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The Works of Archimedes

Publisher: 
Dover Publications
Number of Pages: 
326
Price: 
24.95
ISBN: 
0486420841

When the MAA published Sherman Stein's book on Archimedes some years ago, I remember feeling frustrated that we had a useful commentary on the works of Archimedes but that the T. L. Heath translation of those works was no longer in print. Dover has just remedied the situation by bringing their edition of The Works of Archimedes back into print. This actually contains two books: Heath's translation of the surviving works of Archimedes, published in 1897, and a supplement (published in 1912) containing a translation of the recently-discovered "Method".

Heath's edition includes a long introduction (over 170 pages) discussing Archimedes' work. Then come the works themselves, translated into English and into modern mathematical notation. The appendix containing the "Method" has the same structure.

There are two issues surrounding this translation that might bother historians. The first has to do with Heath's decision to modernize the notation. This makes the text easier to read, but sometimes leaves the reader wondering exactly what Archimedes actually wrote. The second has to do with the underlying Greek text: with the recent reappearance of the manuscript containing the "Method" and the increase in knowledge about textual criticism, we are probably at the point where a new critical edition of the Greek text is needed.

Nevertheless, while we wait for scholars to produce a new critical edition and a more literal translation, this edition gives us access to the works of one of the greatest mathematicians of all time.


Fernando Q. Gouvêa is the editor of MAA Reviews.

 


Date Received: 
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Reviewable: 
Yes
Include In BLL Rating: 
Yes
Thomas L. Heath, editor
Publication Date: 
2002
Format: 
Paperback
Category: 
Sourcebook
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
06/1/2002
BLL Rating: 
Publish Book: 
Modify Date: 
Thursday, February 19, 2009

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