The Elements of Euclid

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by Euclid

Euclid's Elements
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author Euclid
Published :
Edition Precise edition unknown
Volumes volume set
Desc. 8vo

Euclid was a Greek mathematician who is often referred to as the “Father of Geometry”. His specific date of birth and death are unknown, but many historians estimate that he lived sometime around 300 BCE.[1] Despite the uncertainty surrounding his biographical details, his presence in history resonates deeply due to his works in the field of mathematics, especially in geometry.

Elements, Euclid’s most well-known and influential work, presents definitions, postulates, and mathematical proofs on a wide range of mathematical concepts.[2] Many of these concepts were based on prior mathematical findings and therefore were not entirely "new." But Euclid’s presentation of these concepts in a single, logically coherent framework created a system that served as a pillar of mathematics for two thousand years.[3] Elements enjoyed enormous critical acclaim and was considered to be highly relevant until the early twentieth century.[4] Euclid's Elements has been referred to as the most successful and influential textbook ever written.[5] Elements was one of the earliest mathematical works to be printed after the invention of the printing press, and may be second only to the Bible in the number of editions published, with the number reaching well over one thousand.[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Euclid. Eng. 8vo." and given by Thomas Jefferson to his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph. The Brown Bibliography[7] suggests the 1728 London publication Euclid's Elements of Geometry, briefly, yet plainly demonstrated based on a copy Jefferson listed as "Stone's Euclid. 8vo." in his manuscript library catalog, dated between 1770 and 1812. Jefferson did not sell this to the Library of Congress in 1815 and the volume appears on no other records. George Wythe's Library[8] on LibraryThing indicates "Precise edition unknown. Several English editions of Euclid were published, the first in 1660."

As yet, the Wolf Law Library has been unable to purchase an octavo version of Euclid's Elements in English.

See also


  1. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "Euclid", accessed October 03, 2013.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Dirk Jan Struik, "Ancient Greek Mathematics," in A Concise History of Mathematics, 4th rev. ed. (New York (N.Y.): Dover, 1987), 51.
  4. Charles Lutwidge, and Amit HagarDodgson, "Introduction," in Euclid and his Modern Rivals (Mineola, N.Y: Dover Publications, 2004), xxviii.
  5. Carl B. Boyer, and Uta C. Merzbach, "Euclid of Alexandria," in A History of Mathematics, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley, 1991), 119.
  6. Lucas N. H. Bunt, Phillip S. Jones, and Jack D. Bedient, "Greek Influence," in The Historical Roots of Elementary Mathematics (New York: Dover Publications, 1988), 142.
  7. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012, rev. May, 2014) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:
  8. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on August 8, 2023.