Elements: Reception of Euclid's Elements in the Islamic World

  • Sonja Brentjes
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4425-0_9379

Euclid (ca. 3rd century BCE) was a Greek mathematician. His name and his major work, the Elements, are famous not only among mathematicians, but also to students of other disciplines.

The Elements were sent by the Byzantine emperor from Constantinople to the Abbasid caliph al‐Manṣūr (r. 754–775) in Baghdad. We do not know if any of the scholars of his time prepared a translation or at least a summary for him or the scholarly community.

The earliest translation, according to medieval historical sources, was carried out by al‐ḥajjāj Ibn Yūsuf Ibn Maṭar (fl. between 786 and 833) for the famous Barmekide Yaḥyā Ibn Khālid (d. 805), wazir of caliph al‐Hārūn al‐Rashīd (r. 786–809) or, perhaps, the caliph himself. This translation seems to be lost in Arabic.

Some 20 years later, al‐ḥajjāj composed a second Arabic version of the Elements, which he dedicated to caliph al‐Ma˒mūn (r. 813–833). One of those sources reports he did this to gain the caliph's support, because al‐Ma˒mūn's love for...

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  • Sonja Brentjes

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