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I hope this is a valid question to ask on this website (since it's astronomy and not e.g. mechanics, I wasn't so sure).

What prerequisites are needed for fully understanding Ptolemy's Almagest. Fully understanding means being able to understand what I read without getting stuck anywhere due to a lack of knowledge.)

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  • $\begingroup$ You need to learn Latin (unless you have an English translation). Another requisite: a lot of spare time. $\endgroup$ – Wolphram jonny Nov 5 '14 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ @julianfernandez: I have G.J.Toomer's English version -- and don't worry about spare time. ;-) $\endgroup$ – user45220 Nov 5 '14 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ well, euclidean geometry (preferably from the Elements) would be needed, plus some familiarity with the Babylonian approximations (and fractions) plus understanding of Latin or Anc. Greek or translation $\endgroup$ – Nikos M. Nov 5 '14 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ @NikosM.: Why was I told that people used to read a collection of works entitled "The Little Astronomy" (which includes e.g. Euclid's Phaenomena) as a stepping stone to Ptolemy? It seems there are solid prerequisites needed. Plus the knowledge that Ptolemy assumes you know about Calenders, Egyptian astronomy, etc. $\endgroup$ – user45220 Nov 5 '14 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ @user45220, sure there are pre-requisites. And if one wants to fully merge into the text would have to have a good familiarity with the phiolosophical schools of thought which shaped the Hellenistic period (Pythagoreans, Plato, Aristotle). Just Aristotle is a huge work. Then Euclid of course, Appolonius and conic sections, a familiarity with Babylonian mathematics (since babylonian approximations are used in Almagest). Some theorems of Pappus as well. i guess this would make a fairly good background $\endgroup$ – Nikos M. Nov 5 '14 at 21:31
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Richard Fitzpatrick's free e-book A Modern Almagest: An Updated Version of Ptolemy’s Model of the Solar System presents a modernized version of Ptolemy's Almagest.

(I mention it here.)

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