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Mathematical Treasures - Oronce Fine's Le Sphere du Monde

Frank J. Swetz and Victor J. Katz

Fine's Le Sphere du Monde

Oronce Fine (1494-1555) was a French mathematician and astronomer who served as the Chair of Mathematics at the Collége Royal from 1531 until the time of his death. He revised the classical works of great masters such as Ptolemy, Aristotle and Sorobosco; compiled encyclopedic texts on mathematics; and developed astronomical measuring instruments. This illustration is from page 2 of the 1551 edition of his Le sphere du monde. It shows the interaction between the Four Elements and the Four Humours. It was preceded in 1549 by a royal manuscript edition. Harvard University's Houghton Library has digitized its 1549 manuscript edition of Le sphere du monde: proprement dicte Cosmographie.

Zones of the sphere

This illustration on page 45 of Le sphere shows the division of the earth into its various zones with the boundaries of the zones including the Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn, and the Arctic and Antarctic circles.

Fine's projection of the sphere

Illustrations from Book V of Le sphere demonstrating Fine’s “heart-shaped” projection of the spherical earth onto a flat surface.

Frank J. Swetz and Victor J. Katz, "Mathematical Treasures - Oronce Fine's [i]Le Sphere du Monde[/i]," Loci (January 2011)


Mathematical Treasures