Thesis ID: CBB041494916

The Little Astronomy and Middle Books between the 2nd and 13th Centuries CE: Transmissions of Astronomical Curricula (2023)


This dissertation examines the transmission of two astronomical curricula: the Little Astronomy of Greek late antiquity and the Middle Books of the medieval Islamicate world. The Little Astronomy is usually understood to have comprised a group of approximately nine ancient Greek texts: Theodosius’s Sphaerica, Autolycus’s On the Moving Sphere, Euclid’s Optics, Euclid’s Phaenomena, Theodosius’s On Habitations, Theodosius’s On Days and Nights, Aristarchus’s On Sizes and Distances, Autolycus’s On Risings and Settings, and Hypsicles’s Anaphoricus. All of these treatises were translated into Arabic by the end of the ninth century CE, and these translations came to serve as the core of the Middle Books – a grouping named as such because they were the books to be read between Euclid’s Elements and Ptolemy’s Almagest. The existence of a collection called the Middle Books is well-attested by contemporary sources; that of the Little Astronomy is less so. This dissertation therefore sets out to establish the evidence for these respective groupings, examining when they existed, what form they took, and how they developed over time. It determines that the Little Astronomy and Middle Books both comprised a persistent core series of treatises set out in a logically ordered arrangement, sometimes accompanied by other treatises at different points in time. The dissertation then turns to philological analyses to establish the influence of the curricular context on the transmission of the component texts. I argue that many of the changes introduced into these texts by late antique and medieval editors can be identified as motivated by the didactic use of these curricula, and that these contributions speak to how copyists, teachers, and editors in different contexts perceived of their own relationship to a long-lived astronomical tradition.

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Authors & Contributors
Garofalo, Ivan
Berggren, John Lennart
Bertolacci, Amos
Boudon-Millot, Véronique
Buzzi, Serena
Cronier, Marie
Galenos: Rivista di Filologia dei Testi Medici Antichi
Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
Ambix: Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Nuncius: Annali di Storia della Scienza
Sciamvs: Sources and Commentaries in Exact Sciences
Cambridge University Press
New York University
Edizioni Cadmo
Springer Nature
Arabic language
Greek language
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Albertus Magnus
al-Farghani, Abu al-Abbas
Al-Hashimi, 'Ali Ibn Sulayman
Apollonios of Tyana
Time Periods
Early modern
Persia (Iran)
Rome (Italy)
Mediterranean region

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