In the first decades of the Sixteenth century the editions of the Elements available to the scholars were essentially the editio princeps, printed in Venice in 1482 by Erhard Ratdolt and based on the medieval version of Campanus from Novara, and the Venetian edition of 1505, based instead on the translation of a Greek code, made by the humanist Bartolomeo Zamberti. The medieval recensio showed additions, changing of definitions or differences in numbering propositions, whereas the humanist translation, very careful to the linguistic aspect, mercilessly highlighted the very poor geometrical talent of Zamberti. Numerous editions followed -- among the others the remarkable editions of Faber Stapulensis (1516), Grynaeus (1533), Finé (1536), Tartaglia (1543), Scheubel (1550), Peletier (1557), Daypodius (1564), Candalle (1566) – but none of them had the features to become a shared and trustworthy edition of the Elements, the reference point for the European scholars. Actually, most of the Sixteenth century Elements simply embraced Campanus’ or Zamberti’s approach. This situation completely changed in 1572, when the Commandino’s edition appeared. Federico Commandino (1509-1575), the founder of the so-called Urbino School, lived under patronage of important Renaissance families, as della Rovere and Farnese which permitted him to get access to the most valuable libraries, to maintain close contact with humanists’ circles and pursue a great programme for the renaissance of mathematics. He published the works – to mention the most important ones -- of Apollonius (1566) , Archimedes (1558), Pappus (posthumous 1588) and Euclid, both in Latin (1572) and in vernacular (1575). Commandino’s edition of the Elements, that soon became the reference edition up to the XIXth century, combines philological rigour and mathematical exactness. The Euclidean text, based on Greek sources, is enriched of comments and addictions (in italic type, clearly distinct from the critical text) based on both classical and contemporary sources: this edition, actually, represents Commandino’s idea of restitutio or re-appropriation of Classics in the light of an integrated scientific knowledge. Commandino’s edition is “addressed” to the past only concerning its faithfulness to the Greek text, but is undoubtedly a typical renaissance text in outlining a particular vision of mathematical knowledge.
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