Project icon: lavishly furnished initial letter with a painting of Ptolemy using an astrolab.

Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work A.1.5

Almagesti (tr. Erasmus Reinhold)


‘(ed. Wittenberg 1549) Primus liber Magnae constructionis Ptolemaei. (45r) [text] Optime mihi videntur hi, qui dextre philosophati sunt, separasse speculativam philosophiae partem ab activa… (47r) Caput I. De ordine huius doctrinae. Initium autem erit huius operis, haec consideratio, quomodo se tota terra universaliter habeat ad totum coelum… (51v) [reinhold’s comm.] Σχόλιον. Vult Ptolemaeus non solum hoc demonstrare quod terra sit globosa — in qua aequinoctialis nusquam ad horizontem inclinat. [reinhold’s note to the reader] Ad lectorem studiosum. Deo iuvante in proxima aeditione hanc institutam explicationem nostram rudiorem perpoliemus, et adiungemus reliqua ex Theone, quae ad Ptolemaei sententiam penitus intelligendam aliquid momenti adferunt, interea bene vale et hisce feliciter fruere. Laus Deo.’


This translation, which includes Book I only, was made from the Greek by Erasmus Reinhold, who published it, together with the original Greek text, in Wittenberg in 1549. Reinhold added his own commentary, printed in the body of the text in italics and introduced by the word ‘Scholion’ written in Greek. As made clear in the note to the reader at the end of the text, this commentary uses and quotes passages from Theon of Alexandria’s commentary on the Almagest (C.1.29). The Greek exemplar for both the Almagest and Theon’s commentary was the editio princeps published by Simon Grynaeus and Joachim Camerarius in Basel in 1538. Reinhold dedicated the work to Christoph von Karlowitz (1507-1578), a diplomat and correspondent of Philipp Melanchthon and Joachim Camerarius.


The three Parisian editions (1556, 1557 and 1560) ignore the Greek text and reproduce the edition of 1549 faithfully, except that the whole text was printed in italics and that the word ‘Scholion’ was removed, so making it impossible to distinguish Ptolemy’s text from Reinhold’s commentary.


P. D. Omodeo, I. Tupikova, ‘The Post-Copernican Reception of Ptolemy: Erasmus Reinhold’s Commented Edition of the Almagest, Book One (Wittenberg, 1549)’, Journal for the History of Astronomy 44 (2013), 235-256; P. D. Omodeo, ‘Utilitas astronomiae in the Renaissance: The Rhetoric and Epistemology of Astronomy’, in The Structures of Practical Knowledge, ed. M. Valleriani, Cham, 2017, 307-332: 310-312; P. D. Omodeo, I. Tupikova, ‘Visual and Verbal Commentaries in Renaissance Astronomy: Erasmus Reinhold’s Treatment of Classical Sources on Astronomy’, Philological Encounters 3 (2018), 359-398: 376-390.