The Greek book of the week – The Elements by Euclid
The civilization of Ancient Greece continue to fascinate the modern mind. It’s remote in time, and yet still close to us. This is partly because we owe to the classical world so many of the values and ideas which shape our society, literature and art, partly because many of the important moral and political issues which continue to exercise twenty-first century man were first addressed in the ancient world.
The Elements by Euclid
Very little is known of his life, but he was active at the Library of Alexandria. His main work is The Elements which is still used as a textbook in mathematics and may only be exceeded by the Bible in terms of copies sold. The book includes a system of mathematical proofs that remains the basis of mathematics today.
Euclid was a mathematician and the father of geometry active in Alexandria, Egypt c. 300 BC. The Elements is a mathematical treatise consisting of 13 books attributed to him.
It is a collection of definitions, postulates, propositions (theorems and constructions), and mathematical proofs of the propositions. The books cover plane and solid Euclidean geometry, elementary number theory, and incommensurable lines.
Elements is the oldest extant large-scale deductive treatment of mathematics. It has proven instrumental in the development of logic and modern science, and its logical rigor was not surpassed until the 19th century.
In exploring the ancients we learn something about ourselves as well because the emotions generated and the dilemmas of judgment forced upon the characters are timeless and integral parts of the human condition.