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_hTATXiEMATfC-4.L TABLES I N PTOLEMY'S ALMAGEST

I3-J
Glen T'an bruiiimelen

13. Sc. (Hollours), Mathematics, Unirersity of Alberta, 1986


11. Sc., Ilathcmatics, Siinoir Frascr University, 1988

THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT O F

THE EEQUIREMEPTTS FOR THE DEGREE OF

in
THE DEPARTMENT O F
MATHEMATICS A N D STATZSTICS

SIMON FRASER UNIVER

February 1993

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Approval

Name:

Glcn Van Brummelcu

Degree:

Doctor af Philosophy

Title of thesis: 31i~tllemtticdTr~blesin Ptolemy's Almagest

Extzlnining Conmi ttee:


Clrairmau: Dr. S. I<, Thomason
---..

K$. J. L. Bcrggreq Senior Supervisor

Dr. R. Harrop

---

Dr. R. Ro~ztlcdge

Di.. H. City, History Department

D. J. Evans
Estenlal Exailliner, U~liversityof Puget Sound

D ~ LApproved:
~c
February 23, 1993

PART 1 A L COPYII 1 GIiT L ICLNSI:

my t h e s i s , p r o j e c t o r extended essay ( t h e t i t l c o f which i s shown below)


t o u s e r s of tho Simon Frssor Un i v e r s i I - y L i b r a r y ,

and t o make par--1.i a 1 or

s i n g l e copies o n l y f o r s u c h users o r i n response to a roquest f r c m

1 i b r a r y of any o t h e r un i v e r s i ty ,. o r o t her educat i ona l

I f u r t h e r agree t h a t permission

' i t s own behalf o r f o r ona o f i t s users.

i ns.1 i f-u t ion, on

f o r m u i t i p l e copying o f t h i s work f o r s c h o l i ~ r l ypurposes may bo gran'ted


by me o r t h e Doan o f Graduate Studies,

I t i s undersi'ood ? h a t copying

o r pub1 l c a t i o n of t h i s work f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n shsl l n o t be a1 lowed


w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n permission.

..

T i t l e of Thesis/Project/Extended

Author:

,,

(signature)

f name 1

Essay

Abstract

Of tlle mauy faccts of C1;~udiusPtolcmy's A h a g e s t ? one that has remained understudied

is tlic large set of matheamtically computed tables int,ended as aids to conlputing various

astronomical quantities. This work amlyzes the entries in these tables; with a god to
ashiesing an uxidcrstantling of tlle rvethods used to coustruct them and the relations bet\\-celltl~cm.Simultaneoilsly~it, develops several generalized statistical and otl~ermethods
to fiucl esidzncc for or against the use of certain numerical techniques in any historical

astrolzomical t;~ljle;given oaly the elltries in the taLle and the errors in t h s e entries.

Three tests clcaliitg r i t h diffcreiit aspects of the situation are designed. The first test
cletemines wlietl~ertlie tlieoreticd dependence of one table on amther can be demonstrated on the Lasis of the data in the tables. The second studies whether an apparent
dependence betnrceil errors in successive entries in a table (commonplace in historical

tables). is a genuinc effect to be explained, or a11 artifact of the mathematical nature of


the data. The tliird ual-yzes ~ h e t h e ra suspectccl iiiterpolation grid is present. Due
i.o the unusual nature of the data in the Alm.u~t.sf(or any mathematical table), specia1 iionp:~ramctricrnetllods for collstructing the rcfcreuce distributions are used for the
st.a.tisticd tests.
Tlic results of applying t h e tests, and other nnrnerical methods, to the Almagest
t d h s are marly m d varied. Some of the most iluportant are: The chord addition and
snpple~neutforlnulas were not used to construct the cliord table. The chord interpoiation
table is ioo a( !i~.;~tetcj h a w been coiuputed
I

fi.0111

the chord table itself. Some of the

other tlmxcticnl dependences betx-een iaLles are verified in practice,

others remain

uudecirlcd on tlie basis of the tests used. Several interpolation grids, some explicitly

descl-ibed ly- Ptolriy- and some rrot. are locilted. -4 l u g e ~iuxuberof the clrnss

i ~ iirr
t

tables cont ail1 cirpeildeuccs hat camot be esplairrecl b? a ~li,ltllemcztic,~l


effect, possiIlly

iudicating that cntries were smootllect by eye after being calculated. Sereral u ~ d e r l ~ i l ~ ~
tables are reconst nrctecl. and several curious nn~nerical stra t vgies t G reduce t Ilr magui t-rr&.,
of the errors arisii~gin tlre

USE'S

cdcdations are disco~ered.

0vel;ill. this stud:- of tlle ~ni~tllematicd


tal~lescoi~firmsthe general scholmly oisin-

iou of other parts of tlte AErnqest. Tlte tables often iesenl penetrating insight and a
complesity of structure tllat reflects the complexity of colnpositioil of the entire n.olk.
Only occasional1~-do tlte tables dircrg.;. from the test in tlieir method of c;3culatmn,
and in tl~esciiistnnces t l ~ e yare interpretccl not ar cleccpti~ns,but r d h e r as clues tu t l ~
clirouologics~ldtwlopmeut of tlte topic.

Table of Contents

Approval

Abstract

List of Tables
List of Figures

xxvii
1 fntrod~lction

.... .. . . . . ... .... . .... .


RlatllelnnticaI Tables in the A lmagest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The H m d y Tables. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,

I. 1 Ptolemy's World View . . .

1.2
1.3

1.4 Goalsoftl~isWork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

.. ,. .. ... . ... .... .. ..


Derelopment of general statistical tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1.4.1
1.4.2

Recomputation d all tables

1.4.3 Understanding the constructioil of, and int.esselations between the


t nbles

.. ........

. . .. . . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . ..

. . . ....... ..,. .. . .

1.5 Structure of this ?Gxk . . . . . . . . . .


2 Preliminaries

2.1 Sources for the Ahagest- .

11

... . .., .. .. ......, ........

11

2.3 Re:.ien- of hioderu Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

JJ

Trigonomets~in the illm.u.gest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Iti

2.4.1

r\;;umber represen tation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

16

2.4.2

An example of mg trans1,ztion of Almqcst trigonon~ctryto lxoclern

2.4

uotation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

2.5 I~lterpolationhietllocls -4oailable to Pt.olclny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

2.6

Calculatio~~s
in the Text

2.7

Table Piesentation: Errors and Plots . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3 Methods of Table Analysis

2G
28

3.1 Det.erluining Iilterdependeiace Betveen Numcricd Tables . . . . . . . . .

213

3.2

3.3

24

3.1.1

Definitions

...............................

29

3.1.2

Non-parametric methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

31

3.1.3

Problems with statistical nzethods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

33

........................

33

3.2.1

The problem of clustering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

33

3.2.2

The cause of depeildence bet~veencrrors in accnrate tables

....

34

Locatiug Grids of Interpolation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

40

Clust.criilg of Errors in Tables

3.3.1

Esami~lingthe relative size of noclc errors

.............

40

3.3.2

Second differences of errors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

43

The Chord T a b l e (1.11)

46

4.1

The Cllorci Table in tlie Almagest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

4.2

Methods of Calculation in the Text

4 . : Recent Research on the Chord Table

4..

46

.....................

54

....................

59

The Discctly Computed Chords . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

4.G

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

T l ~ cG10lji~1Error Pat tern

4.7 Tlte Inteni~eilL~te


Grid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.8

Interpolation from E.rrery T l l i ~ dEntry to tllc Entire Table .

4.9

The Iutcrpolation Table

4.10 Sulllu~nsyof Eesults

65

........

66

..........................

68

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $2

5 The Mean M o t i o n Tables

74

...............

74

5.2 Definii-iou of Mean h4otions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

76

5.1 Ptolelny's nlIetllodology for Planetary Motion

5.3 The hIcali Motion Td~lcrc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78


5.4 Possible Rounding Methods and Methods of Computation

........

80

5.5 T l ~ eSolar Hourly Mean h4otion Table (1II.G) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81


5.6 The Lunar Mean hlotion Tables (IV.4)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

.................
(VI.3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

5.7 The Planetary A~Xc(znMotion Tables (IX.4)

84

85

Mean Motion Tablcs for Eclipses

6 T h e Declination Table (1.15)

B . L . ~s11cler Waerden's

90

R.econstructioa of an Uncledying Chord Table .

94

6.3 Intcryolation iu the Declillation Table . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

97

6.2

7 Spherical Astronomy (Book 11)

102

7.1 Fillding the Terrestriid Latitude from the Leugth of Lougest Daylight (11.3,

7 $2 The Gllolnrj~lShcIo\v Length Tables ( K G )


7.2.1 Dependence on the 1atit.ude table

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

7.3 The RiG~igTime Tables (11.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . !2 1


Depenclence rests on the a .;cension.d ciiffercnces table

7.3.2

The depeudeuce on the latitude table . . . . . . . . .

7.3.3

The dependence on the clecliuatioi~qnotiext tthle

7.3.4

The depeidence on ~oultclcdvalues of sill t . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124

7.3.5

CoucIusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

7.4.1

Tllc depenclence of

7.4.2

The dependelice of 7 on

Sumnlai~-ofRcsufts

;and

y on thc latitude table

. . . . . 123

. . . . . . . . . 124

7.4 The Taljle of Zenith Distances and Ecliptic Augles (11.13) .

7.5

. . . . . . . 319

7.3.1

........

125

. . . . . . . . . . 143

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

143

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145

Solar T h e o r y (Book 111)

146

8.1 Hipparchus' Solas Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

146

8.2 The Solar Equation Table (I1I.G) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149


8.3 The Selcctioli of n... Values

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150

8.4 Errol Clusterilrg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152


8.5 Interpolation for Odd Values of u...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153

9 Lunar Theory (Books IV. V)

9.1 Tlle First Lunar Model

155

............................

9.2 The First 'unar Eqnation Table (IV.10. J1.8)

155

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157

9.2.1

Error clustering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162

9.2.2

Int.erpolatiou for odd ~ a l u e sof a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
9.4 The Calculatioi~of Luxar Longitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161

9.3

The Sccoid a i d Third Lunar Models

9.5 The h i m Equation of Centre Table . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . L70

9.5.1

Tlle possibility of int.erpolation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

170

9.6

Tlie Sccorld Lunar Equatior~of Anoma!y Table . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174

5.6.1

T l ~ esollrce of crrors for a, < GO0

9.6.2

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Error ~lwt~eriilg

5.6.3

Iitterpolation for odd values of a.

..................

9.7

Tlle I~~fcrpolatiorr
Table for p(uL..c ) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

9.8

Tlte Luuar Latitude TdAe (V.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

6.9

Suinmary of Results

............................

10 Parallax (Tr.ll-V.19)

..........................
10.2 T ~ LSCO I.~ Parallax
~L
Table (V.18) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
102.1 Iitterpolr~tionfor Go intervals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

10.1 The Pardlax Fullction

10.2.2 Error clustering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

10.3 Tlie Luuar Parallax Ti?bles (Tr .18): Ptolemaic Interpolation ulth Three

10.4 The Tables of the Lunar Parallas at the First Two Limits (V.18)

....

10.4.1 Error clustering: the table of the first. limit . . . . . . . . . . . . .


10.4.2 Error cltistering: the table of the sccoild limit
10.4.3 Dependence between

;lrl

...........

204

and ap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204

10.5 The Tables of the Lunar Paralax at the Third aud Fourth Limits (V.18)

206

10.5.1 Error clttstesiug: the table of the third limit . . . . . . . . . . . . 209


10.5.2 Error clustering: the table of the fourth limit
10.6 The Interpolation Tid~lesfor Lunar Parallax

............

209

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209

I1 Ecfipse Theory (Book VI)


11.1 Ptolcn~y'sAlethod to Preclict Eclipses

11.2 Thc Tables for Solar Eclipses (IT1.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220


is

11.3 The Solar Minutes of Im~ncrsionTablcs (1.I.S)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224

11.4 Tile Lunar fillmcrsioii Tables (Vf.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235


11.4.1 Dependence betwcen the tables for

771

and T . . . . . . . . . . . . 231

11.5 Tlle Eclipse Interpolation Table (1'1.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

,.

11.6 Couverting from Length Digits to .4rea Digits (17.8) . . . . . . . . . . .

233

11-7 Angles of I~lclinations t. Eclipses (\'I .12)

11.8 Sumilinry of Results

7.3",

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240

12 Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

243

12.1 The Model for Planetary Longitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244


12.2 Tlle hiIcxcury Model

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247

12.3 Tlie Eqtintion of Centre Tal~les(XI.11) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 248


12.3.1 Interpolatiou for odd dues of c,.
12.3.2 Error clustering

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2G5

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2G5

12.3.3 Tlie dependence of 6(c, ) on q(c... ) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2GG


12.4 The Eqnstiou of hor=la!y Tables (XI.11) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 268
12.4.1 Interpolation for odd d u e s of a,
12.4.2 Error clust.ering

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287

12.4.3 Dependences betmen the equation of ano~nalytables for each planct288

12.5 The Eqnation of Anon~alyIilterpolation Tr~bles(XI.11) . . . . . . . . . . 291


12.5.1 Reconstructing the masimu~neclucztion of auomaly tables . . . . . 300

12.6 Summary of Resu1t.s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312


13 Retrograde Motions and Maximum Elongations

(Book XII)

324

13.1 Retrograde Motiolts; A p o l l ~ ~ i i.uTheosem


s
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 314
13.2 The T d k s of Stations (XIf.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Ci
13.3 TLe iilasimum Elongatictu TaLles for Veims 0;II.lO)

. . . . . . . . . . . 327

13.4 The I~!irsi~rrtrniE-lozlgatiou Tables for Mercriry (X11.10) . . . . . . . . . . 330

13.5 Stmu1a1-y of Results

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334

14 Planetary Latitudes (Book XIII)


14.1 Tlre Latitude Model for the Superior Planets

338

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 338

14.2 The Latitude Talsles for tile Superior Planets (XIII.5)

...........

14.2.1 Interpolatimt iu tlie superio~plmet latitude tables

. . . . . . . . . 345

14.3 Tllc Latitude Iii tcrpolation Ta.1~1~


(XIII.5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

14.3.1 Tlte ronildiiig method in the lunar latitude tables


14.3.2 Enor cluste~iug.

341

.........

354
355

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 357

14.4 Tllc Li~titudeMoclel for the Inferior Planets

14.5 Tltc Cdcnlntion of Iidination

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 358

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 360

14.8 Tllc Tables for First a d Last Visibilities (XIII.10)

............

373

15 Conclusion
15.1 The Rclation Beiween the Tex* and the Tables

....

15.2 Tl~eoreticafa i d Actual Dependences Between Tables . . . . . . . . . . . 376

15.3 In terpolatiou Methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


15.4 Depelirleuces Between E.utries W i t l ~ na Table
15.5 O t l m Nuiuerical Methods

...............

377
378

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379

15.6 Questions for Further Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 380


Appendices
A Statistical Glossary

382

List of Tabies

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

3.1

A por.t.jm of tlie cliord interpolation table (1.11)

4.1

The cl~ordtable (1.11) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

53

4.2

Directly cdculsted cl~ordsill 1.10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

61

.....

62

4.4

Testing for various interinediate grids in the chord table . . . . . . . . . .

67

4.5

Ca1lcul;~tingCrd 8 fsom Crd $ using the c l m d supplement formula . . . .

68

............

82

...................

83

4.3 Sncccssive use of the half-angle formula to generate small. chords

5.1 Excerpts from tlle solar mean motion tables (1II.G)


5.2

Hously solar mean motion table (1II.G)

5.3 Agrcemcnts between hourly lnean motion entries and correct values. using
tluee rounding methods (Sun. Moon)

....................

83

5.4 Agreements between hourly mean motinn entries and correct values. using

three rounding methods (planets)

......................

84

5.5 Escerpts from tables of solar-lunar mean conju~lctiollsand oppositions (VI.3) 87


5.6

Agreemc~its bet.ween mean co~~junction/opposition


tables (25-yr periods)
and correct vidiies. using three roullding inetllods

.............

88

tables (yearly and monthly)


5.7 Agseenients between mean conjuuctioi~/oppositio~~

.............

89

G .1 Tl~rtlccliilation t d l e (I.15) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

93

6.2

A cleclination table calculated by Ptolemy's methods from his chord table

99

7.1

Tlle latitude table (11.6)

and corscct values. using three rounding nletliods

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

7.2 The shadow ieugth tables (11.6) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109


7.3 Test strttistics fox shadow length tables; P - d u e s shown in brackets . . . 111
7.4

Tlle declination quotient table (11.7) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I18

7.5 The ta~bleof sight ,zscenrions and ascensional differences (11.8)

......

120

7.6

Ptolemy's (inferred) tables for v ( d ) and s(X) (11.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123

7.7

Table of zenith distances and ecliptic angles (11.13) . . . . . . . . . . . . 142

8.1 The solar equation t d h (111.6)

.......................

151

First lunar equilt.ion of anomaly table (IV.lO) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161


The lunar equation of c e n k table (V.8. coluinn 3)
Second lunar equation of anomaly table
Recomputation of parameters r and

I?:!

............

173

(V.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175

R.
e based

the table of tlle secoild lunar equation of anomaly

on the early entries of

.............

Recomputation of pz(a. ) using (9.28) ancl two choices of If

177

. . . . . . . . 178

Tlle lunar interpolation table (V.8). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183

....................
Final reconstructecl lunar m a d m u ~ nequation of anomaly table . . . . . .

Reconstruction of llrnar
...p

( c ) table

187
190

The lunar latitnde table (V.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192


10.1 The solsr parallax table (V.18)

.......................

197

10.2 The lunar parallas table s t first limit (71.18) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202

10.3 The lullas parallax table at second limit (IT.18) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203


10.4 Thelullas parallax table at thirdliruit (V.18)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297

10.5 The lunar parallax table at fourth limit (V.18)

...............

10.6 First lunar parallax interpolation table

fA

(V.18)

208

. . . . . . . . . . . . . 212

10.7 Second lunar parallax interpolation table fB (V.18) . . . . . . . . . . . . 213

TlJrcl lunar parallax int2erpolationta.ble g (V.18) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217

TIE ti~1.k for solar eclipses at the Moon's greatest distance (VI.8) . . . . 223

...

Tlie table m(d.6

) (solar eclipses) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 226

Lunar cclipse tables of millutes of imlnersiori and half totality (VI.8) . . . 229
The eclipsc interpolation table fA (a. ) (VI.8)

................

234

The solnr and lunar eclipse area con~7ersiontables (VI.8) . . . . . . . . . 237


Tz~lrtlesof angles of inclination at eclipses (VI.12)

..............

241

The parameters required for the planetary models . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246

Sat uni uucorrected equation of centre table (XI.11) . . . . . . . . . . . . 255


Saturn true equation of centre table (XI.11)

................

256

Jnpiter uncorrected equation of centre table (XI.11) . . . . . . . . . . . . 257


Jupiter true equation of centre table (XI.ll) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 255
Mars uncorrected equation of centre table (XI.11)

.............

259

Mars true equation of cemtre table (XI.11) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260


Venus u~~corrected
equation of centre table (XI.ll)
Venus true equation of centre table (XI.11) .

. . . . . . . . . . . . 261

................

262

...........

263

...............

264

12.10Mercury uncorrected equation of centre table (XI.11)


12.11Mercury true eq~iationof centre table (XI.11)

12.12Pla11etary equation of centre tables: interpolation grid test results . . . . 265

266

........

267

12.13Error clustering test results for the plalletaxy equation of centre taLles .
12.14Planetary ecpatlion of centre: table dependence test results
12.15Precise values of t.he parameter

cO,.

for each planet

. . . . . . . . . . . . . 270

12.16Saturn equation of anomaly at. apogee table (XI.11) . . . . . . . . . . . . 272

.............
anomaly at perigee table (XI.ll) . . . . . . . . . . . .

12.l'iSat.urn central equation of anomaly table (XI.ll)

273

12.18Saturn equation of

274

XIT

12.45Tl~erecclllstructed maximurn equation of ano~lialrtables . . . .


13.1 Talk: of statioils for Saturn (XII.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
13.2 T&le of stations for Jupiter (XII.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
13.4 Table of stations for 'brenus (XII.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325
13.5 Table of stations for Mercury (XII.8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 326
13.6 h4ar;imnm elongation tables for Venus (XII.10) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331
13.7 h4admum elongation table for Mercury as morning star (XII.10)

.....

13.8 h4admuiu elongstioir table for Mercury as evening star (XI1.10)

. . . . . 335

335

14.2 Table of latitudes at nortllern limit for S turn (3311.5)

......
..........

14.3 Table of latitudes at southern limit f ~ Saturn


r
(XIII.5)

. . . . . . . . . . 349

14.4 T d ~ l eof latitudes s t northern limit for Jupiter (XIII.5)

..........

350

14.5 Table of lirtitucles at southern limit for Jupiter (XIII.5)

..........

351

14.1 Llterpolation test results for the superior planet latitude tables

..

345
348

14.6 Table of latitucles at nortl~erlllimit for Mars (XIII.5) . . . . . . . . . . . 352


14.7 Table of latitudes at southern limit for Mars (XIII.5) . . . . . . . . . . . 353
14.8 Plalietary latitude interpolstioll tablz (XIII.5) and reconstructed lunar
latitude table . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 356
14.9 Errors in the lunar latitude tables (original and reconstructed) using both

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 357
14.10Tlie cleviat.ion table for Venus (XIII.5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 365
moderu rounding and truncation

14.1lThe deviation talll: for hilescury (XIII.5)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 366

14.12Tlte slant table for Venus (XII.5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 370


14.13The slaut. table for Mercury (SIIT.5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 371

14.14Direction of errors in the recomputation of rile hlercury s h t ta,ble for


candiclate values of tile ratio ,&,tlla3./prraaz.

. .. .

. . . . . . . . . . . . 372

List of Figures

1.1 P tolemy's universe

2.1 Menclaus' Theorems

..............................

............................

17

.............

20

2.2

Ptolemy's calculatiou of the solar equation (111.5)

2.3

Circumscribing a circle around a right-angled triangle . . . . . . . . . . .

.............
(excerpt) . . . . . . . . .

22

3.1 Possibilities for distribution of candidate f values

31

3.2 The cl~ordinterpolation table (1.11). error plot

36

3.3 A typical density function of a normal distrbution summed with a uniform

..................................

38

...

42

.....

43

...........

44

......................

47

Chord table: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

55

....................

55

distribution

3.4 Grouping entry errors to test for an hypothesized interpolation grid

3.5 Errors in fitting a piecewise smooth curve to a smooth function

3.6 Fixst awl second differences of errors in Figure 3.5(b)


h

4.1 Tlte chord function: Crd B = A@ .

4.2

4.3 Chord intcrpolat.ion table: error plot

4.4 Histogram of the number of correct entries in each simulated table. for the

test of dependence of the c ( 0 ) table oa the Crd 0 table

. . . . . . . . . . 71

4.5 Using linear interpolaiion to evaluate chords from the chord table . . . .

72

5.1 The basic Apollouim model fox planetary motion . . . . . . . . . . . . .

75

..............

77

52

Coorchate ureasuremeut in f he celestial sphere

5.1 Pt olemy's cdculation of &(A) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

91

6.2 Tlie declinstion rable: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

92

. . . . . . . .

100

6.3

Second cliffererlces of errors in the decliilatiorr table (1.15)

6.4

The declinatiou slid sinc functions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101

Tlle calculation of terrestrial latitude from trheieitgth of longest daylight

7.2

The latitude tzble: error plot

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

7.3 Gnomoa skadow lengths at noon at the equinoxes and solstices


7.4

103

The slradow Ie~lgtlitables at equinox: error plot

......

207

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110

length tables at suiilmer solstice: error plot . . . . . . . . . . 110


7.5 The sl~c~clow

7.6

Tlle s h a c h lerxgth tables at winter solstice: error plot

7.7 The celestial spliere at sphaera recta .

. . . . . . . . . . 111

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113

7.8

The celestial sspliere at sphaera obliqua

7.9

Calculating the oblique asceiision using the asceiisional difference

7.10 The declination quotient table: error plot

....
..................

7.11 The asceilsional differences table: error plot (T = 12.5" t o 1 3 . 5 ~ ).

118

....

121

......

121

.......

122

.................

127

7.12 The ascensiond differences table: error plot (T = 14" to 15.5")

7-13 The asce~isiouczldiffereilces table: error plot (T = 16" to 17h)


7.14 Zenith distances and ecliptic angles (11.13)

116

7.15 Histograms of errors in z for botli accurate and Ptolemy's latitudes (11.13) 144
7.16 Histograms of errors in y for both accurate and Ptolerny's latitudes (11.13) 144

8.1 The eccentric model of solar motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

8.2 The epicyclic model of solar motion

.....................

148

...................

151

................

153

8.3 Solar equatiou table (111.6). error plot

8.4 The solar equation function: an. E [OO.180]

............

9.1

The first lunar model's inclination fsom the ecliptic

9.2

The first lunar model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160

9.3

First lunar equation of anomaly table: error plot

9.4

The second and third lunar models. to scale

..............

156

161

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165

9.5 Thc secoml lunar model through the course of a synodic month

. . . . . i66

9.6

Ptolemy's calculation of thc equation of centre and equation of anomaly

169

9.7

The lunar ecjuation of centre table: error plot

9.8

Lunar ecluntion of centre table: second differences of errors

173

9.9

Secoad lunas equation of anomaly table: error plot

175

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171

........
............

9.10 Ratio r / ( R - e ) for the early entries of the table of the second lunar

.............................
Errors in the recomputation 04 Table 9.5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

equation of anoiiialy
9.11

177
178

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
9.13 The lunar maximum equation of anomaly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
9.12 The lumr interpolation table: error plot

9.14 Histogram of the third sexagesilual place of the reconstructed lunar max-

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188

imum equation of anomaly table

9.15 Lunar ~lxnirnumequation of anomaly table: error plot

9.16 Lunar latitude table: error plot

. . . . . . . . . . 190

.......................

192

......................

194

10.1 Ptolemy's calculation of parallax


10.2 The sola1 parallax table: error plot

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197

10.3 The lunar parallas table at first limit: error plot

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202

............

203

.............

207

............
10.7 The conlstructioll of fA(a. ) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

208

10.4 The lunar parallax table at second limit: error plot

10.5 The lunar pasalla,~table at third limit: error plot


10.6 The lunar pasallax table at fonrth limit: error plot.

.sxi

216

i0.8 First lunar ~ ~ a r ~ d a s i n t e r p o l a tt&le


ion .

fALi.

error plot . . . . . . . . . . . 213

10.9 Second lunar parallas interpolation table fB: error plot

..........

213

10.10Third luuas parallax interpolation table g: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . 217


11.1 Calculating tlre Moon's distance horn the node M N from the digits of
obscuration cl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

.............
.....................

223

m ( 4hnZi3.
). error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

22G

......

228

11.2 Ptolemy's calculation of the minutes of iinmersion

....

11.3 Tlie tczble for m (d. 6


11.4 The table

221

): exros plat

11.5 Tlle cdculation of the duration of the phases of a lunar eclipse

222

11.6 Lu~rareclipse tables of uriuutes of immersiorz and half totality for h4oon
at greatest clistailce: error plot

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230

11.7 Lunar eclipse tables of minutes of imnersioiz and half totality for Moon
a t least distance: error plot

.........................

11.8 The eclipse interpolation table fA

( a v ) :error

230

plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234

....................
11.IOTke solar eclipse area conversion table: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . .

11.9 Tlre calcu1sLtion of eclipse area digits

235
237

I1.11Tlie lunar eclipse area conversion t a l k enor plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238


ll.12The cdculation of angles of inclination at eclipses

.............

239

............

242

11.13Tables of angles of i n h a t i o n at eclipses: error plot


12.1 The first planetary model

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245

12.2 The second planetary model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

..............................
Ptolezuy's c d d a t i o n of the equation of centre for Mercury . . . . . . . .

246

12.3 The Mercury model

248

12.4

251

12.5 Saturn umorrected equation of centre table: error plot . . . . . . . . . .

255

12.6 Saturn true equation of centre table: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

256

12. 7 J u p i t e ~micorrected equation of centre t d ~ l e :error plot . . . . . . . . . .

..............

12.8 Jupitm true equation of centre table: error plot

...........

12.9 *Mars uilcorrected equation of centre table: error plot


12.10Mars true equation of centre table: error plot

...............

...........
...............

12.11Venus uncorrected equation of centre table: error plot


12.12Venus true equation of centre table: error plot

........

12.Z3Mercusy uncorrected equation of centre table: error plot


f,'t.l4Me1cury true equation of centre table: error plot
12.15Tlle definition of cO,

............

..............................

12.16Saturn equation of anomaly at apogee table: error plot . . . . . . . . . .

............
anomaly at perigee table: error plot . . . . . . . . . .

12.17Sstum central equation of anomaly table: error plot


12.18Saturn equation of

12.19Jupitcr equation of ano&dy at. apogee table: error plot

..........

...........

12.20Jupiter central equation of anomaly table: error plot

12.23 Jupiter equation of anomaly at perigee table: error plot

..........

12.22Mass equation of anomalp at apogee table: error plot . . . . . . . . . . .


12.23Mars central equation of anomaly table: error plot

.............

12.24Mars equation of anomaly at perigee table: error plot

...........

12.25X7enusequation of a.uomzly table at apogee: error plot

...........

12.2GVeilus central equation of anomaly table: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . .

1227k'enns equation of znomaly at perigee table (XI.11)

............

12.28h/Iercury equation of anoindy at apogee table: error plot

i2.29hlescur~-central eqaation of anomaly table: error plot

.........

...........

12.30Mercury equation of auomaly at perigee table: error plot . . . . . . . . .


12.3lThe calculation of the planetary maximum equation of anomaly . . . . .
1'2.32Satusn equation of anomaly interpolation table: error plot

........

12.33Jul)it er equation of a n o m a l ~intSerpolationtable: error plot . . . . . . . . 2$?6


12.34Mars equation o i aiiomaly iuterpolation t.&le. error plot . . . . . . . . . 297
12.35Venus equaiion of auomalg- iaterpolation tal~le:error plot . . . . . . . . . 298
12.36Mercury equatiou of anomaly iuterpolstion table: error plot

. . . . . . . 299

12.37Histogram of the second fractional sexagesi~llalplaces of the back com-

. . . . . . . . . .

puted maximum equation of anomaly table for Saturn

12.38Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimal places of the backr.

307

COIU-

puted maximum equation of anomaly table for Jupiter . . . . . . . . . .

307

12.39Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimal places of the back corriputed maximum equation of anomaly table for Mars

. . . . . . . . . . . 308

12.40Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimal places of the back cornputed maximum equation of anomaly table for Mcrcury

.........

398

12.41Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimal places of the back computed maximum equation of a~lomdytable for Venus. from the fable for

fl (c,,. 5 90")

.................................

309

12.42Histogram of tlie second fraczional sexagesiind places of the back computed maximum equation of anomaly table for Venus. from the table for

fi (k

> 93')

.................................

309

12.43Saturn maximum equation of anomaly table: error plot

..........

311

12.44Jupiter maximum equation of anomaly table: error plot

..........

311

12.45Venu.s maximuin equation of anomaly table (c;,5 90'): error plot . . . . 313
12.4GMercury maximum equation of anomaly table: error plot
13.1 The siinple epicyclic model and Apollonius' Theorem

.........

313

. . . . . . . . . . . .?I5

13.2 Table of stations for Saturn: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322


13.3 Table of stations for Jupiter: enor plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323

13.4 TrLi~lc:of stations for Mars: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 324

13.5 T;~l~lr:
of stations for $'enus: error plot

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325

13.6 Tablc of stations for Mercury: error plot

..................

326

13.'7 Ptoleniy ' s calcuf ation of 'irenus' maximum elongations . . . . . . . . . . . 329

13.8 Maxirntim elo~igationtable for Venus as morning star: error plot . . . . . 331
13.0 Maximum e!mgat.tion table for Venus as evening star: error plot

13.10Ptolenly's calculation of Mercury's n ~ x i m u i nelongations

.....

. . . . . . . . . 336

13.1134adm11m
eIougatiou table for Mercury as morning star: error plot
13.1234;~si11iuin
elongation table for Mercury as evening star: error plot
14.1 The placement of the deferent circle for the superior planets

14.2 Tlre orientstim of the epicycle (superior planets)

. . . 337

....

......

.............

14.3 The mechanisrn accoulltiug for the variation iu the epicycle's tilt (superior

14.4 Ptolemy's calculation of

8 d e n G is at the nostkern limit . . . . . . . .

14.5 From 0. f\ieugcbauer. HAXI.4. 1282 . A graph of the values of the superior
planet latitude tables

.............................

145 Tihle of latitudes at northern limit for Saturn: error plot . . . . . . . . .


14.7 Table of latitudes at southern limit for Saturn: error plot

.........

14.8 Tal~leof latitudes at uortheru limit for Jupiter: error plot

.........

14.9 Tsble of latitudes at southern limit for Jupiter: error plot . . . . . . . . .


14.J BTable of lahit.udes at northern limit for Mars: error plot

14.11Tabie of latitudes at southern limit for Mars: error plot


14.12Plauetary latitude iuterpolatiou table: error plot

..........
..........

..............

l4.13Tlte latitude nlodel for ~ ~ e i ~. u. s. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


14.14Tlle calculation of &(2'70.a. )

332

........................

337

14.ljThe rieristiox table for 1;enus: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . QC K


14.1GThe clel-iation table for Mercury: error plot

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 366

11.1'iThe component of the latitude due to slant and the planet's equation of
anomaly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 367
14.18The slant table for Venus: error plot

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 370

14.19Tke slant table for Mercury: error plot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

371

Acknowledgements

A work of this magnitude is not completed in a vacuum. Those who assisted or supported
it are too m m y to name inclividudly. h4y greatest thanks are due to my supervisor and
rrzentor, Dr. J. L. Berggren, without whom this project would have been inconceivable.
Statistical advice was provided freely and willingly by hir. I<. Butler and Dr. R. Routledge. Otl~erswlio provided substantial commentary and guidance include Dr. R. Harrop,

Mr. B. vau Dalen, and Dr. T.Swartz. Financial assistance from the Natural Sciences

and Eilginecring Research Council was indispensible.


Equally valuable was the encouragement and moral support I received from many,
particularly from my parents Wilma and Harro, my brother and sister-in-law Tim and
Melanie, and my sister Yolanda. Many thanks d s o to the Berggren family for their kind,
welcoming hospitdity. Finally, I thank my employer, The King's College (Edmonton,

AB), for its patience and for the genuine Christian environment it afforded as I completed
tlus project while teaching there.

Chapter 1
Introduction

Claudius Ptoleiny, the most influential astronomer of the ancient world, shares the obscurity that characterizes our knowledge of tlze lives of many ancient scientists. It appeaxs
from his extant works that he spent most of his career in Alexandria, tlze home of the
great library and hluseion, and lived about AD 100-175. He wrote on many niathematic d scientific topics, and it is through tliese works that we know tlze man. Iricluded among
them axe the Optics, the Geographyon mapmaking, and the Tetrabiblos on astrology. His
fame based on these worlts is widespread and deserved, but his most noted achievements
are in the field of astronomy.

P tolerny wrote three major astronomical treatises: the Almagest, the Planetary Hgpotheses, and the Handg Tables. The Almagest (the subject of this work) is considered
to be the earliest of the three, and is intended to be a complete exyosition of mathematical astronomy as it was understood at the time. The title given to the work by
Ptolemy himself is the MathZmatike Syntaxis, Tlre Mathematical Systematic Treatise.
The name "Almagest" is a later addition, derived (via Arabic) from the Greek word
meaning "the greatest".' No earlier complete treatise of its sort is extant, probably because the Aln~agestrendered its predecessors obsolete. Indeed, much of our knowledge of
Hipparchus, the greatest astronomer before Ptolemy, derives from Hipparckus' materiai
used by Ptolemy in the Almagest. The Aimagest defined mathematical astronomy for
mauy centuries afterward, and exerted a strong influence on Arabic astronomers, Its
' G . J. Toomer (tr.), Ptolemy'a Almagesf [114],2. In further references this work shall be called the
Almagest. A reference to a quotation from Toomer's notes or comments wiU contain his name,

Chapter 1. 11:troduction

impact extended ewn as far as India.


The Planeta~yHypotheses is a cosmologicd work, possibly intended as some sort of
supplexnent to tlie Alrr~agest.~
It describes the essentials of Ptol~my'smodels of planetary
motion, making a number of improvements to the models used in the Almagest (most
notably a considerable simplification of the model for planetary latittldes). The Handy
Tables contains a set of tables to be used for the purpose of lczating celestial bodies in
tile sky. Many of them are derived from the tables in the Almagest.

1.1

Ptolemy's World View

Ptolemy's view of the structure of the universe is the stalldard view accepted by most
astroimners of llis time. The Earth is considered to be a point at the centre of a large
sphere containing the stars. The stars are fixed in place on this sphere, which rotates
around the central, spherical Earth rougldy once per day. Seven objects are not carried
solely by this diurnal motion of the sphere of fixed stars: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury,
Veuus, Mars, Jupiter, aud Saturn. (The outer planets Uranus, Neptune ;;nd Pluto are
not visible to the naked eye and were uaknown to the ancients.) Each of tlrese planets
is carried in a sphere nested between the Earth and the fixed stars. Ptolemy has little
evidence upon wl~iclito order the planets, since only t.he Moon exhibits a discernible
parallax. Thus the Moon is contained in the sphere closest to the Earth. Ptolemy adopts
the traditionally accepted order for the remaining planets: moving outward, we have
Mercury, Vciius, the Sun. Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

The planets (excluding the Sun and Moon) divide naturally into two groups. The
motions of Mercury and Venus are suck that they never vary more than a certain angular
clista.~tcefrom the

Sun, whereas the other planets are capable of being in opposition to

20.
Pederseu, A Survey of the Ahagest [83], 391. In fuither references this work shall be named
Survey.

Chapter 1. Introduction

Fignre 1.I: P tolemy's universe

Clmpter 1. Introduction

the Sun (180 re~noved).h4ercury a d Venus &recdled the inferior planets. Aristarchus

i ~ i ~otllers
d
suggested that the cause of the inferior planets' continual proximity to the

Snii viewed from the Earth is that they (and all the planets) rotate around the Sun. The
luotions of the superior planets Mars, Jupiter azld Saturn are also related to the Sun's
position, but in a less direct manner and with less evident effects.
The Sun is carried by the swift diurlld rotation of the fixed stars, but also travels
slowly in a direction opposite to the diurnal rotation so thxt it traces out a complete
circle on the sphere of fixed stars in the course of a year. This r,lrcle, known today as the
ecliptic, is tilted at an angle of about e = 23.8" to the equator of the daily rotation (the
celestial equator).

is called the obliquity s f t h e ecliptic. The Moon znd the other

five planets also rotate against the diurnal rotation at varying speeds, and their paths
never differ from the ecliptic by more than about 5". This band centred on the ecliptic

is called the zodiac.


