. to the fifth century A.D.--Greek mathematicians maintained a splendid tradition of work in the exact sciences: mathematics, astronomy, and related fields. Though the early synthesis of Euclid and some of the supremely brilliant works of Archimedes were known in the medieval west, this tradition really survived elsewhere. In Byzantium, the capital of the Greek-speaking Eastern empire, the original Greek texts were copied and preserved. In the Islamic world, in locales that ranged from Spain to Persia, the texts were studied in Arabic translations and fundamental new work was done. The Vatican Library has one of the richest collections in the world of the products of this tradition, in all its languages and forms. Both the manuscripts that the Vatican collected and the work done on them in Rome proved vital to the recovery of ancient science--which, in turn, laid the foundation for the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. In the Roman Renaissance, science and humanistic scholarship were not only not enemies; they were natural allies. [Ancient Greece]

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