Dasypodius, Cunradus

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Dasypodius, Cunradus

(b. Frauenfeld, Thurgau, Switzerland, ca. 1530; d. Strasbourg, France, 26 April 1600)

mathematics, astronomy.

Cunradus was the son of the Swiss humanist Petrus Dasypodius; his family name was Rauchfuss (roughfoot, hare). He studied in Strasbourg at the famous academy of Johannes Sturm and became professor there in 1558.

The greater part of Dasypodius’ work was destined to be schoolbooks for his students: his editions of Euclid, his Volumen primum and Volumen secundum, and his protheoria with the Institutionum mathematicarum erotemata (in the form of questions and answers) demonstrate his pedagogical interests. These books show that in Strasbourg, under the influence of Sturm, mathematics was studied far more extensively than in many of the universities of the time. Worthy of special mention is his Analyseis geometricae (1566). This book, written with his teacher Christian Herlinus, contains the proofs of the first six books of Euclid’s Elements analyzed as their syllogisms; it was intended to facilitate the study of mathematics for students trained in dialectics.

Confident that the mathematics of his time was far below the Greek level, Dasypodius desired, as did many of his contemporaries (e.g., Commandino and Ramus), publication of all Greek mathematical works. Since he himself owned several manuscripts, he was able to make a beginning in that direction. He edited and translated works of Euclid (partly with and partly without proofs), some fragments of Hero, and (in his Sphaericae doctrinae propositiones) the propositions of the works of Theodosius of Bythinia, Autolycus of Pitane, and Barlaamo. His textbooks, too, show his knowledge of Greek mathematics.

Dasypodius’ fame is based especially on his construction of an ingenious and accurate astronomical clock in the cathedral of Strasbourg, installed between 1571 and 1574. From his description of this clock it is clear that Dasypodius was influenced by Hero in many details.


I. Original Works. See J. G. L. Blumhoff, Vom alten Mathematiker Dasypodius (Göttingen, 1796). The following is a short-title bibliography, with location of copies and some additions to Blumhoff (L = Leiden, Univ.; B = Basel, Univ.; P = Paris, Bibl. Nat.). Place of publication is Strasbourg, unless stated otherwise. Dasypodius edited, with a Latin translation, the following works of Euclid: Catoptrica (1557, B); Elementrtum primum (1564, B); Elementorum II (1564, B); Propositiones reliquorum librorum (1564, B) Elementorum primum and Heronis vocabula geometrica (1570, B;repr. 1571, B); Propositiones Elementorum 15, Opticorum (1570, B); and Omnium librorum propositiones (1571, B). He was also responsible for editions of Caspar Peucer, Hypotyposes orbium coelestium (1568, L); Sphaericae doctrinae propositiones (1572, P); and Isaaci Monachi scholia in Euclid (1579, L). With Christian Herlinus he published Analyseis geometricae sex librorum Euclidis (1566, L). He also wrote Volumen primum (1567, B), partly repr. in an ed. of M. Psellus, Compendium mathematicum, aliaque tractatus (Leiden, 1647); Volumen II. Mathematicum (1570, L); Lexicon (1573, L); Scholia in libros apotelesmaticos Cl. Ptolemaei (Basel, 1578, L); Brevis doctrina de cometis (1578, P), also a German ed.; Oratio de disciplinis mathematicis and Heron and Lexicon (1579, P); Heron mechanicus and Horologii astronomici descriptio (1580, L); Wahrhafftige Auslegung und Beschreybung des astronomischen Uhrwercks zu Straszburg (1580, B); Protheoria mathematica (1593, B); Institutionum mathematicarum erotemata (1593, B); and Erotematum appendix (1596, B).

II. Secondary Literature. On Dasypodius or his work, see A. G. Kästner, Geschichte der Mathematik, I (Göttingen, 1796), 332–345; Wilhelm Schmidt, “Heron von Alexandria, Konrad Dasypodius und die Strassburger astronomische Münsteruhr,” in Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Mathematik, 8 (1898), 175–194; and E. Zinner, Entstehung und Ausbreitung der Coppernicanischen Lehre (Erlangen, 1943), p. 273.

J. J. Verdonk