Person: Rome, Adolphe
Adolphe Rome was a classical philologist who worked on the history of ancient Greek mathematics and astronomy, particularly the work of Archimedes, Ptolemy, Heron and especially Pappus and Theon of Alexandria.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Rome had joined the Red Cross and fled with many Belgium refugees making their way to England.
- Rome may have been forced into Classical Philology rather than mathematics, but when we see the title of his thesis, Les Fonctions Trigonometriques dans Heron d'Alexandrie Ⓣ(Trigonometric functions in Heron of Alexandria), we see that he had managed to satisfy his passion for mathematics by his choice of Classical Philology topic.
- During the years 1919-1922, Rome continued to undertake research having a particular interest in ancient Greek manuscripts.
- On 26 May 1922 it was announced that Rome was the winner of a Government Travel Scholarship and his research career began in earnest.
- He went to the Belgian Historical Institute in Rome which was his main place of work over the next two years, although he travelled extensively.
- The Belgian Historical Institute in Rome had been set up in 1902 as a research institute focussing on Italian history and antiquities.
- While based at the Institute, Rome made many trips to libraries to study manuscripts of the mathematicians of ancient Alexandria.
- This monastery had been founded in 1802 but the nuns were evicted in 1848 and at the time Rome was their chaplain they were based at rue Monsieur in Paris.
- During the years to 1927 Rome published a number of papers: Sur le problème de la distance de deux villes: dans le Dioptre de Héron Ⓣ(On the problem of the distance of two cities: in Heron's 'Dioptre' ) (1923); "Le troisième livre des commentaires sur l'Almageste" par Theon et Hypatie Ⓣ('The third book of commentaries on the Almageste' by Theon and Hypatia) (1926); L'Astrolabe et le Météoroscope d'après le commentaire de Pappus sur le 5e livre de l'Almageste Ⓣ(The Astrolabe and the meteoroscope from Pappus's commentary on the 5th book of the Almagest) (1927); L'instrument parallactique d'après le commentaire de Pappus sur le 5e livre de l'Almageste Ⓣ(The parallactic instrument according to the commentary by Pappus on the 5th book of Almagest) (1927); and L'Instrument Parallactique d'après le commentaire de Pappus sur le 5e livre de l'Almageste Ⓣ(The parallactic instrument according to the commentary by Pappus on the 5th book of Almagest) (1927).
- He died on 14 October 1927 after a short illness and the University of Louvain appointed Rome as his successor, first as a lecturer and then from 1929 as professor.
- resumed his teaching and studies under Canon Rome, obtaining his doctorate in classical philology in 1947 with an unpublished work on Theodosius of Tripoli.
- Rome's publications were numerous despite high teaching loads which he carried out very conscientiously.
- One of Rome's aims with this work was to determine whether Hypatia had written the commentary on the Almagest Ⓣ(The major thesis: from the Arabic 'al-majisti' -- the Arabic translation of the Greek 'Mathematike Syntaxis' later translated into Latin as 'Magna Syntaxis').
- In addition to this research and his teaching commitments, Rome, along with Franz Cumont and Joseph Bidez, founded the journal L'Antique Classique in 1932.
- Rome lived on the Avenue des Alliés, near the railway station.
- They were not safe, however, for in May 1940 the Germans attacked Louvain and the library was hit by an incendiary bomb destroying much of its contents including Rome's precious manuscripts.
- Rome, aware of a potentially destructive outcome, carefully made efforts to preserve the journal on a material level.
- However, the war did not stop Rome and his team who were able to take all of the copies that eluded alteration, which was still in the previously hidden stock, and ship them out of the country without any government censorship.
- Rome was one of the invited plenary speakers.
- After attending the Congress, Rome sailed from New York to Cherbourg on the ship Queen Mary, leaving New York on 14 September.
- Rome had two main hobbies, one being an interest in plants which he loved to investigate during long walks of 30 to 50 km on foot through the countryside around Leuven and up to the Meuse.
Born 12 July 1889, Stavelot, Belgium. Died 9 April 1971, Korbeek-Lo, Belgium.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive