The letters – prefaces of Hellenistic mathematical texts were in relation with the circulation and transmission of these treatises. We have no information of the origin of this practice of mathematical prefaces. We have in Ancient Greek and Hellenistic mathematical tradition texts with and without prefaces. These precious prefaces give us informations on the correspondent personalities – mathematicians of the original authors (Archimedes, Apollonios...) and also on the different intellectual and research centers of the Antiquity. The letters-prefaces could give place to heuristic and historical considerations. In one part of the Hellenistic period (3rd-2nd century BC) authors of these treatises cultivate the challenge. These prefaces show that the goal was to pose the problems to their colleagues, resolve the problems posed by them and give critiques on imperfect solutions given by others. But they show also the need to publish very quickly and give more perfect demonstrations or solutions subsequently.
The main questions in the frame of this symposium will be : which was the status, the role and the content of the letters – prefaces in Ancient – Greek and Hellenistic mathematical treatises? Which was their status, role and content in the context of Arabic and Latin mathematical traditions? Was in everyone of these above mentioned cases the intentions expressed in these letters – prefaces in absolute correspondence with their real practice in the texts.
Konstantinos Nikolantonakis, University of Western Macedonia - Greece
Marouane ben miled, Univeristy of Tunis and IMeRA