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Mathematical Treasure: Danti's Euclid and Astrolabe

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University)

Ignazio (Egnatio) Danti (1536-1586) was an Italian priest, astronomer, mathematician, instrument maker and cosmographer. A versatile scholar, as a young man Ignazio was trained as well as a painter and architect. His interest in perspective is shown in his La Prospettiva di Euclide (1573), in which he supplied the first Italian language translation of Euclid’s Optics and reviewed the work on optics of the third century Greek mathematician Heliodorus of Larissa. As he noted on the title page, at the time he authored this book, he served as cosmographer to Cosimo d’Medici, the Duke of Tuscany.

The opening page of text:

In his discussion, Danti posed and explored suppositions from Euclid’s Optics.

In 1578, Danti published Dell Uso et Fabbrica Dell’ Astrolabio (On the Use and Construction of the Astrolabe), the first definitive Italian work on the subject.

The images above are presented courtesy of the History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Danti's Euclid and Astrolabe," Convergence (May 2019)