Mathematics in the Early Italian Renaissance

 Angelo Mazzocco, Spanish and Italian
Mark Peterson, Mathematics

Index | Excerpt of Piero | Precis | Trattato d'Abaco | Article on Piero

Excerpt from a Letter of Piero della Francesca

Among the ancient painters and sculptors, renowned prince Guido, they say Policretes, Phidias, Mirones, Praxiteles, Apelles, Lisippus, and others who attained nobility by their art, were more worthy and among their own people had more favor and with posterity a more lasting memory and fame than Aristomenes, Thasius, Polides, Chiones, Pharaxes, Boeda, and others who were no less studied in the arts, ingenious, skilful, and industrious, for no other reason than the fact that they made their works for great states, or great kings, or princes of proven virtue. As for those who lived among more obscure generations, their own reputation was hindered by the smallness of their contemporaries, and their fortune by the weakness of the same, which obscured their virtues. Also in the cases of Virgil, Horace and the rest of the poets who flourished in the time of Augustus Caesar, the splendor even of a Maecenas was in no small degree to their eternal credit. Since, moreover, my works and pictures have appropriated all the distinction they possess from your distinguished father, that most splendid and fiery star and sun of our time, it did not seem inappropriate to dedicate to your majesty this litle work which, in this last calculation of my life, undertaken to prevent my mind from growing dull through idleness, I have brought forth on the mathematics of the five regular bodies. And let your highness not disdain to accept these poor, insignificant fruits from this little acreage, now used up and almost worn out with age, from which your most illustrious father received more abundantly, and to place this little book, even if in a corner, among the innumerable volumes of your and your father's magnificent library with our other little work on Perspective, which we brought out years ago, as a servant and a slave of the others. For it is not unusual on occasion for country goods to be allowed on the most opulent and elegant table, and fruits picked by an uneducated and foolish farmer. Yet in respect to its novelty, at any rate, it cannot displease. For truly, although it may be matter known to Euclid and other geometers, in this book it has been newly translated for arithmeticians. And it will be a pledge and memorial of myself to you, and of my longstanding love and constant service to your celebrated family.


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Copyright © 1999 Mount Holyoke College. This page created by Math Across the Curriculum and maintained by Jennifer Adams. Last modified on August 8, 1999.