The Works of Galileo

Foundations of Mathematical Physics

Mathematics: Euclid, comparing editions. Clavius vs. Barrow.

Why have we collected several hundred editions of Euclid’s Elements? (Figure 1) is the edition prepared for students in Rome by the leading Jesuit mathematician of Galileo’s day, Christoph Clavius. It is densely written, with small print (Figure 2) .

This is the edition used by Newton’s contemporaries at Cambridge, prepared by Isaac Barrow (Figure 3) (Figure 4) . Compare a page from the Barrow edition (Figure 5) with a page from the Clavius edition; which course would you rather take?

On the left of (Figure 6) are the two thick volumes of Clavius’ edition. In contrast, the English edition on the right might fit in a shirt pocket. Not even Euclid’s Geometry is the same in all times and places.

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Euclid, 1589.

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Figure 2 Figure 2 - Return to Text

Euclid, 1589.

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Figure 3 Figure 3 - Return to Text

Euclid, 1655.

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Figure 4 Figure 4 - Return to Text

Euclid, 1655, Book I.

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Figure 5 Figure 5 - Return to Text

Euclid, 1655.

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Figure 6 Figure 6 - Return to Text

Left: Clavius, 2 vols. Right: Barrow, 1 vol.

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Exhibit credit: Kerry Magruder, with the assistance of , Marilyn B. Ogilvie, Duane H. D. Roller.

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