The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements

The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements

The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements

The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements

Excerpt

Euclid is universally acclaimed great. His name is in no danger of being lost. He belongs in the company of men whose reputation defies revision. This is to establish Euclid’s place, but hardly to say why so many years after his death, he continues to enjoy it.

Euclid is, of course, the author of the Elements, and the Elements is by far and away the most successful of mathematical textbooks. A textbook that has survived for more than two thousand years represents an uncommon achievement. Most textbooks have a short and ignominious life. They serve a purpose, but they do not inspire reverence.

Euclid’s Elements is different.

No one has ever found a better way of presenting the Elements of plane geometry; no sensitive teacher would think to use a substitute. There is none.

The Elements is not simply a great book in mathematics: it is a great book. The contemporary reader, eager for Euclid’s personal revelations, will quit the Elements unsatisfied...

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