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On the Sphere and the Cylinder; On the Measurement of the Circle; On Conoids and Spheroids; On Spirals; On the Equilibrium of Planes; On the Quadrature of the Parabola; The Sand Reckoner
In the middle of the 15th century, a number of manuscripts by the third-century BC Greek mathematician Archimedes began to circulate in the humanistic centers in the courts of Italy. Piero della Francesca (circa 1416–92), the Renaissance artist best known for the frescos he painted for the Vatican and for the chapels in Arezzo, transcribed a copy of a Latin translation of Archimedes’s geometry (a compilation of seven surviving treatises) and illustrated it with more than 200 drawings representing the mathematical theorems in the texts. This manuscript, long ...
Eleven Commentaries to The Art of War by Sunzi
Sunzi bing fa (The art of war by Sunzi) is the most important and popular military classic of ancient China. Its influence also spread to neighboring countries and beyond. Sun Wu, also known as Sunzi or Sun Tzu, lived in the State of Qi during the late Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC). He served the State of Wu, in the southeast coastal area, from around 512 BC and presented his military strategy in a work of 13 chapters to the king of Wu. Together with Wu Zixu (died 484 ...
The Empire and Expeditions of Alexander the Great
This 1833 map in Latin shows the conquests of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), whose empire stretched from present-day Greece through Turkey and the Middle East to Afghanistan. In 326 BC Alexander set out to conquer India, but he was stymied when his exhausted armies mutinied on the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India. The map shows the cities that Alexander founded and named after himself, including Alexandria Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan), Alexandria Ariana (Herat, Afghanistan), Alexandria, Egypt, and many others. Place-names ...
Kingdoms of the Successors of Alexander: After the Battle of Ipsus, B.C. 301
Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) died suddenly at the age of 32, leaving no apparent heir or appointed successor. Some 40 years of internecine conflict followed his death, as leading generals and members of Alexander’s family vied to control different parts of the vast empire he had built. The Battle of Ipsus, fought in Phrygia, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) in 301 BC between rival successors, resulted in the empire’s irrevocable dissolution. This late-19th century map in Latin shows the four main kingdoms that emerged after the battle ...
Commentary on The Analects of Confucius
Rongo (Analects) is famed as the collection of the words and deeds of Confucius. As the most cherished scripture of Confucianism, the book greatly influenced the culture of China and neighboring nations. It is said to have been introduced to Japan around the fifth century. The first published edition of Rongo in Japan was made in Sakai, a city in present-day Ōsaka Prefecture, in the 19th year of the Shōhei period (1364), and is known as the Shōhei version. The wood blocks of the first edition disappeared in early days ...
The Analects of Confucius
Rongo (Analects) is famed as the collection of the words and deeds of Confucius and has greatly influenced the culture of China and neighboring nations as the most cherished scripture of Confucianism. It is said to have been introduced to Japan around the fifth century. This work is called the “Tenmon version,” the second version of the published Rongo in Japan after the Rongo shikkai (known as the Shōhei version) first published in Japan in the 19th year of the Shōhei era (1364). The Tenmon Analects were published in the ...
The Expeditions of Alexander: Made for “Histoire Ancienne” by Mr. Rollin
This map shows the expeditions of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) from the Hellespont, the strait (later called the Dardanelles) that separates Europe from Asia in present-day Turkey, through Turkey, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), Persia (Iran), and Afghanistan. Alexander reached as far as the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India, where the conqueror’s exhausted armies finally mutinied. Shown are cities that Alexander founded and named “Alexandria” in honor of himself. Two distance scales are given, the ancient measure ...
The Empire of Alexander the Great and his Campaigns in Europe, Africa, and Particularly in Asia
This map, published in Paris in 1712, shows the expeditions and empire of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The circular inset at the top shows the three continents. The numbered notes in the lower right refer to Alexander’s campaign on the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India, which is shown on the far-right side of the map. The long note in Latin in the upper right-hand corner summarizes Alexander’s career and conquests, which are ...
The Feast of Iskandar and Nushabah from Niẓāmī's "Iskandarnamah"
The painting on the recto and the text on the verso of this fragment describe an episode in Niẓāmī's Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great), the last text of the author's Khamsah (Quintet). In his work, the great Persian author Niẓāmī Ganjavī (1140 or 1141–1202 or 1203) describes the adventures and battles of Alexander the Great as he travels to the end of the world. On his way to the Land of Darkness, he visits the queen of the Caucasian city of Barda, Nushabah, in order ...
Letter to Philocrates
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490) developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library was ...
Commentary on Hippocrates' Aphorisms
The Greek medical tradition survived long after the decline of the Hellenistic world, thanks to the work of Arabic translators and commentators, who preserved the theoretical and practical discoveries of Greek physicians in Arabic translations. The translation of Greek medical texts into Arabic was mainly conducted under the ‘Abbasid caliphs and, in particular, in the circle of intellectuals linked to the name of Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (circa 809–73). Among the Greek physicians, Hippocrates has always been considered an exemplary character, the symbol of the true and scrupulous physician, thanks ...
