Person: Adelard Of Bath
Adelard was an English philosopher who translated Arabic mathematical works into Latin.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Adelard may have taught at the theological and exegetical school there which had been founded by Anselm of Laon in about 1100.
- After leaving Laon, Adelard travelled for about seven years visiting first Salerno southeast of Naples.
- From Salerno Adelard travelled to Sicily which at that time was under Norman control but still strongly influenced by Arabic traditions.
- Adelard next visited Cilicia, an ancient district of southern Anatolia which today is in Turkey.
- Cilicia was on the north east coast of the Mediterranean Sea and Adelard took the natural coastal route round the east end of the Mediterranean to Syria and then later to Palestine.
- There is no record of Adelard visiting Spain, but many scholars have concluded that he must have visited that country to have had access to the Spanish-Arabic texts which he translated.
- Certainly Adelard became an expert in the Arabic language which he might have learnt in Spain as did Gherard of Cremona a few years later.
- Adelard wrote a number of original works on philosophy.
- Since Syracuse was one of the most important cities of ancient Sicily, this work is likely to have been written around the time of Adelard's visit to that island.
- However, since the work is based firmly on Plato's philosophy, without any signs of Arabic influences, it may have been mostly written before Adelard's visits brought him in contact with the learning of the Arabs.
- It is not as a philosopher that Adelard merits inclusion in this archive.
- Adelard made Latin translations of Euclid's Elements from Arabic sources which were for centuries the chief geometry textbooks in the West.
- There seem to have been three separate versions of Euclid's Elements written by Adelard.
- Adelard seems to have taken as his source one of al-Hajjaj's Arabic translations from Greek.
- The second version of Euclid's Elements by Adelard is quite different.
- The style of the translation tells experts that Adelard did not produce this from his own version one, but rather that he used some unknown Arabic source different from al-Hajjaj's translations.
- There is debate as to whether the third version of Euclid's Elements attributed to Adelard is indeed his work.
- We know it was written before 1200 and became quite well known under Adelard's name.
- Adelard also translated al-Khwarizmi's tables, wrote on the abacus and on the astrolabe.
- It is hard to see what this date is there for unless it is the date when the chapter was completed, and so it has been taken as the approximate date for Adelard's translation.
- However, there is a manuscript (written later but a copy of Adelard's translation) which mentions an eclipse of the sun which took place in 1133.
- It is possible that Adelard's translation took place after 1133 or, equally likely, that the scribe making the later copy added information about a recent eclipse which was not in Adelard's original text.
- Adelard also wrote arithmetic books, the earliest one of which was written before he studied Arabic arithmetic.
- A mathematics treatise which is strongly influenced by Arabic ideas has been attributed to Adelard although the attribution is not certain.
- Adelard's Quaestiones naturales Ⓣ(Natural questions) consists of 76 scientific discussions based on Arabic science.
Born 1075, Bath, England. Died 1160.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Ancient Greek, Astronomy, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive