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Archive for History of Exact Sciences

, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 5–31 | Cite as

The meaning of πλασμαтιкόν in Diophantus’ Arithmetica

  • Fabio AcerbiEmail author
Article

Abstract

Three problems in book I of Diophantus’ Arithmetica contain the adjective plasmatikon, that appears to qualify an implicit reference to some theorems in Elements, book II. The translation and meaning of the adjective sparked a long-lasting controversy that has become a nonnegligible aspect of the debate about the possibility of interpreting Diophantus’ approach and, more generally, Greek mathematics in algebraic terms. The correct interpretation of the word, a technical term in the Greek rhetorical tradition that perfectly fits the context in which it is inserted in the Arithmetica, entails that Diophantus’ text contained no (implicit) reference to Euclid’s Elements. The clause containing the adjective turns out to be a later interpolation, that cannot be used to support any algebraic interpretation of the Arithmetica.

Keywords

Arabic Version French Translation Arabic Text Greek Text Arabic Translation 
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© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRSVilleneuve d’Ascq CedexFrance

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