claudius ptlomy

January 16, 2017 Geography

Claudius Ptolemy was born about 85 A. He did his major works in Alexandria, which was the center of Greek learning. His name Claudius Ptolemy, is a mixture of the Greek Egyptian “Ptolemy” and the Roman “Claudius”. This would indicate that he was a descendant from a Greek family living in Egypt and that he was a citizen of Rome, which would be a result of a Roman emperor giving that reward to one of Ptolemy’s ancestors. Very little is known of his life. He made astronomical observations from Alexandria in Egypt during the years AD 127-41. There is no evidence that Ptolemy lived anywhere other than Alexandria.

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Times Lived In.

Claudius Ptolemy lived through the time in which the Roman Empire was at its highest peak. The Roman Empire controlled everything around the Mediterranean Sea including Egypt.

He was born after the death of Jesus and his resurrection.

Educational Background.

We do know that Ptolemy used observations made by “Theon the mathematician”, and this was almost certainly Theon of Smyrna who was his teacher. This would make sense, since Theon of Smyrna was both an observer and a mathematician who had written on astronomical topics such as conjunctions, eclipses, occultations, and transits. Most of Ptolemy’s early works are dedicated to Syrus who may have also been one of his teachers in Alexandria, but nothing is known of Syrus. Ptolemy did not have access to the best teachers; he did have access to the libraries where he would have found the valuable reference material of which he could make good use. Ptolemy studied mathematics to help work in geography and astronomy.

Math Contribution.

Claudius Ptolemy’s writings in mathematics on plane and spherical trigonometry remain the basics of trigonometry today. His Geography remained the principal work on the subject until the time of Columbus.

The Ptolemaic explanation of motions of the planets remained the accepted wisdom until the Polish scholar Copernicus proposed a heliocentric view in 1543.


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