Joy of Geometry

Geometry texts are rarely models of exquisite typography, so it is special to see a truly well-laid-out Latin version of Euclid's Elements, Reg.lat.1137, in the latest set of digitizations from the Vatican Library. Menso Folkerts' introduction (on Bill Casselman's website) to the translations offers the basic details:
Euclid's Elements played an important role in the Middle Ages, rivalled in the legacy of Greek science ... perhaps only by Ptolemy's Almagest. For a long time, Euclid's text was represented only by fragments reputed to have originated in a translation by the late Roman philosopher Boethius. And during these early years it is almost certain that its true significance was not appreciated. 
But in the twelfth century it was introduced in its complete form along with other remnants of Greek science through the medium of translations from the Arabic. There seem to have been a very small number of independent translations, but the first six books of the Elements became part of the basic curriculum of that time, and copies spread throughout Europe. Many manuscripts from this period are still to be found among collections today. Most are rather drab productions when compared to the fancier manuscripts of that time ...

This 13th-century codex contains a translation from the Arabic commonly ascribed to Adelard of Bath. What's impressive as a matter of book history is the strict columnar layout, the variation in text size, the conscious manipulation of white space, the inviting optics of the drawings. Everything gives the impression of a well-designed modern book, though this particular one is obviously unfinished, since the space left for the illuminated initials (example above) remains empty.

Here is the full list of the digitizations of the past four weeks:
  1. Patetta.683
  2. Reg.lat.120
  3. Reg.lat.128
  4. Reg.lat.156
  5. Reg.lat.241
  6. Reg.lat.924
  7. Reg.lat.934
  8. Reg.lat.967
  9. Reg.lat.978
  10. Reg.lat.989
  11. Reg.lat.991, lawbook used at the chancery of the Carolingian court. Rosamond McKitterick argues this codex is one of the corrected masters from which copies of the legal codes were made for the use of officials and clergy in the provinces. With the Lex Ribvaria (B 16, with the best text), Alemanorum, Baiuuariorum and the Epitome Aegidiana (Charlemagne's regulations relating to the Lex Baiuuariorum). See Bibliotheca Legum.
  12. Reg.lat.1004, a general medical text of the 13th century with Hippocratic and pseudo-Hippocratic writings. From folio 94v, a text beginning: Ad compaginem membrorum ...
  13. Reg.lat.1006, De Planctu Naturae by Master Alan of Lille
  14. Reg.lat.1007
  15. Reg.lat.1009
  16. Reg.lat.1012,,The last folio is the beginning of the geometrical text De conicis (Cum continuatur inter punctum aliquod et lineam) (12c-13c) by Gerard of Cremona, translated from Apollonius of Perga. This diagram is on the first folio:
  17. Reg.lat.1017
  18. Reg.lat.1019
  19. Reg.lat.1022, the Mistère du Siège d’Orleans
  20. Reg.lat.1025, Rule of St Benedict begins this handbook of Geoffroy de Vendôme (1093-1132)
  21. Reg.lat.1033
  22. Reg.lat.1036, one might term this gorgeous codex a fat-cat lawyer's handbook, where every heading and keyword is illuminated to aid memorization, rather like a hyperlinked text:
  23. Reg.lat.1037
  24. Reg.lat.1039
  25. Reg.lat.1042
  26. Reg.lat.1043
  27. Reg.lat.1076
  28. Reg.lat.1078
  29. Reg.lat.1137 , Euclid's Elements, above
  30. Reg.lat.1174
  31. Reg.lat.1215
  32. Sbath.642
  33. Urb.lat.116
  34. Urb.lat.1091
  35. Urb.lat.1258
  36. Urb.lat.1619
  37. Urb.lat.1646
  38. Urb.lat.1647
  39. Urb.lat.1648
  40. Vat.arm.11
  41. Vat.lat.277
  42. Vat.lat.713
  43. Vat.lat.1380
  44. Vat.lat.1428
  45. Vat.lat.1429
  46. Vat.lat.1456
  47. Vat.lat.1721
  48. Vat.lat.1747
  49. Vat.lat.1850
  50. Vat.lat.1852
  51. Vat.lat.1857
  52. Vat.lat.1867
  53. Vat.lat.1889
  54. Vat.lat.1891
  55. Vat.lat.1901
  56. Vat.lat.1902
  57. Vat.lat.1911
  58. Vat.lat.1913
  59. Vat.lat.1914
  60. Vat.lat.1919
  61. Vat.lat.1920
  62. Vat.lat.1921
  63. Vat.lat.1924
  64. Vat.lat.1928
  65. Vat.lat.1931
  66. Vat.lat.1933
  67. Vat.lat.1966
  68. Vat.lat.1977
  69. Vat.lat.1978
This is Piggin's Unofficial List number 126. If you have corrections or additions, please use the comments box below. Follow me on Twitter (@JBPiggin) for news of more additions to DigiVatLib.

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