Book Series Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus - Studies, vol. 1

Ptolemy’s Science of the Stars in the Middle Ages

David Juste, Benno van Dalen, Dag Nikolaus Hasse, Charles Burnett (eds)

  • Pages: x + 463 p.
  • Size:178 x 254 mm
  • Illustrations:11 b/w, 24 tables b/w., 51 geometrical diagrams
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2020

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58639-7
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58947-3
  • E-book
  • Available

Available in Open Access on BrepolsOnline


"This is a marvellous book, with only minor reservations. It is one product of a twenty-five-year (sic) project, now nearing its halfway mark, that exudes scholarship, but not in a dry way. (...) the actual production of the book is excellent, both physically and in terms of copy editing; obviously great care has been taken at every stage. Would that all, or even simply more, books were produced to such high standards. To parody, indeed invert the title of an old British TV comedy series about tailoring: 'Never mind the breadth, feel the quality.'" (John N. Crossley, in: The Medieval Review, 21.09.41)

“The studies in this volume, their extensive bibliographies and the three indices provide modern scholars with the current state-of-the-art in a number of fields as well as with tools to explore a number of directions for future studies.” (J. Lennart Berggren, in Journal for the History of Astronomy, 53/2, 2022, p. 229)

"Les mises au point bibliographiques et les avancées scientifiques souvent inédites publiées dans ce volume font désormais de lui un ouvrage de référence en histoire de l'astronomie." (Emilie Villey, in Semitica et Classica, Vol. XV, 2022, p. 280)

“It is difficult to appraise a collection of essays of this size and caliber succinctly. The 15 essays each make notable contributions, and this collection stands out in its scope, originality, and depth of engagement. (…) the research in this collection is groundbreaking and a welcome contribution.” (Elizabeth Hamm, in Aestimatio: Sources and Studies in the History of Science, 3/1, 2022, p. 180)


David Juste and Benno van Dalen are the research leaders of Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus at the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Munich.
Dag Nikolaus Hasse is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Würzburg.
Charles Burnett is Professor of the History of Islamic Influences in Europe at the Warburg Institute, London.


Claudius Ptolemy (c. 100-170 AD) is one of the most influential scholars of all time. While he is also the author of treatises on geography, optics and harmonics, his fame primarily stems from two works on the science of the stars, dealing with mathematical astronomy (the Almagest) and astrology (the Tetrabiblos). The Almagest and the Tetrabiblos remained the fundamental texts on the science of the stars for some 1500 years. Both were translated several times into Arabic and Latin and were heavily commented upon, glossed, discussed, and also criticised and improved upon, in the Islamic world and in Christian Europe. Yet, the reception of Ptolemy in medieval cultures is still to a large extent a terra incognita of the history of science. The Arabic and Latin versions of the Almagest and the Tetrabiblos are for the most part unavailable in modern editions, their manuscripts remain largely unexplored and, generally speaking, their history has never been systematically investigated.

This volume gathers together fifteen contributions dealing with various aspects of the reception of Ptolemy’s astronomy and astrology in the Islamic world and in Christian Europe up to the seventeenth century. Contributions are by José Bellver, Jean-Patrice Boudet, Josep Casulleras, Bojidar Dimitrov, Dirk Grupe, Paul Hullmeine, Alexander Jones, Richard L. Kremer, Y. Tzvi Langermann, H. Darrel Rutkin, Michael H. Shank, Nathan Sidoli, Carlos Steel, Johannes Thomann and Henry Zepeda.



I. The Greek and Near-Eastern Traditions
Alexander Jones, The Ancient Ptolemy
Nathan Sidoli, Mathematical Methods in Ptolemy’s Analemma
Paul Hullmeine, Was there a Ninth Sphere in Ptolemy?
Bojidar Dimitrov, ‘Forte recte’: Witnesses to the Text of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos in Its Near Eastern Transmission

II. The Arabic Tradition
Johannes Thomann, The Oldest Translation of the Almagest Made for al-Ma’mūn by al-Ḥasan ibn Quraysh: A Text Fragment in Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ’s Critique on al-Fārābī’s Commentary
Dirk Grupe, Thābit ibn Qurra’s Version of the Almagest and Its Reception in Arabic Astronomical Commentaries (Based on the presentation held at the Warburg Institute, London, 5 November 2015)
Y. Tzvi Langermann, Revamping Ptolemy’s Proof for the Sphericity of the Heavens: Three Arabic Commentaries on Almagest I.3
José Bellver, The Arabic Versions of Jābir b. Aflaḥ’s al-Kitāb fī l-Hay’a
Josep Casulleras, The Astrological Computations Attributed to Ptolemy and Hermes in Medieval Arabic Sources

III. The Latin Tradition
Henry Zepeda, Glosses on the Almagest by Campanus of Novara and Others in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 7256
Carlos Steel, A Discussion on Ptolemy’s Authority. Henry Bate’s Prologue to His Translation of Ibn Ezra’s Book of the World
Jean-Patrice Boudet, The Medieval Latin Versions of Pseudo-Ptolemy’s Centiloquium: A Survey
Michael H. Shank, Regiomontanus versus George of Trebizond on Planetary Order, Distances, and Orbs (Almagest 9.1)
H. Darrel Rutkin, Optimus Malorum: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Complex and Highly Interested Use of Ptolemy in the Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem (1496): A Preliminary Survey
Richard L. Kremer, Longomontanus on Mars: The Last Ptolemaic Mathematical Astronomer Creates a Theory

Index of Names and Work Titles
Index of Modern Names
Index of Manuscripts

List of Contributors