Euclid’s Elements of Geometry was a book that changed the world. In a sweeping history, Benjamin Wardhaugh traces how an ancient Greek text on mathematics – often hailed as the world’s first textbook – shaped two thousand years of art, philosophy and literature, as well as science and maths.
Thirteen volumes of mathematical definitions, propositions and proofs. Writing in 300 BC, Euclid could not have known his logic would go unsurpassed until the nineteenth century, or that his writings were laying down the very foundations of human knowledge.
Wardhaugh blasts the dust from Euclid’s legacy to offer not only a vibrant history of mathematics, told through people and invention, but also a broader story of culture. Telling stories from every continent, ranging between Ptolemy and Isaac Newton, Hobbes and Lewis Carrol, this is a history that dives from Ancient Greece to medieval Byzantium, early modern China, Renaissance Italy, the age of European empires, and our world today.
How has geometry sat at the beating heart of sculpture, literature, music and thought? How can one unknowable figure of antiquity live through two millennia?