# Printed Books

RATDOLT: 1482

A huge number of printed editions of Euclid have been produced over the last 500 or so years. The first printed edition was made in May 25, 1482, by the printer Erhard Ratdolt of Venice. This edition was in Latin and based on the 13th century medieval manuscript produced by Campanus. It is now believed that the Campanus edition was derived from the so-called Adelard II manuscripts as well as other sources, one of which might have been the Greek-Latin translation that was done in Palermo in the 12th century. The Adelard II manuscripts are now believed to have been written by Robert of Chester (1) who used earlier Arabic editions of Euclid as well as a number of Latin editions (also derived from Arabic copies) including editions by Adelard of Bath (Adelard I), Hermann of Carinthia and possibly others such as Boethius (a very early Greek to Latin translation form the 5th century).

A page from Erhard Ratdolt's copy of Euclid, 1482, showing Pythagoras' theorem.. From https://www.loc.gov/item/2021667076/

ZEMBERTI (1505), GRYNEAUS (1533)

The introduction of the printing press in the 15th century changed how knowledge was disseminated and resulted in a deluge of books on all topics being printed and sold. By 1600, Euclid had been translated and printed into most European languages, including a new Greek translation to Latin by Zamberti, 1505. The Greek codex used by Zamberti is unfortunately not known (Riccardi, 1828), but appears to be a Theon based text. In 1533 Gryneaus published the first printed Greek edition apparently based on two Greek manuscripts (Venetus Marcianus 301 and Paris gr. 23433) as well Zamberti’s Latin edition (Heath, 1925, page 101). The Codex Marciana 301 is most likely located in the Library of Saint Mark, Venice (Italian: Biblioteca Marciana).

COMMANDINO: 1572

In 1572, Commandino published his Latin version of Euclid which was based on a different set of Greek manuscripts. At least one of these was based on the printed Greek manuscript by Grynaeus in 1533. The precise manuscripts Commandino used, however, is unknown, though it is suggested that he didn’t use the Greek texts held in the Vatican (Davide Pietrini, 2020). Nevertheless, it was Commandino’s edition that ultimately supplanted the original Campanus edition.

BILLINGSLEY: 1570

In the English speaking world, the first English translation of Euclid was by Billingsley in 1570 in London, with the title: “The elements of geometrie of the most auncient philosopher Evclide of Megara”. Other than differences in spelling from today, you may also notice that Euclid is referred to as Euclid of Magara. Unfortunately this was the wrong Euclid. Euclid of Megara was a philosopher who lived around 400 BC. This was frequent source of confusion during the Renaissance. Billingsley’s copy was translated from the Greek edition by Gryneaus, as well as using information from the Campanus and Zamberti editions. One highly innovative aspect of Billingsley’s book was the use of pop up models in Book XI on solid geometry, which gave readers a better understanding of the proofs.

Page from Billingsley, 1570, page showing Pythagoras' theorem. From https://www.loc.gov/item/03020856/

CLAVIUS: 1574

The final edition worth mentioning from this period is the edition by Clavius in 1574. As Clavius states himself, this wasn’t a new translation, but rather a consolidation of exiting editions and commentaries. It was by far the longest and most complete edition of the Elements ever produced, and collected almost everything that had been published in the previous centuries.

ROBERT SIMSON: 1756

From the 17th century onwards many more editions were produced. most notable were editions published by Isaac Barrow (1655), John Keill (1708), and Robert Simson (1756). It was Robert Simons' edition that was to become the standard English version of Euclid for many years afterwards and was copied multiple times.

PLAYFAIR (1860), TODHUNTER (1862), CASEY (1886)

Towards the end of the 19th century saw the publication of Euclid by John Playfair, the long series of editions by TodHunter for schools in 1862 and further editions by John Casey (1886). These are just a few names, many more editions were published in this period.

OLIVER BYRNE: 1847

One particularly interesting edition was by Oliver Byrne who published a truly unique revision using color and pictures to describe the various theorems.

