Nikephorus Gregoras and Astrolabes
My interest in Byzantine science began with a text, Nikephorus Gregoras’s “περὶ κατασκευῆς καὶ γενέσεως ἀστρολάβου” (“On the Mathematical Origin and Construction of the Astrolabe”). Gregoras was renowned for his skill in both mathematics and the sciences of the stars. He was favored by emperors and helped reestablish the sciences in 14th-century Constantinople. Yet, at first glance the content and form of his text on the astrolabe seems relatively simple, especially compared to the texts circulating in Arabic and Latin. He must have known of these other traditions.
Why then did he write this text?
Who was his intended audience?
How did a text on the astrolabe advance his goals?
Or why did he think a text on the astrolabe would advance his goals?
Gregoras offers a glimpse of the cultural and scientific values of 14th-century Constantinople and the imperial court. What began (and continues) as a study of a text has become an examination of the scientific culture in the imperial capital.
Here is the next group of ten aphorisms, 21–30, from the copy of Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός in BNF gr. 2180. Idiosyncrasies continue to be the norm. As is common in this text, along with the orthographic tendency to reflect pronunciation, these aphorisms often lack words and include numerous errors (usually… Read more
Here are aphorisms 11–20 from the copy of Ptolemy’s “Ὁ Καρπός” in BnF gr. 2180. As to be expected, there are a number of idiosyncrasies here, some going well beyond the orthographic changes (which are unsurprising really). In some cases, this copy of the text includes additional clauses that raise… Read more
As our reader continued to work through Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός he either was uninterested in the minor errors in the Greek or didn’t notice them (such as the τοῦ γενεθλίω which clearly should be τοῦ γενεθλίου). He did add a couple corrections, particularly when whole words were missing. And he… Read more