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Barocius, Franciscus

Barocius, Franciscus

also known as Francesco Barozzi

(b. Candia, Crete, 9 August 1537; d. Venice, Italy, 23 November 1604)

mathematics, astronomy.

A Venetian patrician, Barocius received a humanistic education and achieved an admirable command of Greek and Latin. He studied at the University of Padua and, according to his own account, lectured there about 1559 on the Sphere of Sacrobosco. Barociuaʾ edition of Proclusʾ commentary on the first book of Euclid’s Elements was the first important translation of this work, for it was based on better manuscripts than previous efforts had been. The translation, published at Venice in 1560, was completed by Barocius at the age of twenty-two.

In 1572 he brought out a Latin translation of Hero’s book on war machines, and in 1588 he completed his corrections, unpublished to this day, of a manuscript copy of Federicus Commandinusʾ translation of Pappusʾ Collectio. His translation of the Archimedean De dimensionibus also is still in manuscript. Barocius wrote in Italian on rythmomachia (1572), a number game that he attributed to Pythagoras but that appears to go back only to eleventh century. The book is based on Boissière’s work on the same subject (Paris, 1556). Barocius composed a Latin treatise on thirteen ways to draw two parallel lines in a plane (1572) and an elementary Cosmographia (1585), based on the Sphere of Sacrobosco and containing chapters on meteorology and physical geography. Barocius noted eighty-four errors in Sacrobosco’s work, largely, according to Thorndike, matters of definition and order of treatment. The “errors” did not include the geocentric theory, and a marginal comment condemned as false the opinion of Aristarchus and Copernicus.

Barocius had a stormy career. In 1587 he was brought before the Inquisition on charges of sorcery, and more particularly of having caused a torrential rainstorm in Crete. He was sentenced to provide silver crosses at a cost of 100 ducats and condemned to remian in prison at the pleasure of the Holy Office (apparently a suspended sentence). After the trial the only work that he published was another edition of the Cosmographia (1598).


I. Original Works. Works by Barocius include Opusculum, in quo oratio, & duas questions: Altera de certitudine & altera de medietate mathematicarum continentur (Padua, 1560); Procti Diadochi in primum Euclidis elementorum librum commentariourum libri IIII a Francisco Barocio … (Padua, 1560); Commentarius in locum Platonis obscurissimum, & hactenus a nemine recte expositum in principio dialogi octaui de Rep. ubi sermo habetur de numero geometrico, de quo prouerbium est, quod numero Platonis nihil obscurius (Bologna, 1566); Heronis mechanici liber de machinis bellicus, necnon liber de geodesia a Francisco Barocio... Latinitate donati (Venice, 1572); It nobilissimo et antiquissimo givoco Pythagoreo nominato rvthmomachia, cioe battaglia di consonanze di numeri, in lingua volgare a modo di parafresi composto (Venice, 1572); Cosmographia in quattuor libros distributa (Venice, 1585, 1598; Italian trans., 1607); Admirandum illud geometricum problema tredecim modis demonstratum, quod docet duas lineas in eodem plano designare, quae numquam invicem coincidant, etiam si in infinitum protahantur (Venice, 1586). His Descrittione dellʾisola di Creta was edited by Giuseppe Nicoletti (Venice, 1898).

Manuscripts include his corrections of Federicus Commandinus’ translation of Pappus’ Collectio (BN MS Lat 72221-2) in the Bibliothèque Nationale and two manuscripts at Trinity College in Dublin: Savasordae Judaei liber de arcis, infinitis erroribus expugatis atque scholis et annotationibus illustratus and Archimedis liber de dimensionibus a Franc. Barocio restauratus.

II. Secondary literature. Works concerning Barocius are B. Boncompagni, “Intorno alla vita ed ai labori de Francesco Barozzi,” in Bullettino di bibliographia e di storia delle scienze matematiche e fisiche, 17 (1884), 795–848; Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, VI (New York, 1941), 25, 47, 154–155, 199; Athanbasius Pryor Treweek, “Pappus of Athanasius. The Manuscript Tradition of the Collectio mathematica,” in Scriptorium, 11, no. 2 (1957), 195–233; Paul Ver Eecke, ed, and trans., Proclus de Lycie, les commentaires sur le premier livre des Éléments dʾEuclide (Bruges, 1948), pp. xxi ff.; and the entry in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, VI (1964), 495–499.

Marjorie Nice Boyer

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