Basle: Johann Herwagen, 1533. Folio. [vi], 268, 115 pp. EDITIO PRINCEPS. With woodcut device on title and colophon, decorated woodcut border to first page of text and numerous woodcut diagrams. Contemporary English calf, neatly rebacked, remains of ties, later endpapers. A very good copy. Item #10141
Editio princeps of Euclid's Elements and of the important commentary by Proclus on the first book. The first printing of Euclid in 1482 was a Latin translation from an Arabic manuscript, but the original Greek text did not appear for a further half-century. The Greek text was edited by Simon Grynaeus, a German Protestant theologian and philologist. This edition is also important for the innovation of geometrical diagrams within the text, rather than in the margins as had been the case with the earlier printed editions.
The commentary by the Neoplatonist mathematician and philosopher Proclus on the first book of the Elements is the earliest extant criticism of Euclid's fifth postulate on the existence of parallel lines, the study of which led, after a further fifteen hundred years of effort, to the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry by Gauss, Bolyai and Lobachevsky. It is also the first printing of the earliest work on the philosophy of mathematics. "Because of his interest in the principles underlying mathematical thought and their relation to ultimate philosophical principles, Proclus' commentary is a notable - and also the earliest - contribution to the philosophy of mathematics. Its numerous references to the views of Euclid's predecessors and successors, many of them otherwise unknown to us, render it an invaluable source for the history of science" (DSB).