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Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work A.3

Planetary Hypotheses

The Planetary Hypotheses (Greek: Ὑποθέσεις τῶν πλανωμένων, ‘Hypotheses of the Planets’) consists of two books providing a physical description of the universe, in particular of the planetary spheres, distances, sizes and motions. Only the first part of Book I survives in Greek (up to the sphere of Saturn = I.14 in Heiberg’s edition) and it is from this incomplete Greek version that the three sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Latin translations derive. The complete work is extant in Arabic only, although Ptolemy’s speaks of tables at the end of Book II, which have not been found.


M. Steinschneider, Die hebraeischen Uebersetzungen des Mittelalters und die Juden als Doltmetscher. Ein Beitrag zur Literaturgeschichte des Mittelalters, Berlin, 1893, II, 538-539; J. L. Heiberg, Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae exstant omnia, II: Opera astronomica minora, Leipzig, 1907, vi-x and clxvi-clxxiv; W. Hartner, ‘Medieval Views on Cosmic Dimensions and Ptolemy’s Kitāb al-Manshūrāt’, in Mélanges Alexandre Koyré, Paris, 1964, 254-282 (reprinted in W. Hartner, Oriens-Occidens. Ausgewählte Schriften zur Wissenschafts- und Kulturgeschichte. Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag W. Hartner, Hildesheim, 1968, 319-348); B. R. Goldstein, ‘The Arabic Version of Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses’, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society N. S. 57 (1967), 3-55; N. M. Swerdlow, Ptolemy’s Theory of the Distances and Sizes of the Planets: A Study of the Scientific Foundations of Medieval Cosmology, PhD dissertation, Yale University, 1968; O. Neugebauer, A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy, Berlin-New York, 1975, II, 900-926; F. Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, VI: Astronomie, Leiden, 1978, 94-95 (no. II); E. Pérez Sedeño, Ptolomeo: Las Hipótesis de los Planetas, Madrid, 1987; R. Morelon, ‘La version arabe du Livre des hypothèses de Ptolémée’, Mélanges de l’Institut Dominicain d’Etudes Orientales 21 (1993), 7-85; L. Taub, Ptolemy’s Universe. The Natural Philosophical and Ethical Foundations of Ptolemy’s Astronomy, Chicago, 1993, 105-134; A. Murschel, ‘The Structure and Function of Ptolemy’s Physical Hypotheses of Planetary Motion’, Journal for the History of Astronomy 26 (1995), 33-61; R. Morelon, ‘Le Livre des hypothèses de Claude Ptolémée et la lecture de cet auteur en langue arabe’, in Perspectives arabes et médiévales sur les traditions scientifique et philosophique grecque. Actes du colloque de la SIHSPAI, Paris, 31 mars – 3 avril 1993, Paris, 1997, 95-104; A. Cano Ledesma, E. Pérez Sedeño, ‘«Las hipotesis de los planetas» de Claudio Ptolomeo y su recepcion entre los astronomas arabes’, Revista Brasileira de História da Ciência 10 (1993), 21-28; J. Evans, ‘The Origins of Ptolemy’s Cosmos’, in Cosmology Through Time. Ancient and Modern Cosmologies in the Mediterranean Area, eds S. Colafrancesco, G. Giobbi, Milano, 2003, 123-132; N. W. Swerdlow, ‘Ptolemy’s Theories of the Latitudes of the Planets in the Almagest, Handy Tables, and Planetary Hypotheses’, in Wrong for the Right Reasons, eds J. Z. Buchwald, A. Franklin, Dordrecht-Berlin, 2005, 41-71; D. W. Duke, ‘Mean Motions in Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses’, Archive for History of Exact Sciences 63 (2009), 635-654; O. Pedersen, A Survey of the Almagest. With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones, New York-Dordrecht, 2011 (first edition 1974), 391-397; E. A. Hamm, Ptolemy’s Planetary Theory: An English Translation of Book One, Part A of the Planetary Hypotheses with Introduction and Commentary, PhD dissertation, University of Toronto, 2011; F. Acerbi, ‘Byzantine Recensions of Greek Mathematical and Astronomical Texts: A Survey’, Estudios Bizantinos 4 (2016), 133-213: 172; E. A. Hamm, ‘Modeling the Heavens: Sphairopoiia and Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses’, Perspectives on Science 24 (2016), 416-424; J. Feke, Ptolemy’s Philosophy. Mathematics as a Way of Life, Princeton-Oxford, 2018, 187-200 and passim; J. C. Evans, ‘The Ptolemaic Planetary Hypotheses’, in Hellenistic Astronomy. The Science in Its Contexts, eds A. C. Bowen, F. Rochberg, Leiden-Boston, 2020, 112-124; P. Hullmeine, ‘Was there a Ninth Sphere in Ptolemy?’, in Ptolemy’s Science of the Stars in the Middle Ages, eds D. Juste, B. van Dalen, D. N. Hasse, C. Burnett, Turnhout, 2020, 79-96.


The Greek original text, containing the first part of Book I only, was first published, together with a facing Latin translation, by John Bainbridge in 1620 (A.3.3). Critical edition by Heiberg, 70-107 (with facing German translation and followed, pp. 110-145, by a German translation of Book II from the Arabic by L. Nix). An earlier edition of the Greek text had been provided by N. Halma, Hypothèses et époques des planètes de C. Ptolémée, et Hypotyposes de Proclus Diadochus, Paris, 1820, 42-56 (with a French translation). Edition of the Arabic text by Goldstein (facsimile of the full text, including the second part of Book I and Book II, together with an English translation of the second part of Book I) and by Morelon, ‘La version arabe’ (critical edition of Book I, with a French translation). The Greek text has been translated into English by Hamm, Ptolemy’s Planetary Theory, 44-64 (from Heiberg’s edition). The complete text has been translated into Spanish in Pérez Sedeño (from Greek, as far as extant, by J. García Blanco, and from Arabic, for the rest, by A. Cano Ledesma), but see G. J. Toomer’s review of this book in Isis 81 (1990), 757-758.