MATHEMATICS IN SERVICE TO EARLY THEORIES OF PHYSICS

In duos Archimedis aequeponderantium libros paraphrasis.

Pesaro, Girolamo Concordia, 1588.

£7,500

FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (4), 202, (2). Roman letter; title and text within ruled border, large historiated initials, several woodcut illustrations and diagrams; minor repair to blanks of title, occasional oil splashes, mainly marginal. A very good, well-margined copy in contemporary limp vellum; remains of ties, shelf mark and title inked on spine by contemporary Gothic hand; slightly stained, small loss at foot of spine; early bookcase number on front endpaper verso; a few contemporary marginalia, amending the text according to the final errata.

A fine copy of the first edition of an influential translation of Archimedes with the commentary by Guidobaldo del Monte (1545 – 1607), Galileo’s friend and early patron. Born to a wealthy family from Urbino, Guidobaldo was a soldier, military engineer, astronomer and mathematician. In addition to writing innovative works of applied geometry and physics, he also dwelt on perspective theory and developed mathematical instruments, such as the proportional and elliptical compass. His Liber mechanicorum (1577) is regarded as the greatest work on statics since the Greeks. It employed the mathematically rigorous proofs of Archimedean models in investigating static and mechanical questions. Equally important was this paraphrase of Archimedes’s On the Equilibrium of Planes, which applied geometry to hydrostatics and demonstrated the law of the lever using pure geometry.

Both these works had a profound and lasting impact on the methodology adopted by 16th-century Italian scientists, most notably Galileo: ‘Guidobaldo was … possibly the greatest single influence on the mechanics of Galileo’ (ODSB). In addition to his patronage, Guidobaldo also supported Galileo’s race for the chair of Mathematics at the University of Padua in 1592. Galileo himself, who was sent a copy of the present work, adopted Guidobaldo’s analysis of the lever.

BM STC It., 37; Adams, U6; Graesse, I, 180; Ricciardi, II, 179.

L2050

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