This Greek text on papyrus, written around 200 BC in Hermopolis, Egypt, has seven lines of writing containing parts of verses 338–344 from the first chorus of Orestes. Composed in 408 BC by the Greek tragedian Euripides (circa 480 BC–406 BC), the play recounts the story of Orestes, who kills his mother Clytaemnestra to avenge the death of his father, Agamemnon, and is pursued by the Furies for this deed. In addition to a passage of a chorus song (stasimon), the fragment contains vocal and instrumental symbols written ...
The Curse of Artemisia – Fragment
This ancient curse is one of the earliest surviving Greek documents on papyrus from Egypt. Dating from the late 4th century BC, it comes from the community of Ionian Greeks that was established at that time in Memphis, Lower Egypt. Greek culture came to dominate in Memphis, especially after 332 BC, when Alexander the Great was crowned pharaoh in the temple of the god Ptah. In the document, Artemisia, about whom almost nothing is known, appeals to the Greco-Egyptian god Oserapis to punish the father of her daughter for depriving ...
Illustrated Poem of Li Sao
This work is an illustrated edition of the Qing dynasty of the poem Li sao (Departing sorrow) by Qu Yuan, who lived circa 343-277 BCE. It was illustrated by Xiao Yuncong (1596-1673), a famed early Qing painter, and was engraved by Tang Yongxian. According to Wang Zhongmin in A descriptive catalog of rare Chinese books in the Library of Congress (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1957) Pan Zuyin (1830-90), a late Qing man of letters and linguist and Qing official, reissued the work and rebound it in four volumes, but ...
This document, known as the Neapolitan Ovid, can be traced with certainty to the region of Puglia (Apulia) in southern Italy, where it most likely was copied at the Monastery of San Benedetto di Bari. The work is a testament to the oldest manuscript tradition relating to the Metamorphoses, a Latin narrative poem by the first-century Roman poet Ovid, which was popular in Europe in the Middle Ages. The codex includes illustrations in bright colors that reflect the several styles that combined in southern Italy in the 11th century under ...
The New Passover Haggadah
The Passover, or Pesach, Haggadah is one of the most important and beloved texts in the Jewish tradition. At the beginning of Passover, Jews the world over gather around tables to read from the Haggadah, a book containing the traditional narrative of the Exodus from Egypt. “Haggadah” means recital or retelling. With its songs and tales and emphasis on the instruction of children, the ancient Passover story is the most commonly illustrated Jewish prayer book. The New Passover Haggadah was created by Israeli artist Asher Kalderon, who in his introduction ...
The Passover, or Pesach, Haggadah is one of the most important and beloved texts in the Jewish tradition. At the beginning of Passover, Jews the world over gather around tables to read from the Haggadah, a book containing the traditional narrative of the Exodus from Egypt. “Haggadah” means recital or retelling. With its songs and tales and emphasis on the instruction of children, the ancient Passover story is the most commonly illustrated Jewish prayer book. The Moriah Haggadah was created by Israeli artist Avner Moriah, who drew his models from ...
Manuscript of a Mongolian Sūtra
This text is a representative example from the collection of Mongolian manuscripts in the Bavarian State Library. It is a Buddhist manuscript produced in the Beijing style, in which a sheet has been inserted in both the upper and lower cover. A silk curtain of different colors protects the sheets set in the recess. This type of book cover was developed in Beijing for Tibetan and Mongolian manuscripts and is sometimes also found among block print bindings. This example is one of the Mahayana Sutras (Yeke kölgen sudur): the popular ...
Kalila and Dimna
Kalila wa-Dimna (Kalila and Dimna) is a widely circulated collection of Oriental fables of Indian origin, composed in Sanskrit possibly as early as the third century BC. The fables were translated into Arabic in the eighth century by the Persian Ibn al-Muqaffa’, a highly educated writer and influential courtier. To this day, al-Muqaffa’s translation is considered an unsurpassed masterpiece of Arabic artistic prose, and numerous translations into European and Oriental languages dating from the 10th to the 14th centuries derive from his version. Influences of al-Muqaffa’s translation also ...
The Noble, Great, and Cleansing Liberation from All Sins through the Buddha
This marvelous manuscript contains a Mahayana Sutra text from the Kanjur (Translation of the words of the Buddha), i.e., the scriptures of Tibetan Buddhism. It is especially remarkable because it was not translated directly from Sanskrit, like so many other works of the Kanjur, but from Chinese. The translators obviously had no original text from which to work. Accordingly, they did not give the work a Sanskrit title, as was usually the case. Manuscripts containing only this text are very rare, and even in this case a further work ...