Since the planets stay within the zodiac in the course of their orbits, the spheres
containing then1 reiuain empty over most of their area. Ptolemy ignores the existence of
the spheres in the Alnagest when developing models of the motion of the planets. The
main circle of rotation of each planet is given an arbitrary radius of 60 units, since only
iu the case of the Sun and Moon did the ancient astronomers have a theoretically correct
method -Tor finding their distance from the Earth. Depending on the parameters of the
models, a planet. can move a certain distance closer to and further away from the Earth
at vsz-ious points in its orbit. The daily rotation of the sphere of fixed stars is ignored in
the deriratloil of the model; thus the fixed stars are assumed to have constant l o ~ a t i o n s . ~
'This is not quite iiccurate. In actuality the points of the intersectiou of the ecliptic and the celestial
equator (the vernal and autumnal equinoxes),along with the poles, are the reference points. In Book
VII of the Alrnagest Ptolemy demonstrates that all the fixed stars exhibit a slow eastward motion parallel
to tllc ecliptic with respect to the equinoctial points of appro-uimately lo per century. This phenomenon
is now knoxm as the precession of the equinoxes, reflecting the understanding (not Ptolemy's) that
the stars, not the equinoxes, remain fixed.

The planetary models are designed to give the planets' positions relati~eto the fixed
stars, whicii the observer must then convert to a location in the heavens.
1.2

Mathematical Tables in t h e A l m a g e s t

One of the purposes of the AEma,gest is to provide a set of tools that allows the reader
to locate the planets and find certain other astrononlical quantities with relative ease.
Specificdly, Ptolemy wishes to remove the need for the user to perform any trigononletric or coii~plexnuinerical calculations. At tlie same time the book must be structured
logically to provide a complete record of all the reasoning a i d cdculations required to
derive the models from first principles and a small group of observations.
Ptolemy spares the reader tile need to use trigouonietry by providing a st of tables
of certain functions useful in the context of the planetary models. Each table computes
a function designed to assist in some aspect of the computational solution of the desired

astronomical quantity. A set of instructions in the text guides the reader tllrough tlze
process of combining table values in a straightforward manner, leading to the solution
of the problem. In each stage of the calculation the user needs only perform a few
~mdtiplications,additions, and subtractions, dong with an occasional application of linear
or inverse linear interpolation, to evaluate some tabulated astronomical function for an
argument between two table entries.
To preserve the logical structure of the work, Ptolemy provides the (verbal) mathematical definition of each tabulated function as well as a sample calculation to show how
it may be evaluated for any argument, immediately before the table. Tlutlis description

may usually be omitted by a reader interested only in locating the plmcts. The practitioner, however, requires this knowledge to reproduce the table for hirn/lzerself, and to
understand fully the mathematical structure of the model.

Chapter 1. Iz~troduction

1.3

The Hand3 Tables

Tlie ffvncly Tables, completed after the Almagest, is aimed at facilitating the computatiom for a reader interested in determining planetary positions but not concerned with
the mathematics behind the tables. The tables follow essentially the structure and models of tlie k l m a g e s t , except for substantial improvements to the planetary models. The
trigolzometric details are omitted, procedures are streamlined, and tables are enlarged to
iduclc smaller argument stepsizes. For tables with an arc for argument, the function is

given for every degree instead of the 3"/6" stepsize standard in the Almagest.
Most of the tables are derived from those in the Almagest, with some variations.
TIreon refers to the use of distributed linear interpolation (see 2.2),4 a method that
d h v e d Ptolemy to decrease the argument stepsize with a minimum of effort. The mean
motion tables (see Chapter 5) contain a period of 25 rather than 18 years, which simplifies
the evaluation of an object's mean position. The number of sexagesimd places in the
mean motion tables and in the lunar and planetary interpolation tables (see 59.7 and

$12.5), are decreased to ease the computation and to remove the illusory accuracy of the
later places.

I ignore the Handy Tables in this work for two reasons. First, these tables axe for
and little if any new information is
tbe most. part derived from those in the AErnage~t,~
contained in them. Second, the study of the Almagest tables alone is already unwieldy,

aud the inclusion of the Handy Tables would make it impossibly large. -4 future study
could analyze the probable links between the Almagest and the Handy Tables, but it
voulcf be time-consumiug and its outcome is not seriously in doubt.
%. fionlle, -Lc problgme de i'6quation du temps chez Ptol6mCe" [go], 219.
50.Pedersen, Survey, 396.

C h p t e r 1. Introduction

1.4

Goals of this Work

-4 ~ o d ofi this size naturally develops with several diverse but related ttliemes m d pur-

poses. While dividing a large psoject into several disjoint aims is not always natural or
a fair representation of the effort, it does add clarity tqothe project. Thus I specify three

main goals below.

1.4.1

R e c o m p u t a t i o n of all tables

Toomer's translation of the Almayest presents all the tables without reco~nputations.
-4s Toomer says in his foreword (see 52.1),"

great majority of tlie entries are fairly

close to the correct vdues (using Ptolemy's stated values for the parameters). He states
that he has recomputed all the tables, and he refers to most of the large or anomalous
errors in notes. He does not include the recomputed values in the text, and does not
explicitly guarantee the reliability of his calculations (although I have found them to
be incorrect only rarely). The smaller errors are, however, sufficiently intriguing that

some investigators may well be interested in the relative accuracy of various tables and

the patterns evident in the errors in many tables. Also, applying the numerical arid
statistical tests in this work requires these errors as data. Thus dl tables (except the
mean motion tables) are recalculated ;tnd presented here, with errors given to the number

of places shown in the table itself. The interested reader may obtain more precise values
of the errors from me.

Chapter 1. I~~troduction

1.4.2

Devd~pmentof general statktica: tests

Wlde a nurul~erof i n d i ~ ~ d u ahave


l s derived certain historical conclusions from astronomical and mathe1lzatica.1 table^,^ these efforts have been geared to particular sets of tables
aud have not attempted a universal approach. Also, the problems involved in the use of
standard statistical methods on this type of data have not been addressed adequately.

f approach the problems by considering first the nature of the statisticai tests to be
used, independently of any particular table. This generality has the obvious advantage of
applicability to different situations, although of course the standard determination of the
satisfaction of statistical assumptions must be verified in each application. I raise four
clistinct questions with possible solutions in statistics in this work. First, does a table
with a theoretical dependence on the values in another table exhibit that dependence
in a nurne~lcalsense? Second, is the apparent clustering and drifting of errors within a

table a mathematical byproduct of the underlying function? Third: was an interpolation


grid used to speed calculation? Fourth, can one extract the numerical parameters used

in building a table in order to give clues to the sources the author had at his disposal? B.
van Dalen has provided several methods to analyze the fourth q u e s t i ~ nI; aim
~ to provide
one or more methods to aualyze the first three.

1.4.2 Understanding the construction of, and interrelations between the ta-

bles
The final, and primary god of this thesis is to learn more about the structure and
constrtlction of the Almagest through its mathematical tables. Do the tables, as R.
7Esamplesof this genre include B. L. van der S7erden,"Reconstruction of a ~ree'b:
table of chords",
[126],23-38; G. Van Brumtnelen, "The numerical structure of al-Iihaliiiis auxiliary tables", [ll8], 66798; sud the extensive list of publications on Ptalemy's star catalogue. See G. Grasshoff, The Histo y of
Rolemy's Sfar Catalogue [26].
8B. van Dden, "A statistical method for recovering unknown parameters from medieval ast,ronomical
tables", [122],85-145.

Chapter 1. Introduction

Kewton suggests? give reason to believe that Ptoleiiiy w ~ as plagiarist and

(z

scientific

fraud? Do the t,lleoretical connections bet,ween the tables described by Ptolemy reveal
themselves numerically? Does he follow tlie conlputational methods he provides in the
text? If not, does this make him a liar? Finally, does lie use numerical methods that axe
not desciibed in the text? The answers to these questions may reveal new insights into
ilumericd and astronomical practices in the ancient Hellenistic period.
1.5

Structure of this Work

This work is structured according to the logical outline of the Almagest itself. After this
Introduction, Clrapter 2 outlines the preliminary information required for the study, such
as the mathematical knowledge of the time, the translations of the work and available
commentaries, and the neth hod of transcription cf the mathematics of the Almagest into
modern notation. Chapter 3 presents the three statisticd tests in a theoretical context,
independently of any particular table. Chapter 4 is an analysis of the chord table, the
first table in the Almagest. The chord table is tlie earliest extant trigonometric table,
and the chord function is the only trigonometric fuizction used in the Alrnagest. Chapter

5 analyzes the mean motion tables that appear tfirougliout the Almagest. As far as
the analysis of nunlericd structure is concerned, these are no more than multiplication
tables. These tables are studied early in this work to reach a conclusion about the
rounding methods used by Ptolemy before proceeding to the rest of the tables.
Chapter 6 analyzes the declinatioll table, the only substantial table apart from the
chord table in Book I of the Almagest. Chapter 7 covers the tables in Book 11 (astsorromical geography), which are preliminary to Ptolerny 's main task. Chapter 8 covers the
solar model of Book 111. The solar model is the simplest of the planetary models, and
'See (for example) R. Newton, The Origins of Ptolcmy's Astronomical Parameters [79], 159-64; Thr
Origins of Ptolemy '8 d st~onomicalTables 1801, 218-19,

Chapter 1. I1~troduciicrl~

10

must appear iirst since d l other planetary models rely on the Sun's position in sorile way.

Chapter 9 follows Book IV, and

V to V.10, covering Ptolemy's development of the lunar

~ n o d d .Tlte lunar niodel appears here because it depends integrally on the position of
the Sun, and because the &;loon's position is essential in the upcoining theory of eclipses
arid iu locatitlg the fixed stars. Chapter 10 analyzes the tables in V . l l to the end of

Cook

V,on solar and lunar parallax. This is prelinlinary to the prediction of eclipses in

Book Vf (Chapter 11 of this thesis), since solar and lunar parallax both greatly affect
the timing of an eclipse.
Books VII and VIII (the fixed stars) are ignored in this work, since they contain no
msthematicdly defined tables. 9001is IX-XI describe the models for planetary longitudes. The tables appear in Book XI, but the derivations of the models for each planet

make up the majority of tllese three books. The tables of planetary longitude are analyzed
in Chapter 12. Book XI1 (Chapter 13) covers traditional topics of astronomy deriving
froin planetary longitudes, such as the stationary points of a planet's orbit. Book XI11
(Chapter 14),tlie last in the Almagest, proposes models for the planets' latitudes. I make
summary conclusious in Chapter 15.

Chapter 2

Preliminaries

Before entering the analysis, I consider first, the historical data bearing on the project.
Tlris iucludes the sources for the tables? commentators' references to calculations in
the Almagest, and the trigonometric and numerical methods laown to be available to
Pt?olemy. Finally, I describe the manner of presentation of the tables in this work.
2.1

Sources for the Almagest

Se17eraf translations of the A h a g e s t have appeared in the last two centuries. These
inch& a Frenclt translation by N. Hafina (1813, 1816), a German trai~slationby Ii.
hfanitius (1912-13), and an English translation by R. Taliaferro (1952). Tlte entries in
the tables differ from one to another, sometimes significantly, depending on the source

documents that were consulted. An analysis of tile texts to protide an authoritative


version of each table is a necessary first step to the analysis, and for this I am greatly

indebted to G.Toomer's 1984 English translation, based mainly on J. L. Heiberg's Greek


edition (1898, 1903), although Toomer makes a nunher of corrections to Hciberg's text.

I accept Toomer's expertise in textual matters, and use the tables in lljs translstion

Toomer notes in l& preface that he recomputed all the iiurnerical results in the t,exd
iurd tables, but he reports only certain large errors and distortioils in footnotes. Not all

of Toomer's listed recomputations axe precisely correct, but almost all are close enough
to r e t a k the force of t.he conclusious he draws from t h e u ~These are noted in my analysis

11

wlmt altpropriate. He does not report the results of his calculations when the errors are
small eltough to d u i t the possibility that rounding is the major cause, since
to list some thousands of slightly more accurate results which I have found

with modern mec1~anica.laids would invite Ptolemy's own sardonic remark:


'fcrupulous accuraq about such a small amount is a sign of vain conceit

ratlter than love of truth'.

I cinpl~asizetlrat my use of the thousands of slightly more accurate results is not intended
to cosscct Ptolemy, h t rather to discover sonzething of Ptolemy's numerical methods by

examining tlle errors.


2.2

Ancient Commentators

The common Hellenistic practice of writing commentaries to existing works extended to


the Aimayest. These commentaries, containing explanations, analyses, and extensions
of ?LU or part of the source work, may contain information about the original author's

ruotix-ations and techniques. In the context of this project, the commentaries on the
Almagest may clescribe some met.hods of calculation used but not discussed by Ptolemy.
Apart from certain fragments,' t.wo major commentaries on the Almagest are available: Pappus' commentary on Books V and VI, and Theon's commentary on Books I-IV.

Both are a~ailablein a Greek edition with French notes in A. Rome's Commentaires de
P u p p s et de Tltebn d'Adexaadie szlr I'Aimageste (1931, 1936: 1943). From the text of

Theou's comneutary it is clear that he also wrote a commentary on Book 'C',2 but it has

bees lost.
'A. Jones, "Ptolcmy%f k t conunentator", [45], 1990.
2 S ~for
~ instance,
.
A. %me, Cornnentaires de Yappus et de TILebn d'Alezandrie sur I'Almageste [89],
Tome I, 414. In future uotes this work shall be referred to as Commentaires.

Little new information is to be gained from either colnmentary on Ptolemy's numerical methods in the Alm.agest. Certain insights co~lcerrringtlie logic of Ptolemy's
presentation and the motivations behind some of his approximations are found, but they
are already contained in our current understanding of the -4 lmagest and con tribuf e little
nex7 material t,o our knowledge of his computations. Theon ronlnlents on the 45 line

per page layout for the mean motion tables3 (see Chapter 51, and on the possibility of
inaccuracies in Ptolernfs approxi~nationto Crd lo4(see Chapter 4). These are discussed
in the appropriate sections of this work.
In his Major C o m m e n t ~ r yto the Handy Tables, Theon does refer to a variant, of linear
interpolation which I call distributed. In working from the Almarjest right ascensio~l
(a(A)) table (calculated for 10" increments of A) to a (hypothetical) table of the same
function in the Handy Tables (where arguments are in lo increments of A), Ptolemy
mould begin by taliing the difference between two entries and dividing by ten.5 This
provides an average increment in a per degree increment in A. From this average, he then
determines a set of ten increments for a. corresponding to the ten lo increments of A. This
is done by setting each increment either to the integer portion of the average increment
(ex~ressedin minutes) or one minute greater than this, chostm so that the tell increments
for cu sum to the overall increment. The larger differences are placed at the side of the
iuterpolatorg interval where the function is changing most quickly. For example, Ptolemy

has a.f70)= 68; 18 a d cr(80)= 79; 5. Tlls difference is 10;47" = 647', which gives an
average increnlent of 64.7'. This gives seven increments of 65' and three of 64'. Since
the function is concave upward, the three smaller increments arc used at the beginning
of the interval. Thus a ( 7 1 )= 69;22,a(72") = 70;26, and 473') = 71;30. Then the
Commentaires Tome 11, 500-1.
4A. Bonx, Comentaires Torne 11, 495,
=Actually,Ptolemy computes a slightly different functiou, the normed right ascension, in the Hardy
e
Tables of Codex Vaticanu.s G~aecus1291, [92], 32-33), This
Tables (see W . Stalhan, T i ~ Ast~oaomacaf
3 ~ &me:
.

example is provided for illustration only.

Chap t cr 2. Preliminaries

larger i:~crerttents we used: ~ ~ ( 7 4 '=


) 72;35,

. . .; ~ ( 7 9 " )=

78;0.6 Distributed linear

interpolstior~has been discovered in astronoruical tables as recent as the late fourteenth


cen t ~ r y However:
.~
although tlie Handy Tables use it extensively, the Almagesi tables

do not.
2.3

Review of Modern Literature

Tlle Almagest has justly been tlie focus of a wide spectrum of scholarly research. A
uumber of papers recently published analyze its models of planetary motion, and two
b001is offer a conlplete mathematical analysis of the entire treatise. The first, 0. Pedersen's A Survey of the Almagest (1974)) concentrates on a modern understanding of
Ptolemy ,s mathematical reasoning in the Almagest, and converts Ptolemy's methods to
modern trigonometric terms. Pedersen provides trigonometric arguments and formulae
for most, but not all, of the tables. In most of my work I adopt PederseIi's notation,
since I find it both exceedingly clear and an appropriate modern rendering of Ptolemy's
presentation. However, I have altered the notation in a number of places where I felt it
appropriate, and converted each of Ptolemy's trigonometric arguments leading to table
calculations into modern notation myself. This was done to provide a coherent account
of the tables, and to correct occasional errors in Pedersen's book. In addition, Pedersen

resorts to approximations at several stages without always noting them specifically. A


srliall part of my goal is to determine whether it is possible to detect Ptolemy's possible
use of the approximations implicitly suggested by Pedersen.

The second recent analysis of the Ahagest is contained in 0 . Neugebauer's monumental A Eistoq of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy (1975). Eeugebauer includes the
%ee A. Rome, "Le problkme de I'dquation du temps chez PtolCmCe*, [go], 219. For commentary see
W. Stdilinann, The Astronosnicai Tables of Codez Vaticanus Graecas 1121, [92], 4142.
'G. Van Bruilmelen, "The numerical structure of al-Iihalili's auxiliary tables", [118], 667-698.

matliematical tables in his detailed stady. and seem to liave ~ecomput~ed


some, but not d l
of them. Neugebauer does not. systematically analyze the ta.bles with nu~nericdconcerns
in mind, but does occasionally infer something of Ptolemy's nlethods from the numbers.
I consider his arguments at each appropriate stage. Neugebauer's reported recalculations
do not always agree with Toomer's. h4y calculations. which side wit11 Neugebauer or
Toomer roughly evenlyi are all pesformed with twenly decimd places of precision for
safety, and confirmed by various nicans when nu~nesicalinstitbility may arise. Thus all
numerical results in tlxis work may be relied upon to the accuracy presented.
The analysis of niathematically Lased astronoinical tables to discover hist,orical facts
or procedures has not been done systematically. For particdar sets of tables, researchers
have occasio~dlyresorted to numerical arguments to make certain conclusions. Ilowevcr,
only one paper t,reats an aspect of the problem independently of a particular context. B.
van Dalen's "A statistical method for recovering parameters from historical astronomical
tables" (Centaurus 32 (1989), 85-145) gives several statistical estimators that generate
confidence intervals for the value of a numerical parameter used in a table. Although one
must be careful to ensure that the statistical assumptions are plausible when applying
the estimators, the method is quite reliable. In the Almagest, I find little cause to doubt
the use of the d u e s of the parameters given by Ptolemy were actually used in the tables

in most i u s t a n c e ~ The
. ~ tests I develop in Chapter 3 assume the parameters are known;
thus my work complemeuts van Dalen's.

R. Newton has published three books on Ptolemy touclling on the questious addressed in this work. The first two, The Crime o f Claudius Ptolemy (1977) and The

OT%-

gins of Ptolemy's Astronomical Parameters (1982), contain arguments criticizing most of


Ptolerny's work, including but not restricted to the tables. I concern myself o d y with the
arguments related to the tables. htany of these arguments are not worthy of cornzuent,
81n at least one instance it is unclear precisely what parameter Ptolemy uses: see Chapter 8.

and I address them only when necessary. In the latter book, Newton attempts to prove
that the para~lletersused to construct the tables are different froin those stated in the

text. He co~icludesthat Ptolerny copied the tables from other sources, and makes some
unusual speculations concerning what these sources may be. Newton uses basic statistical quantities such as means and variances, to find regions likely to contain a given
parameter, similar in nature to van Dalen's confidence i n t s r ~ a l s .He
~ usually finds that
the table's parameter appears to be quite close to, but not equal to, the text's parameter.
Usually no historically supportable parameter fits Newton's reconstruction. A quick scan
through the recomputed tables in this work provides a simple explanation: many of the
tables analyzed by Newton simply cannot be treated as a series of independently cdculated entries. The clrifts of errox, caused by interpolation within the tables and possibly
other factors (see the Conclusion), invalidate Newton's findings. A proper analysis of
the parsmeters would likely give much larger confidence intervals, usually including the
text's parameters.
Newton's third book, The Origins of Ptolemy's Astronomical Tables, is similar in its
nature and type of argument to the other two. My objections to the first two books
geaera.lly apply to this book also. This thesis is not intended to reply directly to Newton,

and I will consider his ugnments only when I consider it necessary.


2.4

Trigonometry in the Ahagest

Cliapter 4 describes in some detail Ptclemy's construction of a table for the only trigonometric function he uses in the Almagest, the chord. In a circle of radius 60, Crd 8 is the

length of the chord of rn arc 8. From Figure 4.1, it is easily seen that the chord is directly
% typical example of Newton's approach may be found in The Origins of Ptolemy's Ast~onomica~
Tables, [8q,110-16. For van Dalen's approach, see GAstatistical method for recovering parameters from
historical astronomical tables", Centaums 32 (1989), 85-145.

Chapter 2. Preh3i;uczrie.s

Figure 2.1: h4enelaus2Theorems


related to the sine:
B
Crd 0 = 120 sin 2'
Ptolemy does not require any other trigonometric functions for his work. All the functions
used in modern trigonometry may be built from the sine fui~ctionalone, and in the same
may Ptolemy uses the chord in various ways to solve problems that employ cosines,

tangents, m d inverse trigonometric functions. The only function uaattaizlal~lefrom the


chord is the inverse tangent (and inverse cotangent). When an inverse tangent is required
to solve a trigonometric problem, Ptolemv is forced to use a more complex method

Several trigonol~ietrictl~eorelnsare used to solve astronomical problems in the AZ-

rrtupst. Two of these, used often in the eazly chapters, are now named after their

reputed discoverer Menelaus. 111 Figure 2.1, the curves represent great circle arcs on a
sphere, each less than a semicircle. The first, theorem, as Ptolemy uses it, states that
C r d 2 x ~- C r d 2 F ~ Crd2m
Crd ZTE Crd 2 m Crd Z ~ ' E

Tlie secoud theorem is

Both of these equations can be readily converted to modern equivaleilts by replacing the
cliords with sines and refraining from doubling the arcs.
Ptolemy uses the sine theorem at one stage later in the work, and refers to a number
of trigoilonletsic theorems in his construction of the chord table. These theorems are

mostly based on Ptolemy's T h e o r e m , which states that in a quadrilateral inscribed in


a circle, the product of the cIiagonals is equal to the sum of the products of the opposite
sides. The theorems are rarely used in the rest of the Almagest; instead Ptolemy often
uses the definition of the chord directly in his derivations.

2.4.1

Number representation

Ptolemy uses the number system that was standard in ancient and medieval astronomy.
are written with alphabetic characters in sexagesirnal (base 60)
Fract,ional qua~~tities

notation, and the integer portion of a number appears in Lase ten. I use the standard
modern transcription:

113; 48,3? = 113

48
37
++
60 602'

(2.4)

where t.he semicolon represents the sexagesimal point and commas are used as place

separators.

Chapter 2. Prelilninaries

l'ery occasiolldly ?tolemy leaves fractiollal quantities as common fractious rather


t l ~ a ntranslating them to sexagesimal notation. In tables where this occurs I note it in
the test, but for convenience of presentation I represent the quantities in sexagesimal
form. None of the common fractions giveu in Al~nayest tables requires roundiug when
converting to sexagesimal form.
2.4.2

An example of my translation of Almagast trigonometry t o m o d e r n


notation

Tl~rougfioutthis work I transcribe Ptolemy's trigonometric asguments to modern notation, since the appearance of the original form of the argument in the text looks foreign
to the modern eye. To assure the reader that my transcriptions are faithful to Ptolemy's
methods, and to give a feel for the flavour of his arguments, I provide an example of
Ptolemy's text (inset) and my presentation of it (usual margins) below, This sample is
talten from the solar model, Alrnagest 111.5 (157-9). (MTkatappears as Ptolemy's text
inevitably contains some influence or interpretation of the translator.)
In order to enable one to determine the anomalistic motion over any subdivision [of the circle], we shall show

. . .how, given one of the arcs in question,

we can compute the others.

Quotations from the Almagest contained in square brackets are Toomer's explanatory
uotes. Occasionally I also add my (modern) notation for a particular quantity in syuase

First, let the circle concentric to the ecliptic be RBG on centre E , the eccentre

ASH on centre C, and let the diameter through both centres and the apogee
A be ARCEH. Cut off arc AS, and join SE, S C . First, let arc AS be given,

Chapter

Figure 2.2: Ptolemy's calculation of the solar equation (111.5)

I often use my own letters for points in geometrical diagrams rather than those in
Toomer's text, to ~naintainconsistency through my work. Figure 2.2 shows the diagram
as it appears in the Almagest; my diagram (Figure 8.1) may be simplified or altered for

my purposes. I also add references to the modem notation for the arcs in the diagram.
Ptolemy's goal here is to find q = LCSE and a = LREB from a, = LACS, where the
radii of the circles are both 60 units and

C E = e = 2; 30. Note that Ptolemy picks the

example a,, = 30".


Produce SC and drop the perpendicular to it from E , EL.
Wherever possible, 1 indicate later stages in the construction or curves added for explanatory p~lrposesby drawing them with dashed lines.

Chapter 2. Preliminaries

Tken, since arc -45is. by hypothesis, 30Q,

LACS = LECL =

30' where 4 right <angles = 360"

GO0

where 2 right angles = 360O .

Therefore, in the circle about right-angled triangle E C L ,


arc E L = 60"
and arc LC = 120" (supplement).

E L = 60P

Therefore the corresponding chords

where hypotenuse

and LC = 103;55"

Passages of this type occur often in the Almagest, and give Ptolemy's procedure equivaleut
to applying the definition of a sine or cosine to a right-angled triangle (in this case ECL).
The notation O O is Toomes's notation for "demi-degrees7'. As the text implies, 1" = 2'

,I1

Ptolemy circumscribes a s m d circle around C , E and L; from geometry the hypotenuse


forms a diameter (Figure 2.3). Again from geometry, arc E L is twice L E C L = a,, so
that E L measured in degrees is equal to a, measured in demi-degrees. Thus to find the
chord EL Ptolemy enters the chord table with a, measured in demi-degrees:

E L = Crd Za,,

so that

E L = Crd 60" = 60P,

assuming the circle has a radius of 60P (the notatiou P in Toomer refers to units), Likewise

LC = Crd 120' = 103; 55. In modern trigonometric terms,

EL = EC sin a,, = 120 sin a ,

and

LC = EC ecos u, = 1 2 0 . ~ urn.
0 ~ (2.5)

"The utility of this concept in Ptolemy's trigonometry is that, when the angles of a triangle arc:
expressed in deli-degrees, the measure of the arcs of the circumscribed circle is equal to the arcs they
subtend in degrees.

Figure 2.3: Circumscribing a circle around a right-angled triangle


Therefore: where EC = 2; 3 0 P and radius SC = 60P, E L = 1;1 5 P and CL =

P tolemy restores EL and C L to the original unit of measurement, finding EL = e sin a,


and CL = e cos a,, (where e = EC).
Therefore, by addition [of CL to radius SC], LCS = 62; 1OP.
Now since EL2

+ ECS2 = SE2, the hypotenuse SE

By tlnc Pytkagorean Theorem,

FZ

62; 11P.

Therefore, where SE = 120P, E L = 2; 25" ad, in the circle absut riglitangled triangle SEC, arc EL = 2; 18".
Thus L E S L =

2; 18'

where 2 sight. angles = 3GOa "

1;S0where 4 right augles = 360".


That 11;go] mill be tlie amount of the equation of anomaly at this position.
This is the same device Ptolemy used before to apply the cllord table, except that here
he works from chords to angles. The modern equivdeilt is

EL
ES'

sin q(am)= sin L E S L = Substitution gives the final formula:


e sin a,

q(a,,) = sin-'
J(esina,)*

+ (60 + ecosam)2

(see (8.6) for comparisoli).


And

ACS was taken as 30'.

Therefore, by subtraction, f REB (which equals arc RB of the ecliptic) equds


28; 51'.

Finally, Ptolemy subtracts q(a,) from a, to give the Sun's true anomaly a = LREB,
Since lie works only with examples, he does not need to consider wllether terms are
added or subtracted in general. Instead he examines the diagram. My trar~slationselects
additioil or subtraction to preserve consistency between siinilar equations as much as

possible, wl~ichoccasionally causes a term to be added iu the formula when its absolute
value is sul>tracted in the sample calculation. In these cases my definition of y (or the
corresporiding term in a similar situation) gives a negative value for the sample argarnent

Chapt cr 2. Preliminaries

2.5

frsterpdation Methods Available to Ptolemy

The concept of a function is not explicit in ancient mathematics. However, it is clear


that Ptolerny works with an implicit notion of a relation from one or more quantities to
another quantity that resembles a function in an intuitive sense. For more information,
the reader is referred to Pederse~'s"Logistics and the theory of functions" (Archives
lnternationaEes d7Nistoire des Sciences 24 (1974), 29-50).
Ptolemy makes several uses of linear interpolation in the Almagest. He instructs the
reader to use linear interpoiation to compute functions of arguments between tabulated
values. He is equally able t c j utilize lineax interpolation in the other direction to find the

illverse of a tabulated function, most notably with the chord table to find inverse chords.
Finally, several tables in the Almagest are completed with some assistance from h e a r
interpolation. To my knowledge, no other forms of interpolation for use with functions
of a single variable are attested in the literature of Ptolerny's time.12
Ptolemy is averse to computing tables of functions of two or more arguments due
to the work involved. A function f (x, y), for instance, tabulated for the standard 45
vdues of x and y, would require the computation of over 2000 values of f . Instead,
Ptolerny adopts a device, which I (following 0. Pedersen) name Ptolemaic interpolation,
to redace 1Gs effort to computing f for two bounding values of one of the variables, and
an interpolatiou function. Suppose x E [a, b] and y E [c,dl, and that f is affected more
stroxg~yby changes in one variable (say, z) than the other (y). Ptolemy computes f

for all I-dues of the strong variable x7 and (for each x) the ex-treme values of the weak

12Escept for distributed linear interpolation; see 52.2.

Chapter 2. Prelirzzinaries

Note t11a.t g(c) = 0 and g ( d ) = 1.


The clloice of tile int.erpolation fuilction g is made in differmt ways depeuding on the
context. The idea is always the same: find some astroaornical qualtity H(y) that increases (or clecreases) with respect to y in a fashion that can be described as proportin~lal
to the clmnge in f with xespect to y (regardless of the d u e of x). Then, for any y,

Since fl (x)= f (x,c ) and

f2(5)
=

f (x, d), solving for f (x, y j in this equation gives

Compasisou with (2.10) above gives

Ofteil, but not always, H is defined by

Pedersen implies that H is always defined in this way,13 but this is a slight rnisrepresentation of Ptolemy's method. Sometimes fm,,(y)

is difficult to calculate, or a~iotlter

quantity serves equally well. See, for example, $10.6 on the lunar parallax function, wllich

is also the ouly illstance where Ptolemy ex%ends his interpolation method to a imckiun

of three ~miables.
130.Pedersen, Survey, 86, and "Logistics and the theory of functions: ars essay
mathematics", [82], 41.

the history of Greek

Chapter 2. Prek'm'naries

26

If both ~axiahlales,are strong, Ptolemaic interpolation would require a function H to


fit the change in f with respect to one of the variables very closely indeed. Usually no
such H is close to hand. In this case, Ptolemy is required to compute the table for both

arguments. See, for example, the rising time table in1 $7.3.

2.0

Calculations in the Text

A s uoted above, most of the tables iu the Almagest are accompasied by a sample cal-

culatioir of one or more entries that provide an account of the trigonometric derivation
of the quantities being generated. In each case the text computation agrees with the
entry in the table. However, as Toomer remarks in several places, the value of a quantity
-

--

--

actually used for subsequent calculations in the text is often more accurate than what
appears,'4 Other sample calculations use crude rounding that, when reproduced for the
entire table, would produce errors lager than those in the table itself. Finally, certain
sample calculations szem to be rounded in order to reproduce the number in the table
(although, of course, this cannot be verified). Thus I consider the cdculations in the text

as a possible method, but I make no assumptions based on these calculations. Generally,


duplicating the text procedure to the letter does not generate a good mat& with the

2.7

Table Presentation: Errors and Pfots

Every table entry in the Almagest is recomputed here. The error in an entry is defined
to be Ptolenty's \ d u e minus the mathematically precise value, computed according to

the fornula implied by Pto1emy's text. Thus a positive error implies that Ptolemy's vdue
is too high, a d a negative d u e implies that it is too low. In my tables, the errors are
14See for instance G . Toomer, Almagesf, 463 note 97; 497 note 54.

Chapter 2. PreiiuLiuaries

Error = fp - r,(f ),
where f is the correct value of the quantity to be tabulated,

fp

is Ptolemy's value, and

r, is the function rounding the argument to n sexagesimd places (see Chapter 5). 1

give Ptolemy's values in the tables alongside the errors, whiell are rounded to the nearest
integer multiple of the last place given in Ptolemy's table according to the above formula,
Tltus, if Ptolelny tabulates a quaritity as 34;46 and its correct value is 34;47,52, the error
is -2.

Presenting the errors to more places than appear in Piolemy's tables would he

superfluous and could be misleading. The error plots graplrically display the errors (in
full accuracy) as a function of the argument of the table, always in units of the last place.
Thus an error mark that appears between the values 1 0 . 5 units means that Ptolemy's
value is correct to all places, using modern rounding.

Chapter 3

Methods of Table Analysis

Due to the wide variety of mathematical functions tabulated in the Almagest, a systematic
study demands methods of analysis applicable to diverse numerical tables. To this end

1 hate devised three tests: first, to determine whether a theoretical dependence of one
table on another may be detected numerically from the errors in the entries; second,
to verify whether errors cluster in certain locations within a table beyond what may be
expected by chance; and third, to detect uses of forms of interpolation in a table.
Errors in the tables may also provide clues to tell whether the values of numerical
parameters given in the tex* were used to compute the tables; the reader is referred to

B. van Dalen's parameter estimat0rs.l In most tables the recomputations make clear
that there is little cause to doubt the parameter given in the text in those situations
where the parameter's value is unambiguously stated: the confidence intervals produced

by van Dalen's estimator include the texe's parameters in every table to which it has
been applied. R. Newton's arguments2, often rejecting the text's parameters, fail to take
into account some of the mathematical problems discussed in this chapter and will not
usually be addressed. For the purpose of the following discussions we assume the values
of the parameters used in tht table to be those that appear in the tex-t.
For rtfl the tests developed in this chapter, the goal is to construct a statistical method

that applies to a wide variety of historical matBeinatica.1 and astronomical tables. This

ID.vau Dalen, "A statistical method for recovering unknown parameters from medieval astronomical
tables", [122], 85-145.
R. Newton, The Origim of Ptolemy's Astronomical Parametem, [79], and The Origins of
Rolemy's Astronomical Tables, [80].
28

29

Chapter 3. Methods of Table Aualysis

generality implies that in certain situations, hczs concerning the nature of the pastic.ular
function or table under investigation are not exploited. For instance, the use of nonparametric tests may not be necessary in every case. Since non-parametric tests are less
powerful than traditioual tests, this implies a greater likelihood that an incorrect null
hypothesis is accepted. Thus the universality of the tests is achieved at the cost of the
loss of some discsiininatory power.

3.1

Determining Interdependence Between Numerical Tables3

h h ~ Almagest
y
tables may be calculated from quantities found previously, in another
table. For example, to compute entries in tlie table of gnomon shadow lengths given the
length of daylight at the summer solstice at a certain location (KG), one first finds the
terrestrial latitude 4, then uses

4 to compute the shadow length. A list of latitude values

appears with t l ~ eshadow lengths, suggesting but not proving a numerical connection
between the tables.
3.1.1

Definitions

A typical situation follows: Ptolemy tabulates a function wllich

we call f (x), for x

sl,x2,.. . ,3,. Later in his work he calculates a new function g(x) that uses the earlier

function f in some way:

(In most instances the dependence on x enters only through f , which we write as

~ (=4j(f ( 4 . )

f3

3The author gratefully acknov edges the consultation provided by K. Butler for the statistical material
in this section.

Cl~apter3. A4cthods of Table Aizalysis

Fur example, in Almag est 11.G Ptolemy provides a table of latitudes d ( T ) for certain
arguments T (see 57.1 and 7.2). From this, in 11.8 11e computes gnomon shadow lengths
s as a

function of T, by calculating 4 ( T )and then calculating s from 4.

In the general case, we define


fA(x,) =

the actual values f (2,);

fp(z,) =

Ptolemy's tabulated values of f (xi);

yp(x,) =

Ptolemy's tabulated values of g(zi);

the f vdues reconstructed from Ptolemy's g

Comparison of these quantities

leads to the following possibilities (see Figure 3.1) :

(a) Ptolcmy used his own values


closer to

fp

fp

in the calculation of g. In this case fR tends to be

than to fA.

(L) Ptoleiny used essentially correct values of f. Here fR tends to be closer to

fA

than

(c) Ptolemy used values for f of less accuracy than fp, or errors working from f to
g overwhelm the difference between
both may be p161ausible. Here

fp

G(fp) and i(fA).

Dependiog on the situation

and fA will tend to be close to each other with

respect to fR.

(d) Ptolemy's values for f are of the same accuracy as


no relation between

fp, fA,

fp

, but different. In this case

a d fR wodd be apparent.

41t is equally possible to construct the following test working with g(z;) values: that is, compare
G(fp(zi)).However, I choose to wozk with f values, to eliminate the possibility that
the calculat.iou from f to g skews the distribution of errors in some way.

g A ( 2 i ) , Y , D ( X ~ ) , mid

Chapter 3. Arletkods of Table .4naJj~&

fA

fP

Category (d)

Category (c)

Figure 3.1: Possibilities for distribution of candidate f values


(e) A mixture of (a) above with one of the others, perhaps through the use of an
underlying table with many values shared with P tolemy's table of f .

3.1.2

Non-parametric methods

We assume the errors

fp

- fA

in the table fp come from the same (undetermined)

distribution, applying throughout the table. Calculation errors, caused by rounding


of intermediate quantities and the compounding effect of arithmetic and trigonometric
operations, resemble a normal distribution due to the central limiting effect, possibly
summed with a large uniform distribution due to the final rounding process (see $3.1.3).
Both the normal and the uniform distribution have mean zero. (Tlus assumption is not

valid if a reasonable chance exists that the astronomer used some method of rounding
such as truncation. In the tables we shall consider, it is clear that modern rounding
mas used.) Copying and genuine computational errors, while rare, may be prese~rtin
the data in sufficient quantities to be worrisome. Thus the assessment of the differences

C h p t e r 3. Methods of TaMe Analysis

between

fp, fR

and

fA

is done using non-parametric tests to minimize the influence of

these errors.

Two independent tests are performed. First, the Spearman rank correlation coefficient
r is calculated for the pairs

A conclusion of r > O favours possibility (c) in $3.1.1 above, and probably implies that
computational inaccuracy overwhelnls the difference between fP and fA (although in
certain cases it is plausible that Ptolemy's f values are poorer than the f table in the
manuscript). A conclusion of r = 0 favours (a), (b), or (d). The test is one-sided, since
r

< 0 corresponds to no plausible situation.


