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Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work A.7

Handy Tables


A set of astronomical tables, together with canons for their use.


Greek (Πρόχειροι κανόνες, ‘Handy Tables’). Only the canons are extant in their original version. The tables themselves are known through Theon of Alexandria’s version. The Handy Tables do not survive as such in Arabic and in Latin (but see A.7.1), even though they represent the prototype of most Arabic and Latin astronomical tables.


F. Boll, ‘Beiträge zur Überlieferungsgeschichte der griechischen Astrologie und Astronomie’, Sitzungsberichte Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Phil.-Hist. Klasse 1899, 77-140: 110-138; J. L. Heiberg, Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae exstant omnia, II: Opera astronomica minora, Leipzig, 1907, x-xi, clxxv-clxxix and cxc-cciii; A. Rome, ‘Le problème de l’équation du temps chez Ptolémée’, Annales de la Société Scientifique de Bruxelles 59 (1939), 211-224; B. L. Van der Waerden, ‘Bemerkungen zu den Handlichen Tafeln des Ptolemaios’, Sitzungsberichte Bayerischen Akademie, Math-Naturw. Kl., 1953, 261-272; B. L. Van der Waerden, ‘Die Handlichen Tafeln des Ptolemaios’, Osiris 13 (1958), 54-78; A. Aaboe, ‘On the Tables of Planetary Visibility in the Almagest and the Handy Tables’, Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab. Historisk-filosofiske Meddelelser 37 (1960), 1-20; W. D. Stahlman, The Astronomical Tables of Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1291, PhD dissertation, Brown University, 1960; A. Tihon, ‘Les scolies des Tables Faciles de Ptolémée’, Bulletin de l’Institut Historique Belge de Rome 43 (1973), 49-110; O. Neugebauer, A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy, Berlin-New York, 1975, II, 969-1028; F. Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, VI: Astronomie, Leiden, 1978, 95-96 (no. V); A. Tihon, Le “Petit Commentaire” de Théon d’Alexandrie aux Tables Faciles de Ptolémée. Histoire du texte, édition critique, traduction, Vaticano, 1978; D. Pingree, ‘An Illustrated Greek Astronomical Manuscript. Commentary of Theon of Alexandria on the Handy Tables and Scholia and Other Writings of Ptolemy Concerning Them’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 45 (1982), 185-192 (reprinted in Pathways into the Study of Ancient Sciences. Selected Essays by David Pingree, eds I. Pingree, J. Steele, Philadelphia, 2014, 451-462); J. Mogenet, A. Tihon, Le “Grand Commentaire” de Théon d’Alexandrie aux Tables Faciles de Ptolémée. Livre I, Vatican, 1985; A. Tihon, ‘Théon d’Alexandrie et les “Tables Faciles” de Ptolémée’, Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Sciences 35 (1985), 106-123; D. H. Wright, ‘The Date of the Vatican Illuminated Handy Tables of Ptolemy and of its Early Additions’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 78 (1985), 355-362; A. Jones, ‘Ptolemy’s First Commentator’, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. New Series 80 (1990), 1-61; A. Tihon, Le “Grand Commentaire” de Théon d’Alexandrie aux Tables Faciles de Ptolémée, 2 vols, Vaticano, 1991 (Livres II et III) and 1999 (Livre IV); A. Tihon, ‘Les Tables Faciles de Ptolémée dans les manuscrits en onciale (IXe-XIe siècles)’, Revue d’Histoire des Textes 22 (1992), 47-87; J. Chabás, A. Tihon, ‘Verification of Parallax in Ptolemy’s Handy Tables’, Journal for the History of Astronomy 24 (1993), 123-141; B. van Dalen, ‘On Ptolemy’s Table for the Equation of Time’, Centaurus 37 (1994), 97-153 (reprinted in B. van Dalen, Islamic Astronomical Tables. Mathematical Analysis and Historical Investigation, Farnham-Burlington, 2013, II); A. Tihon, ‘Theon of Alexandria and Ptolemy’s Handy Tables’, in Ancient Astronomy and Celestial Divination, ed. N. M. Swerdlow, Cambridge (Mass.)-London, 1999, 357-369; D. V. Proverbio, ‘Theonis Alexandrini fragmentum pervetus arabice sul più antico manoscritto del Commenatrium parvum di Tenone Alessandrino. Notizia preliminare’, Reconditi della Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Classe di Scienze morali, storiche e filologiche, Ser. 9, Vol. 13 (2002), 373-386; A. Tihon, ‘Les Tables faciles de Ptolémée: une édition critique’, in Studies in the History of the Exact Sciences in Honour of David Pingree, eds C. Burnett, J. P. Hogendijk, K. Plofker, M. Yano, Leiden-Boston, 2004, 223-246; 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; O. Pedersen, A Survey of the Almagest. With Annotation and New Commentary by Alexander Jones, New York-Dordrecht, 2011 (first edition 1974), 397-400; J. Lempire, Le commentaire astronomique aux Tables Faciles de Ptolémée attribué à Stéphanos d’Alexandrie, I: Histoire du texte. Edition critique, traduction et commentaire (chapitres 1-16), Leuven, 2016; F. Guidetti, ‘‘Not in accordance with Ptolemy in some details’: A Late Antique Revision of the Handy Tables’, in The Stars in the Classical and Medieval Traditions, eds A. Hadravová, P. Hadrava, K. Lippincott, Praha, 2019, 45-91; J. Chabás, Computational Astronomy in the Middle Ages: Sets of Astronomical Tables in Latin, Madrid, 2019, 21-32.


Both the canons and the tables received a first edition, together with a French translation, by N. Halma, Commentaire de Théon d’Alexandrie sur le livre III de l’Almageste de Ptolémée. Tables manuelles des mouvemens des astres, Paris, 1822-1825, 3 vols (without critical apparatus). Critical edition of the canons by J. L. Heiberg, Claudii Ptolemaei opera quae exstant omnia, II: Opera astronomica minora, Leipzig, 1907, 159-185. A critical edition of the tables is in the process of being published by A. Tihon and R. Mercier, see Πτολεμαίου Πρόχειροι Κανόνες. Les Tables Faciles de Ptolémée, 1a (A. Tihon): Tables A1-A2. Introduction, Edition critique, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2011; 1b (R. Mercier), Transcription and Commentary, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2011. Table A20 (Table of the Distances of the Fixed Stars) has been edited by Guidetti, 62-73.

Latin translations