Opera quae extant. Nouis demonstrationibus commentariisque illustrata. Per Dauidem Riualtum a Flurantia Coenomanum.

Paris, Apud Claude Morel, 1615.


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio. pp. [xliv] 549 (i.e. 551), [i]. Greek and Roman letter in double column, commentary in smaller Roman, printed Italic side notes, some Hebrew. Title in red and black with Morel’s large woodcut fountain device, large woodcut floriated and historiated initials, head and tailpieces and typographical ornaments, innumerable mathematical and scientific woodcut diagrams illustrating text, some half page, C19 bookplate on fly. Light age yellowing, title slightly dusty, some marginal spotting, occasional minor stain or spot, small tear from fore-margin of first three leaves. A very good copy, in contemporary vellum over boards, yapp edges, remains of ties, covers a little soiled.

First edition of this important and highly influential version of the works of Archimedes edited by David Rivault (1571-1616) sometime tutor in mathematics to Louis XIII, founder of a scientific salon at the Louvre, along the lines of the Italian academies, and friend of Scaliger, Casaubon and a company of the chief scholars of the day. He was hugely well read and had travelled extensively, speaking Latin, Greek, Arabic and Hebrew. His ‘Académie du Louvre’ was a direct precursor to the Académie Francaise. The work contains the Greek text with a Latin translation alongside and has extensive explanatory notes. This edition was the more or less complete basis for the first proper German edition, translated by J.C. Sturm in 1670 and was the edition read and used by such influential figures as Descartes. It contains all Archimedes’ monumental contributions to science: his discovery of the principle of specific gravity and methods for calculating the centres, circle measurements, the quadrature of the parabola and spirals, techniques of analysis, his theoretical work on mechanics and hydrostatics, an approximation of the value of pi, and his treatment of the numeration of large numbers.“The success of the humanist mathematicians in uncovering, clarifying, translating and providing commentaries on the major scientific texts of the ancient authors should not be seen as peripheral to the scientific revolution. The mastery of the Greek and Latin texts was an essential stage in the attempt to ‘surpass the ancients,’ and the extensive publishing of new and better-understood texts by the classical mathematicians played an integral role in the founding of the ‘new sciences’” Martin Kemp, The Science of Art, p. 76.

Archimedes, fl. Syracuse c250 BC, was the greatest mathematician and engineer of antiquity – “together with Newton and Gauss – [he] is generally regarded as one of the greatest mathematicians the world has ever known, and if his influence had not been overshadowed at first by Aristotle, Euclid and Plato, the progress of modern mathematics might have been much faster. As it was, his influence began to take full effect only after the publication of this first printed edition which enabled Descartes, Galileo and Newton in particular to build on what he had begun.” Printing and the Mind of Man 72 on the Basle edn. of 1544.

BM. STC C17 Fr. A 630. PMM. 72. (1st edn.) Brunet I 384. Riccandi I 43:7 “Quantunque questa raccolta non sia completa pure e’ assai rara e ricercata’. Not in Honeyman.


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