Second, we study the dispersion of the two populations

zero. A smaller dispersion of

fp

-fR

fp

- fR and f A - f R about

favours (a), the use of the underlying table, while a

smaller dispersion of fA - f R favours (b), the use of a more accurate table. The Wilcoxon
signed-rank test for dispersion is used since the data are in matched pairs, with data
dues

I~P-$RI-~.~A-~R/.
For r = 0, the interpretation of results is as follows: if no difference in dispersion is
found, we carnot. decide between (a) and (b), aud conclude that no effect can be observed.

If

fp

- f ~ exhibits lower dispersion, we favour (a), the use of the underlying table for

f . If $A - fil exhibits lower dispersion we favour (b), the use of f values more accurate
than those in tile table.
For r

> 0 each of the results above apply with some mixture of

(c) in each case.

Thus me conclude either t h ~ ccaldation


t
and rounding error significantly affect the diftly), or
ference between f p and f R (in the case where dispersion levels differ significn~,

that Ptolemy used poorer values for f than those appearing in his fable for g.

Cl~apfer 3. Methods of Table rlndysis

3.1.3

Problems with statistical m e t h o d s

Tlle mathematical nature of quantities and errors ill table entries can cause occasiond
difficulties with statistical metlmds. An apparent dependence betweell errors in a series
of adjacent table entries may appear under specific circumstances: when the roundinkg
level of the table is crude enough, the function has a small second derivative, and the
increineiit between steps is not large. This situation arises frequently enough in the

Atn~agestto take into consideration, and will be discussed in $3.2. Also occssiondly the
bacli coinputation of fn = G-l(fp) may not be possible, if more than one entry of the
underlying table f is used to generate the final value g p . This situation occurs only once
in this study; see $4.9 on the chord interpolation table for a solution to this problem and
for an example of the application of the methods of the error clustering test to the table
dependence test.

Clustering of Errors in Tables

3.2
3.2.1

T h e problem of clustering

Many Almagest and other historical numerical tables contain errors that change continuously from entry to entry. These error drifts may suggest some form of cdculation where
a given entry is computed in some way using the values of nearby entries. Interpolation
within the table, a discrepancy in the value of an underlying parameter, or same otlzer
method where an entry derives its value from the entry before or after it (eg., the chord
table) all generate these distinctive error pat terns.
Such drifts, when they occur, may invalidate statistical tests by violating the critical
assumption of independence. The errors then may not be treated as independent samples,
for each value depends in some way on the values of surrounding eatries. In this case
methods must be adopted that take into aecount these dependences.

3.2.2

T h e cause of dependence between errors i n accurate tables

By h r tlie most common effect of this type in the Almagest is a significant lag 1 autocorrelation of errors in

a,

table that contains a large proportion of entries correct to

d l places given. The errors in the solar equation table, for instance (III.G, Table 8.1,
ilssunring e = 2; 29i0),contain only eight entries of 45 in error, including two groups of
three coizsecutive entries. The lag 1 autocorrelation of the errors q - q p is 0.628. This
'

wor~ldappeas to bc siguificant, but its presence is not necessarily a consequence of the


method of computation.

Tlic cause of the effect is entirely mathematical. Let F ( x ) be the function tabulated,
let 6 be the increnient between successive tabulated values of x, and let

be one unit in

tlte last place displayed in tlie table. Thus for the example table c(6) (Table 3.1),

1
1"
F ( z ) = -[Crd(rc + - ) - Crd $1,
30
2

6 = il o , a i d e = 0; 0.1 =

(3-3)

A.We approximate F with its secoud degree Taylor function

F ( r ) zz u + Ls. + ex2,and consider three consecutive function T dues:

f (a) = a + bx

wlzere the

12;

+ cx2 = no+ eo,

and

axe tlze integers giving closest agreement between f(x

+ iS) and n;e, the

closest the recltoner can get to the true functiou values given the places displayed in the
table; thus for all 2 , the error terms e; have the property I e i

By subtraction we find

t i.

Cl~apter3. Akthods of Table Aaalysis

35

and from the above,


f (z

+6)-f

( s )= b6

f(x

+6)

+ e(2Sz + S 2 ) = ( n o - n - I ) E+

(0

- e-I)

+ 2~6'.

(34

+ [f(s. + 6 ) - f ( s ) ]
(2no+ + - e-1) + 2cS2.

(3.9)

- e,~.

From (3.9), the

= f(x)
=

e0

11-1)~

(e0

The chauge in error in the entries for f (z- 6 ) to f (z) is


change in error in the entries for f(x) to f (x

eo

+ 6) is eo - e-1 + 2cJ2 (provided that the

remainiilg Taylor terms of P are negligible and that (2no - L ~ ) E is indeed the closest
integer multiple of c to f (z + 6)). Thus, as loiig as 2eS2 << e, the change in error fronr

f ( s - 6) to f (x) is close to the change in error from f (x) to f (x + S ) , m d the three


entries for f ( x - S ) , f ( x ) : and f ( x

+ 6 ) are likely to be collinear,

Under the right circuinstances such a pattern can extend beyond three entries. The
chord interpolation table, for instance, contains numerous stretches of this type, groducing distinctive curves in the error plot (Table 3.1, Figure 3.2). The conditions for this
effect are:
0

a small at.erage size of error relative to e;

a small second derivative (corresponding to the c term in 2cS2) and negligible fiigher
derivatives;

a small enough argument increment (the 6 in 2cS2);and

a large euough unit of rounding

(E).

These conditions, when they arise in Almagest tables, must be handled individdly,
since the magnitnde of the effect depends on the function tabulated, the increment, the
rounding level, and the average size of error,

Chapter 3. Methods of Table Analysis

Error
0
0
0
0
0
0

0
0
0
-1
0

Table 3.1: A portiou of the chord interpolation table (1.11)

65

70

75
Arc In Degrees

80

85

Figure 3.2: The chord interpolation table (1.11j: error plot (excerpt)

90

Chapter 3. falethods of Table i4i~alysis

37

Standard tests are discredited in this instance, and we callnot hope to account for tl&
unusual clependezlce tltrough the usual distribution theory. Our strategy is to simulate the
error distribution under the hypot he& that the error distributio~lmay be approximated
b3'

Here ,nL;, a normal distribution, simulates actual coinputational error, wlule X2,a uniform
distribution, simulates the sizable effect of rounding to the number of sexagesimal places
in the t a l k (In tables with larger errors -& is relatively sinall and is ignored.) The null
hypothesis for this test is that each error is an independent sample talien from a ~ l o r w d
distribution with mean zero, and a roundoff error (from a uniform distribution) that is
chosen to take into account the mat hematical effect described above.5
The density function of

Y is

where cI, is the cumulative nosand distribution function; Figure 3.3 contains the graph
of a typical density function l~(y).The distribution X2 is coinpletely determined Ly the
known quailtity e . For X I , we estimate the unknown parameter

by choosing cr to be

such that
p(--

< -)2
2E

<y

Correct entries
Computed entries '

the proportion of the computed entries6 correct to all places shown, that is, with errors
less than

5.

Since Q, and hence h(y ), are not exyressible analytically, this is accomplished

by numerical approximation techniques.


Although the distribution of

Y is completely determined by the estimation of

s , the

mathematical dependence between entries described earlier must be simulated so that the
'Note that a test on a table with an interpolation grid may well reject the null hypothesis. Howcvcr,
the test iu 33.3 explicitly searches for interpolation grids, and is thus preferred in such wcs.
6Entries iuvolviug no ccmputation, such as those with a value of zero, are removed from consideratioar.

Figure 3.3: A typical density function Y = X;


& U [ - ~ / 2e,/ 2 ] . Here cr = 0.005 and E = 0.05.

X2,

where XI

N(0,a2) and

chaacteristics defining the effect (size and variation of function, rounding level, argument
increment) are ail accounted for. To derive a reference distribution of the clustering of
errors under the conditions of the effect, with the assumption that each entry is an
independeut sample after these considerations, we choose a random number cr E [O,63
and calcdate the tabulated function for arguments

(assuuiltg the function is tabulated starting at x = 0). In the case where the function is

tabula;ted for xguments

Chapter 3. A4etlzods of Table A13 alpis

39

(common in the Almagest), the tabulated function is calculated for arguments

To each function d a r e we add a quantity taken from N(0, 02)and round the result
to the appropriate number of fractional sexagesimal places to simulate the addition of

U [ - ~ / 2~, / 2 ] This
.
gives a table with the same magnitude of error and dependence effect
as the Almagest table, under the hypothesis of independence of cdculation.
To analyze the cluster effect, we now consider the errors rounded to the number of
places present in the table:

fp

- r,(f). Thus an entry correct to dl displayed places is

considered to have an error of zero. The quantity used to judge the level of clustering in
both the actual and simulated tables is tlre number of runs, or sequences of consecutive
entries with the same (romded) error. Thus in Table 3.1, the section of the chord
ifiterpolation table shown has three runs. A table with apparent clustering of error will
contain fewer runs than might be expected from a random collection of 07s,l's, and -l's,
but with the dependence effect the result may be less surprising. All entries with an error
greater than one unit are decreased to one unit (positive or negative), since errors this
large are rare in the tables under consideration and it is desirable to consider a sequence
of errors

as *asingle ruit rather than three. The simulation is performed 10,000 times to generate

a reference distiibution for the number of runs AT,and the value of N from the Aimagest
table compises the test statistic.
'Note that each arpuent no
entry for 64O

+ a corrrrespnds te m e of the origind grid points. Ir: particular, the

+ a corresponds to 90, and 8 7 O + a corresponds to 93O.

Chapter 3, Methods of Table Analysis

Locating Grids af Interpolation

3.3

Although Ptolemy occasionally informs the reader when he uses interpolation to complete
a table, it is evident that he does not always do so. Occasiondy linear interpolation may

be spotted easily in tables where no mention of it appears in the accompanying text, and
often a grid of entries may be identified with substantially smaller errors than the rest
of the table. This may indicate the presence of a form of interpolation. However, no
direct evidence exists that Ptolemy had access to interpolation beyond assorted variants
of linear iuterpolstion; thus it more likely indicates that some local method of calculation

from tf e grid points was used in the situations where linear interpolation has been ruled
ouL8 Foi the purpose of &is section we extend the meaning of interpolation to include
local calculation on a fixed grid. Given a hypothesized interpolation grid, then, we wish

to discover whether the errors on the grid are significantly smaller than the errors in
surrounding entries. The n-dl hypothesis is that the nodes come from the same (local)
distribution as the surrounding entries, since this is natural if an interpolation grid is not
present (dlentries were calculated mdependently).

3.3.1

Examining the relative size of node errors

The simplest approach is to consider two populations of errors, one for the hypothesized grid and the other for the remaining entries, and apply a test to assess if the grid
populakiou has a significantly smaller mean. Two problems arise: first, many Almagest
taldes display the phenomenon described in $3.2.2, exhibiting a uon-normal distribution
(stre

Figure 3.33. Second, it is desirable to consider the case where absolute errors are

subst.aatiC&-larger in some regions of the table than others. In a table of tangents, for

instance, it is likely that entries for argmnents near 90" will exhibit mu<?larger errors
'This could be sonie appro..rimative technique, or a formula similar to the chord ad2:tion and subtraction formulas, as exempmed in the (theoretical) generation of the chord table. See $4.2.

Chapter 3. hfethods of Table ilnalysis

tlran elsewkere. due to the rnagilification of error caused by division by a rounded value
of a s i n d cosine. Tltis situatioll is rare in the Almagest, but relatively common in other
historical tableseg Thus we may not assume a. norrnd distribution ox in fact a single
distiibution applying to entries throughout the table, but. we do assume that e ~ ~ t r i in
es
a localmed area are from the same distribution.

Consider a table wit11 an hypothesized interpolation grid stepsize of


11

72

entries, where

is chosen ou the basis of historical and mathematical plausibility. We wish to analyze

wlrether tlre node's error is, in general, smaller than the errors in the sun-oundz'ng entries,
since y e assume identical distributions only locally. UTegroup tlie errors in the entries
according to tlreir distance from the nodes (Figure 3.4); that is, each entry is placed in
a group containing the node closest to it. (When n is even, the entries exactly between

the two nodes are placed in one of the two groups. The group that is chosen remains
consistent tl~rougltoutthe table, to maintain equal populations in each group.) The
groups are chosen with the nodes as close as possible to tlle middle of each group, because
the alterilative of grouping according to the internodal block entails a choice associating
each uode to either the pre.r.ious or upcoming block, and in either case places the node
at one end of a group, perhaps biasing tlle results in some situations.
The Aimagest contains many tables calculated for arguments 6O, 12') . . ., 90, 93",

96",. .., 180,and often it will be of interest to determine whether the odd entries in the
latter part of the table were obtained by interpolation from the even entries. In this case
the entries for arguments

< 90" may be ignored, and the entry for 180" is usually zero,

involving no calculation3and must also be ignored. The remaining entries are grouped
as follows:

(90,
93");

(96")99");

. . . ; (174")177").

"See, for example, the discussion of tangents in G. Van Brummelen, "The numerical structure of
al-KhaliFs auxiliary tablesn, [ll8],667-98.

Chapter 3. Methods of Table Analysis

Argument
90

93

Figure 3.4: Grouping entry errors to test for an hypothesized interpolation grid. The
errors used here are taken from the lunar equation of cezltre table (V.8), with an hypothesized grid of lzO.
Since we assume an identical symmetrical distribution within each block but do not
assume this distribution is normal, we turn to distribution-free methods. The data, the
absolute values of the errors, are ranlied within each block, producing a rank between 1
imd n for each block (where n is the number of entries in each block). Under the null
hypothesis that the nodes come from the same (local) distributions as the internodal
entries, the ranks associated with the nodes should form a random sample from the
population (1,2,. . . >n]. The probability that the sum of a random sample from this

Chapter 3. Methods of TaMe ,4ud~xis

Figure 3.5: (a). Fitting a piecewise smooth curve to a smooth function; (b). General
pattern of errors resulting from this fit
population is as large or larger than the sum of the ranks of the nodes is the significance
level (since a small error corresponds to a large rank). The test is one-sided, since the
alternative that the node rank sum is greaier than expected conforms to no plausible
situation.
3.3.2

Second differences of errors

A less obvious but important effect of interpolation is the pattern of errors tflat often
emerges near the nodes. If interpolation is considered as a piecewise fitting of one type
of curve to mother, generally (although certainly not always) the error in an entry will
be larger the further away it is fiom a node (Figure 3.5). This results in a distinctive
pattern of humps when other sources of error do not overwhelm the effect.

Clmpter 3, h4etliods of Table Analysis

Figure 3.6: First and second differences of errors in Figure 3.5(b)


To test for this effect we consider the n-th differences of (the absolute values of)
errors conforming to this pattern. The first and second differences may best be described
in Figure 3.6. The large values of the second differences correspond to a large upward
change in the concavity qf the (hypothetical) function describing the errors, at each node.
Under the null hypothesis that the error at each entry is an independent observation of
the local distribution described previously, the second differences of the errors should
e h i l i t no such local effect.
Occasionally a graph of the second differences of the absolute values of the errors
will be enough to identify a grid. Wltere more certainty is required, the approach of

83.3.1 (breaking the data into groups and ranking the second differences in the groups)
is tempting. Ifowever, the second differences are not independent of each other, and it is

Chapter 3. .Methods of Table .4ndj?sis

45

difficult to see how statistical methocls may apply to them. Thus the second differences
are used here only as a heuristic tool.

Chapter 4

T h e Chord Table (1.11)

Except for the irieim motion tables, the star catalogue and a few smaJ.l tables in eclipse
tlieory, every numerical table in the Almagest tabulates a function using a trigonometric
relation iu some may. T l ~ emodern trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangent, etc.)
were ilot defined in Ptolcmy's time. The only trigonometric function used by Hellenistic

scientists, tile chord, is defi1m.I as follows: on a base circle of radius R = GO units,


consider an arc 0. The chord of 0, CrdB, is the length of the chord AB subtending 6
(Figure 4.1). Tllc chord is closely related to the modern sinc:
0
0
Crd B = 2R sin - = 120 sin 2
2'

4.1

(4.1)

The Chord Table in the Almagest

The chord table, easily the most renowned of the mathematical tables in the Almagest,
is the oldest extant trigonometric table. Some have speculsted that cruder chord tables
existed niudl earlier, but were supplanted by the work in tlic Almagest and eventually
were lost, like n~ailyo t l m astronoluical texts. Possible alltllors of earlier chord tables

include Hipparcllusl (c. 150 BC), Apollonius2 (c. 200 BC), and even Eratosthenes or
a c o n t e ~ u ~ o r a r(c.
y ~250 BG). Whether or not it is really the first trigonometric table,

'G.Toonler, T h e chord table of Hipparchus aud the early history of Greek trigonometryn, 11071,
6-28.

Q. L. van der Waerden, "Iteconstruction of a Greek table of chords", 21281, 23-38.

%. Mewtau, Thc Origins of Rolemy's Astronomical Tables, [go], 4.

Chapter 4. The Chord Table ( I l l )

Figure 4.1: The chord function: Crd B = .&?


Ptolemy's elegant discnssion of its construction and its high accuracy have made it a
favourite topic of study.
The table (1.11), coinputed for 6' E {f O , l o , .. . ,180),coutains more entries than any
other Almagest mathematical table. Each chord is given to two fractional sexagesimal
places, and all entries are accurate to within one unit in the last place, equivdent to
approximately five decimal places of accuracy. The table is preceded by a guide for
computing a chord table like Ptolemy's using only geometrical methods, asithmetic operations, and square roots.
Along with the chord taMe, P tolemy includes ailother tablc entitled "Sixticths" , which
Pfdelny describes as follows:

. . .the third

[coluiun wilt contain] the thirtieth part of the increment in the

chord for each iote:~al. (This last) is so that we may have the average increment correspoiding to one minute (of arc), which will not be sensibly

Chapter 3. The Chord TaWe (1.11)

different from tlte true increment (for each minute). Thus we can easily c d c d s t e the amount of the chord corresponding to fsactioirs wlziclr fall between
the (tabulated) kdf-degree intervals .*
Thus Ptolemy intends the table to be used for interpolatiou. It tabulates the function

1
c(8) = --[Crd(B
30

+ -21") - Crd 81.

The table may be computed as twice the difference between successive entries in the
cllosd table, followed by a leftward shift of the sexagesimal point. Chords of arcs not
divisible by

i0

rimy

be approximated as follows:

where B is the largest integer multiple of


172

i0 smaller than the arc in question, and 0 5

< 30. The t d ~ l e sof Crd 0 and c ( 8 ) are given in Table 4.1, with error plots in Figures

4.2 and 4.3.

Chapter 4. The Chord TaWe (1.11)

Crd 8
Error
0
0;31,25
1; 2,50
0
1;34,15
0
2; 5,40
1
2;37, 4
0
3; 8,28
0
-f
3;39,52
4;11,16
-1
4;42,40
0
0
5;14, 4
0
5;45,27
0
G;16,49
6;48,l 1
0
0
7;l9,33
0
7;50,54
8;22,15
0
0
8;53,35
9;24,54
0
9;56,13
0
1
10;27,32
10;58,49
0
11;30, 5
0
12; 1,21
0
12;32,3G
0
13; 3,50
0
13;35, 4
0
14; G , l G
0
-1
f 4;37,27
15; 8,323
0
0
15;39,47
16;10,5G
0
0
16;42, 3
17;13, 9
0
17;44,14
0
0
18;15,17
-1
18;46,19
19;17,21
0
f 9;48,2l
0
0
20;19,19
20;50,16
0

Error

0
0
1
1
-1

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1

1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Error

Error

0
0

0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0

-1
-1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

0
0

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)

Crd 8

Errol
0
41;32, 3
0
42; 1,30
0
42;30,54
0
43; 0,15
0
43;29,33
0
43;58,49
44;28, 1
0
0
44;51,10
0
45;26,16
45;55,19
0
0
46;24,19
0
46;53,16
47;22, 9
0
0
47;51, 0
0
48;10,47
0
48;43,30
0
49;17,11
1
49;45,48
50;14,21
0
0
50;42,51
51;11,18
0
1
51;39,42
0
52; 8, 0
0
52;36,16
0
53; 4,29
1
53;32,38
54; 0,43
0
0
54;28,44
54;56,42
0
1
55;24,36
1
55;52,26
0
56;20,12
56;47,54
0
57;15,33
0
57;43, 7
0
58;19,38
0
1
58;38, 5
59; 5,21
0
-1
59;3 2,43
0
60; 0, 0

Error
0
0
0

-1
0
0
0

0
If
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0

Error
1
0

0
1
0

1
1
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
1

1
0
1

0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0

0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1

0
0
0

1
0
0

0
1

--

Error
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)

Error

Crd B

0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
1
0

92;15,40
92;35,42
92;55,35
93;15,2'i
93;35,11
93;54,47
94;14,1'i
94;33,41
94;52,58
95;12, 9
95;31,13
95;50,11
96; 9, 2
96;27,47
96;46,24
97; 4.55
97;23,20
97;41,38
97;59,49
98;17,54
98;35,52
98;53,43
99;11,27
99129, 5
99;46,35
100; 3,59
100;21,16
100;38,26
100;55,28
101;12,25
101;29,15
101;45,57
102; 2,33
102;19, 1
102;35,22
102;51,37
103; 7,44
103;23,44
103;39,37
103;55:23

0
1
0
0
0
1
-1
-1
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

0
1

I
1
1

Error
0
0
0
0

Error
0

1
0
0
0

0
0
0
0
0
0
-1

0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
0
0

I)

0
-1
0
1
0
1
0
0
1
0
0
0
0

0
0

0
0
0
1
0
1
0
0

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
-1
0
0
0
0

0
I)

0
0
0
0
-

Cliapfer 4. The Cliord Table (1.11)

Error
Error
CrdO
c(B)
0
0
104:11, 2
;0,31, 4
0
0
;0,30,49
104;26,34
0
1
;0,30,35
104;41,59
1
0
;0,30,21
104;57,16
1
0
105;12,26
;0,30, 7
0
1
;0,29,52
105;27,30
0
1
;0,29,37
105;42,26
0
1
;0,29,23
105;57,14
0
0
lOG;11,55
;0,29, 8
1
0
;0,28,54
106;26,29
0
1
;0,28,39
106;40,56
0
0
;0,28,24
lOG;55,15
1
0
;0,28,10
107; 9,27
1
;0,27,56
0
107;23,32
1
0
;0,27,40
107;37,30
0
1
107;51,20
;0,27,25
0
;0,27,10
0
108; 5, 2
0
;0,26,56
0
108;18,3'i
0
;0,26,41
0
108;32, 5
0
;0,26,26
0
108;45,25
0
;0,26,11
0
108;58,38
1
0
;0,25,56
109;11,44
1
0
109;24,42
;0,25,41
0
0
109;37,32
;0,25,26
0
109;50,15
;0?25,11 0
0
110; 2,50
0
;0,24,56
0
0
;0,24,41
110;15,18
1
1
;0,24,26
110;27,39
1
110;39,52
0
:0,24,10
1
110;51,57
0
;0,23,55
1
111; 3.54
0
;0123,40
1
111;15,44
0
;0,23,25
0
111;2'7,26
0
;0;23, 9
1 1 ;0?22,54
0
11139 1
0
111;50,28
;0,22,39
112; 1,47
1
0
;0,22,24
1
112;12,59
0
;0,22, 8
112:24, 3
1
0
;0,21,53
I
0
112;35, 0
;0,21,3C
1
O
;0.21,22
140.0 112;45,48

0
' 120.5
121.0
121.5
122.0
122.5
123.0
123.5
124.0
124.5
125.0
125.5
120.0
126.5
127.0
127.5
128.0
128.5
129.0
129.5
130.0
130.5
131.0
131.5
132.0
132.5
133.0
133.5
134.0
134.5
135.0
135.5
136.0
136.5
137.0
137.5
138.0
138.5
139.0
139.5

8 i

lXl.5
141.0
141.5
142.0
142.5
143.0
143.5
144.0
144.5
145.0
145.5
146.0
146.5
147.0
147.5
148.0
148.5
149.0
149.5
150.0
150.5
151.0
151.5
152.0
152.5
153.0
153.5
154.0
154.5
155.0
155.5
156.0
156.5
157.0
157.5
158.0
158.5
159.0
159.5
160.0

Crd0
112;56,29
113; 7, 2
113;17,25
113;27,44
113;37,54
113;47,56
113;57,50
114; 7,37
114;17,15
114;26,46
114;36, 9
114;45,24
114;54,31
115; 3,30
115;12,22
115;21, 6
115;29,41
115;38, 9
115;46,29
115;54,40
116; 2,44
116;10,40
116;18,28
116;2G78
116;33,40
116;41, 4
116;48,20
116;55,28
117; 2,28
117; 9,20
117116, 4
11?;22,40
117;29, 8
117;35,28
117;41,40
117;47,43
117;53,39
117;59,27
118; 5 , 7
118;10,37

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.17)

Crd cl
Error
118;16, 1
118;21,16
118;26,23
118;31,22
118;3G713
118;40,55
118;45,30
118;49,5G
118;54,15
118;58,25
119; 2,26
119; G,20
119;102G
119;13,44
119;17,13
119;20,34
119;23,47
119;2G,52
119;29,49
119;32,37
119;35,17
119;37,49
119;40,13
119;42,28
119;44,35
119;46,35
119;48,26
119;50, 8
119;51,43
119;53,10
119;54.27
119r55.38
119;56,39
119;5'7:32
119;38,18
119;55,53
119;59:24
119;59,44
119;59,56
120; 0: 0

Error
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
-1.
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Table 4.1: The chord table (1.11)

-1
0
0

1
0

4.2

Methods of Caicuiation in t h e Text

The chord fui~ctionarid table are fi~udameutdto most of the mathematical procedures
iu the Almapst. As part of his logical progression horn f i ~ s principles,
t
Ptolemy includes
a lerigtlty description of a method of calculatioii in 1.10:

But first wc s f d sftow how orre can undertake the calcalation of their amounts
by a. simple m d rapid method: using as few theorems as possible, the same
set ior dl. We do tllis so tlrat we may not merely. h a w the amounts of the

cltords tabulated unchecked, but may also readily ui~clertaketo verify them
by coinputi~lgtlrcnr by a strict geometrical m e t l ~ o d . ~

Note that Ptolemy does not explicitly claim that this nletllocl was actually used to generate his table. Fsom several mose or less obvious chords, he generates others using

various tiigononletric foxmulas. These formulas are given as theorems, usually based
on Ptolemfs Tlieorem in some way. Since the proofs axe riot necessary for computing

chords, they are iglsored below.


Ptolemy begins by idcntifSing sevcral chords that may bc found directly from geometri caI arguments. Fsom Euclid's construction of the regular pentagon, Ptoleiuy derives

~ r d 3 6 ' = d--30

= a - 3 0 x 37;4,55.

(4.4)

As a corollary lie finds

-4

Crd 7 2 O = 4 6 0 2 i
(Crd 3 6 0 ) ~=

Crd 60" = SO,

w 770; 32,3.

(4.5)

(4.6)

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)

Figure 4.2: Chord table: error plot

Figure 4.3: Chord interpolation tahle: crror plot

(Tlic values given above are those t h ; ~ tappear in the text.)

Next PtoIemy gives the arc supplement formula: 3 f any chord be given, the chord of
the supp1eirrentar.r.yarc is given in a simple fashion, since the sum of their squares equals
the square on the diameter". V l ~ u s

(Evaluating the chord of the supplenlent of 6 is malogous to evaluating the cosine of 6.)
As an example, he gives
4400 - (Crd 3G0)2

FZ

414400 - 1375;4,15 ri. 114;7,37,

(4.10)

arid he liints at further use of (4.9): "Siinilil~lyfor the other cllords (of the suplAements)".7
Next appears a proof of Ptolemy's Theorem (see 32.4). From this Ptolemy is able
to prove a number of tlleorems helpful to the construction of the chord table. The first
is the chord difil-ence formula, a corollary to Ptolemy's Theorem and equivalent to the

sine difference formula:


Crd(cu - P ) =

Crd a Crd

6- Crd @ Crd li
120

(4.11)

From this,
[it] is obvious that by means of this theorem we shall 1~ able to enter (in the

table) quite a. few chords derived from the difference bctween the individually
cdculat,ed chords, and notably the chord of 12"' since me have thosc of 60
and 7Z0."

57

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)

Piolemy does not cidculaie Crd 12" in the text.


Tlle ilext result, tlic I d f angle foimula, rnc'~ybe derived from Ptolemy's Theoren1 at,
this point, but Ptoienly chooses instead to prove the dorlll~ilausiug an olc!er method.
Toomerg bas argncd that t k s providcs evidence t*oinfer that t,be Italf angle formula, done
was the basis for earlier chord tables. As P toleiny gives it, the formula is

0
Crd - =
2

GO .[120 - Crd 81,

(4.12)

equivalent t o

Ptoleniy states:

By means of this theorem too a large number of chords will be derived by


halving (the arcs of) previously determined chords, m d notably, from the
chord of 12", the chords of Go, 3", 1;" and

fo.

By calculation we find the

chord of i f 0to be approximately 1;34,15 where the dixneter is 120, i~lldthe

chord of

a"

to be approximately 0; 47,B in the same u1lits.l'

Finally Ptoleiny gives a chord addition formula as a corollary to Ptolemy's Theorem.

This result is not clirectly analogous to the modern sine addition formula, since it requires
the use of the chord supplement formula. to evaluate the cl~ordof the sum of two arcs:
Crd (a+$) =

~ r d i 5 ~ rd p~ r d / 3 ~ r d c u
120

(4.14)

Thus the chord addition formula reqwires significantly great cr effort in calculation than
does the cliAereuce formufa.

Ptolemy coucludes:
9G. Toonler, T h e chord table of fiipyarcilus and the early history of Greek trigol~ouretry",[107],

18-19.
10Almagest1.10, 53.

C1iapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)


It is obvious that by combining (ill this way) the chord of i f 0with

all

the

cl~ordswe have already obtained, and then computing successive chords, we


will be able to enter (in the table) d l chords (of arcs) w~7hichwhen doubled
are divisible by t11r~e.l~

This leaves the cllords of all arcs t l ~ta are integer multiples of
tlre value of Crd

!'.

but not 1

Clearly

i0 or Crd lois sufficient to generate all tlle remaining chords with the

;hove formulae, but neitlm of these chords is constructible by geometric methods.

Ptolemy solws this problem with a clever use of tile following theorem: if cr

> B are

two arcs, then

First settiag a = 1' and /? =

zQ,he finds

Then he sets o = l f Oa d /3 = 1" and gets


Crd '
1

2
3

1" 2
1;34,15 = 1; 2,50.
2 =3

> - - Crd 1-

(4.17)

He concludes that

From the half angle fonnula, then, Crd f " FS 0;31,25.


Ptolemy suggests the table be completed as follows:

The remaining iiitcrvals can (now) be completed, as we s

d .

For exanqde, in

the first (1;") interval, we can calculate the chord of 2" by usiug the addition
fonuula for the d m d of f 0 applied to the chord of if", while the cllord of
2;" is given u-!116 the diffe~enccformula for (the chord of
chord of 3'. Si:. :Iuly for the remaining chords.12

O)

applied to the

4.3

Recent Research on t h e Chord Table

There is some cause to believe that the method actually used t.o complete the chord
table cliverges from Ptolemy's description in either the degree of accuracy or the theorems
actually used. This leads to two possibilities: first, that Ptolcmy borrowed tlie table from
another source; aiid second, that Ptolemy composed the tslh and the text zt different
times or for cliffcrent pusposes.

I11

the first case, his actions may be interpreted as

fraudulent or plagiaristic in a modern contest, but the perspective of Ptaleniy's colleagues


may have been elltirely different. In either case, it is reasonn1,le to suggest that Ptoletny's
purpose in the test here and elsewhere in the Almugest is didactic, and that lte does not
intend it to be a faithful report of research.
Glowatski and Gottscl~e'sDie Sehnentafel des Klaudios PtoZema.ios (Munich: Oldeubourg, 1976) is primarily a textual and mathematical study of the chord table. At the
heart of this short book is a reomputation of the chord table according to Ptolemy's described method, tabulating to varying levels of accuracy. Their recomputation using t h e e
fractional sexagesimal places reveals that the average error in recomputation is greater
thas the average error in the chord table. Recomputing again, this time to four places
beyond the sexagesimal point, they get chords much closer to Ptolemy's. Glowatski and

Gottsche conclude that Ptolemy does not present the calculations to their full accuracy
in 1-10,and they suggest that he wished to keep secret the ki~owledgethat extra accuracy
ing
is retpired. As Toomer says, howevc~,LCjtlri~
reason] betrays L: basic ~ i s ~ i ~ i l c r s t a n dof
the nature of the Almagcst."'3
Glowatski and Giittsche's result pro14des little insight into the nature cif P toleirzy '9
computation, since it follows the mctltod of 1.10 witlmit q~i~stion.
A more careful stildy
I3G. Toomer, Review of Glowatslii and Giittscle, Die Sehnentafel des Kiaudios Ptolemaios, [Ill],321.

Chapter 4. Tllc Chord Table ( I l l )

60

will suggest that the met!~ods nsed to coll~pztethe chosd table were more stable numerically t1:al~ the inetltod of 1.10.

In Tile Origins of Ptolcmy s' AstronomicaE Parameters (Baltimore: University of


Masyland/Johns Hopkills Universit,~.,1982) R. Newton argues that Ptolemy's computation of Crd lois fiawed by rounding errors, so that Ptolemy's correct result is obtained
ouly by a fortuitous caucellatiou of errors,14 In The Origins of Ptolemy's Astronomical

Tables (Baltimore: University of Maryland/Jolins Hopkins University, 1985) he notes

that the table for 4 8 ) does not precisely match calculation with (4.2)' and argues that
tire table "is clearly not what Ptolemy says it is. It must be some other quantity, and
Ptolemy misinterpreted it when he added it to his table of chords. It does not belong
with that table."15 Neither of these points are new, except possibly for Newton's interpretations of the numerical results. They will be considered below.
4.4

The Directly Computed Chords

I begin by examining the entries co~nputec!directly from geometrical arguments given in


the text.'"Thesc

are tlie chords of 3G0, 7Z0, GO0, 90, 120,and 144' in that order. No

other chord cdcnf~~tions


or values are given in the tex-t except for those involved in the
cvaluatiou of Crd 1' (to be discussed later).I7
The results of calc11l;~tionsgiven iu the text are compared with exact cdculation in
Table 4.2. Little of interest appears except for the entries for Crd72O a d Crd 144'.

The intermediate calcu1,ztion of (Crd 3G0)*+ 3600 (the square of Crd 72') suggests that
Ptolemy used tlie three place value Crd3G0 = 37;4,55 rather than a more accurate

rdm, since Ptolemy's rcsdt is considerably closer to the rcsdt obtained with this value
-

'&R. Newton, The c3Tig;w of &lemyys Astronomical Parameters, [79], 197-203.


15R. Ncmton, The Origitss of Ptolemp 3 Ast~onomicalTabfes, 1801, 13-18.
"GAlmqest 1.10. 49-50.
''Ptolen~y refers to the chord of 12O witliout giving its value.

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)

Crd 144"

1 d l 4 4 0 0 - (Crd 3 6 0 ) ~1 114;7,37 1

61

114;7,36,24,54

114;7,37.36.31

Table 4.2: Directly calculated cllords i ~ 1.10


t
for Crd 36" than it would be with a more accurate value. The addition of one more place
to the d u e for Crd36" would give a result much closer to tlie correct value. (However,
the subsequent evaluatiou of the square root gives the same three place value for Crd 72"
for both values of Crd3G0.)
The result of the evaluation of Crd 144" is unexpected, since cdculntion with an
exact value of Crd3G0 yields 114; 7,36 (rounded to two places) whereas calculation with
Ptolemy's value of Crd 3G0 (explicitly used by P tolemy herc) yields 114; 7,38. Both are

close to the text's i d u e 114; T,37.


Although little may be inferred from so little evidence, the one verifisl~leinstance
of a substaatial difference between alternative methods (tltc interinediate quantity in
calculating Crd'72") suggests that Ptole~uycarried only two fractional places for chords

when =sing them in successive operations. Ou the other h i d , Glowatski ;iud G6ttsche

kmefumd that more-sexagesimd places are required to geaerate the accuracy in the table
over aZi the entries (using Ptolemy's method of calculation), tvhich is a slight cfiscrgancy

if one assumes that the same level of rouuding was used tlrrortghout.

Chapter 4. The Cl,orcl Table f.l.11)

Chord

Clrord Values
Required

62

Ptolemy's
Result

Exact
Chord Value

Calculation
Using Ptolemy's
Chord Values

Table 4.3: Successive use of the half-angle formula to generate small chords

4.5

The Determination of Crd lo

The only numerical evidence pertaining to chord calculations in the text, apart from the
above, are the computations leading to the eval~iationof Crdlo. The text prescribes

computing Crd 12" from Crd 72" and Crd 60" using the subtraction formula. Then the
I&-angle formula is enqdoyed successively to find Crcl6", Crd 3", Crd if O , and Crd ]O.
The half-angle formula requires the chord of the supplement of the original angle, and the
subtraction formula requires the chords of the two original angles as well as the chords

of their supplemeats. Presumably Ptolemy would have used the supplement formula to
generate the reqnired ckords when uecessary.ls A recomputation of each stage of the
evaluation using the chord values in the table (Table 4.3) reveals that whatever method

generated the table's values requires more accuracy than the two-place values in the text

From the d n e s Crd 1:'

= 1;34,15 and Crd f 0 = 0 ; 4 i ,8, Ptolemy uses (4.15) to

obtain the bounds

% will become clear that the supplenlcut formula is numerically uustabte in this range of chords,
aid could not have bee^ wed for the entries uuder consideration.

Chapter 4. T3e Chord Table ( L l l )

63

The lower bound is exact using Ptolemy's value for Crd f O , but the upper bound is
actually 1;2,50,40. R. Newton argues that this implies Ptolcmg was mistalierl to assume
he had found Crd lo = 1; 2'50 to tl~reeplaces, and that he was nlerely lncky to have
clioseu the correct I-altle.lQ However: several have argued that the retelltion of even
slightly more accliracy in the value of Crd ? O renders Ftolcmy's result correct to three
places.20 Since it has been shown &ove that extra places were used in the successive
application of the half-angle formula, it also seems plausible that more accuracy was
taken in calculiltion than appears ia the text or table. Siuce the value of Crd lo is

it

crucial parameter in further computation, it is not surprisiug that more carc was taJEen
ltere.
The text's final step is to use the half-angle formula to move from Crd 1' to Crd

to.

The result of 0; 31'25 is corzect to both places. Application of the half-mgle formula
using the table's value for Crd 179' gives the very poor value 0; 30,59,1,55, since the
formula is unstable for sinall chords. This provides further evidence that considerable
extra accuracy (or auotller method) was used in these computations.
4.6

The Global E r r o r Pattern

The table taken as a whole is quite accurate. Of 360 entries, 109 are in error by 1 in the

1 s t place; the remaining entries are correct to a3l three places. The erroneous entries tend
to chster together, which is to be expected if most of the entries are derived horn others
ueafby. A substautid majority of the erroneous entries (71 of 109) occur for 8

> 90".

