Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work A.7.1

Preceptum canonis Ptolomei (tr. before c. 1000)

Translated from the Greek before c. 1000 A.D. (date of the earliest manuscript, London, BL, Harley 2506), this set of astronomical tables with canons ultimately derives from Theon of Alexandria’s Little Commentary to the Handy Tables of Ptolemy and other sources. Only the tables for the Sun and the Moon are extant in the manuscripts. Pingree thought that the planetary tables were lost at an early stage in the transmission of the text, but it is rather likely that they never existed in the Latin version, as also suggested by the fact that only one of the 103 chapters of the canons (ch. 62) mentions the planets. Pingree dated the translation to 534/535, but this also needs to be examined again, as this date may as well be that of the Greek original (so Honigmann, 106; Van de Vyver, 687; and Mercier; see also Zingg). Likewise, Pingree’s reconstruction of the early history of the text must be reconsidered in the light of Juste, ‘Neither Observation’.

Text ‘(canons, ed. Pingree) Incipit Preceptum Canonis Ptolomei. [1] Intellectus climatum, polis episeme, requires si inveneris platos civitatis tibi date esse intra partes XV et minutas XV — [103] in apogion vero quod intuleris si non inveneris, requires superiorem et inferiorem; et addes aut deduces.’

Bibl. E. Honigmann, Die sieben Klimata und die πόλεις επίσημοι. Eine Untersuchung zur Geschichte der Geographie und Astrologie im Altertum und Mittelalter, Heidelberg, 1929, 102-107; A. Van de Vyver, ‘Les plus anciennes traductions latines médiévales (Xe-XIe siècles) de traités d’astronomie et d’astrologie’, Osiris 1 (1936), 658-691: 687-689; R. P. Mercier, ‘Astronomical Tables in the Twelfth Century’, in Adelard of Bath. An English Scientist and Arabist of the Early Twelfth Century, ed. C. Burnett, London, 1987, 87-118: 115; D. Pingree, ‘The Preceptum Canonis Ptolomei’, in Rencontres de cultures dans la philosophie médiévale. Traductions et traducteurs de l’Antiquité tardive au XIVe siècle (Actes du Colloque international de Cassino, 15-17 juin 1989), eds J. Hamesse, M. Fattori, Louvain-la-Neuve-Cassino, 1990, I, 355-375 (reprinted in Pathways into the Study of Ancient Sciences. Selected Essays by David Pingree, eds I. Pingree, J. Steele, Philadelphia, 2014, 113-133); D. Pingree, Preceptum Canonis Ptolomei, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1997 (Corpus des Astronomes Byzantins VIII); D. Pingree, ‘Avranches 235 dans la tradition manuscrite du Preceptum Canonis Ptolomei’ [in English], in Science antique, science médiévale. Actes du colloque international (Mont-Saint-Michel, 4-7 septembre 1998), eds L. Callebat, O. Desbordes, Hildesheim, 2000, 162-169; D. Juste, ‘Neither Observation nor Astronomical Tables: An Alternative Way of Computing the Planetary Longitudes in the Early Western Middle Ages’, 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, 181-222: 181-185; E. Zingg, ‘Benutzt Cassiodor in den Institutiones das Preceptum Canonis Ptolomei oder Ptolemaios’ Handliche Tafeln?’, in Von der Antike begeistert! Philologie, Philosophie, Religion und Politik durch drei Jahrtausende. Festschrift für Christoph Riedweg, eds C. Semenzato, L. Hartmann, Basel, 2023, 466-474.

Modern ed. Critical edition of the canons by Pingree, Preceptum (from all extant MSS). The tables are unpublished.