Euclid’s Elements, its editions and translations. (Eukleidovy Základy, jejich vydání a překlady.) (Czech. English summary) Zbl 1024.01030

Dějiny Matematiky / History of Mathematics. 20. Prague: Prometheus. 297 p., open access (2002).
This monograph is the result of three-years work. During that time it was explored, how the Euclid’s Elements were spread around the world, how they survive till our times through different translations and commentaries, who translated them into the Czech language and what were human destinies of these translators.
The book is divided into six parts, and concluded with a picture supplement. The first part, occupying more than one third of the book, is devoted to the Elements as a book which travelled nearly the whole world and throughout long ages. There is described how the Elements were spread around the world from the Antiquity to the New Ages. At the beginning the main results of the Greek pre Euclidean mathematics are recalled. The content of all thirteen books is shortly described. The following text on the Elements is divided according to time and place. So first of all, the Elements in Greece (from the first commentaries and proofs of the fifth postulate, which appeared just after Euclid) are discussed, then the commentaries and first translations in Rome, first transcriptions in Byzantium are included. The Elements were studied and analyzed in a greater detail in Arabic world. Exactly the Elements in Arabic underlay the first translations into the Latin in medieval Europe. In that time, the Elements or at least some of their parts became university ‘textbook” since their knowledge was necessary for acquirement the master degree. In the 16th century, first translations into modern languages appeared. Their list and description is included.
The rest of the monograph investigates the Elements in the Czech background. Circumstances and conditions of the first translation efforts and attempts of the Union of Czech Mathematicians are described in the second part of the book.
In the next part, three translations—by Smolík, Fabinger and Servít—into the Czech are compared. Differences are explained in accordance with Gregori’s and Heiberg’s translation from which the Czech translators drew.
The fourth part acquaints readers with lives and work of three Czech translators.
Persons interested will find very useful lists of manuscripts and editions of the Elements in libraries in the Czech Republic.
For the first time is published Smolík’s translation of the 14th and 15th book of the Elements, which is probably due to Hypsikles of Alexandria.
In the picture supplement, the brilliant Smolík’s handwriting can be admired. There is a copy of the manuscript with his translation of the first book.
This lucidly written book is accessible to general readers, although it will be welcome especially by those who are interested in mathematics and its history.


01A90 Bibliographic studies
01A20 History of Greek and Roman mathematics
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