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Ptolemy's "Geography": An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters Hardcover – 23 Oct 2000


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"A superlative new translation. . . . In Berggren and Jones [Ptolemy] has, at long last, found his ideal exponents."--Peter Green, London Review of Books

"Arguably, [Ptolemy's Geography] has been the most lastingly influential of all works in the earth sciences. . . . This is a most useful volume, destined to be a primary source for classical scholars as well as for historians of science."--William A.S. Sarjeant, Earth Sciences History

"By allowing us to hear in English the voice of one who was both the chief cartographer of the Greek world and the inspiration for the fifteenth-century cartographic revolution, Berggren and Jones have masterfully met a long-felt need."--Robert W. Karrow, Jr., Technology and Culture

"Until now there has been no reliable translation of the Geography in English. Berggren and Jones have triumphantly filled that lack for the crucial portion of the work, the portion in which Ptolemy speaks as scientific geographer."--Lionel Casson, Classical Bulletin

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"The translation is exemplary, surely the best in any language. It supersedes all previous translations and corrects all editions. The authors have done a splendid job in every way and have produced a work that will be useful for the duration of our lives and probably much longer."--Noel Swerdlow, University of Chicago and author of The Babylonian Theory of the Planets

"Berggren and Jones have made a difficult, detailed and challenging text far more accessible and have produced a work that will be the standard for many years to come. They have done a wonderful service to the study of a crucial text by one of the most important figures in the history of science. A pleasure to read."--Liba Taub, Cambridge University


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First Sentence
World cartography is an imitation through drawing of the entire known part of the world together with the things that are, broadly speaking, connected with it. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Well done, but incomplete 7 Dec. 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The introduction is excellent and translation is well done, however the book is incomplete - it offers only a tiny sampling of Ptolemy's geography (only the book concerning Gaul), which may disappoint some (I was certainly surprised, expecting to see a full translation).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A glimpse into the past 7 Mar. 2003
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Reading the translated text of Ptolemy's Geography gives you a glimpse into the scientific, technical, social and political minds of those times. From a technical aspect, the maps are really quite good, considering the limited tools and data that Ptolemy had at his disposal. There are many mistakes, those about Africa and Asia are extreme, but it is possible to recognize the general shapes of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The descriptions of how to determine locations from astronomical observations and the manner whereby it is interpreted is a classic example of stretching a technology to its' limits. For somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen centuries, his maps were not significantly improved, which is a technical achievement that may be unequaled in any other field.
From the political and social realm we see that the Mediterranean is the hub of the world, with China and India a significant, albeit peripheral part. Africa below the Sahara desert is a great unknown, as there is little more than an empty spot on the map. North Africa is simply Libia and southern Africa is Ethiopia.
The translators have done a very good job with what was a very difficult subject. They begin with a great deal of explanation and close with a series of appendices that clarify many of the intermediate points. There is also a section of maps, where Ptolemy's are compared with modern ones. However, this is a translation of the theoretical chapters only, so if you are looking for the complete text, you will have to look elsewhere.
One of the greatest technical triumphs of the ancient world, Ptolemy's Geography can teach us much about the world in which he lived and worked. I found this translation of his great work to be well worth reading.
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