Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work C.1.4

Almagesti minor

The Almagesti minor, also known as Almagestum parvum, is a summary of the first six books of the Almagest, whose author reorganised the content after the model of Euclid’s Elements and added proofs and further material from Albategni [al-Battānī] and others. The source text for the Almagest is the translation of Gerard of Cremona (A.1.2). In the manuscripts, the text is anonymous or variously attributed to Albategni, Geber [Jābir ibn Aflaḥ], Campanus of Novara, Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas. Zepeda (The First latin Treatise, 11-18) rejects all these ascriptions and argues that a better candidate is Walter of Lille, to whom Richard of Fournival attributes the text in his Biblionomia written c. 1250 (‘Galterus de Insulla’, see MS Paris, BnF, lat. 16657, under Note). Pursuing the investigation further, Stefan Georges confirmed this authorship, identified Walter of Lille with the poet Walter of Châtillon and argued that the text was composed at the court of Henry II of England, probably at Winchester, c. 1170. The Almagesti minor gave rise to supercommentaries C.1.7, C.1.12 and C.1.24, and was used as a source in commentaries C.1.8, C.1.16 and C.1.21.

Note In addition to the manuscripts listed below, sections of the Almagesti minor appear as glosses to the Almagest in MS Cracow, BJ, 619.

Text ‘(ed. Zepeda) [preface] Omnium recte philosophantium verisimilibus coniecturis et credibilibus argumentis et firmissimis rationibus non solum verisimilibus et credibilibus argumentis sed et firmissimis rationibus deprehensum est formam celi spericam — Que cum ita sint superest ut propositum aggrediamur. [book i] Data circuli diametro latera decagoni, pentagoni, exagoni, tetragoni, atque trianguli omnium ab eodem circulo — et ab orizonte recte spere transierit. [book ii] Orizon declivis est cui polus elevatur. Spera declivis est vel obliqua — aspectus Lune sine cuius notitia solares eclipses sciri est impossibile. [book iii] Communia quedam premittenda sunt quia hic modus demonstrationi est aptior — in tempore considerationis tardier vel celerior diversitas. Explicit liber tertius continens universam de motu Solis doctrinam. [book iv] Incipit quartus de motu Lune. Terram ad Lune distantiam sensibilem quantitatem habere — et erit motus iste contra ordinem signorum. Explicit liber quartus. [book v] Incipit quintus. Locus stelle secundum longitudinem est punctum circuli signorum — quam propter solares eclipses querimus. [book vi] Superlatio Lune ad datum tempus est id quod relinquitur cum diversus motus — Et inclinationes quidem tenebrarum sic se habent. Explicit hic sextus liber et sexti glosa textus.’

Bibl. F. J. Carmody, Arabic Astronomical and Astrological Sciences in Latin Translation. A Critical Bibliography, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1956, 164 (no. 2); A. Birkenmajer, ‘La bibliothèque de Richard de Fournival, poète et érudit français du début du XIIIe siècle, et son sort ultérieur’, in A. Birkenmajer, Etudes d’histoire des sciences et de la philosophie du Moyen Age, Wrocław, 1970, 117-210: 142-147; M. Pereira, ‘Campano da Novara autore dell’Almagestum parvum’, Studi Medievali 19 (1978), 769-776; R. Lorch, ‘Some Remarks on the Almagestum parvum’, in Amphora. Festschrift für Hans Wussing zu seinem 65. Geburtstag, eds S. S. Demidov, M. Folkerts et al., Basel-Boston-Berlin, 1992, 407-438 (reprinted in R. Lorch, Arabic Mathematical Sciences. Instruments, Texts, Transmission, Farnham-Burlington, 1995, V); H. Zepeda, The Medieval Latin Transmission of the Menelaus Theorem, PhD dissertation, University of Oklahoma at Norman, 2013, 166-183; H. Zepeda, ‘Euclidization in the Almagestum parvum’, Early Science and Medicine 20 (2015), 48-76; H. Zepeda, The First Latin Treatise on Ptolemy’s Astronomy: The Almagesti minor (c. 1200), Turnhout, 2018; N. M. Swerdlow, ‘The Almagest in the Manner of Euclid’, Journal for the History of Astronomy 52 (2021), 104-107; S. Georges, Glosses as a Source for the History of Science. The Case of Gerard of Cremona’s Translation of Ptolemy’s Almagest (forthcoming).

Modern ed. Critical edition, translation and commentary by Zepeda, The First Latin Treatise.