The Conics of Apollonius

  • J. P. Hogendijk
Part of the Sources in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences book series (SOURCES, volume 7)


In this chapter I explain the concepts and terminology in the extant Books of the Conics of Apollonius (fl. 200 B.C.; DSB 1,179–193) that are needed to understand the text of Ibn al-Haytham’s reconstruction of Book VIII. In §3.3 I shall discuss Book VII in some detail, since this book seems to be related to the lost Book VIII. A more detailed summary of Conics I–VII may be found in Heath, HGM 11,126–174.


Conic Surface Transverse Diameter Conic Section Latus Rectum Arabic Text 
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  1. 1.
    For information on the translation see Ibn al-Nadim, Fihrist,ed. Flügel, 267; tr. Dodge, p. 637 (Hirai); and the facsimile of the preface of the Banü Müsâ, ms. Aya Sofya 4832 f. 224a, esp. line 15, in Terzioglu, Vorwort (Thâbit).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Beeston. I use the following numbering: f. la = title page; f. 5a = beginning of preface Book I; f. 83b = beginning of preface Book V; f. 84a = V:1; f. 141 inserted page; f. 163a = end of Book VII.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Krause, Stambuler Handschriften, 449; I use the following numbering: f. 4a = I:1; Books II-VII begin on ff. 56b, 93b, 137b, 165b, 236b, 267a, respectively.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    A facsimile off. 135a, on which Ibn al-Haytham wrote his name and the date, is in Schramm, Ibn al-Haytham’s Weg zur Physik, XI, tr. on pp. IX-X. The date 415 H./A.D. 1024 is confirmed by an owner’s mark on f. 135b: I acquired this book on Friday, when six (days) of Muharram of the year 420 had passed“ (that is on January 24, A.D. 1029). Arabic text: malaktu hâdhâ yawmi I juma li-sitt khalawna min muharram min sana ishrin wa-arba mi’aGoogle Scholar
  5. 4.
    napéeiettas is used in Conics I:12,13 (ed. Heiberg I,44:17-18, 46:23). For rzapaikalEry see Heath, Elements I,343-345.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    Woepcke, Trois traités Arabes sur le compas parfait contains an edition and a French translation of treatises of Muhammad ibn al-Husayn (fl. 1200, Suter, Mathematiker und Astronomen, 139) and Al-Kûhi (fl. 970, GAS V,317,1) and an abstract of a text of Al-Sijzi (fl. 970, GAS V, 331, 6 ).Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    The Bann Mnsa called S “free diameter” (qutr mursal), d “transverse diameter” (qurr mujânib) (preliminaries to the Arabic translation of the Conics, ms. Oxford, Bodl. Marsh 667, 6a:13-14: Terzioglu, Vorwort, Facsimile of ms. Aya Sofya 4832, 226b:4-7). This convention is not kept in the Arabic translation of the Conics.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. P. Hogendijk
    • 1
  1. 1.History of Mathematics DepartmentBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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