By Peter L Duren; Richard Askey; Uta C Merzbach; Harold M Edwards
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Extra resources for A Century of mathematics in America
It is therefore to these heav ens, and their origin in Hellenistic science, that we now turn. B A C K G R O U N D : T H E C HA RA C T E R O F G R E E K S C I E N C E I N T H E H E L L E N I STIC AGE Roman astronomy, as it came to exist in the late Republic and through out the Imperial era, was almost entirely a result of translation from, and 22 CHAPTER ONE rewriting of, Greek works that emerged from Hellenistic intellectual cul ture. In a sense, the texts Roman authors took for their models repre sented a momentous choice.
Translation thus became a means to both obey and go beyond such limits. By adapting Greek works to Roman usage, it directed the sense of linguistic difference to ward discovery of opportunities for innovation. Viewed as a subset of rhetoric, translation was commonly performed as a type of exercise. Cicero and Quintilian, the most influential writ ers on the subject in the late Republic and Imperial periods, respectively, argued for such practice in clear terms and with the definite aim of en couraging an enrichment of Latin: Thus I saw that to employ the same expressions [as previous orators] profited me nothing, while to employ others [less refined] was a posi tive hindrance.
The first category includes mathematical treatises produced by a small elite that included such au thors as Eudoxus, Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, and Aristarchus of Samos, as well as Ptolemy. , planetary motion and size) . C. and who sought to acquire some thing of the stature and worldliness associated with cosmopolitan learn ing in an age when the library at Alexandria had become throughout the eastern Mediterranean a symbol of high civilization ( Green 1990). An other important influence may well have been the rapid spread of liter acy and book buying among the population.