Images from Oliver Byrne's edition of Euclid. from the archive.org, https://archive.org/details/firstsixbooksofe00byrn/page/n9/mode/2up

PEYRARD (1808), HEIBERG (1888), HEATH (1908)

Two other very important editions should also be mentioned. In 1808 Peyrard discovered by a completely new text of Euclid from the Vatican, one that predated Theon's copy from which all copies up to then had been based. Between 1882 and 1888 Heiberg published the definitive edition of Euclid based on Peyrard's discovery and other sources. Heiberg published his edition in Greek, which though more authentic, was less accessible to many. It was Thomas Heath who finally published in 1908 the definitive edition of Euclid in English based on Heiberg's work. A second edition of Heath's edition came out in 1925 and can still be purchased today.

EDITIONS CURRENTLY IN PRINT

It is surprising that Euclid is still being published today in new editions. This is the list of editions currently in print:

The Elements: Books I–XIII – Complete and Unabridged, (2006) Translated by Sir Thomas Heath, Barnes & Noble ISBN 0-7607-6312-7.

The Thirteen Books of Euclid's Elements, translation and commentaries by Heath, Thomas L. (1956) in three volumes. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-60088-2 (vol. 1), ISBN 0-486-60089-0 (vol. 2), ISBN 0-486-60090-4 (vol. 3)

Euclid's Elements – All thirteen books complete in one volume, Based on Heath's translation, edited by Dana Densmore, et al. (2002) Green Lion Press ISBN 1-888009-18-7.

Euclid's Elements in Greek: Vol. I: Books 1-4 by Richard Fitzpatrick (2007), ISBN 978-1411626720

Plane Geometry (Euclid's elements Redux) Books I–VI, (2017) based on John Casey's translation, edited by Daniel Callahan, ISBN 978-1977730039

Euclid's Elements with Exercises edited by Kathryn Goulding, (2017) ISBN 978-0692925942

Oliver Byrne's Elements of Euclid, Art Meets Science, 2022, ISBN 978-1528770439 This turns out to be a simple facimile of the orginal book, the quality of the printing however is not vey good.

Byrne's Euclid: The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid, 2023, ISBN 979-8386507879, Newell Jensen. I've not yet got a copy of this book but the quality from the screen-shots looks excellent. The author also provides a free electronic copy at his web page.

Euclid's Elements: Book 1, A new rendering, 2023, ISBN 978-1732548640

Sauro

Art Meets Science

Densmore

Heath

Classical Editions Available from archive.org and Google.

Preclarissimũ opus elemento, Campanus of Novara (1482)

Commentary by Ṭūsī, Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad, 1201-1274 (1485)

The elements of geometrie of the most auncient philosopher Evclide of Megara, Billingsley (1570)

Euclidis elementorvm libri XV, Commandino, Federico (1572)

Euclidis elementorum libri XV : accessit XVI de solidorum regularium comparatione, Vol 1, Clavius (1574)

Euclides Elements of geometry: the first VI books, Thomas Rudd (1651)

Euclidis Elementorum libri XV Isacc Barrow (1659) (Not a good copy)

The Elements from the Latin translation of Commandine by John Keill (1723)

The First Six Books of Euclid by John Playfair (1833)

The Elements by Robert Simson (1838)

Oliver Byrne (1847)

Todhunter's Euclid (1869)

Euclid's elements of geometry book I, Francis Young (1871)

Euclid’s Elements of Geometry Robert Potts (1876)

The First Six Books by John Casey (1885)

Euclid's Elements of geometry: books I. II. III. IV., VI and portions of books V. and XI., Layng, A. E. (1891)

Euclid's elements of geometry, H. M. Taylor (1893)

A text-book of Euclid's Elements, Stevens and Hall (1896)

Euclid's elements: books I, II, III, McKay and Thompson, (1902)

The Elements by Sir Thomas Heath (1908)

The following site contains a huge number of manuscripts in addition to Euclid's Elements