The entries for 8 < 90" axe more accurate, and include a stretch of 35 contiguous correct

"R.. Newton, The Crime of Chudiaa P t ~ l e n a y 1771,


,
27-28.
20Fora discussion, see E. Glowatzlii and H. Gktsche, Die Seknentafcl des Ktazlddos Ptoienaioa,

[%I,

Chapter 4. The Chord Table ('1.33)

The plot of the errors in the cborcl table (Figure 4.2) reveals a regular upward trend
in the e r r o ~ s . ~A' regression on the errors with respect to 0 gives a slope much greater
than zero, and a y-intercept not significantly different froln zero. An explanation for
this remarkable pattern will be one goal of the aualysis. The complex nature of the
chord talile's construction, however, leads to difficulties in applying statistical methods,
izlcluding this regression. Since the nlethod of computation cliffers depending on the
locatioit of tlle entry, the table is liot computed wit11 the same method throughout (unlike
most other Almqest talAes), and the hypothesis of an identical independent underlying
dist~ibutiol~
of errors tltroughout the table is invalid. Thus dl significance levels of tests
ou parts of the cllord tal~leare questionable, aud ase proviclcd for guidance only.
The text implies that the suppleinent formula is used to generate chords of arcs
greater than 90" ,22 but the error patteru does not verify tlus. From the supplement
formula (4.9), a positive error in Crd 8 should produce a negative error in Crd(180- 8 ) .
Thus the upwucl error trend for 6 < 90' should reverse itself for 0

> 90,if the formula

is used for a s u b s t d i d rrumber of eutries. However, the slopes of the regressions applied
separately on the two kalves of the table are almost the same. Also, reconstructing the
chords for 0

< 90' from the ckords for 0 > 90' by reversing the supplement formula fails

to produce a better match with the table's values for 6

< 90' than the mathematically

correct values. Thus there seems little doubt that the latter half of the table was not

completed with the supplement formula.


"The apparent bandwidtli of the errors is one unit, aud represents the uniformly distributed error
due to rounding.
.9
L-Alnagest1.10, 50.

Chapter 4. The Clrortl Table (1.11)

4.7

The Intermediate Grid

Ptolemy does not describe how he works from the seven geometrically computed entries to
t.he grid of entries for 0 separated by l i O .It is reasoilable to postulate that lm cdcuhted
a grid of entries as an intermediate stage between tlle origi~lalsewn entries and the

1;' grid, sincz my recomputations show that generating the i t 0 grid in a sequentid

fi~shionfrom the original seven entries produces a gradual but significant buildup of
error. Given the seven d u e s of 0 m d the avadable trigo~~ometkc
methods, a. grid of

12' seems plausible. It is also important to consider wlletl~crthe remainiug entries (in
the ifO grid) u7eregeueruted from the eirtlies in the hypotl~csizedlarger grid, either by
inneasiug 8 sequentially using the chor<laddition fornlula, or by decreasiug ~9using the
chord subtraction formula.
Since statisticd methods are iliscrcdited due to the complex and non-uniform method
of calculation, it is difficult to test for tulleexistence of

all

interpolation grid ill a rigourous

manner. Instead, I use a statistic that estimates the success of the hypothesis, and I
indude the siguificance level only to guide the analysis. For a given hypothesized grid

and direction of fill (up or down, where 5ip" refers to incrcaing 8), each node of the
original grid is the basis of a series of calculations leadiug to a number of internodal
chords. For example, with the hypothesis of a grid of 12" and upward fill, the node of

108" is the basis for the successive calculation of the chords of 109!j0, 111')

. .., 118;".

The errors in the nodes are transmitted to their dependelit. cl~triesmore or less directly.

Odj' the second half of t.he table (8 > 90") is considered, since the great majority of the
entries iu tire first half of the table on the it0 grid are accurate to all places and hence
c o ~ t a i nno infomation about the intermediate grid.

For a given grid and direction of fill, let the signed errors in the nodes be e,, and the

signed crross in tlrc intcrirodal entries be e i , I consider the following data pairs:

where nz is the constailt number of internodal entries depending on each uode. If the
hypothesis is correct, the second value of the pair, representing the average of the signed
errors of the entries depending on a given node, should be close to the first value of the pair

(which represents the error of the uode itself). Thus over tile entire table the data pairs
should be linearly related, unless acculnulated errors in calculating the internodal entries
obscure the original errors substantially. I consider the regression coefficient representing

the slope of the least squares fit line through the data points to be the measure of success
of the hypothesis. Table 4.4 contaius the regression coefficient (and the p value) for
several grid hypotheses and both directions of fill. The

and 131' hypotlmes are not

ltistorically plausible, but axe included to be sure that the significance of the coefficient
for the lZO kypotliesis is not due merely to an apparent smoothness of errors in the table.
The coefficient is large for the 12' grid a d downward fill, bnt not upward fill. Doubling
the number of nodes to a 6' grid gives a slightly less significast result. Thus the table
appears to have been completed using a grid of 12" aud the use of a subtraction formula
working down from each node to the ifO *id.
4.8

Interpolation from Every Third Entry t o the Entire Table

To work from the grid of 11' to the final spacing of

i0 requirrs a departure from geometric

methods. As sccu above, Ptolemr used an qqxodmativc method to find Crd f0 =

0; 31,25. F r o 1 ~this he snggests using the chord addition forllmla to calculate the chords

".

of 8 = 2', 3f 2
'
. ... from the ]mown chords of B = liO,3O,41', .. .. Likewise the chords
oi B =

2f ', .
'
4 L , ', . .. are to be generated from the nodes using Crd

s~btractionforiu:~l.r.

'4

and the chord

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)

Grid size / Direction of fill ' Regression coefficient, pvdue


Downward
Go
0.3558
0.056
Go
i
Upward
0.3495
0.054
10fO ' Downward
0.1840
0.103
Upward
10;'
0.0501
0.391
2ownward
12O
0.4006
0.038
Upward
12"
-0.0779
0.614
Downward
1340
0.0675
0.348
134O
Upward
1
-0.1 967
0.876
Table 4.4: Testing for various interrixdiate grids in the chord table
Since the errors of the chords on the i f 0 grid are carried to the remaining cl~ords
along with the error iocurred using tlte dlord addition and stibtraction formulae, one may
expect that the latter chords contain lager errors on average. However, a coli~parisonof
the erxors of the chords orr the 1:'

grid with the errors of the remaining entries reveals

no significant difference in magnitude. This implies that tlic final fill process, if it was
performed according tcl r) tolemy's process, would liave been done with greater accuracy.

A recomputation suggests that one extra sexagesimal place beyond the two fractional
places in the table would be sufficient.

It may be seen conc!usively that the chord addition formula could not have been
used to generate the smallest chords, i.e., for 0 = ZO,3f0, . . .. For these 8, the forrnula
requires the calallatim of the chord of a large argument Crcl 8. The supplement formula

then produces7Crd 8. However, the supplement formula is liiglrly unstable when used to
compute c b r d s of small arcs. Thus a consideraljle precisiolr is tlie calculation of Crd 4

is reqiixed to attitir; reasonable accuracy in the find resdi. For most of the small values
of 8, the d u e for Grd 8 iu the table a u l d not produce the d u e for Crd 8, even allowing
for the p0ssibilit.y that the tabdm value of Crd 8 is rounded from a more accurate value.

Table 4.5 takes the tabular values for Crd 8 and computes a range of chord

values from

7
Ptolemy's
Crd 8 Min/rnax values of

Crd 61 Ptolemy's Crd 8


2;
4?24,50
2;
5,22,29
119;58,55 [+l]
2; 5'40
3;35,20,14
3;39,53, 0
119;56,39
3;39,52 [-I]
119;53,10 [+l]
5;13,25,20 5;13,48,!6
5114, 4
6;48, 6, 2
119;48,26 [+l] 6;47,48,25
6;48 ,11
119;42,28
8;22, 2,55
8;22,17,13
5;22,15
119;35,17 [+I]
9;55,58,40 9;56,10,42
9;56,13
119;26,52 [+I] 11;29,51,25 11;30, 1,49
11:30, 5
1
13;
3,39,53
13;
3,49,
119;17,13 [ t l ]
13; 3,50
14;37,22,59 14;37,31, 7
119; 6,20
14;37,27 [-I]
.&3;54,15 [+I] 16;10,45, 5 16;10,52,26
16;10,56
17;44, 9,20 17;44,16, 2
118;40,55
l7;44,14
118;26,23 [$I] 19;17,14,13 ?9;17,20,22
19;17,21
20;50,12,53 20;50,18,34
118;10,37
20;50,1G

Table 4.5: Calculating Crd 8 from Crd 4 using the chord supplement formula
it, adding f0; O,0,30 to it to account for the possibility that the table's value is rounded

horn a d u e talten to more places. Where Crd 0 is in error, these ranges of chords
include neither the correct. chord nor Ptolemy's chord; indeed, these two chord values are
invariably extrendy close to each other compared t o the range of clrords. Tlius Ptolemy

clid not use the chord addition fornlula with the chords of the supplements in the table
for small values of 0.
4.9

The Interpolation Table

The table for c(B), used to calculate chords of arcs between multiples of

iO,theorcticaJly

tabulates 0; 2x the successive differences of the chcrds in tlic table. Iu practice, however,
this is clearly not the case. As noted earlier; R. Eewton's csplanittion is tlrat the tattle
for c ( 0 ) must t d d a t e mother function entirely, and that. Ptoleiny mistaltenly placed
here a table computing another astronomical function. Since the direct computation of

Chapter 4 , The Cliord Table (1.11)

69

c(B) from the cfmrd table is a simple matter, and since the tabubted vdues of c(8) are

extremdg; accurate. I find this dubious. I cannot uildersta~ldmuch of Newton's argument,

since tlrere appears to be a cliscrepancy between his calculations and the table in Toomer's

version of the Almagest.


The table itself is quite acc-aate: only 45 of 359 entries me in error (calculating with
(4.2) and exact chords). 36 of these errors arc positive. The other 314 entries are all

correct if inodern roundiug is assumed, providing further support to the hypothesis that
i~uxlernromcling mas used. In most cases it, appears that the values in the table are
generally closer to the correct vdues of c(8) than Ptolemy's chord vdues would dlow.
To ascertain wl~etkerthe apparent accuracy of the interpolation table beyond the
chord table is a genuine phenomenon, the table dependence test would appear to be ideally fitted, using the hypothesis that the 4 8 ) table depends on the chord table. However,

siuce every entry of

4 8 ) relies on two entries of

Crd8, the chords underlying the c ( 8 )

d u e s cannot be rew~lstructedreliably. Instead I examine ti:^ quantities


CA

the actual values 4 8 ) ;

cp

Ptoleiny's tabulated .values of ~ ( 0 ) ;

CR

= 0 ; 2[Crdp(B

+ -21") - Crdp 01,

where Crdp 8 represents Ptolemy's chord d u e s .

The relative scwcity of genuine errors in the chord interpolation table beyond rounding to two places (45 in 359 entries) causes unusual patterns in the errors

cp

- c ~ see
; for

example Figure 3.2. The near-linearity of c ( 8 ) over an interval containing several values

of 8 used in the table caa resuit in stretches where the tabular entries cp(8), all correct
to the places displayed, are separated by the same constant. Thus for such an interval
the error is equd to c(8) ruiuus a linear function, producing a sine wave effect. The
dartuuate conlbination of few erroneous entries, small argument increments ( 6 =

1O

),

C h j >ter 4 . The Chord Table (I.1 I )

70

and insufficiently fine sounding level (e =

6)causes a statistical depemlcnce t3hatis

usually too uegligible to irotice in most situations involving other tables am1 functions.
Clearly, then, the table dependence test. is useless in this iustance, and i t would be
14rtually impossible to account for t l i s unusual depeixlence through distribution theory.
Instead, 1simulate the error distribution under the hypothesis that the error distribu tlon
cp

- c~ may be approximated by
I' = X1 + X2, where XI

N ( 0 , u 2 )and X;

el
[- ET2j
, .

Here X1 siiriulates actual coinputa.tiona1 error, while X2 simulates the substantid effect4
of rounding to two fractional sexagesimal places.
Tlie clensity function of I" is

mliere GJ is tlle cumulative normal distribution function. I estimate the unlinown parameter a by choosing a to be suck that
p(--

5 Y 5 -) = 1601359,

the proportion of the errors [ c~ - c~

1 less

than

& in the interpolation table

generated from Ptolemy's chord values. From this I find a = 0.0000036712 = 0.72798~.

I produced a reference distribution of frequency of errors less than

$ from this density,

which was then compared with the observed 314 of 359 correct entries in the interpolation
table. Tc simulate the sine wave effect of errors in the table, a random number o E [O,

i"1

is chosen, and the interpolation function is calculated for arcs

To each fuuctiou d u e a quantity taken &om N(O,a2)is added and the sum is rounded
to two fractional sexagesimal places, The number of entries N matching the correct c(8j
comprises the tezt statistic.

Chapter 4. The Chord TaMe (1.11)

Number of Correct Entries (Midpoint)

Figure 4.4: Histogram of the number of correct entries in each simulated table, for the
test of dependence of the c(0) table on the Crd 0 table

The simulation was run 1000 tines; a histogram of the results appears in Figure 4.4.
The N = 314 in the actual interpolation table is well above dl 1000 simulated results.

I coxdude that the errors in the interpolation table are significantly smaller than one
would expect h o n the use of chord table vdues.
Sewsal explanations of this curious result are possible, but perhaps the most plausibk,
considering earlier findings, is that Ptolemy retained another sexagesimd place in his
chord cdcula.tions beyond what appears in the table, in order to retain accuracy, and
used these values to genlerate the interpolation column. The suggestion that the table

calculates another function altogether is clearly discsedited.

The fact that 36 of 45 errors in the c ( e ) table are positive is significant and deserves
esanlination. My investigations reveal no systematic nature to these errors. They are too

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)

Arc from Theta to Theta

lntemolatect Value

+ 112

Figure 4.5: Using linear interpolation to evaluate chords from the chord table
infrequent to have been caused by a different rounding method. I hypothesize that the
error is not due to rounding, but is in fact a deliberate maneuvre intended to reduce the

effect of error in the use of c(8) to calculate chords. Since the chord function is concave
do\vnward, a significmt negative error is incurred when applying linear interpolation to

e m h a t e chords (see Fignre 4.5). When computing c(8), P tolemy may have occasiodly
rounded an entry upward in a borderline case to help offset this error. Altl~oughtltSs
cannot be proved, ii seems the only reasonable explanation of the positive errors.

4.10 Summary of Results


Although many of the results of this chapter are necessarily tentative: a method of calcizlation that produces similar error patterns and is historically plausible may be proposed.

Chapter 4. The Chord Table (1.11)

73

From the original seven entries, a grid of chords sepalatcd by 12' was formed. From

tLis the 1i' grid was generated, using only the chord subtraction formula. An extra
sexagesimd place was retained to decrease the effect of cumulated errors. Finally, the

rest of the table was computed, again using only the chord subtradicn formula for the

early entries at least.

The upward drift of errors may be explained as a byproduct of the errors in the
original seven cliords, whose errors coi-ncidentdy happen to contain the same upward
drift. Subsequent computations taken to an extra sexagesimal place carried the errors in
the orighal entries to the rest of the table, with additional errors that were small enough
to have little extra effect.

Perhaps the most important conclusion is that the chord addition formula does not
seem to have been used at all. It appears in 1.10 at the end of a list of trigonometric

thearerns, dmost as an afterthought. Tne form it takes is awkward for calculation, and
it may have been included in the Almagest for didactic purposes only.

Chapter 5

The Mean Motion Tables

5.1

Ptolemy's Methodology for P l a n e t a r y Motion

.4U Ptoleiny's models for solar, l u ~ i i r ,aid planetary nlotioiis of various types share
the basic premise of ullifosm circul:~r motion. Tllc nlotioii of any astro~loinicalbody
is assullied to have two essential pioperties: first, tlint it may be descrilrcd by some
combination of circular motions of various points J aid s e c o d , that any poilit rot (zting
on a circle must do so with constant speed relative to the ccnter of that circle.
Although Ptoleiny violates this pi-inciple in the case of his planetary models, he
remains essentially true to the spirit of these strictures tl~roughoutthe Ahagest. TO
account for variations in the observcd angular vclocities of almost every as tronomicd
body (except tlie fixed stars), Ptolciny uses a variety of tcdniques. For tlle Sun lie
moves Eastk sliglrtly a w q from the centre of the deferent (orbit circle); for the other
p h e t s , the planct rotates on an epicycle, a smaller circle centred on the perimeter of
the deferent (see Figure 5.1). Thesc methods probabl~?date at least to Apollonius (c.

200 BC).' Several more complex sclmnes adjust tlze niodcls for motions ilot accountcd
for by tlrese basic tools.

Each orbit is at least illitidly a s s ~ ~ m ctod be on the p l a i ~that includes the ecliptic,
t.he great circle through the celestial sphere tra~relledby the Strn in its ; ~ ~ m upat11
al

(Figure ~ . 2 ) .Altliouglr
~
the planets vary by up to se~witldegrees from the ecliptic,
l0. Necg '~auer,iApollouius' planetary theoryn, [G73, 641-46.
2The daily rotation of the celestial splierc carrying all the heavenly l d i e s about the celestial poles is

Apogee

Centre

Earth

Planet

Figure 5.1: The basic .Apofloxaiau model for planetary motion

P tolemy presents his first models ignoriiig this, dealing with this varistiou scpiu.~tcly
with an i~idependcnit l m q afterward. The ecliptic a i d eqnator iutersett nt the ~ernczl
aild autumna! equinoxes and form nil angle
uses the traditional d u e

E,

tile obliquity of t h e ecliptic. PtcJerily

= 23; 51,20. A body's position relative to tllc ecliptic is

cletemliiied by two d u e s : the (ecliptic) longitude A, meastircd fioiii the ~ e r equinox


d

T,and tlie (ec1il)tic) l a t i t u d e P, illcasuzed nortl~warclt o \ ~ i u dtlie pole of the cchptic.


Alternatively onc may use the right ascension cr and declination 6, using the eqmtor
as

the reference circle instead of the ccliptic. Since the planct,.srotate on or IkeiLr the pfam

determined by tltc ecliptic, the ecliptic coordiimtes are pi.efr.rrcd m d are used exclusiwly
by Ptolemy in tlie analysis of planetary motio~z.

5.2

Definition of Mean Motions

Ptolemy exploits uniforiu circular ino tion to calculate planct sry positions a.ccording to
the same basic structure for each of his models. The longitude of the apogee3 X A is
found by trigononletric methods fro111 observation^.^ Tlre m e a n a r g u m e n t a,(tf, the
arc of the deferent from the apogee to the centre of the epicycle (Figure Gel), clxatges
uniformly with respect to the center of tlle ecliptic. The mean longitude

A,,,is defined

as

A,, ( t )= XA + an, ( t ),

(5.1)

The plmet's longitnde X is tlml broken into two com~tcmeats: the nican lungitt&
rtnd an added co~nponcnt,called tlle equation of anomaly, to allow for variations in

the model. A more coi~rplexmodel may contain several of tllese components. T h s in


ignored, since Ptolclny's goal is to locate till. piauets cin the celestiai s!,lme. The locatioi~of dhc pianrte

in the sky is determhled afterward.


3The position in the deferent that is furthest from Earth.
4See, for example, A h a g e s t 111.4, 153-57. Here Ptolemy uses Hipp;uchus' value for A n , but it is ex3y
to derive XA from the moclcl.

Figure 5.2: Coordinstc illeasureme~ltin the celestial sphere

the Apollonian model (Figure 5 .I), the t r u e argument rr f f ), the mgular 4stuce

~ZOEU

tLe planet i.o its apogee observed from Earth, is


a ( t ) = a,,, ( t ) :-:(c,,;),

wllcre the cquatioi~of anomaly q is a function of the position of t,lx center of the epicycle
on the deferent and the planet's position on tllc eyicycle. Tlic~nalso

For each planet Ptokmy gives the same basic metltod to find a plaxwt's lol~gitncic
X a t a given monlent t . By extrapolating backwards in t i ~ t ~from
e his model Ptolemy
gives the mean longitude A,

at a fised epoch: noon of thc first day of the first yew

of the reign of Nabonassar (747 136).5This epoch also provides the rdercnce point to

measure t. The parameter w, , the velocity of the centre of the epicycle, may be computed
from observations (Most parameten w,,, are due t o Hipparcl~us,or further back to the
Babylonians.) Tlic meall motion

A,,, msy now be found

easily as

The final cal~ulat~iort


of tlle planet's longitude adds the equ;it.ion of anomaly to the mean

5.3

The Mean Motion Tables

The calculation of A,, is a comparatively simple ~nattcr:fild t expressed in the correct


nuits of time, multiply t by w,, and add X,,(O).
"his
epoch.

Due to the large time intervids irtvolwzl

epoch was cllosen so that all the abscrvations to which Ptolwiy had access occtrrrcd afwr tile

P t ~ i e m yfinds it

~ m z e s s l - ~ rto
y use

extremely precise (dt.liougli not necessarily accurate)

values of w,,,
, maliiug tltc multiplication t xlious. To reduce tlle reader's effort he provides
fox

G Z L Cc~ ~ l ~ s t i1~0d3
i ~ l it

large tal~leof the m e a n motion

for hourly intervds o f t from to 1 to 24t daily i n t e r d s from 1 to 30, monthly intervals (30

days) from 1 to I1 montlrs, yearly intcrvids (365 days) froni 1 to 18 years, and 18-yearly
iiitervds from 1 to 4SG (see Tables 5.1 a.nd 5.2), in each case subtracting from A the
i~ppropriateinteger znultiple of 360" to bring A under 360". Then to compute A,
I?

for

given value of t one need only add to tlie mean longitude at epoch the mean motion

coinponents corrcspcncktg to the coznpo~tentsof t:

Ptolen~ydways presents the parilmcter w,,, in degrees per d a ~ . ,so that the mean
motion tables for uuits of days, months, years, and 18-yeas pcriods are intcger multiples

of u,. Since these tables are given to the same number of scs;~gesimdplaces as the daily
parameter, the v:ihles in the tables contain no mystery aid are ignored. However, the

hourly tables asc the results of the clivision

Ajn hours) = - . n,
24
dm

Since the tables are givcn to the same number of sexagesimd places as the daily figure,
tve may

gaiu sonic insight into the rounding nlethods uscd by the author by a closer

"Why Ptolemy cfiose an &year period is a matter of some debate. Some suggest it is connected to
tke Saros eclipse cycle (Tanuery 1893, 1651, others (including Ptolemy lkmelf) that it is an unimportant
byproduct of the standard &line page height (Toomer, Almagest 140, note 26). The debate goes back
at least as far as Thcon (Rome, Commentuires Tome 111, 844.) in tllc Xazdy Tables Ptolemy changed
to a !&year period nub an rpoch cfoser to ltis om^ tinle.

Chapter 5. T3e Mean Mofion Tables

5.4

Possible Rounding Methods and Methods of Computation

where [a.] denotcs the greatest integer lcss tlmn or e q u d to a.. Thus

r, corres13onds lo

nloderis rourtcli~~g
and
~ ( 3 6 13;
; 48,30) = 36; 13,49.

Second,

where (x) denotes the gnzxtest integu strictly less than

ern rounding exccpt tlmt

2.

T h u s I.: is identical with mod-

midway betweeu two rounding candidates are rounded

down:

~ ~ ( 313,48,30)
6;
= 36; '13,48.

Third;

corresponds to truncation:

The possibility that Ptolerny did not usc any give11 ronl~di~ig
metkod consistently must
dso be entertained.

For each hourly meau motion table two cZiffereut methods of calculation ale plausi l de.

First, he may haye determined an ltourly constant by di~itliugthe daily figure Ly 24,

rouuded. and snccessisely added (or ~liultipliedby an integer). This, however, produces
a regular drift away from the corrcct values as tlie error
Ijp rou~ldingbeccmm nragnified for large

11,

ill

tlie hourly figure caused

sud does not umtch -4lmagest quantities.

Secoucl, lie 1112~3-have usecl some eutircly accurate niethod and rounded the correct values
aftc~wardill soiilc way. We consider cach lrourly table separately.

5.5

The Solar Hourly Mean Motion Table (111.6)

Ptalcmy's parameter for mean solar Iongitudind motion is

TIte ltiealt ulotioii tables for d a ~ smontlis,


,
years and 18-year periods reveal 110 errors or
rounding of any sort (Tirble 5.1). The hourly table (Table 5.2) provides a good instance

to test the roundillg metbod, since the figures ex-end t v o sc.ssgesimal places beyond the
1 s t place displayed. Cou~parisonof entries with

for R = T6, rg, a11d t6,gi;i\-enin Table 5.3, clearly fr~vourtrulrcation over both versions of
modern rouncliug. The perfect matcll suggests a consistent nse of truncation throughout

the table.

5.6

The Lunar Mean Motion =Ales ( N . 4 )

Pbolcmy's lunar nmdel is consideraLly more complicated than the solax model. Besides
tlte lorigitndind m e m motion, he incl ides t h e e other mean motions: the mean anomaly,
arguum~tof latitude, aiid elongatio~l(to be described in Chapter 9). The structure of
t be tattles is idai tical with

the solar tables; the only cliffercrrces stem from the values of

Chapter 5. The Mean Motion Tablcs

18-Year Periods
t (years)
AN

18
36

355;37,25,36,20,34,30
351;14,51,12,41, 9, 0

810

163: 4,12,15,25,52,30

Months

t (days)

A(t>

30

29;34, 8,36,36,15,30

Days

Table 5.1: Excerpts from the solar mean motion tables (IKG), except the l~ourlytable
the basic parameters

UJ,,,.

Comparison of entries in these tihles with the t h e e rounding

procedures (Taldc 5.3) produces curious results. A perfect niatch ie acllievcd with t o for
longitude, with rti for anomaly and elongation, a d witch r i for latitude.

I conclude that each table uses one method of rouiiding throughout, sii~cea perfect
match is achieved with one of the methods for each table. T l ~ longitude
e
t d ~ l e sform the

basis for the Hipparchian theory, whereas the other lunar tal>lesare additions to the basic
model and axe gcuerally conceded to Be P t ~ l e m a i c .This
~
Lreak appears to be verified
by the difference in rounding methods, truncation for longit~~cle
and a version of modern
rounding for the others. The autlrorslGp of the tddes, howcver, may not Le concluded

from the roundiug alone.

Chap tcr 5. The Aleail Motion Tables

Hours

Table 5.2: Hourly solar mean molioll

----

Method

Lunar I Luilar
Longitude Longitude Anomaly
12
I
24

Lunar
Latitude
23

Lunar
Elongation
24

Table 5.3: Nuiul~erof agreements between houl-ly mean mo tiou entries and correct values
(24 total entries), using three romdirrg methods (Sun, Mool~)

C h i t p t ~5.~ The Mean Motion Tables

5.8

Mean Motion Tables for Eclipses (VL.3)

To predict solar cclipses Ptolemy must determine from his models the times when the
Icrngitndc of the Sun and Moon are close enough for a Sun-Moon conjunction (AM %
As); to predict a lunar eclipse be must be able to say wllcu the Sun a i d Moon will
l x close to opposition (AkI z As 1 180"). In addition, the Moon's latitude must be

m a r enough to zero for an overlap to occur. To accolnplisl~this, Ptolemy begins by


fillding the times of conjunctions and oppositions, done by setting X,,(Moon) = A,(Sun)
(the mean conjunction j or X,(Moon) = X,(Sun) 4 180' (the mean opposition) and
cleding with thc solar and lunar eqnations afterward. Since the Moon's longitudinal
speed is constdera1)ly faster than the Sun's, each mean syzygy (conjunction/opposition)
corresponds ts a true syzygy nearby. Once the true syzygy has been located, the Moon's
latitude and parallax must be considered.

To calculate mean coujunrctions and oppositions, Ptolc~nyprovides several tables.


Tlae first takes advantage of the coiilcideilce that meall syzygies follow almost precisely
a 25 year cycle: if a rncan syzygy occurs at time t,, m o t l ~ c rof the same type will occur

s t approximately t,,, 24.0999 Egyptiai! (365-day) years. Ptolemy calculates the earliest
lnean coujunctiou and opposition aftcr the Nabmassar epocll as a certain number of days

into Thoth (the first moi~tllsf the Egyptian calendar). He tlien determines the times of

the mean syzyrgics at ncasly 25-yea intervals for 45 cycles, covering an 1100 year period
after epoch. Thus, according to the pasameters stated in the text,' the first table (see

Table 5.5) should give


Days of Thoth = 24; 44'17

(12

- 1) 0; 2,47,5

(5.13)

Chapter 5. Tlic Mean Motion Tables

for cosljunctioils alid

for oppositions. The subtracted term corrects for the fact tl~iltthe cycle is not precisely 25
years in length. At these calculated times of mean conjunction and oppositioli, P tolemy
also coiliputes tl~rceotilex mean positions (one solar: n , (t,,,), two lunar: a,,,(t,,,),n(t,,,f)
to aid the cdculntion of the conditions for an eclipse. Tlicsc terms will be discussed in
Chapters 8-11. .All tablcs increase or decrease linearly with respect to time, n l d therefore
may be calculated as wit11 simple additions and multiplications.

In addition to tlme 25-year tables Ptolerny provides yearly and monthly t&les, which
give increments to the inean motions and allow the user to cidculate mean cortjjunctions
and oppositions a t times between the 25-year cycle. Tllcse are similar in numerical
structure to the mean motion tables, except that the yearly l Ale uses two different. time
incseruents, onc for 12 uonths and one for 13, "in order tl~iltwhat appears in the table

will be the first syzygy ill each integer Egyptian year" .g


For each table the parameters and increntents are given iu the text. Each tabular
entry is given to two fractional sexagesilud places, while thc increment is given to tkree.
Therefore Ptoleiuy must round the last place bcfore iizscrting the entry in the table.
Comparisons of tlie entries with results obtained from Ptolcmy's stated parnmeters and

the rouuding cmclidates

73,

r; and t 2 for t h e 25-year tablcs are given in Table 5.6. I

conclude that modern rolutding was used, and r2 is favo~rredto

73;

with only two cornpi~red

to 20 failures. Both failrues for r2 axe in the luuai urn tablc ioz oppositions.
Similar results fox tlle yearly a i d moitthly tables are given in Table 5.7. Clearly
modern rounding is favoured to truncation. For these tabL.-. the results rue not strong
extough to support one of r2 and r; over the other: rz fails ftli. four entries, while r5 fhls

Table of Coajunctions (25-year


periocls)
.
n
t (years) Days of Thotll a , (Sun) a,, (Moon)
288;38,5U 218;57,15 308;17,21
l
Z 24;44,17
"

IpTable
of Oppositions (29-year periods)
Cm
t,,, (years) Days of Thoth 1
AD
9;58,22
/ 274; 5,38 26; 2,45 112;57,15
1
~ 1 1 1

Ymrlv Increments for Conjunctions and Oppositions


n
a,, (Sun) u, (Moou)
(years)
Days
1
?8;53,52 18;22,59
335;37, 2
38;43, 4
'
8;15,53

Mont1tl-y Incremellts for Coniuilctions and Oppositions


*
Bays
t,,, (montlls)
n
a,, (Sun) a, (Moon)
1
29;31,50 29; 6,23
25;49, 0
30;40,14

Table 5 3 : Excerpts from tables of solar-lunar illem conju~lctionsand oppositions (VI.3)

Rou~lding Days oi
M e t l i ~ d / T h t h a,, (Sun) a,,, (hI00ii)
Coiljunctioi~s
45
45
45
1'2
44
41
1
44
7.:
30
t2
21
23
Oppositions
45
45
43
1'2
41
44
44
1';
21
23
32
t2

n
45
41

21
45
41
21

Table 5.6: Number of agreements bct3wecnmean colljunctioli/opposition tables (25-year


periods) and correct values, using three rounding methods (45 total elltries per t,ablc)
for three. All the failures occur at "borderline" entries, wllerc the final placc is neas 30.

5.9

@onclusions

Certainly we naay not decide in favour of one or anotl~crrou~rditrgmetllod as being


tile general practice, but tlie data do support t.wo conclusialls. First, within each table
the calculator reiriaius consistent in his rounding method. Second, in each table either
modern rounding or truncation provides a more than adeqnate match to the entries in
the table. Udess the eviclence -from tlle more conqdicsted uumerical tables compels me
to consider alterustives, I shall retail1 these two roundiiag metllods as primary candidates

throughout.

Rouliding
Metliod
1'2
I.;

t2

7-2

rz"
t.t

Days of
Tlroth

23
23
1I
12
12
8

a, (Sun)

Years
23
23

11
Months
12
12
12

a,, (Moon)

23
23
11

24
24
12

12
12

11
12
7

Table 5.7: Nuin1;cr of agreements between mean conjunction/opposition tables (yearly


m d monthly) and correct values, using three rounding met.hods. 24 entries in yearly
table, 12 iu moutllly t d h .

Chapter 6
The Declination Table (1.15)

8.1

Celestial Coordinates

Ptolemy's discussio~iof purely trigo~~oilzetric


concerns c x l s with (I.13), a brief treatmelit
of spherical trigonometry a i d Menelaus' Tlteorem (see 92.4) shortly after the chord tczble.
&)I
The remainrder of Book I presents methods to cdculate the equatorial coosdiiastes (a,

of arbitrary points on the ecliptic (although Ptolemy does not call tkenn coorclinates). A

loag (90-entry) table for 6 , and s short (9-entry) table for a , of ediptic points me giveu,
dong with the usual examples of ca.lculation.
111 1.14 Ptolemy calculates the declinntio~lS(A) of a given point A on the ecliptic as
foUo\~s:let*a great circle ZAB be driwn through tlie poles of the equator and the ecliptic
(Figure 6.1). Tben if TH = A, we hare from Meaelaus' Tllcorem I:
sin Z A
sin AB

-=-a

Since Z A = TZ =

TB

sin TZ sin HT
sin T H sin T B '

= 90' and A B =

E,

HT = A, and TH = S ( X ) , rearrangement

gives
sin &(A) = sin e sin A.

The table of decliilatioits (1.15, Table G.1), the largest single srguruent table in the

AEmogest besides the chord table, is co~vpilicdfor I", ZO,. . . ;90". Declinations for A >

90" may be found by symmetry (see Figure 6.1). The taltlr: is given to two fractional
sexagesimal places, one more than erery other astronomical table in the Alrrtagest. The
lTbe right ascension a11d declination respectively: see $S.l.

90

Figure 6.1: Ptolemy's cdculation of b(X)

Chapter G. The Declilration Table (1.15)

-to

10

&

30

40

50

60

70

80

-I

90

Lambda

Figure 6.2: The declination table: error plot


right ascension table, by contrast (sce $7.3): is computed for only nine arguments and
one fractional sesagesiuial place. Neitl~erthe decIinatioi~nor the right. ascension are used
in any of Ptolemp's p l a u e t q models. The errors in the declination table (Figure 6.2)

tend to move in distinct drifts, reaching a. maximum of aboiit ten units in thc last place.

E. Newton2 notes that t,he errors are too large to have derived from calculstion of each
entry directly from Ptolciq's chord table (lie igmres the possibility of interpolation), but
are

t.oo small to Irme derived from a chord table calculated to one fractional sexagesimal

place. (There seems little doubt that the traditiond value E = 23; 51,20 mas used.)

Chapter 6. T I JDecliimtio~~
~
Table (1.15)

Error

Error

-1
-2

-2

-1
-1

-1
-2
-3
-3
-1
-2
-2
-2
-1
-1
-1
0
0
1
0
8
2
2
3

6
3
4
1

3
0

Table 6.1: The declination table (1.15)

3
3
2
2
2

1
1

0
1
0

0
-1

-1
-1

-1

0
1

0
-8
2
1
1
1
1
1

1
0
0

6.2

B. L. van der Waerden's Reconstruction sf an Underlying

C!~ordTable

In a recent a ~ t i c l e ,B.
~ L. i-an der MTaerden attempts a rcconstructjon of a table 05:
chords used to generate the declination table. Van der Waerden iruplici tly assulncs ,
with Newtou, that no li~etlloijof calculation of the declination table otl~ertka1 direct
co~nputaiionfrom (6.2) \?-as used, and presents a method of computing a. tablc of c l l o ~ ~ l s
based on the Aryablli?iJ-s of Aryabhiita (fl. z AD 450). Altliougll the method may bz
clclived from thcorems Ii~iownat Ptolemy's time, it does not appeal in the Ahnngest,

01

any o t l m G r d i text to my knowledge, and does not fit into t l contest


~
a i d MZLVOI~Tof
the trigonouletric theory of tlie Al?nu.gest.

.&ryab1iiita's preseutation was geared to calculating tlle sine function, but the similwity between t l ~ esine and the chord allows for an easy transnlissiou. ArysblGfa follows
common Indian pactice of usiug a base circle radius of rL = 3438 units, so that Sinn

% 11

for small n. measured in minutes. Vau d a Wae~denspeculates that the c i d d a t o r used

ll = 206265 uuits, so that Crd n % 12 for smdl 12 measured in scconds, sincc the seconcls
position is required of the chords to produce tlie accuracy fcittnd in tlie declimtion table.
From siiliple geoanetric considerations and the kalf-angle itlcm ti ty, the chol ds of

are

deduced.
The maill cdculation process uses a recursion formula

C d ( n -+ loj - Crd n = Crd lo - C

Crd iO,
i= l

3B. L. van der Wacrden, "Reconstruction of a Greck taliie of chords", [l2Sf, 23-38.

Chapter G. The Declia~ntiozlTable (1.15)

95

Since flrd lo zz 3600 duc- to tlre choice of the base circle radins, this form-da may be nsed
to gellerate successive cliffereaces of chords workiag upward from lo, and therefore the

clmrds themselves,
Tllc use of a recursion formula of this type inevitably canses drifts of error, since the
calculator's value of

C cannot be exact. However, depending on the value used for C

aud the accumulated error in the rounded sum C Crd iO, the error will continuously drift
tqiward or downward as one computes successive chords ratlm than alternating between
positive and negative errors. Van der Waerden suggests that the chords were corrected
; ~ certain
t
points by the values of the geometrically determi~~ed
chords.

Next, van der JYaercten attempts to verify that a chord table calculated according
to the recursive metliod with these corrections underlies tlle declination table by constructing a hypotlretiml chord table and recomputing the declination table from it. He
does not use

(G.3), but uses instead a modern version that bypasses the accumulated

rounding error iu CCrdio. a s calculation of the first 14 chords, leading to the first
seven declinations, proctnces these results:

In the first four cases, Ptolemy's value of S agrees exactly with the value
calculated from the [reconstructed table of chords], as well as with the modern
d u e . In the last three cases Ptolerny's value differs by only 1" from the value

derived from the table of [chords], bnt it agrees with trite modern value.4
T h s by van der Wwrdert's account the reconstructed method, urkich ignores one major
source of error (f:Crd iO), already produces less accurate declinations than Ptolemy's,

hardly i'chat 'ri~ildm Waerden describes as a "saittisfactory resrdt" .5


Further eddatiorr leads to farther problems:
%.L. van der Ifhrdeu. 'Recomtntction of a Greek table of chords", 11281, 32-33.
9.L. van der flraerdeu, "Reconstruction of a Greek table of chords", 11281, 33.

