Claudius Ptolemy (AD 100 - 170)

Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, geographer, astrologer and author of the Geography, also known by its Latin names as the Geographia and the Cosmographia, a gazetteer, an atlas, and a treatise on cartography, which comprised the geographical knowledge of the 2nd-century Roman Empire written c. AD 150. It was a revision of a lost atlas by Marinus the Greek, a geographer, cartographer and mathematician from the Roman province of Tyre using additional Roman and Persian gazetteers and new principles. Its translation into Arabic in the 9th century and Latin in 1406 was highly influential on the geographical knowledge and cartographic knowledge of the medieval Caliphate and Renaissance Europe. No Greek manuscript of the Geography survives from earlier than the late 13th century (c.1295), the earliest is in the Vatican library. A letter written by the Byzantine monk Maximus Planudes records that he searched for one in the Chora Monastery in the summer of 1295 and the earliest surviving manuscript may have been one of those he then assembled. The three earliest surviving manuscript versions with maps are those from Constantinople (Istanbul) based on Planudes’s work.

The first Latin translation from these was made in 1406 or 1407 by Jacobus Angelus in Florence, Italy, under the name Geographia Claudii Ptolemaei and first printed in Venice 1475 by Hermanus Levilapis (Herman Lichtensein of Cologne) without maps. This was followed in 1478 by a Roman edition with twenty seven maps printed by Arnoldus Buckinck. In 1482 the famous Ulm edition was translated by Leonardus Hol with 32 woodcut maps, 5 of which were new modern maps. In 1513 one of the most important editions was issued by Martin Waldseemuller with 47 woodcut maps of which 20 were new modern maps including one devoted to the new world. In 1540 a new and important edition, titled Cosmographia was revised and edited by Sebastian Munster and printed by Henricus Petri at Basle. Munster redesigned the maps and added a geographical appendix. The Geography continued to be issued by various publishers who included new geographical information to the maps.

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