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Geometry in Varro, Cicero, and Vitruvius: A Philological Study
Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Gothenburg.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In antiquity the mathematical field of geometry was developed by the Greeks. As theRomans came into closer contact with Greek culture, they also encountered its repertoire of learning, of which geometry was a part. The three Roman authors Marcus Terentius Varro, Marcus Tullius Cicero, and Vitruvius were each in his own way influenced by Greek learned culture and endeavoured to transmit a measure of it to the Roman context. In the present study the literary evidence of this activity by these authors is investigated as regards geometry.The aim of the study is threefold: (1) to reexamine the evidence of the supposed Varronian works De geometria and De mensuris in order to address the questions: Did Varro write on geometry? If so, which work(s)? What can be said about its/their title(s) and contents? Furthermore, the aim is to investigate the rôle, significance,and usage of geometry (2) in Cicero’s De inventione, De oratore, Partitiones oratoriae, De re publica, Academica, De finibus, Tusculanae disputationes, and Deofficiis, and (3) in Vitruvius’ work De architectura. A number of relevant passages have been selected from these works and are systematically commented upon and discussed. Customary philological method is applied throughout the study. Chapter 1 deals with Varro. The investigation indicates that Varro wrote one book; as regards its title and contents, the plausibility of different suggestions is discussed. In Chapters 2 and 3 the passages in Cicero and Vitruvius respectively are treated. In the Conclusion some main points of Chapters 2 and 3 are restated and developed; in Cicero and Vitruvius general theoretical knowledge of geometry and the practical use thereof are recognized as manifestations of sophisticated human culture.

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Göteborg: Department of Languages and Literatures, University of Gothenburg , 2009. , 247 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-149273OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-149273DiVA: diva2:404376
Available from: 2011-05-17 Created: 2011-03-16 Last updated: 2011-05-17Bibliographically approved

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