Chapter G. The Dech~lationTable (1.15)

The find r d u e [Crd23'] is already too large. Yet, in order to accaunt for
tlle errors in Ptolemy's table of declinatioas, we are forced to assume that
the aut!lor of the table of [chorcis] added a positive correctioil to it. The best
agreement with Ptolemy's t a l h is reaclied by assuming that the corrected
d u e was. . .

Ad Jtoc corrections of this nature could be made througlmut the table, allowing the
recursion lnetllod to fit any continuous error pattern despitc the true source of the errors.
Val1 der TVCzerdeudefends 11%iutroduction of a syst.einatic positive error of 3" in tlre range
of chords from 23" to 29" by examining tlle declinations u h x e X = 31" to 37". Here tlle
declinations edlil~ita negative error of x 1.5", explaitiualAe 113. the negative error i~~curred
in the iuverse interpolation required in a chord table in the region 23" to 29" with a

systematic positive error:

26 = Crd-I (sin E . Crd 2X) .

(6.5)

%'ander Waerden does not explain why the subst,autia.l positive error in his cbord table

for argumnts 23" to 29' does not seem to affect the declination table for X = 12" to 14'.
These entries would be calculated usiug values for Crd 2X i~bout3" too lasge, resdting
iu a positive error of approximately 1" iu 6. The actual dcdinaticn table entries in this
rmge are all too small, which may then only be accounted for by a large positive error
iu the section of the chord table where the inverse interpolation takes place. But this
takes place in the chord table range of 9" to 11,where the errors are no more than 1"
iu enor, affecting the final result by well under 1/2".
Other problems indude the region-of negative error from 31" to 3?, which actually
extends to 46'. This requires an extension of the region of positive error in the chord table

to r a g e to about 34" i u s t d of 29'. This affects positively s section in the declination


6B.L. van der MTaerden,"Rxonstruction of a Greek table of chords", 11281, 33.

titLlc (np to 17') that exhibits systematic negative error. This discrepancy cannot be
rccolidled with tlie error iu tlie final stage of inverse interpolation, given the numbers in
van der Waerde~t'schord table.

A systematic study of van der Waerden's liypothesis would require a careful analysis
to decide whetl~era cllosd table can be generated with errors that produce the errors in
tlie declination t a l k Since each entry S derives from two distinct regions of the chord
taXe, tliis i ~ ~ d y sworif-:
is
be difficult, and in any case would only prove or disprove that
soiile chord table underlies the declination table, not necessarily van der Waerden's. I
do llot believe that van der M h d e n ' s hypothesis could explah the error pattern in the
doclimtion tilblc: a chord table generated by recursion and occasional correction wodd
silo^^ drifts of error followed by occasiond jumps. A decliuation table calculated from

such a chord table would exhibit the same trends, causing jumps in the error pattern at
identifiable locations as one increases X (two jumps for each jump in the chord table, to
reflect the tivo stages of cdculation). This does not reproduce the error pattern observed

iu the decliiiations. I coilclude that van der Waerden's kypotllesis, while intriguing, lacks
llistorical precedent and is not confirmed by the errors in the declination table.

6.3

Interpolation in the Declination Table

Newton's and van der Waerden's studies of the declination table are based on the assrrruption tliat each elltry 6(X) was calculated directly by some chord table according

(wirere C-r.d2e = 48; 31,55 is the value used in the sample cdculations). TlGs is by no
xueaus clertaiu. It does seem clea that Ptolemy's chord table cannot be the source of every

cutry in the table of decliuations. A recomputation of declinations, using the chord table

to generate Crd2X a ~ i diai~erseh e a r interpoldon to generate 20' horn t r d 26 according


to the above is give11 in Table 6.2 and contnins madl sillaller errors tllm actually appear
iu the declination table.
Tlle set of v a l ~ e Xs for which &(A) is calculated suggests the possibility of illterpolation
on a grid of 10'. I appiy the interpolation grid test of 53.2; since the entry far 90nltd
the (illferred) ent,ry for 0' require no cdculation, I group tllc entries with nodes in tile

aid&

as follows:

Tlle absolute values of the errors arc ranked in each group and the ranks at the nodes
are selected. This gives node rauks

for a sum of 71. The probability of a randomly chosen set of eight integers from 1 to 10
ha~iilga smn of at least '71is 0.00025; thus I concludc that the errors of entries on the
10" grid are significantly siualler than the o t l ~ e r s . ~
To decide whether the grid is actually 5' rather than 10"? I apply t l ~ samc
:
test to
the entries tlmt are nodes of the 5" grid but not the 10" grid, grouping as iollows:

Rn.uEug the absolute values of the errors and selecti~lgthe m!ks at the nodes gives

for a sum of 30. The probability of a set of nine

random!^. chosen integexs horn I

to 5

ha-\iug a sum of at least 30 is 0.281. Thus I conclude the errors on the grid ox" 10" we
si&ficantiy lower than surrounding entries, but ilot those oil the 5" grid.
7A two-sample f-test of the errors on noclcs versus non-nodes gives t = 6.22, significant at
alt~hougllas disc\lssed before the assumptions of this test may be violi~tcd.

< O.O1%,

Chapter 6. The D e c h a tioa Table (1.15)

Error
0
0
0
0

Error
1

Error
0

1
1

1
0

13

0
0

0
0

0
1

0
-1
0
0
0
0
1
1

0
0
0
0

0
0
0

0
0
i

0
0

0
0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0
1

0
0
0
0

0
0

1
0

0
0
0

1
0
0
0
0
0
0

0
0
17
0
0
1

1
0

Table 6.2: A dccliuation table cdculated by Btolemy's rnetl~odsfrom his chord table

Chapter 6. The Decfiiiation Table (1.15)

100

Figure 6.3: Second differences of errors ill the declination table (1.15)

The second differences s f the errors are pictured in Figure 6.3. The secoitd differences
between X = 50" and 60' are substantially larger than most other second differences,
suggesting a difference in the inetltod of interpolation for this region. A case can dso
be made for a break in the pattern of second differences at every increment of 10,

particdarly after X = 30'.

These breaks support an interpolation grid of 10' versus

direct calcdatioa from a table of chords: if the cltord table is the source of the breaks, it
v7ould imply an implausible grid of 20" in the chord table. Given the evidence in s u p p r t

of interpolation, there is no need to suppose the existence of another table of chords

underlying the declination table, since six of the eight entrim for X = lo", 20,. , . ,80"
are accurate to dl three places.

The method of interpolation used to fill in the remaining entries would need to be quite
accurate, Linear interpolation, for instance, causes au error several orders of magdlitilde

Chapter G. The Dechina tion Table (1,15)

Declination

Lambda

Figure 6.4: The declination and sine frmctions


greater than the observed level. The proximity between the sine and declination functions
(Figure 6.4) suggest that Ptolemy may have used the chord table to simulate the nature

of the change iu the decliuation function between nodes: that is, let
S(l0i

Crd(2jlOi + j))+ Crd(2(lOi))


+ j ) = 6(10i) + Crd(2(lOi
+ 10)) + Crd(2(lOi))

[S(lOi i10) - S(lOi)],

(6.7)

for iategers 2: a d j . This method, however, produces errors of up to 20" in the interpolated areas (especially before

X =

60), still cousiderably larger than the observed

I conclude that the declination table may not have been computed directly in its
entirety, and

wics

;lot computed consistently. Every tenth entry may have been derived

horn Ptolemy's clmrd table, but the other entries edlibit patterns indicative of some
form of interpolation, as yet unkno~vu.

Chapter 7
Sphericai Astronomy (Book 11)

Before building liis motlcls for the motion of celestial bodics, Ptolemy devotes 1B00li 11
to the solution of a nuriiber of prob!cins in spherical astronolqr. Many of t h e problems
concern the observer's position

011

the Earth, such as finding tlie local tersestrid latitude

fmm the lengtli of the longest day or the rising times of thc zodiacal signs, or loating
the cursent position of the ecliptic in the sky. Most of tlie topics treated ilt Book I1 were
imnpostant t o the working astronomer, bit only a few are necessary to develop the models
of planetary mnotioir to follow. I coilcentrate only on the problems that P tolemy solves
by means of mathematica1 tables.

7.1

Finding the Terrestrial Latitude from the Length of Longest Daylight

(11.3>11.6)
The observer's terrestrial latitude 4 is a. fundamental quantity that affects several subjects

later in the Almugest, especially parallax and edipse theory. The latitude t ~ be~ found
y
easily by measusiilg the height of the celestial mrtla pole above the horizon (see Figure

7.1); however, Ftolemy also gives a neth hod to calculate

4 f n ~ mthe length of

daylight at

the summer solstice, T. Clearly d ( T )increases as T incrcascs, with q3(1Zh) = 0" anywlme
on the Earth's equator,' and q3(24h) = 90"
To find

- E at the Arctic (and Antarctic) circle2

4 for an arbitrary T , Ptolciny first requires the solution to an earlier problem,

The notatioil

represeuts hours.

*For T > 24h,the functio~lbreaks down. Ptolemy gives several 1atit.lttlcsfor length of daylight greater
than 241t,up to 4fG months) = 90 at the Xorth Pole. I shall ignore tllcsc entries.

Chapter 7. Spliaical Astronomy (Book II)

Figure 7.1: Thc calculation of terrestrial latitude from the length of longest daylight
to find the angular clistnuce from the East point of the horizon to tbe point on the horizon

where the Sun rises (the ortive amplitude) at the winter solstice. If the Sun is rising

at f-f in Figure 7.1, thr. m c a = EH is required. At the winter solstice the Sun is at

its maxiluum distance

E.

fTom the equator; thus RH =

E.

Every point on the equator

takes exactly 12" to rotit te from the casteru horizon to the wcstern horizon, but the Sun's

pnth above the horizor; is smder. Ifi fact, the Sim smd the point

R remain ou the same

meridian (aarc from the celestial mrth pole to the south pole),3 so that the Sun's
3This assumes that. the Suu remains in place with respect to the fiscd stars.

time above the horizon (24" - T) is cclual to the t.ime requirctl for a point on the r?quntcx
to move horn R to A, and then to the point on the equator opposite I?, the same distmce
above the horizon on the far side of the celestial sphere. EI-~cncethe time required for a
point on the equator to move hain E to R is

the half t i m e excess.


At tlris point it is useful to consider time as a. lneasarcrlm~tof ascs

Siuce the celestiid spllerc rotates once in 24", a point

011

011

the equstur.

the equator rotates at the

constant speed
3G0
24'1

-=

15' per hour.

An arc on the eq~icztorniay then be i~ieasuredby the lengtll of time requircrl for a point
to traverse the arc, so that t = ER d ~ o v e .This gives another unit of arc illeasurement,

by time-degrees: 15' eci~alsone liour. Tsigonometric ca1cul;~tionsperfornicl: with units


of time are to be understood in units of these time-degrees.
Ptolemy now uses tlle first theorem of Menelaus (see $2.4), applied to the figure

ZAEH in Figusc 7.1. Hc derives an equivalent to


COS

a = COS t COS f,

(7.2)

which provides a as a fuiiction of t , and lrence (see (7.1) abow), of T. From this Ptolemy
applies the secoud theorcm of Mem4a.u~to the same sl~apc.111modern t e r m he finds
Sln E
cos # = -.
sin a
Equations (5.2) nud (7.3) together define

4 as a function of T .

Error
0

Error

0
0
0
1

3
1
2
1
-1

'

Table 7.1: The latitude table (11.6)

Hours

Figure 5.2: Tlle latit'ude table: error plot

Ptolemy gives d ( T )for a. number of clim.uta," correspo~rdingto

in 11.6. Although the q5 values are listed in tlre test, t l q form a table in cssence. My
recomputations are given in Table '7.1, with error plot in Figure 7.2, Tlie level of rounding
becomes much cruder for T

> 17", at the latitude of what is now the

border between

England and Scotlaad, the northeru limit of the then-civilizctl world. At the Arctic Circle

$(%ih)= 90- E , so that the entry for T = 24'' requires no calculatiou.

The method

by Ptolenql here is not the only way to find terrestrial latitudes,

and a number of traditional values may have been incliitlcd by Ptoleiny rather tlmn
I

calculated. Note, for instance, that qi(13; ') = E to both scsagesimal places given iu the
table. Ptolemy icleutifics this zone as the Tropic of Cmccr (wlrere cj, =

F),

although in

reality q5(13ih) = 23;48 to two places. As Toomer states, this is probably arl intentional
sIipe5 Since one cannot assume a uniform method of determination of

4, or indeed

whether all latitude values were calculated mathematically, I recompute tlle table but
perform no analysis.

The Gnomon Shadow Length Tables (11.6)

7.2

The gnomon, simply a pole fixed vertically on a flat surf,xe, was one of the earliest
astrsnolnical ius tri~rnents. Several qmntities relating to tlre pat11 of thc Sun may be
fonnd by observiug the direction and length of the shadow c i i ~ by
t the gnomon at certain
times.
For each clin1at.e determined pre~iouslpby the leug tli of longest dayligl~tT , Ptolemy

gives (with the htitudes in 11.6) the Length of the shadow cast by a gnornou 60 r~xrjitsin
Climata Ere specific zoncs ou the Earth parallel to the equator
of T.
5G. Toomer, Almagesd, 85, note 34.

artti

characterized for a given value

Cliitj3ter

7. Splt ericai Astronomy (Book 11)

summer solstice

equinox

-\b''

'

'

'

Figure 7.3: Gnomon shadow lcngths at noon at the equinoxes and solstices
length at noon at the winter and summer solstices, and at the equinoxes. These are easy
to compute if thc observer's terrestrial latitude is known, and indeed Ptolemy has just
provided a table of latitudes. The shadow's letrgtli at the eqtliusx is

so(T)= AC = GO tan 4(T)

(7.4)

(Figure 7.3). At the suualner solsticc the Sun is higher in thc sky by the az~ountE; thus
s-I (T)= .4B = 60 tan($(T) - E ) .

(7.5)

Chapter 7. Splicrica.1Astronomy (L30ok IZ)

F ' i ~ d yat
, tbe wiilter solstice,

sl(T) == AD = GO tan(gj(T) $ E ) .
Thus, wlde the shadow lengths are given as funrtioi~sof T, they also may be com&lercd
to be functions of the iuterrnediate quantity (6.

The shadow length tz~blesare recompiited in Table 7.2 first using the essct values of
the latitades, and secollcl using Ptolcmy's given latitudes. The error plots are in Figures

7.4-7.6. Most of the shadow lengths are given by Ptolemy in fractional form, but I give
them as sexagesimds. All but three elltries a x integer multiples of 0; 5; tlmt is, 1/12",

72.1
Since

Dependence on the latitude table

4 is an intermediate quantity in the calculation of tlic s h a d 0 ~lengtl~sfrom the

length of longest dayligl~t,this is an ideal situation to apply the table depertdence test.
The entries in dl three tables for T
entries the latitndes

> 1 7 strongly
~
favour dependence, siuce for these

4 are crudely rounded. For the rest of the entries, l~owever,the

choice is fax from c1ea.r.


Speasman's r was c a l d a t e d on all three shadow length titl~leswith data ((IP-rjR, cjA-

d ~ ) where
,
fbp and 4~ we Ptolerny's and the correct latitudes respectively, and

q4R is

the latitude recoustrnetcd horn the slradow length values. The results, in T d e 7.3, are

all significant at the f 5% level. Wlcoxon's signed rank tcsl for dirpersioxi on the data

dP - 4R I - I

- 4R j gave p values of 0.5%, 24.7%, and GI .'i%


for the suinum solatice,

equinox, asld winter solstice tables ~cspectively.


Several outliers occussd for the same values of T in each table:

T = 15", 17ah,1 7 i h ,

and 17ah. AU outliers fwour dependence on Piolemy's liitiiude value. Wota that the

last t h e e outliers correspond to those T for which

cj5

was

sron~dedcrudely, alrd the other

corresponds to tlie next largest error in # ( T ) . Test results with these entries remaved

P%(T
0; 0
4;25

8;50
13;20
17;45
22;10
26630
30;50
35; 5
33;30
43;36
47;50

52;lO
55;55
GO; 0
G3;55
61;50

71;40
75;25
79; 5
82;35
85;40
88;50

92;25
96; 0

Errors
0
0
-i -3
-2 -3
2 2
2 2
4
3
2 -2
1
0
-2 -4
7
5
-1 0
2 -2
15 8
-5 -4
-1 -2
-3 -5
0 -4
1
0
2 -1
3 -4
-1 -3
-25 -1
-38 -7
-20 1
4 -1

Errors
2 2
4 2
-1 -1
3
3
3 3
4 3
3 0
1
0
1 -1
2 1
-1 0
-3 -6
8 4
-1 -1
2
1
4
2
-2 -4
3 3
1 -1
9 G
4
3
-11 0
-15 -2
-10 -1
0 -1

Table 7.2: The shadow length tables (11.6)

Errors
-2
-2
-1 -3
1
1
0
0
7
G
4
3
-1
-7
-1 -4
1
-4
8
12
-2
1
10
-3
44 23
-17 -14
-6 -11
-2 -13
-10 -26
17
9
1 -17
20 -26
-11 -28
-210 -4
-315 -5
-260 -4
56 -10

Chapter 7. Spherical iJAstronom~r


(Book Ilf

20
X

10

EC
= - X

L S E S

x-

--

Y
7

5
2

-- - -

--

y,

rg -10s

a<

r->
7

--

--

20

---

30

45,

12

13

14

15
Hours

16

17

18

Figure 7.4: The shadow length tables at equinox: error plot

Figwe 7.5: The shadow leitgth tables at summer solstice: error plot

Chapter 7, Sphrical Asfronomy (Rook 11)

Figuse 7.6: The shadow lcitgtl~tables at winter solstice: error plot

Spezirmaa's r
Wilcoxon test
for dispersion

Winter
Summer
Solstice Equinox Solstice
0.562
0.632
0.870
(< 0.5%) (< 0.5%) (< 0.5%)
109
51
132
(24.7%) (61.7%) ,
(0.5%)

Table 7.3: Test statistics for shadow length tables; P ralues shown in brackets

again give non-sigpificant results for the equinox and winter solstices, and the p value for
the summer solstice inexcases to 4.6%.

f conclude that only tlte table for the summer solstice, and the outliers, give evidence
of del~eudenceou Ptolelug's latitude table. The luge Spearinan correlations are caused
primarily by the crudeuess of rouncliug the final values of s;(T) to the nearest 0; 5.

7.3

The Rising Time Tables (11.8)

Chapter 7. Splmical As tro~aomy(i3ook IJ)

112

North Pole of
celestial sphere:

Equator

Figure 7.7: The celestial sphere at sphaera recta. The right ascm&ons of the ecliptic
longitudes TPl arrd Tfi are TEl and T& respectively. T l ~ erising time of the ecliptic
asc PIP2is the equator arc El E2,expressed in time-degrecs.

Equal arcs on the celestial equator rise above the horizou in equal times, since the daily
rotation of the celestial sphere has a constant velocity. However, the ecliptic is more
importaut than tlle equator for examiniug the planetary pl~enomenato come, and its
inchation to tllc equator means that equal arcs of the ccliptic generally do not rise
above the horizo~tin equal times, An observer situated ou the Earth's equator, for
iustance? sees the celestial North Pole oil the horizon, and so the daily rotation takes
place with the equator at right angles to the horizon (spltncra recta). In t l h situation,
the rising time of an arc of the ecliptic may be found simply by taking the diffmmce

Figure '7.7) and coxlxrertiiig to time-degrees.


h4ost observers do not have tlic good fortune to be sikttated on the equator. Fa
general, the equator forms an oblique angle with the horizon (sphaem obliqzla), and
arcs on the, ecliptic do not rise abo1.e the horizon at the same time as the arcs on the

equator correspouding to the right ascensions of the e~ldpoillt.~


(Figure 7.8), To find rising
times for spltaera obbiqz~a,the right ascension of a point on the ecliptic is replaced by the

Chapter 7. SplmicaI ilstronomy (Book II)

114

oblique ascension: instead of projecting from the ecliptic to the equator at rigat angles
to the equator, one projects at

a11

angle parallel to the Lori:xm (for example, from P, to

Eiin Figure 7.8). Thus, in Figure 7.8, the oblique ascension is

Note that the oblique ascension and the right ascensioa arc ideu ticd at sl~iraerareefa:

.Ptolemy requires a table of rising times for the latitudes dcfined by some of the clirnata
iu IL6:6 a d ecliptic ioagitudes X = 0,lo",. . . ,350". Thus he must compute @(A,$) for
many arguments. Two symmetries rcduce the cdcdations, First,

so that Ptolemy ~leedsonly compute 8 far X

< 180". Second, the quantity

(the sum of the rising iinies from 0" to A, and from 180" - X to 180') is constant with
respect to

#. In particular, the value of (7.10) for any

q5 is cqud to the vdue of (7.10)

when # = 0,where 8 = a (at sphaera recta). But B(h, OD)= a(X) contains tlie symmetry

These relatioils are cuough to save Ptolerny the effort of computing 0 for
First, compute O(X, 0" j ior X

5 90"; by (7.11), sy~nmetrywill

give B(A, 0') for h

> 90".
5 180".

Computing the successive differences of B(X, 0') gives the xising times at sphaera recta.

Now, compute @(A, 4) for all # and X 5 90". For any given
6 A h a g e s t 11.6, 62-90.

4,the relation

(7.10,) shows

Chapter 7. Spftcrical As troiaomy (Book II)


t h t the suri of the xising times fro111 k to k +10and from 180' - / k + lo") to 180- k
is equal to the sum of the correspolding rising times at sphaera recto. This generates
i h e rising times far 90' _< X

< 180,aud by su,ccessive addition of the rising times it also

gmerates 8 for t l ~ csame A. Finally, by the first synmetry rclation (7.9), P tolemy is able
to fill in the entries far 180'
X

5 A 5 360'. h tlris way Ptolemy needs only compute 8 for

5 90'. The table in the Almagest (II.8), although it is given for dl A, contains these

syrnnnetries.
Ptolemy gives two distinct nzetltods for the calculatioll of 0. The first is a direct
a p p k a t i o ~ of
l hlenelaus' Second Theorem. In Figure 7.8>lct X = T&. It is required to
find 0 = fE2. Project a perpenclicular NP2M from the North Pole N though P2onto
tlie equator, for~uingM . Menelaus7 Sccond Theorem applied to the figure E2PzNQ gives
sin #
- sin(90- A4P2)sin(E2M)
siri(90- 4)
sin(MPz) sin(Q&) '

(7.12)

Siilcc five of thc sis tcrlns in this compuud propstion are known,7 Ptolemy is able to
calculate
sill MEz = sin(a - 8).
Using lcis chord talde (imd interpoli~tionif necessary), he can then find

(7.13)
ct. -

8. Since a.

l m already been calculated, this yields 8. In modern terms, this becomes8


tan 4 = cot S sin(cu

- 8).

(7.14)

Since tables for 6 and a already appear in Book I, this gives 5.


Ptolemy then proviclcs z second inethod, which he cliaractelizes as an "easier and
more practical pro~edure''.~
In Figure 7.9, let P be a point on the ecliptic, and let

H be

'QEz = 90, Alp? = &(A), the declinatioa, and E2M = T Y - I& = &(A) - B ( A , 4).
*in the future I shall siuydy refer to the modern forin of the equation and omit the details on how
Ptoiemy would !law proceeded.
%1magest 11.7, 04.

Chapter 7. Spherical Astronomy (Book 61;)

Figure 7.9: Calculating the oblique ascel:sion using the ascenlsional difference
the point on the llorizon with decliilatioii RM =

-6.

Regardless of tlie location of the

vernal equinox T, tire difference bet<wee~


the oblique ascer~sion6' and the rigllt ascension
a is A = EL, tlre ascensional difference:

4 =EL =TE-

TL = 6r(X,+)

-a(,\).

(7.15)

This is the samc qua11tit.y a EM2 in the previous calculvtiulls (up to sign, Figure 7.8).
Also, since H has the same declination as the Sun at tlre winter solstice, the length of
daylight is the wc on the equator from R to the point

OM

the equator the same distmce

above the horizon on the other side of the celestial sphere. Thus E R = t is half the
difference betwecn lzh and the shortest dsy, wliich is the sune as the lhdi time excess
defined in $7.1.

Chapter 7. Sph cricaI Astronomy (Book II)

117

Applying Mcnelaus' Second Theorem to the figure R Z P E , Ptolemy finds (an equivalent of)

tan6
tan t.

-=-

sinA
sint '

where S = PL is the declination of the ecliptic point F. From this,


tan 6
sin A = sint . tan'
which allows the calculation of 8 = a

-+ A as a function of T through the intermediate

quantity A.
Now in (7.16),ueitllcr E nor 6 depend on the latitude #. Tlius the ratio D = sin A/ sint

(which I call the declination quotient) does not depend on # either, even though both

t z~ndA do depcnd on 4. This m&cs computing the oblique ascension relatively easy.
Ptolemy first compiles cz, short table of D for X E (10,20,. . . ,90),given iu the text.1
Tlie recomputed table is given with the errors in Table 7.4, m d an error plot in Figure

7.10. Suppose that Ptolemy has a short table for (the chord equivalent of) sin t. To
generate A, he needs only to multiply the values in both the short tables and take an
inverse sine using (7.17). From this, (7.15j and the right ascension table givcs the oblique
ascensions 8. This method, then, requires only one trigononrctric operation per entry (an
inverse chord) after the two short tables have been completed, yielding a much more

efficient met hod of cdculation.

P tolemy computes the table of oblique ascensions for t l ~ elatitudes corresponding


to the le~igthsof longest daylight

E (12", 12i1',

. . . ,17" ) , and

for longitudes h E

( l P +20,. . .,360" j . This is tlie oitly double argument table in the Almagest. No doubt

Ptalcru>~realized that. the appkatiol; of his interpo1;ztion ruethod to $(A, 4) (see $2.5)
w.ould cause large errors regardless of which variable is classified as weak. The fsising
"Almagesb 11.7, 07. The function tabulated is the reciprocal of D, but the ratio is also given as a

reciprocal.

Thus I cowider the declination quotient as defined above to be the function tabulated.

Chapter 7. Splierical Astronomy (Book 11)

X D x GO Error
10
9;33
0
20 18;57
0
30 28; 1
0
40 3 ~ ; 3 3
a
50 44;12
-1
60 50;44
0
'70 55;45
0
80 58;55
0
90 60; 0
0

'

Table 7.4: The cleclimtion quotient table (11.7)

-1

10

20

30

40

50
Degrees

60

70

80

Figure 7.10: The declination quotient table: error plot

Chaptcr i: Spherical Astronomy (13ook II)

lf9

times of successive 10' arcs of the ecliptic are calculated as well, but since these are just
successive cliffererices of the oblique ascension vdues: they are not reproduced here. The
oblique ascet~sionsare fouud by means of the right ascensions and the ascensional differcrices for bot tt of P tolenry's calculation alternatives, so only the ascensional differences
are recorupu ted (Table 7.5). The right ascensions are given along wi tll the recomputation

; nine 1,iglat ascensions are correct to both places. Since


of A iil the colunln for T = 1 2 ~ all
Ptolcmy does not explicitly state wlJch of the two methocls were used, thc ascensional
differences are recomputed first using exact methods, and second using the latitudes q5
givcu by Ptolen~yat the top of each column in the oblique ascension table, for each vdue

of T.ll Note that Ptolcmy's latitude values are bypassed with the second method of
cdculation. The error plot is given in Figures 7.11-7.13.

7.3.1

Dependence tests on the aseensiand differences table

Tire ascensioxral difference table may depend on one or more of several tables. If the first
iuetlmd was used, then Ptolemy's latitude table shodd underlie it; if the second method
IIW
(z

used, then Ptolemy's latitudes are bypassed. Thus the table dependence test provides

good method to choose between the two dternatives. If the second method was used,

the cledinatiou quotient table wodd underlie the table for A. Also, the values of the
chords equivdent to sin t in the calculations would underlie the table. These chords are
liot given in the text? but since Ptolemy has chord values accnrate to three places and
the A table is coilquted only to two, it is possible that he used chord values rounded to
two pf aces.

The table dependence test of $3.1 is designed for a single argument table; but A has
two arguments. Although it is possible to perform the tests, the results would be invalid
since tile entries in the reconstructed table of A are not illdependent. Each colmmn,
='The latitudes here a g e c with those iu the latitude table (1I.G).

Chapter 7. SpLwicd A.stronomy (Book II)

Figure 7.11: The nscensional differences table: error plot (T = 1 2 . 5 ~to 13.Sh)

Figure 7.12: The ascensional differences table: error plot (7' = 1 4 ~to l5.Sh)

Chapter 7. SpLcl-ical Astronomj- (Book II)

Figure 5.13: The wcensional differences table: error plot (T = 16" to 17")
for example, uses a single value of

4, and although other factors ensure that the

errors

throughout the column are not equal, they are clealy cleyc~~dent.
To solve the problem,

I construct a new artificial table from tlte table for A, in uldch each entry relies on a
different underlying latitude:

By addiug the entries in each column, a short table for v(4) is created that docs not violate
the independence requirement for the table dependence test. Similarly, the dependence
of A on the declination quotient cannot be tested directly. Illstead, the dependence test
is applied to the table for

where Ptolemy's table for s is constructed by adding the raws of Ptolemy 's table for A.
The tables of v aud s are given in

'7.6.

The last row of the table (for h = 90)is removed from the table for the depeude3m.

Chapter 7. SpLcricai A s troimny (Book 11)

1 Error
1

8
0
0
- 1:

-1
G
-1

Table 7.6: Ptolemy's fiuferred) tables for v(4) and s(X) (11.8)
tests, since P tolemy seems to have noticed that

the lidf time excess expressed in degrees. Thus no calculat.ion is required for this row.

Also, for 4 = 0" (T = l Z h ) the ascciisional difference is zero. Thus the fisst column,
coutrtiuiug tlle right asceusions, is also omitted.

7-32 The dependence on the l a t i t u d e table

I applied the table dependence test with the hypothesis that Ptolemy's latitudes underlie
the table for

~ ( 4 ) .Let dp and

+A

be Ptolemy's and t h cosrect latitudes respectively,

ad let pn be the latitudes reconstructed &om the entries iu the table for v. The values

are fouad by numerical methods. The Spearmkn conclation r for the quantities

(4p- +Rt

- &)

is 0.248, which is not significant. Tbe Wilcoxon signed rank test for

dispersion on the quaatities

Chapter 7. Sphcricd Astro~~omny


(Book If)

124

favours a positive median, with p = 6.7%. I conclude that the table is too accurate to
derive iron.. the table of latitudes. This result favours the second method of calculation,
which bypasses Ptolemy's latitude values. (The level of coilfidence in this conclusion is
no: high, lio~vever,since thew are only ten entries in the table for v($).)
7.3.3

The dependerrce on the declination quotient table

If the reconstructed table for s(X) may be fouild to underlie the ascensional differences
table, it would provicie statistical evidence that the table of declination quotients was used
in actual cdculaiion. To test tlxis, let

D p and DA be Ptole~ng'sand the actual values for

D, and let DR be the d u e s of D reconstructed from Ptolcmy7svalue for s. Again, the


quantities D R axe found by numericd means. Spearman's r for data ( D p- DK,DA- D R )
is 0.714, significaut at the 5% level. The Wilcoso~isigned rank teat for dispersion on the

favours a positive median, but with p = 36.3%. I concludc that the depencience caunot

be supported or refuted on the basis of statistical arguments.


1.3.4

The dependence on rounded values of siut

If Ptolemy used the sacoud method of calculation, it is possible (although lwdly guaraziteed) that, he xsed c l m d values rounded to two places. It may also be possible that
the crsors in this roun&l~.gare large enough to be detected Ijy the table dependence test.
Let the uuderlying sine table be

S =sin$ =

rl (Crd 2 t )

120

'

in accordance with Ptdemp's calculation instructions. f test whether v can be seen to


be Jepeudent on S, defining SF,SA,and

SR as previously, o w e again reconstructing &

Chapter 7. Splmical Astronomy (Book 11)

numerically. The Spewman r for the data

(SF- SR,SA - Sll)


is 0.927, significant at the

I2 % level. The Wilcoxolz signed rank test for dispersion with data

favours a positive medim, but with p = 12.4%' Thus the test does not support or reject
tlic dependexice.

7-3.5 Conclusions
Clearly the summation process to remove dependence between entries decreases the power
of the test, since none of the results are particularly strong. The latitude results support
Ptolemy 's second method of calculation, and since Ptolemy explicitly prefers this method
in the text, I find no cause to doubt that it was actually used. A double argument version
of the table dependence test may be useful here, but it will not be needed for the rest of
this work; thus I do not develop i t here.
7.4

The Table of Zenith Distances and Ecliptic Angles (11.13)

At tire end of Book 11 is a large table giving for a given time and terxestsial latitude
both the distaice between the observer's zenith and the Sun (the zenith distance),
and the angle formed between the ecliptic and the altitude circle passing through the

Sun. Tllese quantities are important for the prediction of eclipses, since p a r d a x affects
the actual altitudes of the Moon wcl Sun. The t&es appear in Book I1 because they
are notl strictly speakiug, directly connected with eclipse tllcory but fall properly within

astronoluical geography.
The zenith distance z m d the angle between ecliptic and dtitude circle 3. (see Figure

7.14) are both fuactions of three arguments: the observer's latitude #, the longitude
of the Sun A, and the time t measured after noon. Both functions are cdculated for

Chapter 7, Spherical Astronomy (Book fl)

seven clzmatn

corresponding to madmum length of daylight T = 1 3 ~ 13i


, h

... .,l G h ;

for longitudes cossesponding to the beginning of each zodiacal sign X = OO. 3 0 $... ,330';
and for each integer hour after noon until the Sun reaches the horizon. (The table
also gives the angle for hours before noon as a separate colum~,but since these are
derived directly by synuuetry from the afternoon angles, they are ignored here.) The
ecliptic angle y is d s o computed at the molnent the Sun reaches the horizon: in this
case z = 90' and t is a function of z in actual calculation (see Table 7.7). Since both
functions are sensitive to chaages in d l three arguments, P tolemy is unable to use his
method of interpolation to simplify the calculations. As a result the table is very large,
and its numerical sensitivity causes occasioiml large errors (especially for s n i d vdues of

4). As a result, the table was not often used by later astroi~orners,~~
The calculation of

r(4, A, t) = ZS

and

$4, A, t ) = LPSZ (see Figure

7.1.) proceeds

as fullows: let S be the Sun, and let ZSA and ZA4B be altitude circles througll the Sun

and through the midheaven

M (the ecliptic point that projects onto the highest point

of the equator, D)respectively. The longitude of Ad may be found by first observing that
the time differem? between S and h l is t ; thus the rigllt ascensions of S aid T differ by

a ( M )= TD = @(A) S 15'

t,

(7.22)

and so

table: by the definition


The longitude of H may be found using the oblique ascc~~sion
of 9, we have

(since

DE =

90').

XCH) is obtained by inverting the fuitction @(A) (treating 4 as a

"0.Neugebauer, HAMA, 52.

Chapter 7. S p l m i c d Astronomy (Book II)

Figure 7.14:Zenith distances and ecliptic angles (11.13)

constant).
The zeuitlr distmce z may now be found through an application of Mendaus' First
Tlreorein on the figure Z A H M . This gives
sin Z A
-sin AS

sin ZD sin H M
sill Ad B sin HS

(7.25)

'

M B = 90' - DZ - M D = 90' - 4 t 6 ( A l ) , we have (after soine sinlplification)

The angle

between' the ecliptic a11d the altitude circle xn;vbe found from z tlirougl~

an application of h/lenelausl Second Theorem on the figure S K X H , where K X L is the

great circle wit11 pole S. This gives

- sin Ii'X
sin A K siilSA
siuXL

.-ssini nWS HL '

S H = X(H) - A, this gives


cos y = - cot z cot (A(W)

- A).

(7.28)

Tlre tables for z and y are reproduced in Table 7.7 as they appear in 11.13. Symmetries
reduce the number of z values required, but no symmetries apply to

7.14

The errors are

calculated using Ptolemy's values for 4. For tlle last entry in c i ~ subtable,
h
the argunmzt

t is found so that

z = 90". For these entries tlie error in T is coinputed assuming tirat,

t is as giveu. The table exhibits many large errors, especially for small d u e s of &, and
the entry for y (3G0,18Q0,5") clearly contains a scribal or typographical error,
13The point 1' on the great circle K X L furthest removed from the circle Z S K must lie 90 reanoved
from I<, sicce S is the pole of ICXL. But since Z S K is an altitude circle, IC is the point on the great
circle IL'XL furthest below the horizon. Hence Y must be on the horizon, which gives Y = X and
EX' = 90.
14For (5 = 16;2 7 O , it is possible for the midheaven M to pass to tile otber side of the zenith, causing
a problem in representation. Ptolerny marks these entries; I rescale tlmn to fit the formulas.

Error
0

Error

0
-19
-8
-21
-24
1
-12
-1

-13
-1
11
6
18
1
/

z(4, X , t )

t
0

28; 7

7 ( 4 , A , t ) Error

Error
0

111; 0

II

X = 240"
t

z($, X , t )

0
1
2
3
4
5

36;51
39;46
47;15
57;33
69;30
82;18
90;0

5;35

Error

( A t )

102;30
125;12
143; 5
156;3
164;48
171;43
174;51

-1
0

-2
-I
-2
-5

Error

-6

-9

8
-7
4
-3

Chapter 7. Sphericd .4stro~omy(Book 11)

r(Q;,
X,t)

40;18

Error
0

~ ( 1 3 5X ~, t )
90; 0

130

Error
0
0
-1

0
1
0

-1
Error
0

t ) Error
4;47
0

z($,X,

y(d,X,t)

69; 0

Error
-3

-1

0
-2
-1
-2
-5

Error
0
-1
0
-8
1.
i
0

Error
2
6
8

-7
28
55
-4

-7

:Fl=G=FF
z ( 4 , A, t f

Error

Error
0
-2
-9

-5
I0
-13

-3

X = 120"

t
0

z ( 4 , A, t ) Error

3;21

t
0

y(4, A, t)

Error

Error

102;30

3
6
-5
-7
-13
13
7

z(q5,X,t)

Error

y(+,X,t)

Error

Error

12;11

111; 0

2
3
5
3
-16
-9
-1

Chapter 7. Spherical Astroazomy (Book 16)

Error
0
-1

-1
-3
-3

-4
-1
A = 300"

y (4, A, t ) Erro
90; 0
0
108; 3
1
123;31
-1
135;37
-4
144;5'7
-3
152; 0
-13
153;46 0

z(q5,A,t)

35;31

Error
0

li

-1
-9
-5

II
-12
I

- -

t
0

Error

y((5,X,t)

69; 0

--

Erro
-3
-11

-PO
-12
-18
8
2

z($,X,t)

P2;11

Error
-3

Error
0

y(4, X , t )

Error

~ ( 4A ,,t ) Error

69; 0

-2
-9
-2

-14
12
-21
-66

---- 5

Chapter 7. Spherical As troimmy (Book 11)

11

G;31
14;5B
27;23
40;19
53;14
65;55
78;15
9@;0
-

I l(d,A, t )

o j

9;52

-1

0 '
-42
0

0
1
2
3

0
2
2
3
1

r)
L.

-5

3
0

5
6

y(4, A, t ) Errol

Error

----T--I

-- -

Error

Error

Error
0

y ( 4 , A, t)
102;30

Error

z(4, X , t )
42; 2

Error
9
0

A, )
102;30
118;39

Error
2
-5

Chapter 7. Splericd Astroimry. (Book IT)

Error

933

Ehor

~ ( 4A, ,t ) Error

-2
-3
3
-4

Error

-2

-9
-5

-7
-1
-19
-1

Error
0
0

~ ( 4A,t ) Error
69; 0

87;32

-1

102;38

113;33
120;56
125;54
127;55

1
0
3

Error
0
1
1
-1
-1
0
0
-4

Error
-2
-12
1
-2
-4
-8
0
1

---

Chapter 7. Spherical As troilomy (Book 11)

q5 = 36"

Error
0
2
-10
0
1
1.

1
2
0

y(#, A, t) Error
90;0
0
133;14
-9
147;45
6
151;46
-4
151;52
-2
149;54
0
146;25
I
141;30
2
140; I
1

Error

8
-5

Error
2
-2
-7

-23
-1
2
-4
-13
-5

4
6
-3018
-2

Error
0
-2
0
0
1

2
6

Error
3
-3
-2
0
4

-9
4

Error
2
-4
-1
1
-2
5

Chapter 7. Spherical Astronomj- (Book II)

t
0

z ( d , X , t ) Error
56;30

136

r(#,X,t) Error
77;30

t
0

-2

Error

z ( 4 , X, t)

24;20

-12
-10

-1
I

Error

Error

-3

0
-2
0
0
1
2

-1
- 14

-1

-8

-8
-5

t
0
1
2
3
4
5
6

7
7;4

Error
0
1
1
-1
-1
-1
0
1
-10

7
y(+, A, t ) Error
77;30
114;32
130;19
135;37
137;ll
136; 5
133;10
-8
128;39
-17
i28;36

Chapter 7, Spherical Astronomy (Book II)

Eno
-

Error
0
-31
-11
5
-2
3
2

0
-13
1
-3
-4

-3
-5
-1
0
-

Error
0

0
0
0
0

-2
2
3
-3
\ = 12
Enor
0
-1
1
1

0
-1
3

-1

-8

z($, A,

t> Error

52;36
54;23
59;25

66;58
76;15
86;38
90; 0

Error

0
-1
-2
-2
-1
1
3

X = 211
Error
0
0
-4
-4
-3
3

3
-6

-3
-2
-8
-11

~ ( 4A,, t ) Error
102;30
115; 5
126;29
136;lO
143;45
148; 6

2
-4
-8
0
2
3

"(4, A, t ) Ersor
64;47

66;15
?Or30
77; 4

-1
-2
-1
-5

85;18
90; 0

-2

yjq5, A , i )

90; 0
102;27
113;35
122;55
130;58
134;16

Error
0
7
-2
-3-9

-3
0

t
0
1
2
3
4
5
6

X = 300"

z(4, A, t) Error ~ ( 4A,, t ) Error


40;56
43; 8
49; 7

0
-1

57;42
6'7;50
78;45
90; 0

-1
2
2
0

66; 9
82;15
95;56
105;26
111; 5
114;17
115;13

0
-3 1
-11
6
-1
3
8

X = 30"
Error
0

Error

-1

-8

1
0

-1
-1
-8
Error

0
0
0
0

0
-2
2

3
-3

-3

-6
-5

-6
-7
-2
-2

7. SpliefiA Astronomy (Botk II)

z(+,A, t ) Erro
21;10
0
24;32
7
32;12
-2
42; 1
1
52;29
1
"3;4
2
73;24
1
83;"i'
6
90; C.
0

--

Error
0

---

z(+,A,t)

Error

45; 1

( , A )
113;51

Errol
0

-11

-1
-3

-1
2
0
-1

0
z(0, A, t ) Error

56;41
58;19
62;49
69;42
78;16
87;56
90; 0

i;'
65;15

75;39
7
7;28

85;39
90; 0

0
2
-1
X = 1:

z ( 4 , A, t ) Error

33;21

-1

35;43
42; 4
50;46
60;44
71;12
81;46

1
0
1
0
-1

6:48

90: 0

-3

2
3
4
5

t
0

0
2

-1
-2

-1
0
3

X = 241
z(4,X,t) Error y ( 4 , X , t ) Error
65;31
0
2
102;30

Chapter 7. SphericaJ -4stronomy (Book I f )

T
z ( $ , A,

t ) Error

*/($i+
A, t ) Error

90;0

2
0
1

0"

4332

z(#,X,t)

Error

yf$, X,t)

65;31

SG$5
70;58
77;14
85;lO
90; 0

-1
-2
-2
-3

77;30
88;50
99;21
108;19
115;20
118;25

Error
0

-1

i:
0
1
2
3
4

140

Error
-2
- 10
-8

-3

1
0
X =3
Error
0
1

5
5

0
1

0
-1
-3
X = 61
Error

Error

-2
2
-2

-4

-6

X = 330"

Error

Error
-2

C
1
0
3

-1
2
0

2
-1

-65
-1
-10
-6
-11
-3

-6

-4
P

y (c), A, t )

Error

90;0
11 1;44

0
-9

126; 7
133;18
136; 6
436; 4

-1
-3
-1
-1
-1.
-1
-2

134;0
130;16
124;58

Error
2
-3
-2
-2

-P
-3
-2

Error
0

-14
-2
-5
1
3
-1

Error
3
-6

2
0
-6
18
20

-2

-1

Error

2
-8
-6
-3
-5
-1

Chapter 7. Sp1zerica.I Astrouomy (Book 11)

142

z ( 4 , A, .t)

0
1
2

48;32
50;21
54;59
62; 5

3
4
5

70;41

Error
0
7
-1
0
I

80; 8

~ ( 4A,, t )

Error

66; 9
78;48
89;58
98;4

0
-14
-1
5
2
3
1

103;36
106;41

-t
0

a(q5, A, t ) Error
69; 2
0

( 4 , A, )
77;30

Error

-2

Error

Error

-2

-7
-5
-6

-5
-7
-6
-6

-5
Table 7.7: Table of zenith distances and ecliptic angles (11.13)

Chapter 7. Sphericill Astronomy (Book II)

7.4.1

T h e dependence of z and y on t h e latitude table

Tlte tables for z ;.and y both use tlic terrestrial latitude # as an argument, calculated
for seven climata. These latitudes correspond to the values

T = 13h, 13iL,.. . , 1 6 ~for

the leugtlr of the longest clay. The values of T are in fact given in the tables. It is thus

amturd to ask whether z and y may Be seen to depend on the latitude table q5(T).
Several difficulties arise in considcsing this dependeuce. First, similarly to the ascensional differencestable, t l ~ eunderlying table $(TI contains far fewer entries than the two
deperderlt tables. This violates the assumption of statistical independence required for
the test, since niany of tlie dependent table's entries rely on each entry of the underlying

table. Second, tlre approach taken \rith the ascensional differences table (constructing
an artificial table by smnuling the entries in tlre depeiideut table for each entry in the

uitelerlyi~lgtable) casliot apply lrere. The function y sometiiues increases and sometimes
decreases with rcspect to t. Thus a systematic bias caused 11y a flawed underlying value
of

# affects diffcrcnt eiitries in clifferent ways, some

posi t i d y and others negatively,

resulting in caiccllation of errors wllclr the entries are summed.


Histograms of errors in r and y, with both the accurate

4 and with Ptolemy's 4,

appear in Figures 7.15 and 7.16. Clearly, even clisregarding the problem with the in-

dependence assumptions, the error clistributions are too close to be able to distinguish
between the magnitudes of errors usiug Ptolemy's
7.4.2

The dependence of 7 on

4 and the correct 4.

Since y depends on z in Ptolemy's demonstration, it seerus likely that the table for .y
was

coustructecl from t l ~ ctable for r. The table dependcncc test is applied, tsir!~z as the

nadedgiug talAe and y as the dependent table. Where t = 0 the function is indq>endent

of 4, ard where a = 90" the depenrlcnce is obvious since

z is used to derive

t. These

Error (Mmutes)

Figure 7.15: Histograins of errors in

for both accurate and Ptolemy's latitudes (11.13)

Correct p h ~

Enor (Minutes)

Figure 7.16: Histog~amsof errors in y for both accurate a i d Ptolemy's latitudes (11.13)

Chapter 7. Spherical Astronomy (E3t)odi II)

145

elltries are removed frcm consideration. The rem(zining entries for 7 are (theoretically)

The test performed on 77 represcnt,xtive entries of "Le table produced n Spearman

- xn, ZR - z A ) of 0.139, significmt but imt large. The Wilcoxon test


for spread gives a posithe median for the quantities I zp - Z A I - I ZR - r,: 1 (a7 = 2149,
correlation on ( z r

n~ediai1=0.01400)with p = 0.001. I conclude that the taLle for y is more accurate than

the z vdues would allow.

On the face of it tlus is a surp~isiugresult, since the 7 values are often very inaccurate,
However, the y function is numerically sensitive in many regions. Perhaps Ptolemy used
vdues of z containing more sexagesimal places than those displayed in order to calculate
y with greater accuracy.
7.5

Summary of Results

The conclusiom to be drawn from t l ~ etables on astronomical geography are mixed. The
gnomou slladow length tables may be seen to depend on the latitude tablc in certain
regions, but overall the test is inconclusive. The test for dependence of the rising times

t.able on the latitude table suggests (wealdy) that the rising times table is too accurate
to have beeu computed from the latitude table, favouriug Ptolemy's second method

of calculation by declination quotients. Finally, the zenith distance and ecliptic-altitude


circle angles tables may or may not depend on the latitude table, but the ecliptic-altitude
circle table is too accurate to depeild on the zenith dista~lretable. This suggests that
sengesimal pIaccs beyond those displayed for

were kept

i:i

the cdculation of 7.

Chapter 8

Solar T h e o r y (Book 111)

8.1

Hipparchus' Solar M o d e %

Book III of the A h a g e s t cont&is an account of the motion of tlie Sun that was dready
a well-establishecl theory by Ptoleiny's time. Ptolemy himsdf often refers to Hipparcllrus'

use of and justificstion for the solax model preseutccl there, but it is possible that it dates
as far back as Apollonius.' By observatioiis Hipparchus (or predecessors) discovered t h t

the Sun takes longer to travel from the v e r i d equinox to tllc south point of the ecliptic
than any of the other three quadrants, and this led to tlre uecessity of an eq~xationto
describe the Sun's changing velccity on the ecliptic.
Almayaest 111.3 preseuts two moclcls to accouat for the variations in solar velo,lcty,

The eccentric model places the Earth E at a location sliglitly removed from the centre
of the Sun's orbit C (Figure 8.1). This produces different q,parent anglcs for different
quadrants of tlre ecliptic in such a way that tlie observed seasonal lengths arc accouiited
for by uiliform motion ou the appropriate orbital arcs. Tlte eccentricity e , the distance

from the centre of the Eartk to the centre of the deferent (orbit), is mcnsured with
respect tc the radius of the deferent. In most of his planetary models Ptolenry gives this
raclius ail arbitrary d u e AC = 60". From this he finds

. . .[EC]x 2;29iPwhere the radius of the eccentre [dchrent] = 60P.


IO. Pedersen, Suruey, 331.

Cliapter 8. Solar Theory (Book III)

Figure 8.1: The ecceritric nod el of solits motion


Tlrelrefore the radius of the eccentre is approximately 24 times the distance
between the centres of the ecceutre and the e ~ l i p t i c . ~
Later Ptolemy uses e = 2; 3 0 P , "according to the ratio 24:lP3 which derives from Hipparchus' fjnctings."

The epicyclic model (Figure 8.2) places the Earth E i ~ tthe centre of the deferent
circle, and the vnriatiou in the Sun's velocity is accounted for by placing the Sun on

Chapter 8. Solar Theory (Book IrI)

Figure 8.2: The epicyclic model of solar motim


a smaller circle, the epicycle. The Sun rotates on

the epicycle with the same angular

velocity (ineasured froi~lthe point H) as the epicycle's centre G m'tates around the

Earth E, but in the opposite direction. The effect is that the radius GS of the epicycle
dways poixlts in the direction of thc solar apogee E A a t every point of its orbit, leading

to the same s o l a orbit as the eccentric model if the epicycle's radius r is set equal t;o the
eccentricity e of the previous model. Ptolerny prefers the ecceutric model in lGs further
work, since ':that is simpler and is performed by meails of m e motion ir~stcadof two"."
The epicyclic model was more useful in other plmetasy moclcls, wlwe Ptolerny changed

the velocity of the planet on the epicycle to account for anom;tlies in the planets' mokitioxxs.

8.2

T h e Solar Equation Table (111.6)

Tl;c progr(znmc to cakulate the solar position for a given time t proceeds according to the
nzetliod of rueau longitude and equation, Ptolemy determines X A = 65; 30,measuring
from tlie vernal equinox. Given t one majr calculate LACS =

a m ( t ) (Figure

8.1) using

the rileall luatiou tables (see $5.2); from (5.1) we recall


Xnz

( t )= a,, ( t )

XA

(8.1)

wl~ich~ P I L C S ~ L ~A,),
C S (t) . TOdetermine a ( t ) and X(t ) P tolemy must find the solar equation
q(a,,) = LCSE. Once the equation has been fouild the true argument a ( t j = LAES is

To find q(an,j Ftolemy drops a perpendicular EL onto CS, extended if necessary

(Figure 8.1). From this diagram

a,

= LACS = 180- L S C E , wlrich gives

LC = e cos a,,,7

and

E L = e sin a,.

(8.4)

Adding CL to C S gives LS; from the right triangle ALES we have

ES = J(e sin an,)'

qfa,,,) = sin-'

EL

+ (60 + e cos u.,

12.

(8.5)

e sin a,,,

- = sill-'
ES
J(e sill a , ) 2 + (60 + e cos a,)'

6bcalf Ptnlcmy uses trigonoinetric procedures based on chords rather than modern trigonometric
funcdons. The following discussiou is a trau@!at,ionto modern terminology.
'Note LC is negative as portrayed in the diagram. I leave the sign as is to preserve the addition at
the U C X ~stage.

Chpter 8. Solar Tlteoq- (Book 1I1)

(Note that Ptoleniy could have avoided the cdculation of E S by

EL
q(am) = tall- - - tan-'

LS

e sin a,,
60 e cos a,,

'

bnt with only the chord table Ire was unable to perform an operation equivalent to .wi
inverse tangent .)
The table, which Ptolemy calculates for a,,, E { G o , 12'. . . . 90,
93", . . . ,180), is re?

computed in Table 8.1 with au error plot in Figure 8.3. Symmetry dloms Ptolelny to
ignore calc~~lation
for a,,, > 180,Since it is unclear horn the text whether Ptolemy uses
e = 2; 29f' or e = 2; 30,

1 recompute with both values. In either case considerably more

than half tlle entries agree with the correct value according to modern rouilding. Since
it seems unlikely that a consistent error bias dniost precisely balances the difference betwee~lmodern rou~rclingand truucation, I assume modern rouudmg was used. The errors
suggest e = 2; 20;'

in the

was used, even though e = 2; 30' is used in the sample calculatiom

B. van Dalcn's estimatorg also favours e = 2; 20i0, but on the face of it the

esxors seem to contain depende~ices,placing the estimator's results in some question.

8.3

The Selection of a, Values

The choice to increment the function argument a , in units of Go up to a, = 90' and by


3' thereafter to 180' is unusual, m d persists throughout the Alrnapzd for tables of an
argumei~tranging between 0 and 180.Ptolemy states:

h general, both for the sus m d other bodies, we &-&led the qun.ch-ants
near the apogee [a, < 90"j into 15 subclivisions ( t h s in these quadrants

the i n t e r d of tabulation is 6"f, and the quadrants near the perigee into
8Ahnagest (IIE.5), 158, IGO, 162, 164.
"I3. vau Lialeu, aA statistical method for recovering unknown para~rrctersfrom medieval ;~s;tsaimnical
wbles", [122], 85-145.

Chapter 8. Solar Theory (Book III)

Errors
0 0
-1 -1
0 -1
0 0
0 0
0 0
-1 -1
0 -1
0 0
0 0
0 -1
0 0
0 -1
0 -1
0 0

Errors
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 -1
0 -1
0 0
0 0
1 0
1 1
1 1
0 0
0 0
0 0

Table 8.1: The solar ecpation table (111.6). The first error is computed for e = 2; 29f O;
ihe second error for e = 2; 30.

Figure 8.3: Sofar equation table (111.6): error plot

30 sul)&virisions (tftus in these the intervd of tabulation is 3"). The reason

is that the differences betweal [successive] equations of auorndy, for equal


subdivisions [of the argument], are greater near the perigee than i l e a the
apogee. lo
Lu other worcls, Ptolemy cl&m he halves the spacing of a,,, fos the latter part, of the table

because of the increased rate of chailge of the functioil t,l~ere.However, the graph of the
function is nearly symmetrical (Figure 8.4j. Tlle greatest difference of q corresponding
to a Go change in a,, i z the latter part of the table is 0;lG for a , = 1 7 4 O to 180,as
opposed to 0;14 for a,, = C0 to Go, hardly cause to halve the increments of a,,,. Ptole~ny
employs the G0/30 increment scheme in many tables througIlout t l ~ eAhagest, including
some planetary tables where the greatest change per unit of argument occurs early in the
table. In several tahks, in fact, tlre entries corresponding to arguments 9 3 O , 9g0,.. . ,177"
are not computed at all but merely interpolated. Thus I believe Ptolemy wished to fit
the table into the 45-Zine page height (see note 1, Chapter 5) and standardize a grid of
argunlents tlirougliout the Almagest. He chose to halve the spacing in the latter parts of
tif.bles rather t l w l the former part since most tables do in fact exhibit a slightly larger
rate of ckauge for arguments aear 180" over arguments near 0'.

8.4

Error Clustering

-4t &st glance, the enors in the solar equation table appear to exhibit clustering, wlrich
suggests the possibility of some local method of citlcula\'ictn jucll as interpolation. The

error clustering test of 53.2, applied to the errors of the solar equation table (using
e = 2; 29;), gives

Chapter 8. Solar Theory (Book 111)

Degrees

Figure 8.4: The solar equation function: a, E [0,180]


and from this,

= 0.0037979. I applied the simulation 10,000 times to produce a

reference distribution, arbd comparison of the actual number of runs (9) of errors in the
table to the reference distribution. From this I obtained
984
p(runs 5 9) = ----- = 9.84%,
10000

(8.9)

uot a significant result. This table is a good example of the effect described in 53.2, since
the lag 1 autocorrela.tiolt of the errors is significantly positive (0.628).
8.5

Interpolation for Odd Values of a,

As suggested earlier, It is possible that the entries of the table corresponding to odd
i-dues of a, were not

calculated directly, but rather were interpolated between the entries

corresponding to even a,,. Tft- interpolation grid test of 33.3 gives the following node

ranks:

Chapter 8, Sofar Theory (Book In)

154

The probability of a sum of ranks as great as or greater than the observed 22 is 0.696.
Thus I conclude there is no evidence in favour of interpolation on the suggested grid.

Chapter 9
Lunar Theory (Books TV, V)

The Moort x7asby far tltc. most difficult and the most important object for ancient astrolioiners to lraulle. Its proximity to the Esrtli allows for easy detection of irregularities

i i its
~ motion, rcndeiiug simple ki~lenlaticmodels inadequate to match observations. Also,
the Moon is tlx only objcct that exhibits parallax discernilde to the naked eye, and it
travels up to 5' away fro111 the ecliptic. These complications hamper the accurate predicposition, esseiitial to the psecliction of both lunar and solar eclipses.
t i m of the ~IOOIL'S
Ptolemy's sscdution to the problem of lunar motion follo~vsthree stages. In Book IV

he presents the 111zsicmode!, similar to tlie epicyclic model for solar motion. That this
theory is bzecl only upon ob~ervat~ions
at eclipses implies that the model is probably
reliable only at Sun-h/icmi syzygies (since eclipses happen only at these times). When
Ptolemy obserucs the Mom at Sun-XIoon quadratures

(1

X(h4oon)

- X(Sun) 1%

90),he

finds sufficient clisagreenicnt between ~Bservationsand the predictions of the basic model
t o proceed to a secoad and consideri~blymore coinples lunar model, preseirted in V.2-

V.4. Another ;tdjmtmcr~tis required when Ptolemy finds an inaccuracy in the second
model's preclictcd positior~sat the octants

9.1

(1

X(Moon) - X(Sun) 1% k 4s0,1; odd).

The First Lunar Model

E a d ~lunar moctel i~~mdlllcs:


the precliction of longitude and latitude separately. The Moon's
orbit takes place ou a c i d c tilked at ciO from the ecliptic. Tlle line containing the nodes,
the locations of intersection betmcm tlie ecliptic and the deferent, rotates westward

Chapter 9. Lui1.w Theory (Books IT;, 1')

Figure 9.1: The first l u i w model's inclinatiorl from the echptic


about 0; 3" per day (see Figure 9.1). For the purpose of lor~gitudecalculation, however,
tile orbit is assumed to be concentric with the ecliptic, wl~ichintroduces a small error
(up to 6')l but grcatly siiupfifies the calculations. Since Ptolcmy coilcerns himself more

with predicting the Moon's position tllau with describing of the true state of the Moon's
orbit in the heavens, this separation of longitude and latitade calculation is a natural
step.
The first lunar model, essentially idelltical to the solar epicyclic modcl (see $8.1),
utilizes the motiou of the Moon on the epicycle to account fur variations iu the Moon's
velocity. The Earth E is at the centre of the deferent circle, .\rhicLhas a racliirs of R = 60
units (Figure 9.2). The centre of the epicycle G rotates with constant angu1;tr velocity wl
around the deferent, and the Moon 34' rotates with constani angular velociiy w, around

G . Since wt # w, the sit~qdeeccentric moctd of the solar thclsry does not suffice, although
Ahagest W.G, 191; 0.Neugebauer, RAM& 83.

Chapter 9. Lztaiu T h e o q ~(Books


~
117, V)

157

it is possible to devise an cquivdent theory whereby the Moon travels on a large deferent
circle wliose cen tre rota t cs around a sinaller circle centred at the Earth. Ptolemy adopts
the epicyclic tlicory, siwc it is b e t t e ~suited to handle the changes to be intposed in the

sc cond model.

9.2 The First Lunar Equation Table (IV.10, V.8)


The Moon's loiigi tude is calculated, as usual, by first determining the mean longitude
aud then adding or sublracting an cquation to account for the variation introduced by
the epicycle. Tht~s,as i n the solar tl~eory,we have
A"#)

= wt ' t

+ A,,, (0),

where A,,(O) = 41;22" is given. The quantity wt . t may be found using the lunar
mean motion ill longitude table (sce Chapter 6).

LGEM (Figure 9.2),

The equation of anomaly p =

thc arc subtcilded by the epicycle's radius as seen from Earth,

~ a r i e si n d e p e n ~ l ~ ~of~ ~
A,,.t l yThe

first step in its calculation is to find the argument of

anomaly a = LHGM:

tvkere a ( 0 ) = 268; 4-9' and w, t may be found from the lullas mean motiou in anomaly

table. The eqmtiou of anomdy p ( a j is determined by tlrc value of the argument of


anomaly.

This gi:i\xsthc lunar loi~gif ude:

The equation of mouraly p(ui is in a sense identical to the soiar equatiou of centre up
to the eyuivdetlce of tlw eccentric a d qkyclic models, and Ptolemy's calculations are
Almagesf nr.5,181.

Tlmxy (Books Il i,
Chapter 9. LUZMK.

identical to tkosc given in the solar ep


dropped from the h400n 34 to EGH (Figure 9.?). Then a = LHGM gives

MI< = r sin a

GK = cos a,

and

(9.4)

where r = Gh4 = E, 15 units is the radius of the epicycle. (Ptolemy uses 5;15, presumably
rounding &om two calcnlntions that give 5;13 and 5;14.4) h o r n AICEM wc have

E h l = ~11119 (EG + GI<)==

( r sin a)2

+ (GO + r cos a)'.

(9.5)

Finally
p ( a ) = sin-'

MK
ME

-- sin-'

J ( r sin a)'

r sin a
(60

cos a)'

The analogy to t l ~ esolar theory is clear. Again, the simplificc~tion

MK
I
r sinn
p(u) = tan" -- tanEK
60 rcosa

might have been nrade, if Ptolemy had been able to calculate an arc tangent.

Tbe table for y(u) al)pears twice, in Book IV with the basic theory (IV. lo), and also
in Book V as an iuterrnccliate stage in the computation of the completed lunar tlreory

(V.8). The table iu IV.10, calculated for a E {Go,lZO,. . . ,90,


93", . . . ,180") is given
with r e c o q u t i ~ t i o nia Table 9.1 and aa error plot in Figure 9.3. Symmetry gives p ( a )
far a

> 180horn the tdmlated

entries. Curiously, the table in V.8 differs ill two entries

from that in IV.10, for (I = 120and 123", where 11 = 4; 32 slid 4; 25 respectively instead.
of 4; 31 and 4; 24.

For the latter half of the table the parameter r = 5 ; 15 seems in littlc doubt, arid
the table is quite accurate. However, for u ( 90" eight of tltc fifteen entries are too low.
Recsmputatious with tire smaUer yalnes of T implied in 1V.G do not produce good zuatcltes
3Almagest W.9, 209.
4Ahrrage& W . 6 , 197, 202.

ivitl: these entries. Corrqmrisca with accurate cdcnlation and the use of truncation
instead of rouu(1ii~gat tlic final stage, Itowever, yields seven errors (five positive and two
x~cgative),and five of tlrcse errors are only a little above

unit in the last place.

Figure 9.2: The first limar model

Error

93
96
99
102
105
108
111
114
117
120
123
126
129
132
135

-1

-1
0
-1
-1
-1
0
0
-1
-1
0
1
0
-1

Error
-1
0
0

0
0
0
0
0
0
-1
0
0
0
0
0

Error
0

0
0
C
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
1

1
0

Table 9.1: First lunar equation of anomaly table (IV.10)

Figure 9.3: i-lrst lunar equation of anomaly tal~le:error plot

Chapter 9. Lnuar Tlrcoly (Books W, I/*)

9.2.1

162

Error ciusteririg

The errors in the table suggest clusicring, but ia this table tlie effect does not seem to be
significant. Thc error clustering test of 53.2 was applied t o the IV.10 table (the sta9tist;cs
happen to be iclcuticd to the V.8 taLle). From
p(--

< 1'- < -)2


2
E

30
= - = 0.68182,
44

(9.8)

I found o = 0.0061884. The reference distribution producetl by the simulation gives


p(runs

1436
< 10) = = 14.36%.
10000

(9.91

Thus the 16 runs of error in the table do not give a significant result.
9.2.2

Interpolation for odd values of a

The interpolation test is itpplied to the table for a

> 90'

uilder the hypothesis t1,at each

odd entry was iuter-polatcd. The entries are grouped as

The ranks of error for the lq-pothesized nodes are

The probability of a sum-of ranks as great or greater than the observed 23 is 0.500. Thus

I find no evideucc of intcrpolatioii for the odd d u e s of a.


3.3

The Secorid and Third Lunar 1Models

T'ae first. model is Gascd entirely rrpo~leclipse observrttions, at which times the Mom's

longitude may be cldenuinerf by h i l i n g the Sun's longitude kom the solar tlieory of Book

Ifl (siuce X(Moou) = X(Sun) at solar eclipses, and X(Mooa) = X(Sun) i 180" at lunar
eclipses). Tllc first half of B o d V is dedicated to improving the model's match to the
Moon's longiturlc at tinles other than syzygies, and begins by describing an instrument to
allow accurate mcasurerncnt of tlle Moon's position at any time (V.1). Ptolemy concludes
ikon1 his observzttions that the variations iu the Moon's longitude from the mean lo~gitude
clue to the epicycle are &out 50% larger at tlie quadratures
than at the syzygies. This causes an error of up to about 2:'

(1

X(Moon) - X(Sun)

1%

90')

in the Moon's longitude at

the quadraturcs . The discovery of this difference, now Emown as the evection, has been

cdled 'one of Ptolemyk greatest personal contributions to ast~onorny".~


To account for the evcction P toleiny retains the essence of the Hipparcllian epicyclic
model, but adds a device to bril~gtlte epicycle closer to the Earth at quadratures. (It
would have been a violatioll of the laws of uniform circular motion to bypass this device
by permitting t.lie epicycle to change its actual size.) The distance E G from the Earth
to the epicycle ccntre (Figure 9.4) lnttst remain at 60 units at syzygies, but must reach
a minimum distance of 39;22 units at quadratures. To accomplish this, Ptolemy places

the centre
called

of t-he dcicrent circle on a smaller circle centzed at the Earth E, later

the circul.its parvus. As C rotates around the Earth and G rotates around C,

the distance from G to C reaches its maximum of 60 units w h n EC and CG form


s fine (Figure 9.5(a)), and reaches a nlirGmuin of 39322 uuits when CG doubles back
on EC (Figure S.ri(b)). Tlrus the eccentricity, the radins of the circulus pawus, is
e = EC

= f (GO - 38; 22) = 10;10 uxlits.

The radii EC and CG (Figure 9.4) rotate in opposite directions, but the epicycle
centre C; rotates with constant a q d a r velocity 116th sespect to E rather than

(a

violation of u d o r m circular motion ignored by Ptolemy). The mean longitude of the

S w , observed from Earilr, is always precisely between the apogee A and the epicycle's

Chapter 9. Lz1ua.r Theory (Books IT',

1,)'

164

centre G. Thus the centrum (c = LAEG) increases at a co~tst~alit


rate, precisely twice
the augular velocity of tlle centre of the deferent C about the Earth with respect to the
meair Sun:
c = 2 {A,,, ( AZoon) - A, (Sun)).

(9.10)

The motion of t . 1 Moou


~
on the epicycle is independent of the centrum, thus also of the
Sun's position.
Figure 9.5 illtlstratcs the behaviour of the model. At the begisming of a syilodic
montllG (a), the mean S u and mean Moon coincide and the epicycle is at its greatest.
distance from Earth. Aftcr about 7'; days the itlean Moon is 90" ahead of the mean Sun
(b). A t this point the cpicgcle centre G has moved 180" dong the deferent, nleasured

h m the moving apogee A of the deferent. After mother 7; days the mean Moon and
Sun are in opposition ( c ) halfway througl~the syuodic month, G has rmdc a complete
revdution arouild the clcferent, again coincicling with A. Three quarters of the way
though the sy~iodicrnontli (d), the liiean Sun and mean Moon are again at quadrature
and the epicycle is as close as possible to the Earth. Finally the system returns to sti~te
(a) at the end of the month, except that the Sun is now about 30" further on its path
almg the ecliptic7

This device substantid1y improves the prediction of lunar longitude at t h quadrants,


at the cost of a much more complex model. Ptoferny aext evaluates the performance of the
model at the octailts aid finds it sufficielltly unsatisfactory to require a third model. Since
"The synodic month begills ancl ends with the conjunction of the mean Moon G and the Incan
Sun. Since the Mooil and Sun travel in the same direction along the ecliptic, this implies the Moon rnust
make slightly more than one trip around the ecliptic (a tropical month) to return to t l ~ cSun, which
has moved about 30' further abng the ecliptic ill this time. Tlze syuodic mouth is rougllly 294 days iu
Iengf;lt.
7Xote that this model allom the 340011to move as close as 39; 22 5 ; 15 = 34; 7 uuits from the Earth,
m d as far as 60 -i5;lti = 65;15 units, although the apparent size of the Moon c h a n p only dightIy.
S i c e he cannot simply kaw ot~rloolredsucli a severe failure of Iris theory, this provides further evidence
that Ptolenly regarded the model simply as a device to predict the Xloon's longitude rather than
an

accurate descriptiou of

the heavens.

Figure 9.4: The second

i~llClthird

lunar rnoclcls, to scale

(bl After 1/4 syn~dicmonth

(c) After B j 2 synodic month


{Meanoppositim)

(d) After 3/4 synodic month

Figure 9.5: The second l w a r rimdel through the course of a synodic month

tlie discrepancy is largest at the octaiits the cllange lo the modd must be determind 1-y
the location of tllc meal) Sun. An account of tile reasoning Lcki11cf Ptolemy's refinzrncnt
is unnecessary to this ~ o ~ lsince
i , it does not a&ct tlie uunmical tables. For the secoxkd
xnoclel, the reference poiut for the measuremeat

cif

the allg~llil~
speed of the Rfoo~ian the

epicycle is A, (Figure 9.4); thus a, = ~ ' 4 , G n fincreases s t a consti~ntrate. In the third


model Ptolerny replaces -4, with A,,,, where .4,,, is defined as the intersection of tlie line
joining Z (the poifit opposite C on the circulws pantus) and G, and the

fiu

side of the

epicycle. Thus A,,, movcs from one side of A, to the other, cawing the Moon to move
with non-uniform speed on the epicycle awl allowing the Sun's longitude to affect the
h4oon's positioxl on the cpicycle thso~igl~
the point Z.

9.4 The Calculatioir of Lunar Longitude


The deterrninatioil of 11ix~r
longitude nt a given time t requircs a number of trigonometric
calculations. Ptolerny l q i n s by finding those arcs that change at a constant rate korn
the mean motiou tables. Thus, A, ( t ) for the Moon may be found by (9.11,and the mean
cznorndy a,, ( t )= L A,,GAI (Figure 9.4) Is found by
a,, ( t ) = i3,

where w, and a,,,(O)

(9.11)

t -k a,, (O),

are given constants. Then, since A, ( t ) ior the Sun

rimy

be found

from t l ~ esolar tllcoq., we have the ccntrum c ( t ) froin (9.10). The equrttion of centre
q = LEGZ = LA,,,GA, is the arc of difference between the ulcan and true spagees of the

epicycle and dcpcids

0 1 i l ~on

c. From this,

Finally, the equation of anomaly p is, as in the first ~noclel,the angulu &fferace
between the epicycle's cclitre and the Moon, seen from Earth. It may kc foorrnd hona a,

and c. Then

q q = &n(t>+ P(G,c )
gives the luu

itudc.

Calculating t l ~ cfuilctioas q(cj and p(a,, c) requires extensive use of trigonometry, and

P t,olemy provides cxamplcs of their calculaittcion in V.6 prior to their tabular presentation
iir V.8. Ptolemy's metl~oclof solutioll is as follows.
Figure 9.G sl~onrsa typical position of the lunar orbit. I follow Piolemy and remove the
cir~ulusP(LTZ)ILS fsoin the drawing, leaving CE = E Z = e = 10; '19. Drop perpen&culaxs

from 2, M : ailcl C oitto EG, esteiidiug theiu if necessary, to produce X, L, a d Is'


respectively. Since c = LAEG, we have

CIi = Z S = esinc

and

EK = EX = ecosc,

(9.14)

Since CG = 22 = 49; 41; trianglc CrKG gives

J-.

GK=

(9.15)

Subtracting EA' froir? G K gives the distance p = GE from the Earth to the centre of
the epicyde:

Then further subtraction gives

GX = p $ ecosc,

GZ = J ( p

(9.17)

+ e cos c)2 + (e sin c)2.

(9.18)

F i u d y , the equation of centre is fouud from AGX'Z:


q(c)

XZ

= L X G Z = sill-' - - sin-'
GZ
J(p

e sill c

+ e cos c ) +~ (e sin

(9.19)
z)2

Figure 9.6: Ptolc:.-i.'s caleuSation of the equation of ceittrc and equatioit uf arrcrmdy

GL = r cos u,

AdL = T sin a,,

and

(9.20)

EL = p +~cosa,.

(9.21)

Triimgle ELM gives the clistance 6 from the Earth to the Moon:

Finally, tlte samc triangle gives the equation of anomaly:

LM
Eh4

ll(a, ? c) = LLEM = sin-' -- sin-'

r sin a,
Jfp

+ r cos

u,]2

+ ( r sic

(9.23)
u,)2

Note tltat tlrc dependence of p on c arises ouly through p.


9.5

The Lunar Equation of Centre Table

Ptoleliay provides a table for q ( c ) calculated fox c E (Go, 12",

. . . ,90,93", . . . ,180")

usual. Symmetry i~lJowscomputation of q ( c ) from the table for c

>

180". The table is

giveu in Tablc 9.2 and thc error plot in Figure 9.7.


9.5.1

The possibility of inteapolation

Toomer uotes t,lle n n u s i ~ derror pattern for c > 90":


111 general

the entries in this table are correct to witkilr zk1 in the secoiid place.

However, in col, 3 [the equation of centre table], argnsl~ents123-29, 147-53,

md 1'71-7'7 the error reaches -3 or -4, possibly because of interpolation


between computecl
%. Taanlcr, Al?nagesl, 237, note 30.

as

q(e)

0;53

Error
0

93

q(T Error

1 12;15

1
1

c
q(c)
138 11;29
141 11; 2

Error]
-2
-1
1
4

5
4
0

-2

-1
0
1
3
4
3
0

T;~l,le9.2: The lunar equation of cexitre table

(711.8, column

Figme 9.7: The lunar equation of centre tal~lc:error plot

3)

Tlte up-down crror pattern in the early part of the table

(c

to rounding q(c) to unc isrtc~iondsexagesimd place. For c

emerges: the eutsies for values of

< 90') is due primarily

>

90' a distinct pattern

di~isibleby 12 are quite accurate, arid groups of

entries Letweeri these nocles have errors alternating in direction between positive and
uegative. This strongly mggests some form. of illterpolatioll on a grid of 12' or 24'.

I have applicd the i~~terpolation


grid test of 53.3 to the table for c 2 90, with the
entries grouped as

The ranks of error at the nodes are

The probability of a sunl as great or greater than he observed 24 is 0.020, giving a


sigilificant result.
The second differences of the errors are given in Figure 9.8. This plot contains no
uilusual patterns indicative of interpolation, although the error pattern itself is too regular
to be due to random e i h t . The error pattern suggests-second order interpolation, but
tlre plot of seconcl cliffercuces of errors does not confirm it, recomputation does not match
the table well, a i d in any case, such interpolation is not historically supported. Perhaps
the interpolated entries w r e derived by ming some other astronomical or trigonometric
fultction as a basc CUST~P,
similar to ( 6 . 7 ) .

9.6

The Second Lunar Equation of Anomaly Table

The calculation oi the ecx- equation of anomaly p(a,, c j may be accomplished by (9.23)
a b o ~ e .Xowevcr, to remain consistmt with the rest of the work Ptolemy must shield

the user from any txigoi~oietriccidtdations. He is averse to computing tables of two

Figure 9.8: Lunar equation c;f centre table: second differences of errors
wgurne~lts,psrticularlg ill this case. Instead he opts for P tolernaic interpolation (see
$2.5), its first occwrencc in the Almagest.

Since p changes mudl less rapidly in response to changes in

than to cllanges in a,,

the quantity c is the weak variable. Ptoleiny calculates tables for the two extreme choices
of the weak variable c, c = 0' and c = 180':

For c = 0,we k w e p = GO units (the case at syzygies), and the functiorl pl rcduces to the
original p of tlle Hipparcl~iantheory (9.6), replacing u with a,. The table is reprodtrccd

in V.8, and it is identical to IV.10 escept for the two elltries noted in $9.2, For c = 180,

we have p = 39; 22 units (the case at quadratures).


Ptolemy gjvcs tables for pl(a,) and p2(a,)- p l (a,). The value of c f o be ilsecl as inpit

determines what iractiou of the difference p:! -pl must be added to pl to arrive at; p(a,, c ) ,

This fractioi: is csiimst~edby considering ior a fixed d u e of

the fraction of pz -pl to be

;~cldcdwheu 2, is a t its maximum (varying a,). Tlins, defining the maximum equation

Ptoleir~ydms lloi jnstify the approximatiot;, but Petersen has shown that it produces very

smdl errors.Q Each of tlic tables pl(a,), pz(a,) - pl(a,), and

f ( c ) is given for arguments

Go, 12", . . . ,90,93", . . . 130D

T h e source of errors for a , < GO0

9.6.1

Tlte

st L O ~ L C
lxxi~ar
~
eyustiou

table

112

is recomputed in Table 9.3, with an error plot in

Figurc 9.9. Tlic prono~mcedbulge in the errors for a , _< GO0 leads Toomer to comment:
111

col. 5 [pt - pl] the first 9 vdues (from arguments B to 54 inclusive) are

too big, axd the first 7 of them fit a ratio (radius of epicycle : distance of
epicycle centre) of ,136 (instead of .I33 x 5; 15 : 39; 22 1vhic8 Ptolemy7stext
requires alicl wliicll nnderbes d l vdues from argument 60 on). This codd be
clrrivecl frank

(z

dis t m c e of 38;36 [units] or

at

epicycle radius of 5321 [units],

neitlicr of which has any motivation. I callilot explain this discrepancy, but

it is too coilsiste~ltto be the m a l t of mere inaccurate calculation.10


"etersen,

V., "Thc t l m e hu1ar modcls of Ptolemy", [8G], 162-3.

'OG.Toormi-,Aimagest, 237, note 30.

CL,

p2(u,)

G
12
18

C;43
l;25
2; 7
2;49
3;29
4; 7
4;43
5;16

24

30
36
42
48
54
GO
66

5;45
Gill

G;35

Error
1

u,

1
I
3

96

7;39

4
4
5

105
108
111
114
117
120
123
126

i;36
7;31
7129
7;21
7;13
7; 4
G;53
6;40

2
0
-1
-1
0
0
-2

yz(u,)

1 Error

Q"

-1

1138

-1

153
156
159

0
1
0

162

1 > 2 ( ~ r , ) Esros
5;40
1
0
0
-1
-1
3;55 1 -1
3;32
3;8
2;43
f

1
1

0
1

135 1 5;57

Table 9.3: Second lunzw equation of anomaly table p2 (V.8)

30

60

%O

120

1%

Degrees

Figwe 9.9: Second lunar equation of ailoinaly table: error plot

-4
7 Fg

Clearly tltcsc clltries forin tlleir own pattern independent of the rest of the table, but
s
doubt on Toomer's suggestion that an errant parameter is to
rwomputstio~ic ~ t serious

bIame. As Tooalicr. uotes, the ratio between the parameters r and p(180)= R - e is the

oiily information tliat cilll be deduced from the entries in the table, since the absolute
size of these parameters depends on the chose11 unit of leugtll, which does not affect the
mgular quantity p 2 ( a , ) . Table 9.4 contains a recomputation of the ratio

for each

entry a, 5 60Q,a Lack crdcdation of R - e holding r fixed, and a back calculation of r


holding

- e fixed. Figure 9-10 reveals that the ratio

changes continuously rather

than staying at a fixed lcvel of 0.13G,and Table 9.4 does not favour any reconstruction
of either paraimtcr ( r or & - e).

A sinipler llypothesis yields a better match with the entries than any change to the
values of the paraweters, i ~ n dproduces

all

error pattern similar in shape and magnitude

to that observed iu tlrc table. I suppose that the reckoner multiplieci his values pl by
some constant to give cs tiuates fox 112:

For small a, tlte fi~uctio~rs


p1 and p2 esl~ibitsiinilar properties, and an appropriate choice
of K would lead to a reasrnable approximation. I recomputed the entries for a,

in Table 9.5, with two clloices for Ii. First I cltoose li =

< SO0

F , the ratio pl (GOO)/pl(60')

(nsing Piolemy's values for these quantities). Second, I clioose I< = 1.5, due to its
prosinlity to tlic best cllcrice of Ii and ease of cdcu7ation. I choose GO0 because it is
clcat.t.ly\%-herethe error pattern ternlinates, altho~iglrthere is no reason related to the

lunw theory 1r.h~-it sho~lldtermhate there. Perhaps tkese entries were missing from an

call. mziinuscript , m d filicd in by this shortcut.


Altkongh tltc recomputation does not give a perfect match with each table entry,
Flgure 9.11 verifies that it- does result in a very similar pattern of errors. Since the

Rccompu ted

n- e

38;38,58,49
39; 0, 6,53
38;54, 6,43
38;36,21,11
38;34,39,21
38;37,40,29
38;40,31,46
38;48,42,23
39; 5,40,10
39;20,28,12
Till,le 9.4: Recmqtutatiolr of parameters r. and R
table of the secold lunar equation of anomaly

- e based

on the early cutries of the

0::;.

Figure 9.10:
of anon1aly

?t

12

16

24

30
Degrees

36

42

46

54

60

at.io 7'/(R- e ) for the early entries of ibe table of the second hnmr ecpn tion

Error
3-1
$1
+l
$3

$3
+2
33
+4

Difference
from Pt olemy
0
0
0
0
-1
-2
-2
0
$2

/I

1.5 . p l

Error

Difference
from Ptolemy
+1/2
+1/2
+1/2
+1/2
-1/2
-1
-1
+1/2
+l 1/2

Table 9.5: Recaniputation of pz(a,) using (9.28) a d two choices of Ir'

I
Ptoierny's Errors

Figure 9.11: Errors in the recomputation of Table 9.5

calculator would lmre used the approximation as a timesaving measure, it is possil,!e


that he did not take great care in the cdculation, perhaps opting for the simpler Ii = 2.5
rather than the more accurate I< =

g.

9.6.2 E r r o r clustering
The error clustcsing test is applied to the remainder of the t,a.ble. There arc 20 runs of
error for a, E ( G G O , . . . ,177"). From
p(--

< I'

2- -

< -)2
E

15
34

= - w 0.44118,

I find a = 0.013390. Siucc the runs test simulstiou gives


p(runs 5 20) = 24.22%,

I conclude that the errors do not exhibit significant clustering.


9.6.3

Interpolation for odd values of a ,

The interpolation test is applied to the table for a,

2 90'

under the hypothesis that each

odd entry was interpoli~tcd.The entries are grouped as

The raaks of error for tlrt hypothesized nodes are

The probability of a sum of ranks as great or greater than tTrc observed 19 is 0.9S3. Tlms

I conclude tlrere is no evidence in favour of interpofatim for the odd cntrics of this L a t h

The table of tllc interlmli~ticii::~uckion f ( c ) (9.2G): giiring the proportion of pa - pl to

acid to pl accortli~tgto (9.27), contains unnsuaily large errors throughout. Entries in the
table axe gives for argwnents c E {0,
6':

. . . ,84O, 90, 93'; OGO;.. . ,H O j , in accordance

wit11 the other lunar tables. Two parameters p,,,,(OO) = 5; 1" and p,,,(180)

= 7;40:

wl~osecorrect valnes arc 5; O aid 7; 36 respectiwly, are given in the text. The entries
appear with tlicir errors in Table 9.6. Error i gives the difference between the entries

vide Error 2 gives ihe Silference between the errors and (!3.26),using the exact valaes
of the parameters. The plot of en0i.s (Figure 9.12) reireala unvsad >atheras. Toower

notes the large errors and expliains why Ptolemy may iiol have bothered to improve their
accuracy:

In col. 6 [f( c ) ] the calculation to d w 3 sexagesirnal places gives a quite illusory


accuracy, i u ~ Ptolcsny5s
l
results (isor the second piace) bear littie relat~onship
to wLat oue gets with accurate cdcuiation.' However, this has a negligible
effect on t l ~ caccuracy 0.1 computalisns carried oul with the table. In the
Handy Tables Ptolcnlp quite properly iabuialed only one place in this and

the corrcs~>oncling
colulnn in tile pianetarjr ialdes.ll
Altlougli the effect of tlie errors on the cdculation of p(a,, c ) is minute, the absolute
sizes of the errors z u r e rousiderably laager: thau we see in aliimost every other Almagest

tablc arid deserre closer csanin&ion.

the interpolation tablei and iy~exutsa method in V,7 making use of the fact that p is

---

" G . Toomcr, Ahrzcgest, 237, noLe 30.

Fignre 9.12: The !aria iateipoiat;on tabie: erro-r plot

maximized for cons,tailt c when .the line joining Clle Earth t o the Moon EAd is tangent
'io the epicycle ( F i g ~ r e9.13 j. Sin.ce c =

L AEG, we have

as before. Sincc GE = p(c) above, triaizgie GEM gives

An exalllimtioll of tlic first differences of llle elltries ('7aLle 9.6j L a i s strongly at the
use of linear iuterpolation, especially for

E [0,
90'1. This hypothesized i~~terpolation,

however, is in question for some later entries. Thc iarterpolatio~mdcs qpeltr to be


separated by 12', but with tlte appare~rtolnission of a node at 108' and a smdl irregdarity

m x u d 168' (reparable ii we accept f (168') = 59; 14 instead of 59; 4). Finally, the
cliffereuces in each group are not precisely constant. This codd be explained by rciuudirtg,

Lttt

d n r ~ s iail other instances of h e a r interpoiation in the klmagest amid rounding in

the intr;l.polati<j~ipraecss Ly roui~di~kg


lzode entries q~propriately(to the nearest four
nxi ts of tlle last, p l u e in this case),
U s h g P toleu~J"svalnesfor p,,,,(Oo)

and p,,, (180') and (9.31), I computed Backwards

to a lrypotltetical maxililum equation of anomaly table, Table 9.7. A histogram of the

tllird fractionid sexagesiud places, after rouncling to t wa places (Figure 9.14), reveals
s strong drrskcring nround 15, 30, 45, and 63/0.

This implies that the errors in the

interpola"i,iou table are primarily due to the effect of rounding the intermediate quantities
pnacrz(c):
these li~tterqnautities are sinaller in absolute size, hut their rounding causes a

nlucll larger error in f ( c ) .

Chapter 9. Llzmr Theory (Books I Tj 'if

f( c )
0;12

1 Error 1
/

Error 2

24

11

0;56
1; 8
I; 8

-8

153

5
4
1
-15
-8
-12
-15
-25

1;53

2; 4
2; 4
2;39
2;39
2;50
2;50
3; 12
1;36

-19

f( c )

Error 1 Error 2

First Diff-3
G I. ~ I L C ~ S
0; 12

First
Differences

11

r// Error

1;37
1;36
1;36

138 50;45 ,
141
144

1;36
1;37
1;36

147
150
153

1;36
1;36
1;36
1 2
1;25
1;25
1;25
1;14
1;13

156

Error 1
68

-11

First
1
Differences
l;l4

159
1 162

171
174
177
180

Table 9.6: The luua interpolation tabie (V.8). Error 1 is calculated usirng Ptolemy's
parameters pmaT(O0)aslcl pn,,,(1800); Error 2 with the correct d u e s .

Figure 9.13: Tile lunar ana;ximum eqaation of anomaly

A reconstruction of i l ~ emaximam eo,uatinu of ;tliomalj table (Table 9.7) by rora~dii~g


i ~ t iuterpolstioi~noted
each entry to thc nearest 0; 0,15 furtlm explains the ~ ~ p p a r elinear
earlier. The first cliffereaces dearly in~dicatea grid of 12" ( m w p second entry until 90,
tlml every f o u r t l ~entry), with tile nodes calcrdatecl to two sexagesimal placcs only. The
alloinalous strctcll of entries near c = 108" may be explai~miby the coincidence that
Ptolemy's vdne of p,,,,.(108")
6 ; 20 and p,,,,,(120")

= 6; 37 llspperis to fa11 precisely between his p,,,(96")

= 6; 54. The failure near c = lGSO disappears if the scribal error

suggested earlier is adoptcd.


Thus I conclucle that Ptolemy is working wit11 the small underlying table of t h ~
iuaximum equation of aiaonia1-y given ill Table 9.8 (an error plot is given in Figure 9.15),
and using linear interpolation within this table. Tllc interpolsted vdues are not raurtded
to two places, bat w e used directly in (9.26) above. Almost all the error iu f ( c ) is due
to roundiug and interpolation in the calculation of p,,,,,(c).

13;~ckcdcdated p,,,, (c) Reconstructed p,,,


5; 1,31,48

(c)

First differences
;0,30
;2,30
;2,30
7*3
7 0
;3, 0
;5, 0
;5, 0
;5,30
;5,30
;?, 0
;7, 0
.7 30
;7,30
14 9 30
7 7 15
-4
7 7 15
-4
-4
7 7 15
?-4Y 15
;4,15
;4,15
;4,15
4
7 7 15
;4,15
-4
7 > 15
;3,45
;3,45
;3,45
;3,45
;3,15
;3,15
)

Back calculated p,,,, (c) Reconstructed p,,, ( c ) First differences


7;15,29;15
7;15,30
;3,95

Table 9.7: Recoilstructioil of lunar p,,,,(c) table with first differences. The reconstruction
( ~ o the
t back calculation) incorporates the suggested change of entry for c = 168'.

Value

Figure 9.14:Histogram of the third sexagesimal place of the reconstructed lunar maximum equation of momidy table

9.8

The Lunar Latitude Table (V.8)

The tlreory of th:: &/loon'slongitude is uow complete. Ptoleiny's rnodel io compute the
Moon's latitude is collsiderably simpler, and independent, of the longitude theory. This
allows tlre Moon's latitude to reach its mildm~111of 5" for any location and state of the
pamus, in accordance with ol~servations.
deferent epicycle, and ci~*culus
The model for lunar latitude (Figure 9.1) simply assumes tllc Moon travels on

il

circle inclined at 5' to tile ecliptic. The line connectiug tlie ascending n o d e (where the
Moon passes fxom the south to tlie north side of the eclipticj and tlre descending node
(where the Moon passes from tlie north t . the
~ south side) rotates backward through the
ecliptic at a coirstant velority w,, of approximately 0; 3' per day. The longitude A , of the
ascending node may bc fomd from the mean motion tables:

The angnlar difference between the Moon's longitude and X,,(t) are enough to determine
the Moon's current. latitnde p(tj similarly to the easlier calculation of declinations, since

Loth involve projecting a point on one great circle oilto ailother great circle:
For tlus me ha.~reused the same procedure as we did to calculate the arcs of
the cirde througli the poles of the e q ~ s t ~ o[which
r
are cut off] between the
equator ad the e c l i p t i ~ . ' ~
However, Ptokmy uses tlle northern limit of tlie Moon's iirclined circle, which is 90"
after the ascending uocle, as the zero point, rather tlmn tlie node itself. Thus the arc
between the northern lin& and the htoon's latitude is the argument for the latitude table:
n.(t) = A(t j - (A,

( t )+ XI0).

Table 9.8: Final reconstructed lunar maximum equation of anomaly table

Figure 9.15: Lunar maximum equation of amma$~table: error plot

From this the latitude ;? may be found. using Pt.olemyls latitude table whiclr displays
values of

3fn) = sin-' [sin5'


for arcs 12 E {Go, 12',

.. .

sinfn - 90G)]

(9.36)

90,
93O,.. . ,180)as usual.

By sylnnletry /3(n) = ,B(180 - n); thus the first fifteen entries oi tbc latitude ta.l>le

reproduce the entries for even n in the remainder of tlle table. The t;~bleis recomputed
in Table 9.9, a d the error plot is given in Figure 9.16.
Since the angle of inclination is only ti0,Pederse11'~suggests that Ptolenly made the
siinplifving assumption
P(n) x 5
'

- sin(n - 90').

(9.37)

Tlris is not supported by the text in Book V, but a reference to the table in Book XI11
l h t s at it (see $14.3). Recomputation according to the appro;titmation yields only one
difference betwecn the exact formula and the approxhation in the t a l k for n = 111,
the approxiwation gives 1;48rather than 1;47:in agreement with the table. Tl~isevidence

is, however, far too scanty to make any conclusion about the entire table.
9.9

Summary of Results

Some of the Inuar tables remain impervious to the tests. The lunar equation of centre table likely was constructed with some form of interpolation and the second lunar

equation of anomaly table may have Leen computed partidly as a constant multiple of

the first table, but. both of these results are subject to doubt. Little can be said about

the latitude table either. The large errors in the l~lilarinterpolation table, llowever, are
explained with coufidence a d an underlyiug table is reconstructed. It is difficult t c say
whether research can yield further information.
130.Pcdersen, S,umey, 200-1.

Cliapkr 9. Lunar Theory (Books IV,V)

Error
0
1

1
1
-1
0
1

0
0
0
0
0
-1
-1

n
138
141
144
147

Error

150
153
156
159
162

165
168
171
174
177
180

Table 9.9: The lunar latitude table (V.8)

3 5

Using approximation
.-

Figure 9.16: Lunax latitude table: error plot

lbng exact methcd

Chapter 10

P a r a l l a x (V.11-V.19)

Eclipse prediction mas one of the central tasks for ancient astronomers, for observatioxid
purposes (tlie basic lullas model is based entirely upon eclipse olservations) as well as
astrological motivations.' Hipparchus' original epicyclic nlodcl for lunas motion fits the
Moon's position quite well at syzygies, wllen eclipses occur, i~ndP tolemy's ruore complex
model did not greatly improve eclipse prediction. The position of the observer on the
Earth's surface, bornever, can make a sizable difference to tlic location of tllc Moon (and
possibly the Sun) in the sky, enough to destroy the power of any theory ignoring parallax
t o preclict eclipses.

10-1 The Parallax Function


.jLU

of the models set forth by Ptolemy in the Almagest consider the Earth to bc an

iufinitesimal dot at the centre of the univsse. Since the distances of the planets are so
vast compared to the size of the Earth, it makes little differciice whether the observer is

at the centre or on the sirsface of a s i ~ i ~sphere


dl
some clistaucc horn the true centre. If an

object

D above the horizon is close enough to the Earth, I~owever,it will

to the hoi-izon from A than from


more than .'1

appear: closer

C (Figure 10.1). For the Noon this difference can be

Tlms, for example, supposing the solar and lirnar theory predict the Sun.

::axl Moon t o be iu exactly the same position (with respect tct C) at a give11 inoment, for
I-

. observer at A the &*loonmay bc 1' below the Sun. This parallax, ;r = LADC in.
1.

Pedersen, Sumey, 220.

Chapter 10. Parallax (17.11-V. 19)

Figure 10.1: Ptolemy's calculation of parallax


Figure 10.1, changes a theoretical total soiar eclipse into a imn-event, since the radii of
the Sun and Moon are both roughly

a'.

Since Ptolemy's models of celestial motion use the Earth's centre as the centre of
the universe, a i d since adapting the models to account for paallax would require con-

structing different tables for different locations on the Earth's surface, Ptolemy uses the
Earth's centre as the reference point for all observations. Thus each observation must be
aitered to accouut for parallax before being used in the contcxt of the modcls. Likewise,
the position of an object predicted by the model must be alicred by a reverse process to
campare the theory with a new observation.

Pardax clecrexes the appaxent height. of an object in the sky without moving it

to the left or right, wlGch may affect both longitude and latitude depending on the

orientation of the ecliptic. Ptoieiuy considers only tile change iu the aagu1a.r distance of
the object from the observer's zenith in the iminerical tables (V.18). and after this (V.19)

he describes how a change in zenith distance may be convert,cd to a change in longitude


a d in latitude.
The angle of parallax 7r = LADC (Figure 10.1) is the difference between the a c t ~ ~ d
zeuith clistauce 2 = LZCD and the observed zenith distance z* = f ZAD:
Z*

+ n.

=z

(10.1)

The angle of parallax is determined by the distance E = C D of the object from the
Earth's centre (measured in units of Earth radii in the Ahragest), and either

or

2.;

thus we may consider


3-

= X(Z, 6)

7~

BS

= 7r(zn,6).

(10.2)

Since Ptolemy is working toward eclipse theory he is more interested in converting theoretical positions to observed positions than vice versa; thus his tables treat

as a function

of z and d rather than of z* and 6.

V.17 gives examples of the cdculation of n for the Sun and Moon. We follow Ptolemy's
presentation for an arbitrary object. A perpendicular is dropped from -4 to

C D ,produc-

ing L. Since z = LAL and AC = 1 unit, w


e have

AL =,sin z

and

CL = cos z.

Since 6 = CD,this gives

= tan-'

sin z
6 - cos z '

(10.3)

Chapter 10. Parabfax (V.11-Y.19)

Kerc Ptolcmy enounters a problem. Since the table of chords does not permit the

computation of an arctangent, he is unable to compute a. Instead he assumes LB zz AD,


"since the difference is imperceptible" .2 Then
~ ( z6), = sin-'

AL
AD ii: sin"
-

sin z
S - cosz'

We s l d examine later whether this approximation may be identified in the parallax


tables.

10.2 The Solar Pardlax Table (V.18)


The Sun's parallax is less than 9Ii, an order of magnitude s~nallerthan could have been
observed with the tools available to Ptolemy. However, his inaccurate calculation of the
Sun's distance combines with other errors to give a maximum parallax of dose to 3'.

Thus the eutries in the solar pazalax table are so bad that the table is not useable for
practical astrouoany.
Althol~glkthe eccentricity of the Snn's orbit implies that the distance S &om the Earth
to the Sun varies, Ptolemy assumes the Sun remains at a constant distance:
. . .the resulting difference in ill&Sun's parallaxes wild be very small and im-

perceptible, since tlie eccentricity of its circle [orbit] is small, and its distance

The correct vduc of S varies between 23000 and 23900 units. Ptolemy's value is S = 1210
maits, the worst parameter value in the Aimagest.
Since 6 is assumed to be constant, the fu~lctionof solar parallax has only one argu-

m a t , 2 , P tolemy cornputes 7i-(z) for z = ZO, 4O, . . .,309, chosen to fit the sf andad 4 5 - h e
pageU4The recomputed table is given in Table 10.1, wlith an error plot in Figure 10.2.

Error

32
34

3G
38
40

42

T&le 10.1: The solar paratlas table (iy.18)

Figure 10.2: The solar parallax table: error plot. The errors are plotted using the wcsine
q~proximation.The errors using tile exact formuia axe ahlost identical.

The exor plot is given iar comparisou with (10.6) rather tliari (10.5). Anotlm plbaasible
n ~ e ~ l ~of
o ccornliutatiosi
t
is to assume tbat Ptolemy ignores tlrc cosine in the denominator,

..

COS Z

dthougli the cosirlc is induded in the sample ~ d c d a t i o n 130th


. ~ approximations, however,
give precisely thc same crrors as in T&le 10.1 br every entry; thus we conclude that %he
enirics are not given to a sufficient accuracy to detect wlrI~therPtolemy is true to his

word in claiming aisc of (10.6).

10.2.1 Interpolation for 6" intervals

We shall see that some of the other parallax tables were co~~rputed
using h e a r interpolation on intervals of 6". From the wtries it seems clear that

110

larger interval could have

been used, and tlie use of intervals of 4" seems implausible. Thus we apply the test to
the table for intervals of Go, grouping the entries as

Tlie ranks of the errors (computed using (10.6)) are

The probability of obtaining a sum us high as or higher tLiln the observed 29 is 0.435.
Tlius I coliclude that tlic entries for even z coutain no smdzllcr errors than the rest of the

table, hence no cvidencct for interpolation with a 6" grid.


5Almagesl V.17, 259.

10.2.2

Error clustering

The error clustering test of $3.2, applied to the solar paralliis t.abie, finds

from whiclt I fouud a = 0.00019487. The reference distribu t,iou gives

In fact, the smallcst nuntber of rum in the 10000 simulations ~ r a 14.


s Thus tlw occurrence
of 11 ruils in t l table
~ is a siguificaut plienomei~on.
10.3

The Lunar ParaiIax Tables (V.18): Ptolemaic Interpolation with Three

Variables
The Moon's distance from the Eart.1~varies significantly

iit

Ptolemy's model of lunar

longitude, enough to reqnire a careful measurement of the distance 6 between the Earth
and Moon to calculate parallax. Tliis distance is affected by the distance frcm the Earth
to the centre of the luuar epicycle, determined by the centrum c, and by the Moon's
position on the epicycle, determined by a,. Thus Ptolemy nlust compute tIkc parallax as
a function of t l m c variables:
7i ( z , C , a,)

= ta,n-'

sin z
&(c, a,)

- cos z

'

The function 6(c, a,) ?las already been examined by Ptolenqr in his lunar tllcory, and is

giveu by (9.22).
To compute

~ ( 2c,,a,)

Ptoleniy adapts his interpolatiou method to apply to three

variables. Since z is the strongest variable and a, is the weilkcst, lae begins 1)y computing
tables for

T,

varying z and holdiql_.the other two variables fixed a t their limits. Since

At the first limit,


sin z
64;lO - cosz'

r l ( z ) = ~ ( z0,
, 0') = tan-'
tvlrere tlre qumtit,y 64;10 is Ptolemy's value for

I2 + e + I. measured in units of Earth

radii. At the second Emit,


7r2(2) =

~vl~cre
53;50 = R

+e -

?.

~ ( z0,
, 180') = tan-'

sin z
53; ti0 - cos z '

in Earth radii. The first two limits correspond to Figure 9.5(a)

and (c), at mean syzygies near possible eclipses. At the third limit,
7 4 2 )=P(Z,

180,0)= tan-'

sill z
43; 53 - cos z '

aud at the fourth litnit,


T , ~:)(

= K ( E , 180,180') = tail-'

sin z

33; 33 - cos 2'

Here the constants iu. t l ~ cdenoxnixlators correspond to R - c fr , and the third and fourth

limit correspond to Figure 9.5(b) a d (d) . Since true syzygicxs are never far relnoved from
xueau syzygies, at an eclipse we shoald expect c z 0'. Thus the first and second limits

we considerably more iulportant to cclipses than the third a i d fourth limits.

From the values of a ; ( r )for i = 1,.. . ,4, the computation of ~ ( zc,,a,) proceeds in
two stages. First, to take into account the weakest varialh (1, two interpolation functions
fA(c~v)

aid fB(ci,,,) are defined, resulting in

Second, another interpolation functiou gjc) is used to t&e the variable c illto account:

In V.18 Ptolemy gives tables for nl(z),


z

E (ZO, 4 O , .

. . ,90), to

7r*(z)

- rl(z),

T T ~ ( z and
) , n4(;)

- n3(z) for

d o w easy computation in thc interpolation process. Also be

gives f~ (a,), f~(clV),and g ( c ) for a, and c E {4O, 8", . . . ,150),to fit the interpolation
functions into tltc 45-line grid.

10.4 The Tables of the Lunar Parallax at t h e First Two Limits (V.18)
Before proceeding to a definition and analysis oi the interpoli~tionfunctisns, we examine

the tables of tkc lunar pardlax at the four limits. The first two tables nl(z) and the
reconstructed 7r2(2) (adding the values for ~1 and

7r2 -TI

ill the tables) are given in Tables

10.2 a d 10.3 respectively, with error plots in Figures 10.3 ancl 10.4. Error 1 in the tables
is computed using Ptolemg's approsiinative formula (10.6); Error 2 is colnputed using
the exact (10.5). Wherc Error 2 does not appear, it is the same as Error 1.

For both t a l k s , the use of the most drastic approxima.t.ion

is rejected, since it gives errors as high as

to,reaching their maximum in tlre middle of

the table. For tlic table of the first limit, the approximati011 (10.6) is favoured to (10.5)
in two entries versus two entries favouring (10.5). For the tal~lcof the seconJ limit, (10.5)
is favoured by seven eutries io three. This evidence is not convincing in favour of either

method.

Table 10.2: Tkc lunar parallax table s t first limit (V.18). Error 1 (El) is computed using
PloSemy's approsimt?,tion; Error 2 (E2) is computed using the exact formula.

-25.

10

20

30

40

wm=

50

60

70

W)

93

Figure 10.3: The luuar pasallax table at first limit: error plot

El.
1
1
0
0
0
0
-1

-I
-1
-2
-1
-1
0
0
0
-

Table 10.3: The lunar parallax table at second limit (V.18). El is the error using the
approximation; E2 is the error using the exact formula.

Figure 10.4: The lunar parallax table at second !in&: error plot

10.41

Error c!rtst&ng: the t a h k of the first limit

The error clustering test gives 14 runs of error for the table of the first limit. From
p(--

< I' 5 -)
2

24
= - = 0.53333,
45

(10.19)

I find a = 0.00017219. The simulation gives

Tkns the errors esl~ibitn significant clustering effect.


10.4.2 Error clustering: the table of t h e second limit
There are 13 runs of error in the t a l h of the second limit. From

I find cr = 0.0002'2106. Tlle simulatiolr gives

The smallest number of runs in the simulations was 17. Thns the errors cluster in this

table as well.
10.4.3

Dependence between nl and nz

An inspection of the tables for

related, especially for large


expressious (10.6) for

771

2.

TI

a d

7i2

suggests that thc crrors in the two tables are

This may have several causes. Direct manipulation of the

and n2,assmning equality in (10.6): gives

sin r1( 2 ) - 5 2 - cos t


sin 7r2 (z) & - cos z '

where 61 = 64 :, 10 and 62 = 53; 50 are the two distances frolit Earth to R4oau. Since sin 7;
is an intermediate quantity in the calculation of

siu nl, by solvi~rg(10.23) for

7;2

it is plausible to derive nz using

;rl,

(or rice versa).

The table dependence test was applied to n:!with

irl

as the underlying table. The

Speasmim cosselatio~is p = 0.344, significant at the 2$% level but not lsrge. The
'GVilcoxon signed

st&

test was applied wit11 data

ivkere 7i1,p is the table value of


is the correct v&e of

TI.The

71,r l ,is
~tlre

value of

71.1

rcco~rstructcclfrom nz,and nl,n

result rejects a median of zcso in favour of a median < O

with sigiificai~ce11.9?4iG
Although tlie test docs not deciclc significairtly in favour of dependence, the numbers
are sufficiently unclear to retain a suspicion that tlre dependcuce exists. I co~tsiderseveral
possible causes of dependence. First, the table for

a2

- 7;1

may have bccn computed

directly in some way, leading to del>endence wvllen nz is rcconstructed as the sum of


the two tables.

I azu, however, uni~hleto find a method of calculatiou for r z -

that i~pproachesthe simplicity of calculatiug

~2

directly. Sccond, r z ( r )m;lp have hcen

computed as a co~rstantmultiple of r1(2) tliso~~ghout


the hide, or tlrird, sin nz( z ) xnay
have been taken as a co~rstantmultiple of sin nl (2). Recon~putationwith any choice of

the multiple for cjtlrer hypothesis, however, causes a spread of about 8 sccouds in the
errors for

712,

coitsiderat,ly larger tltaii the spread of errors

ilt

Ptolenly's tirlle.

Fourth, and llrost likely, the vducs taken for sin z in the l~ulnesatorof t l ~ function
c
are
prestlmd~lythe sane for a1 and 7;~.If the errors in these values coiitribntc significantly

to the final errors, dependence would result. A back calc~lii


tion of the chord equivalent
6ftemoviug the entries where z r , p is correct to both places, the siguificance improves to 1.1%. This
data sekction cmld be justified as an appmxknatiou to a weighted t c ~ s t ,since a large crior in an entry
of

71

is a better inciicator of dependence t,lli~na small error.

to sin 2 1: Pto1eii:j-'s cdcu?atioa was performed f


a each entry of TI and nz.

The third

scsagesimd placc did not exhibit significant clustering aronild zero, which might have
iudicated

two- lace

chord values. Perhaps other sources o f error mask the clustering

effect. A comparison between the pairs of sin z reconstruct.c.d fiom nl and

~2

was also

inconclusive.

10.5

The Tables of the Lunar Parallax at the Third and Fourth Limits (V.18)

Since tlre velocities of tlle Moon and Sun do uot vary dri~matically,dl eclipses occur
mar the mean coi~juuctioiior opposition of Sun and Moon. As a result, the cdculation

of p a r d a x for t l ~ cprediction of an eclipse usually involves n. value of c % 0". Thus the

third and fourth limit tables axe not very important to eclipse theory. Ptolemy takes
advantage of this and computes these tables rather crudely. The tables for the third and

fomth Enzit are it1 Tables 10.4 and 10.5 respectively, with error plots in Fignres 10.5 and
10-6. Other sources of error overwhelm the difference betmcen the exact formula (10.5)

and the approsilllation (10.6).


As Toomer notes,

. . ., though

tabulated to three

siguiiica-nt places, are in fact calcdated to o d y 2 places

. . . : the calculated

...the vdties for tlre third

and fourth limits

d u e s (for args. 6"; 12' etc.) always end in 0 or 30. Thcy are thereforc rather

inaccurate.

'

Iu fact, each entry for Go

I z in the table for the

third limit ends in a zero, indicating

that the table was tabdated to minutes 5dy. The rernaini~rgentries for both tables axe
derrived by h e a s interpolation (although Ptolemy does not say this), causing the curious

'G. Toomer, Aln~agest,265 note 73.

Chaptcr 10. Parallas (V. 1I-?/'. 19,)

Tal~le10.5: The lunar parallax table at fourth limit (V.18). El is the error using the
approximation; E3 is tlrc error usiug the exact formula.

Figure 10.6: The lunas paallaz; table at fourth limit: error plot.

Chapter 10. ParnfIas (17.13-V.69)

20 9

patterns in the error plots. in both tables Ptolemy retdnls lile third sesagcsimai place,

so that

1 1 roumliig
~

is required wlieu generating values by h e a r iinterpolationt.

Error clustering: the table of the third limit

10.5.1

Once the interpolated entries are removed from the table of the tl~irdlimit, only three of

the 15 entries are in error in the final (second) place. These correspond to

= GQ, 60R,

and 90". Thus there is no need to apply the error clusterillg test; clearly no clustering
occurs.

Error dustesing: the table of' the fourth finlit

18.5.2

Since the smallest unit in the 15 elltries of the table of tlic fourth limit (scmoving the
interpolated entries) is 0; 0,30, the errors are counted in urlits of 0;0,30. This gives 7

runs of error. From

I find o = 0.0042830. The simulatiou gives

llecce I condude there is no evidence in favour of error clustcling.


f 0.6

The Interpolation Tables for Lunar Parallax

Ptolemy must define three interpotstion functions to complc(c the cdculation of paraUax:
&st, f ~ ( a , ) to find nn (2,a,) from
T B ( Z ,a,)

and

from z g ( z ) mcl

T B ( Z , a,)

7r4(u")

(t)and

-/rz(z)by (1O.lti); aecctld, fll(a,)

by (10.16); and third, g ( c ) to fiud n(z, cj a,) from ~

to find
~

(a,)2

by (10.1'7). For fA(a,) &nit f B ( & ) Ptolemy rcasours similarly. I;'irst, assume

c = 0". Since

?r

illcreases from .rrl to ;rz when a, increases from O0 to 180,and at the

Chapter 10. Pai'alliu jV.11 -F19)

Figure 10.7: Tlic coustruction of ,fA ( a , ) . For each diagram, C@ = R. In (a), a, = 0,


aud in (c), a, = 180'. From (a) to the arbitrary case (b) on its way to (c), S = EM
decreases from R e Y to EM (ian (b)) on its way to R +.c - T, as a, increases fmrn O0
to 180'. Ptolemy assumes x increases in the same proportio~lfrom
to T , ~ ( z , u ,on
) its
way to 'KZ.

+ +

same time 6 deercases from R f e $1. = 65; 15 (in the origixll lunar units) to
(see Figure 10.71, we assume that

S cllanges at a rate proportional to n. Tlmt is,

0, a,) - n(z, 0, 0')


6(0,180G)-6(OG,00) ~ ( s , 0 G , 1 8 0 0 ) - ~ ( z , 0 0 , 0 0 ) '
6(0, a,j

R +e -r

- S(OO,0) -

T(Z,

(10.26)

Chapter 10. Parallax (1'11-V.19)

substitution gives
S(OO,a,) - 6(0,0")
2~

- T.'! ( 2 ,a,) - ~

~ ( 2 )

r 2 ( 4- 7Tl(z) .

(rs.zs)

Solving for r A(r,a,), we have

Since 6(0,)
'0 = R +-

+ r = 65; 15, comparison with (10.15) gives


~ A ( u "=)

6 5 ; 15 - 5(0,
a,)

2r

Likewise, wit11 c = 180' Ptolemy gets

h3(au) =

43;53 - 5(180,a,)
2r

Ptolemy computes $,I and fs for a, E (do, so,. . .,180") to conform to tltc &line gage
kcight. To avoid adding a new column of arguments to the complete parallax t a b h i he
instructs the reader to use a , / 2 as the asgumcnt (see 'below), and to enter the table with
the same co3main of argninents 2O, 4': . . . ,90as the other tables (see Talks 10.6 andl

lo.?)!

The taldes

fi

a i d fs are givm with errors in Tablcs 10.6 and 10.7 respectively,

with error plots iu Figures 10.8 and 10.9.

For the first time in tlie Almagest, Ptolemy tells the user tlrat linear interpolation was
lased to complete the tables:

We perfornlcd the calculatioil [of fA, fB a d g] at iritervds of lZO,which


corresponds to 6' in the arguluents in tlle table, sincc the 180 konl apogee
to perigee [the range of a,] correspmd to the 90'' of [ t l asgment
~
col?mn in]

the table. We entered these nlinutes, calculated geollictricdy, opposite the


appropriate asgumcut. We derived t lie entries for the in f ermediate argarnents

Error

Error

10

0
3
12

-2
1
-6
-5
5
-4
-5
4
-7
-8
0

Table 10.6: First luiisr parallax interpolatio~itable

fA

(V.18)

Figurc 10.8: First lunas p ~ r n l l minterpolatiou t a l h fA: error plot

Error
7
7
-2
5
5

-3

6
8
3
9
9
2
6
4
-3

Error
2
3
0
4

4
2
3
2
1
0
0
1

-2
-3
0

Table 10.7: Second lunar parallax interpolation table fa (V.18)

Figure 10.9: Second lunar parcallas interpolation t , ~ l ~fB


l e: error plot

by h e a s ill tcrpohtion over the six-degree intervals: for tire diiference between
the results so derived and [accurate] geometrical calcu1;l tlon is negligible over
such a short interval, both for the minutes and for tllc actual p a r a l l a ~ e s . ~
'With tile recompiitatioi~we are able to judge this claim. Linear interpolatioil induces an
addi tioilal error of up to about 10 uitits in the last place, djove the errors at the nodes.

This error translates to an error of less than 2 seconds i11 the computation of n ~ and
,
i ~ l l t 4~ ~
seconds
t
ill the computation of the less important
for Ptoleiny's pxrposes, aud indeed in the case of
errors in the crude valttes for n3 and

TB

~ 1 1 .This

is indeed negligible

the error is overwhelmed by the

n4.

The interpolation test is not necessary in this instance, sillce the use of interpolation
is obvious. However! to confirm the reliability of the test, I apply it to the tables for fA,
fB, and g for a grid of Go, grouping the entries according to

The node rank sums for

f ~ fB
, and

g respectively are

32, 39, and 40. The probabilities

of sums as great or greater than these are 0.127, 0.000, and 0.000. The test's reliability
is confirmed.
Note that tlic last sexagesimal places of all 30 nodes in the tables for

fA

and fB are

clivisible by 3; thus tlrc unit of roundiug for the nodes is 0; 3 rather than 0; 1. With
this in mind, tlic errors at the nodes for these two tables are not large or remarkable.
The only conceivable motivation for choosing a unit of 0; 3 is to avoid rounding in the
stage of interpolation. 1% have seer1 this before in the lunar longitude interpolation
table ($9-7). Since the error in the parallax cdcdation cmsed by rounding the nodes

is grester in general than that caused by rounding the interpolated entries, this process

Chapter 10. Pardzx. ( T I 11-V. 19)

of his numerical procedures.


Ptolemg's coiistructioii of y(c) proceeds similarly to his rci~s~lling
for f A a d fs. Since
c

controls the distimce p between the Earth and the epicycle centre, he uses p = E G

(Figure 9.5) in tlle same way tlrat he used 6 before. (The value of 6 itsdf is not availnble,
since it depends on a, and thus is not coastsilt for a fixed c . ) As c increases from 0" to
180,p decreases from R

n increases fro111 n.4 to

+ e (Figure 9.5(a)) to R - e (Figt~rc9.5(b)). At tlie same time

TB.

We assume that p and n changc in their respective intervals

at proportional rates; that is,

~ ( -4~ ( 0 " ) -

p(180j- p(OO)

~ ( zC ,,a,) n ( z ,00,a,)
~ ( z1800,
, a,) - n(z, 00,a,)'

(10.32)

Sol~iiigfor w ( z , c, a,), we get


~ ( 2C,
; (1,)

= K A ( Z , a,)

- ~ ([ T4B ( ~0.1, - r ~ ( a , ) ] .
2e

Finally, comparisou witll (10.17) gives

Ptolemy's re~uitrbquoted above apply to g(c) as well as fA m d fs;tliirs t,he tablc

for g ( c ) is co~;~!mtedfor c f (4",8",.

argument 4 2 .

'_.-::c
recomputed

. . ,180")

and the usa must enter tlrcl table with

table is given in Table 10.8, arid the error plof is in Figure

10.10. As Ptokm? says, only every tlllrd entry in the table mas computed clirectly, with

Chapter 10. PamEfax (V.l 1-V.19)

tire others filled ill by h e a r interpolation, Note that every node entry's last sexagesimd

place is divisible by 3, as before, so the unit is again 0; 3 ratlm than 0; 1. Only eight of

the 15 raodes arc in error, each by one unit of 0;3.

Error
10
9

-2
9
11
2
10

-1
G
G
0
3

2
-3

Error
0
0
-1
-2

-4
-5
-6
-6
-3
-7
-7
-4
-7
-6
0

1 c/2

g(c)

62
64

48;49
50;17

66

51;45
52;5?
54; 9
55;21
56;12
57; 3
57;54
58;26
58;58
59;30
59;40
59;50
GO; 0

68
70
72
74
'76

78
80
82
84
85
88
90

Error

-1

!9

-8

-3

-8

-7
0

-7
-8
-1
-7
-6
1
-6

-7
0

Table 10.8: Third lunar parallsx interpolntioil table g (V.18)

Figure 10.10: Third lunar parallax i~iterpolationt;~bley: error plot

Chapter 11
Eclipse Theory (Book VI)

1Wth tlre completion of Iris analysis of parallax, Ptolemy can use his models of solar
i~udlunar motioai to predict solar snd l u n x eclipses. A solar eclipse occurs when the
Moo11 passes in front of the Sun; that is, when the longittldes X(Moon) = X(Sun) and
the latit~lde@(Moon)is sufficiently sinall, adjusting for panillax. A lunar eclipse occurs
w11en tlle Moo11 passes through the shadow cast by the Earth on the opposite side of
tlre Sun; that is, when X(Moon) = X(Sun)

+ 180'

and wlicn P(Moon) is small. Thus a

solar eclipse may occur uear the beginning of each synodic month, and a lunaz eclipse

may occur midway through each syuodic month, depending on the Moon's argument of
Iatitnrde n, which rletermines @(Moon).

If . I

Ptoiemy's M e t h o d to Predict Eclipses

I11 the Almagest, Ptoleiny does not w e the lunar and solar models to predict eclipses
directly; rather, he provides methocis to allow the user to cdculate whethcr an eclipse
will occur at a pnrtictllar sgzygy. From these calculations the user also can find the
duratioi: of tlre phases of

eclipse, the fraction of obscuration of the Sun or Moon, and

so on. Tl~etables in Book VI are provided to help the user find these latter quantities.

Ptolemy's process to determine whether an eclipse occurs at a given syzygy does


nlot require the construction of any new tables other than iuean motion tables, and is
considered o d y briefly Lcre. From tlic values of mean solar and lunar velocity, he can find
the time of each mean syzygg. Since these times occur in a rcgular arithmetic sequence,

Chapter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book 171)

he provides a set of tables to calculate the times of meall co~ljunctionsam1 op~>ositious

(VI.3), already tliscusscd in 55.8. From these t.a.bles thc user may find tile values of
severd i~nportautquantities at t l ~ etime of meail syzygy t,,,. These are tlie Sun's mean
anomaly a,(t,)

(see $8.2), the Moon's mean anomaly a,,(t,,,) (see 9.4),and the Moon's

argument of latitude n(t,, ) .


From values of a,(t,,,)

for the Sun and Moon, and t l ~ csolar and luimr tables, the

~ longitudes of the Sun aid Moon at illean syzygy. GeueraUy they


user may find t l true
not be equa.1, so it is necessary to find the time t of the true syzygy. Since the
true velocities of the Sun and Moon are needed for an accurate deterruination of t , these
are found by some clever approximative methods, including [lie evalnation of an infinite
series,' and an estimate of the rate of change of the Moon's equation of anonlirly $ using
something resembling a Newton quotient applied to the lunar equation taldes (V.8),2
Once the time of true syzygy t is known, one must, determine whether the Moon's
latitude B ( t ) is small enough to allow the Moon to ol>scnrc the Sun (or pass into the
Earth's shadow). Since tlle Moon's apparent diameter varies with its distance d from the
Earth, it is necessary to cdculate d. Since the Moon is near

;L

mean syzygy at any eclipse,

Ptolemy assumes the Moon's centrum is c = 0"; thus p ( c ) = 60 units. Sutrtst,ittuirig into

(9.22) gives

&(a,)= J[GO
r cos a,12

+ ( r sin a,)Z.

(11.1)

htending to use P tolelnaic interpolation in the tables later, Ptolenzy finds t l ~ emaximum
angular distance of the Moon fsom the ascending or desccliding node for an eclipse
to occur for tlie htoon at greatest distance d = 6,

S=

( a , = 0") and at lcast distance

( a , = 180"). He condudcs that the Moon must be less than 15; i2" from a

uode for a lunar cclipsc to occur, so that the argument of latitude n ( t )must l x hettven
'AImaged VI.!jl 286; 0. Pedersen, Surucy, 226.
2Alrnagest V1.4, 282.

90"

- 15; 112" and 90'

-+ 15; W , or 270" - i5; i Z O and 270' + '15; 1 2 O .

For a sdar eclipse

tlie maximum distance from the node depends on parallax, therefore on the observer's
terrestrial latitude. Ptolemy calculates figures for so1a.r eclipses at two extreme latitudes
imuudirtg tlie iuliabited world.
Finally, to save the user unnecessary work, Ptolemy worlcs out the possibilities for
tlw number of synodic months that may pass between two eclipses of the same type.
Due to the rate of cltange of the Moon's argument of latitude it is common that

a,

given

eclipse will be followed by another six months afterward. A separation of two, three, or
four uoiltlls is never possible for either type of eclipse. Two consecutive Inmr eclipses
may be separated by one or

five

lnouths in tlre right conditions, but never seven. Two

cousecutive solar ecIipses may occur five or seven months apart, but never one mouth
apart. These rules of thnrub allow the eclipse predictor to c h i n a t e many syzygk from
consideration wit ltout doing any calcnlations .
11.2

The Tables for Solar Eclipses (VI.8)

Once an eclipse l ~ a sbeen identified at a syzygy, a set of taLles in VI.8 allows the user
to find the duration of the eclipse, whether the eclipse will be t o t d or partial, and if

it is partial, to find the magnitude of obscuration. As for solar eclipses, the fraction of
obscuration of au eclipse is measured by the fraction d of tltc solar diameter obscured at
wid-eclipse, in twelfths. Thus d = 0 when the Moon and Sl~iltouch but do not overlap,

and J = 12 ivbe~ithe Suu becomes completely obscured for an instant.

The eclipse m a p i t a d e d is a fuuction of the argumelat of latitude n, and to a lesser


extent the distauce 5 horn the Earth to the Moon. Ptolerny provides tables for d(n,

and d(n,&)

(see Table 11.1), where 5-

the smallest.

= 60

+ r is the Moon's

the table makes clear:

grea.test distance
actually tabulates

C11apte.r il. Eclipse Theory (Book ?.'I)

Ecliptic

Figure 11.2: Calculating the Moon's distance from the ~iodeMAr from the digits of
obscuration d

n ( d , 60 iz r ) . Figure 11.1 shows the calculation of n when 5 =


, , ,S

= 60 -t r. At the

Moon's greatest clistance from the Earth, the Moon's and S i ~ n ' sradii are itlcutical:

At the Moon's least distance its radius illcreases to r,,,

= 0; 17,40. Assuming Figure

11.1 to be plane rather than sphericid and taking the l a t i t d e of the Moor1 BM to be
approximately equal to the line joining the centres 1\49,
P tolcmy finds3

Since

Figure 11.2: P tolemy's cdculation of the minu t c s of immersion

Since ll4R

=I

17

this determines

f 90'
tr.

1,

depending

011

whether N is the (It-,tending or ascending node,

The relation (11.5) is linear, resulting in little of interest in the table.

1 shaU ignore n(r1,6)for the remainiilg eclipse tables. Ptolem 7 instructs the reader to use
the table in the I-everse direction from the calculation, giviilg d(n,6
,)

and d(n,

Chapter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book \'I)

Table 11.1: The t a b b 01 solar eclipses at the Moon's greatest distancc (VL8)

Figure 11.3: The table for m ( d:),,S,

error plot

11-3 The Solar Minutes of fmmersion Tables (VIA)

Ir~dudcdin V1.8 is mother iable, entitled "Minates of Inuncrsion", tabulating the arc m
travelled by the Moon relative to the Sun from first contact to mid-eclipse. This quantity
allows the user to find the eclipse's duration using the Moon's velocity with respect to
the Sun. Again,

972

is calculated as a function of the digits of obscuration d, and of

the Moon's distailce 6 (although the value of nz depends on 6 only through the vdue of

Ptolemy 's calculatioli of rn proceeds as follows: the Moon's centre moves from MI at
first contact to A& at illid-eclipse with respect to the Sun (Figure 11.2). Then

Under the assumption that the diagrnm is plane rather than spherical, the right triangle

, , ,S
Ptolemy computes m for d E (1,2,. . . ,121 and for 6 =

,=
value of a ) . The table for 6

u d 6,;,

(6 affects only the

appears in Table 11.1 ahove, with an error plot in Figure

11.3,
When 5 = b,,,,,,: the Moon's radius is slightly larger than the Sun's. This implies that
totczlity may last for s slrort time, as opposed to an instrmt when 6 = S,,,.

Ptolemy

computes the greatest possible obscuration as d = 12; digits,4 and indudes this in

t.lte tables for 6 = 6,,,;,,. ,4 single entry in an extra column, corresponding to the cdunnn
%r a total solar eclipse, d is measured on the l i e through the centre of the Sun a d Moon, from
the point on the Moon's edge closest to the Sun across to the far edge of the Sun.

Chapter 11. Eclipse T b o r y (Book 1'6)

entitled "Half Totality" in the lunar eclipse tables (see thc nest seckiou), gives the minutes

of half totality as 0; 2,G. The table of m ( d , S,,,,,) is given in the same form as T&le 11.1,
but I ignore the redundmt entries in the lower half of tlic table in my rcco~npt~tcztion
(Table l i .2). Tlie error plot is give11 in Figwe 11.4.
Toomer remarks that "there are a number of scribal errors in these tables [all the
tables in (VI.8)] but it is not dways certain which are due to corruption m d which to
Ptolemy's faulty comp~tatioil."~
Scribal error may be the source of the two l u g e errors
in the table for 6 = 5,,,

at d

= 4 and cl = 5. The remailling cntries reveal little, since so

fern of the entries ase in error, except that modern rounding seems to have Leen used,

11.4

The Lunar Immersion Tables (VI.8)

The problem of predicting lunar eclipses is esscntidy the same as that of solar eclipses.
Two bodies, one rotatiiig on the ecliptic and the other on

i\

circle iimclined at 5' to the

ecliptic, must overlap for an eclipse to occur. For a lunar eclipse, lzowever, the object on
the ecliptic is tlic shadow cast by the Earth on the Moon, which has a radius about 2; x
the size of the Moon's radius. Thus the duration of totality of a lunar eclipse can be
considerably l o n g s than the duratiou of totality of a solar cclipse. Also, both the Moon
and the Earth's shadow 17aryin size, depending on the ?ist;~ncefrom the Earth to the
Moon.
The similarity betwecn solar and luiii~reclipses leads to siinilarities in the tables. Elor
a partial eclipse, the digits of obscuration d measures the le~igthof the Moon's diametcr
obscured at mid-eclipse. The digits of obscuration for a total cclipse measures the distance
along the line through the centres of the Earth's shadow aud the Moon, hoin the p i n t

on the edge of the Earth's shadow closest to the Moon across to the far edgc of the Moon
5G.Toomer, Alrnagest 305, note 63.

Chapter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book lrI)

Error

0
1
-I
0

0
0

0
1
0
0
1
0

0
0

T&le 11.2: The table rn (cl, J,,;,)

(solar eclipses)

Figure 11.4: Tlre table m ( d , b,;,): error plot

at mid-eclipse ( A B in Figure 11.5). h both cases tlle unit of measurernut is twelfths of

2vit!i tlac definition af


the h4ooir's diaiuet,er. Defining d in tlLis maimer provides coi~t~ii~uity
d for a partid eclipse, sixice cl = 12 precisely wllen the duration of tcttdity is an instant.

TPlus, an entire eclipse, wlreii the ccntre of the Moou passcs through the centre of tlre
Earth's shadow, has ~nagnitude

For 6 = 6, ,,
finds r,,,,,

Ptoleiny finds r,,,,,

= 0; 17,40i~lldr,,,,d,,

= 0; 15,40and

r,h,d,,

= 0; 40,44". For 6 = 6,

he

= 0; 45,56O. Altllougll lic does not explid tly cornputrs

d for an entire eclipse, he uses the ratio

r.hndotu

: rmoon= 2%cl~ewbere,~
regirrdless of

the

value of 6. This gives cl = 21; 36 at a11 entire eclipse.


Two sets of lunar eclipse tables calculated for 6 = b,,,,, w d S =

are given. The

first three colun~ns,containing the argunients of latitude n and the digits of sbscuratioa
(2,

have tlle same structure as the solar tables (see Table 11.1). The functions tabulated

for

12

are again linear, aid are ignored here.

For a partial eclipse (d < 12), the minutes of immersion tables, m(d, &
),

and

nz(d,SnSin), are computed sinlilarly to thc solar tables. For a total eclipsc, the dnraiion of totality call be snbstantial, requiring a slightly different structure far the tables
when d

> 12. In this case, the minutes of imuiersion table gives nz = M ; A i 2 , the length

of the arc from the beginning of the eclipse to the beginnixg of totality with respect to
the position of the Earth's shadow (Figure 11.5). The columit entitled "Hdf Totality"
gives the length T = ilf2ilf3from tlic beginning of totality to mid-eclipse. From these
quantities the user may find the durcztion of tlze phases of the eclipse.

The calculation of m(d, 6) and T (d, 6 ) assumes the diagram in Figure 11.5 is plane
rather than spherical. Since SMl = i..radOw

+ r,

and S h b = SAfl

- br,,,

the right

B
Figure 113: The calculation of the duration of the phases of a lunar eclipse
triangle SM3M, gives
A41-443

= m(d) =IF($)
I- =

Tshadom $

- (rehadow $ rmm

- -rmoon)'.
6

(Il.l(b)

. Since S2\J2 = -r.sttadow - rmoon,right triangle SM3M2 gives

Subtracting (11.11) from (11.10) gives m (d). The tables aid recomputations for m(d,6)
m d T(d,6) for 6 = Sma. und 6 = b,,,,

ase

given in Table 11.3, with error plots in Figures

Chapter 11. Eclipse Tllecry (Book Trl)

II
d
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
entire

Greatest distance
m
Error
0
0; 0
1
16;59
1
23;43
28;41
1
32;42
0
1
36; 6
39; 1
0
41;34
0
1
43;50
-1
45;48
47;35
0
49;9
1
50;31
0
40;35
-1
-1
37;28
35;30
0
34; 6
-1
33; 7
1
32;23
1
-1
31;51
31;32
0
0
31;22
31;20
0

11ax

Error

1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Least di!
Error
0

Error

1
1
0
1
0
0
1
0
1
0
0
1
0
-1
0
0
0
r

-1
1
0
0

Table 11.3: Lunar eclipse tables of minutes of immersion a i d half totality (VI.8)

Clinpter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book 'IT,,

Figure 11.6: Lul1a.r eclipse tables of minutes of immersion and hdf totality for Moon at
greatest distance: error plot

Figure 11.7: Lunar eclipse tables of minutes of immersion and half totality for Moon at
least distCmce:error plot

Chapter JP. Eclipse Theory (Book T;T)

11.4.1

Dependence between the tables for m and T

It seems impossible to imagine how Ptolemy could haye coluputed the t a l k for nz w~ef
T avoiding the fundamental relation

mi thout complicating tlte cdcdations unnecessarily. This suggests that the values in

the table for m depend on the values in the table for T. Note firsf that the lasge

b,;,,)
errors for m,(P8,&,in)and T(18,

indicate that Ptolemy made a cdculation error

when evduatiug T , which was csrricd through to an error in m. Overall, 1 u~alyzethe


dependence for 13

< d < 21, since T does not exist for rl

< 12 and no caiculatioal i s

required for rn wlter, the eclipse is entire ( d = 21; 36).

I consider m to be a function of T for each d, and 6 = S,

and 6 = S,,,;,. I define

TA and Tp to bc the correct vdues and Ptolenny's vdues of T respectively. f define the
reconstructed

Tn as

where nzp(d) is Ptolemy's value for a??(d).The Spear~n~an


rank correlation coefficieut for

(Tp - TR,TA - TR)is 0.294, not a significant result. The Wilcoxon test on the data

I Tp- TR I - I TA- TR / favours a median smaller than zero with p = 31,7%. I conclude
that the test does not support any conclusion of dependence based on the entries in
the table (besides the outlier for d = 18 and S = S,,,,,).
computations favour dependence.

Of 18 entries, only 11 back

Chapter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book V I )

The Eclipse Interpolation Table (TJf.8)

11.5

TOcalculate d,

772

and T when the true distance of the Mooir is between Em,;, and ,,S

Ptolemy resorts to his interpoiation method. Thus

for some function f,and similarly for m and T. Ptolemy states:


This [table] contaius, as argument, the position [in anomaly] on the epicycle
[a,],

and, [as function], the corresponding number of sixtieths to be applied

[as iliterpolation coefficient] in every case to the difference [between values]

derived fsom the first and second eclipse tables. We llsve already computed

the amounts of these sixtieths for the table of the moon's parallax [V 181;they
are set out in the seventh colupnn [of that table], since the epicycle has to be
taken at tlte apogec: of the eccentre to represent [the situation at] s y ~ y g y . ~
Tlrus he uses the function fA(a,) horn parallax theory (see f)10.6),
since c = 0".
Rather than refer the user to V.18, Ptolemy reproduces the table in VI.8.

The

arguments are a, E ( G o , 12":. . . ,180") (although the arguments are listed as a , / 2 ) , not
(do,8O,.

. . ,180")as before.

Thus every second entry of the table in VI.8 corresponds to

every t l k d entry of the table in V.18. These were the nodes of interpolation in V.18,
and the last places were divisible by 3 to avoid rounding when interpolating. in VI.8
Ptolerny must fill in every second eutry. As Table 11.4 and Figure 11.8 make clear, he
uses linear interpolation again. He is forced to round thc interpolated entry on four
occasions, Two of these are early in the table ( a , / 2 = 15' and 2T0),where fA is concave
up, and he rounds dowuward, slightly offsetting the error incurred by linear iuterpolation.
Tlte otlrers are late in the table (a,/2
7~

imagest V1.7, 302.

= 7 5 O and 8T0),where fA is concave down, and he

Chapter I I. Eclipse Tlieory (Baok Till)

233

ronnds upward, spin slightly offsetting the error caused by iiitezpdaii~n.Since dl four

entries axe rou~ldcdin tile direction opp~siteto the error duc to interpoltition, I suspect
that this was done intentionally to reduce error, revediug sometlhg of Ptolemfs feel.
for interpolation.

11.6

Converting from Length Digits t o Area Digits (VI.8)

Although it is more convenient for eclipse prediction to mensure the magnitude of an


eclipse by the obscured fraction of the eclipsed body's radius, popular eclipse accounts
even today tend to measure the magnitude by the proportiou of the eclipsccl body's area
that is obscured at mid-eclipse. A s m d table converting length digits cl to area digkts

A(cl), the fraction of tke surface (out of 12 units) that is ol~scured,is the last table in

VI. 8.
Ptolemy co~nputesA(d) for both solar and lunar eclipscs using a constant ratio far

rnroon: rsunand rs,zodow : rnloon.This qproximation does not hother liim, siuce the entries
in the table are rounded crudely. For a solar eclipse he miscalculates (Figure 11.9)

instead of the correct d u e 12;4f1/12,~


wlde for a lunar eclipse he finds

_M_Z_-- SD

rmmn

31; 12
12

-%=-.

Thus, for a solar eclipse 2r,,, is taken to be 12 units, wlticlt gives 2r,,,,
12;46 units. For a lunax eclipse, 2r,,,,

(11.16)

= 12; 20 or

= 12 and 2~~~~~~~= 31; 12.

The analyses for a solar and lunar eclipse are identical; I follow the former. Setting
a = SK and b = K M , subtraction gives

sA2magest \I.?,302. See also note 61. Comnentators as early as Pappus noticed tlJs error; Me A.
ftome, Commentai~esTome I, 261.1

Chapter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book 171)

Error
12
6

Error

21
18
18
3
9
1
4
-3
4
2
4
1
1

-2

-4
-3
-4
2
1
12
-1
1

-6
5
-6

4
-8
0

Table 11.4: The eclipse interpolation table fA(a,) (Vi.8)

Figure 11.8: The eclipse interpolation table f.,l(u,):

error plot

Chapter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book lir)

Figure 11.9: The calcdaiim of eclipse area digits. For a solar eclipse the left lwdy is the
Sun and the right body is the Moon. For a lunar eclipse the left body is the Mo~ma i d
the right body is the Earth's shadow. IE both cases the unit of measurement is twelfths
of the eclipsed body's diameter.
From the +hi triangles AKS and A K M ,
l'nzoon

- A K ~= b2

and

2
T,~,,

- -4K2
= a2.

Subtracting these two equations, we have

aud &.riding by b

+ a this gives

Fzom (11.11) ail (f1.20), a m d b

are

easily obtained, and are used to get

(11.18)

Chapter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book Vl)

Converting the lengths t o 3,rea.s: me have

I
Arca(GASG) = - ( A G ) ( S K )= ca
2

and

Area(AAA4G) = cb.

(11.22)

c
.
r

(11-23)

Tbc arcs A ~ and


G A ~ are
G found by trigonometry:

Alr'
c
A . G = 2 sin-' - - 2 sin-' AS
ruun

A ~ G
= 2 sin-'

and

mmn

This gives10

and similarly for AZGA4; replacing r,,, with r,,,

in the above equation. S~btracting

AGS from ADGS gives ADGK, and similarly subtracting AGM from AZGM gives
AZGfi. Adding ADGK to AZGII' gives

AZGD =

rrZunsin-' A
rsun

180"

- ca

sin-'
+ rrmOon
180"
2

rrnoon

- cb.

Converting to area units (where the area of the left circle is 12 units) and substituting
(If .lS), we have finally

A ( d ) is calculated for d E [0,1,.


.. ,121 in VL8. The entries appear in fractional form,
but are given iu sexagesimd form in Table 11.5. The recomputation is performed using
Ptofemy's stated vdue for n = 3; 8, 30.l' The error plots are given in Figures 11.10 and

11.11. For the solar table, some sin~plificationand only a small error results if r,,

is

taken to be 12 units. Tlte table is recomputed for rmOon= 12, 12;20, and P2;46 units.

The average sigued errors of the entries for these three parameter values are respectively
2.683, 0.401, and -2.187, iu units of the last place (removing the entries for d = 0 a i d
d = 12). This suggests that 12;20 was the due used to compute the table.
% I< is to the left of S the equations are slightly different.
x iu the following equations refers to the number rather than the parallax function.
13.7, 302. The correct value of ?r is 3; 8,29,44,. ...

I f Ahagest

Chapter 11. Eclipse Theory (Book VI)

--

Error 1 Error 2 Error 3


-1
-1
-P
3
2
2
1
0
-1
1
2
0
1
3
-1
-2
-4
-6
1
-2
G
0
-4
-8

Error

7
12
6
0

3
7 .

2
2

1
0

Table 11.5: The solar and lunar eclipse area convcrsion tables (V1.8)

Figure 11.10: The solar eclipse area conversion table: error plot

X
1

10

11

12

Digits

Figure 11.11: The lunar eclipse area conversion table: error plot

11.7 Angles of Inclination at Eclipses ('prI.12)

The tables of VI.8 are followed by a discussion of their use in predicting solar and lunar
eclipses, but the discussion is not relevant to the constructioil of the tables themselves.
Book VI concludes with the calculation of the angle between the ecliptic asd the arc
joining the centres of t l ~ etwo bodies at certain phases of the eclipse. Although these
rurgles have no astronomical relevance, Ptolemy included them (as well as a s m d diagram
givkg the angle between the ecliptic and the horizon) since they were traditionally used
for astrological purposes and weather forecasting.12

Several si~iqdifyingassumptions are made in the calculation of the angles of inclination. First, the diagram (Figure 11.12) is assumed to be planar; second, the radius of the
hlooa is assunled to be 0; 16,40 always; and third, the Moon's path MlM2M3is assumed
to be pw&d to the ecliptic SB. Gken the digits of obscurstion d, Ptolemy's first god
is to calculate the mgle ~ ( d=) LShl1M3 between the ecliptic and the arc joining the

Figure 11.12: The cdcdation of angles of inclination for a total lunar eclipse. Mi axe the
ceutres of the Moon at the beginning of eclipse, beginning of totality, and mid-eclipse; S
is the centre of the Earth's shadow. For a partial lunar eclipse M2does not exist. For a
solar eclipse S is the centre of the Sun.
centres of the two bodies at the beginning of the e ~ l i p s e . ' ~For a total lunar eclipse
Ptoleluy also cdculates a2(d) = LSM2.M3, the angle of inclination at the beginning (or
end) of tot ality.14
For a solar edipse: we have

and from (11.7), it follows that

13Clearly, under Ptolemy's assumptions this is the same as the angle at the end of the eclipae.
14Note that a function similar to uz(d) representing the angle of inclination s t begiming of totality
exists also for a total solar eclipse, but since d never reaches 13 it is not tabulated.

SA4,
al( d l = L S A ~ ~= M
sin-'
~ -

siw1

. rsun
G(rarrn

f rmoon)

For a lunar eclipse,

Also,

w llich gives

The tables of the angles of inclination are recomputed in Table 11.6, with an error
plot in Figure 11.13. The errors are unremarkable. Since both al(cl)and a2(d)require
the value of Sh&, a test for dependence between a1 m d 02 is suggested. However, SM3
is easy to calculate with great accuracy, and only one entry of

02

is in error, Thus the

test would not detect dependence, since rounding accounts for almost all of the error.

11.8 Summary of Results

The tables for the prediction of eclipses reveal little of interest. They contain some errors
in cdcuiation uilcliwacteristic of the Almagest tables, including an error in the solar
eclipse area. conversion calculation that. affects all the entries in one table. The theoretical

Table 11.6: Tables of angles of iuclination at eclipses (V1.12)

Chapter I I . Eclipse Theory (Book V f )

Figure 11.'13: Tables of angles of inclination at eclipses: error plot


dependences me, however, difficult to detect due to the accuracy of the rest of the entries.
The constructioi~of the eclipse interpolation table from a lunar parallax interpolation
table suggests an interesting strategic use of rounding in the linear interpolation process
that gives the eclipse table from the parallax table.

Chapter 12
Planetary Longitudes (Books PX-XI)

Following the book on eclipse theory, Ptolemy analyzes tlw motion of the so-cded fixed
stars. He describes the phenomenon of precession, the fact that the fixed stars unldcrgo
a westward rotation of &out 1' per ccntllry parallel to the cc.liptic messured wit11 respect
to the equinoctiid points. A large part of B O O ~VII
~ S and 1'111 consists of a list of the
ecliptic coordinates of over 1000 stars. Tllc star catalogue is one of the great achievements
of ancient astronomy, and has been studied more thoroughly than much of t l ~ eAimagest.
Unusual errors ill the stellar coorclinates in the catalogue llil~cled many to snggest that
Ptolemy took some or d l of the coorclinates directly from an earlier catalogue, perhaps
Hipparchus's, and adjusted those values for precession before including them in his work.
Tlus accusation dates s t least to the tenth century,' and has led to much controversy.
Modern scholars have by no means settled the issue2 I exclutlc the star catalogue from my
study, since it is at least theoretically based on observatious rather than culnputatio~s.
The only celestial bodies that rerni~infor Ptoleiny to consider are the plancts visible to
the naked eye: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. His account of t h i r motion
falls roughly into three parts: first, the planets' longitudes iu Books IX-XI; second, the
traditional topics of retrograde motions and nasimum elongations in Book X I ; and third,
the planets' latitudes in Book XIII. Book IX begins with gcucral cousiderations such as
the relative clistauces of the five planets fiom the Earth. Since there is

ILO

observable

lG. Grasshofi, The History of Ptolemy 'a Star Caialogue, [28], 20-21.
6 . Grasshoff, The ifistoy of Rolemy's Star Catalogue, [28], for a summary of hktoricd and
modern views.
2See

Chapter 12, P h e tary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

244

ymal1ax for any of the pluets,3 Ptolerny has no empirical Lasis to prefer m y ordering.

Tlie only distinguishing feature between the planets is that R4ercury u d Veilus "always
move in the Sun's vicinity'?,*whereas Mars, Jupiter and Satnrn may be anywhere in the
zodiac at a give11 time regardless of the Sun's position. Mercury and Venus are called
the inferior planets and are considered to be closer to thc Earth than the Sun. Mars,
Jupiter, a d Saturn are c d e d the superior planets and are considered to be further
from the Earth than the Sun. This is "the order assumed by the older astronomer^]."^

12.3. T h e Model for Planetary Longitude


The planets' iuovements share similaxities with those of tlle Sun and Moon, but also
--

present unique pntterns. All five planets move dong the ecliptic, never straying from it

by more than a few degrces. They also travel from west to cast along their paths in the
same direction as the Sun m d Moou. Howe~rer,on a more or less regular basis, every
planet slows and stops, then travels backward for a short while before stopping again
and continuing its forward progess. These retrograde moCions may be explained with
the epicyclic model, by assuming the plauet rotates quickly enough on its epicycle to
couteract the niotion of the epicycle on the deferent. TLc variations in the planets'
motions are not regular euough, ho~vcver,to be accounted for by such a siuqde model.

Ptolemy's models for dl the planets except Mercury share the same structwe, digeriarg
only in the values of their parameters. We w i l l see that the layout of the tables for these
planets suggests tliat, tlic model was developed in two stage^.^ The first stage would have
been identical with the simple epicyclic model, but with the Earth remowd from the
coltre of the deferent by an amount EQ = 2e (Figure 12.1). For the sake of di'scussing
Aimagcst 13.1, 419.
4dlrnagest ZX.1, 420.
5Almagest LS.1,419.
'0.Pcdersen, Suruey, 278; 0.Neugebaucr, HAMA, 1634.

Figure 12.1: The first planetary model

the second stage, the deferent circle is renamed the equant. The apogee A is fixed, and
the planet moves on the epicycle in tlie same direction that t . 1 1 epicycle's
~
ccrttre C moves
ou the equant. The arcs subtended by LAQC and LA,CP illcrease at constant rates.

The second model (Figure 12.2) rejects the equant. as the carrier of the epicycle's
centre. -4 secoxlcl circle, the deferent, is introduced with tJw same radius as the equant
and with its centre D midway betwecn the Earth and the cell tre of the equant. Although
the ceutre of the epicycle (now labelled G) rotates on the <lt.icrent,the centrc of uniform
motion is still tEc centre of the equant Q. Thns L AQG incrcirses at a constant rate rather

than ADG. Ptolemy does not motiv&e this significant revision, remarhl3lc since it is a
clear violation of uniform circular motion. As we shall see, llis tabfes are structured to

permit. t'ne reader to see clearly the cliffereuce between tfic longitudes prcdictcd by the

Chapter 12. Plitmfary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Figure 12.2: Tlw second plaaetary model. The original eqtration of centre a = LQCE
reamins, a d the correction factor is 5 = L CEG.

Eccentricity e
Radius of epicycle r

Venus Mars Jupi i c~


6; 0
2;45
1;15
43;10 39;30 11;30

Saturn
3;25

6;30

Table 12.1: The paramrters required for the planetary models

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books 1.X-XI)

two models. The parameters enteriug the cdcdatioss in the tables axe the escentricity
e and the radius of the epicycle r . Their vdues ase give11 for dl the planets except

Mercury in Table 12-1.

12.2

The Mercury Model

Ptolernyis satisfied with the equant-deferent model for the superior plmets, nlld it suffices
for Veuus dso under tlte provision that Veilus' meail longitndc is set to be idclltical to the
Sun's. Far hlercury, some fadty obsesvaf,ionsand parameters, and the large eccentricity
of its orbit, led Ptolemy to believe that its perigee is not 180' removed from the apogee
but rather tirat there arc two perigees, both 120' removed from the apogee. Tlus requires
a s u b s t a t i d modification to the basic planetary model for Mercury.
Ptolemy effects the change by reirrtroducing the circulw parvus from thc lunar model.

Q, some distance from the Eartlt (Figure 12,3), carries the


D rotates oil the circulus parvus i l k the reverse direction of the

X satall circle centred at


centre D of the deferent.

epicycle's centre G, but with the same velocity. The centrc of uniform motion for the
epicycle centre is the poiirt

U on the circvlzls parvus closest to the Earth. Thus LAUG,

the mean centrum, illcreases linearly, and U G always points in the direction of the
&lean Sun.

In addition, i A Q D = LAUG. Iu the Almagest the distance EU = e = 3

d t s is equal to the radius Q i i of tlie ~ i r c u l u sparvus,' tllc deferent has a radius of 60


units, and the epicycle's radius is r = 22; 30 units. Hartner, Pederseu and Price8 have all
found that these parameters lead to a perigee of c,

120; 30' (and c, = 360'

- 120;307,

tolerably close to Ptoleluy's g o d of 120'.

?In the Planehry H;irpo&ses the distailce ELi is still 3 units, but tlre radius of thc circdm pam4~1
is only 2: units.
Gartner, "The Mercury horoscope of Marcantio Michiel of 'Srclricen, [34], 109-17;0.Pedrrscu,
S'umey, 323-4.

Chapter 12. Plaidary Longitudes (Books E-XI)

Figure 12.3: The Mercury model


12.3

The Equatian of Centre Tables (XI.ll)

The first step iu the cdcdation of a plaaet.'s longitude is, as usual, the deterruinaiion of
its mean longitude A, ( t). Since the apogee of each planet has a fixed longitude, P tolemy

prefers to measure longitude using the apogee as the fixed point rather than the vernal
cqai~tox.Thus the meal1 centrum h ( t ) = LAQG (Figurc 12.2) increases linearly and
may be fouud u s h g the mean motion tables for planetary loilgitude ghen in IX.4:

~ ( t= )wt

4- ~n(0).

The mcan longitude may be found by adding the longitude of the apogee

(12.1)

Chapter 13. P I ; m e t q - Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

249

From this the cdcu!ation foHows two stages: fisst to acconiii for the fact tlmt the Earth

is not the centre of miform motion, and second to account fax the planet's positioia on the
epicycle. In the first plailetary model the difference betwecu the mean cen trum m d the

true centrum c(t) = LAEC is easily seen to be a = LQCE, ?Be (uncorrectd) equation

of centre. The clrange from the first to the second rnoclel causes the epicycle's centre

to move from C to G (Figure 12.2). Thus the u~zcorrect~ed


equation of centre appears in
both models, although it has little significance in the secoliil moclel. It is a furzction of
the mean centrum and gives the truc centrum for the first laudel only:

For the second moctci the true equation of centre is not a = LQCE, but q = f QGE.

It generates the true ceittsurn according to the same relatiou:

Since q = cm - c m d a. = c, - ( c

+ S ) , where 6 = LGEC (Figure 12.2)) it follows that

Thus f xfer to b as the correction factor, the difference bet ween the equations of c a t r e
for the two models.

the eqnatious of centre for a given c,


Ptolemy's colnpuirr:iax ~i

uses mechanisms

similar to the computat,ion of the Moon's equation. Drop perpendiculars DH and ET


outo GQ, extended if necessary (Figure 12.2). Sinx cc, = f,41)G = LDQH?this gives

DH = e s i n c ,

and

QH = r cosc,.

(12.6)

Chapter 12. Plarlctary Longitudes (Books IS-XI)

Then p = GE, the distance from elle Earth to the centre of the epicycle, may be found

h m right triangle GTE:

TIE full expression fox p, %en, is


p(e,)

J(J ~ M-I(eOsin

%)2

+ e cos

+ (2e sin %)2.

~,,~)2

(12.10)

The two ecpations of centse are now easily found. From sight triangle GTE, the true
ctjnation of centre is
q ( q l i )= LTGE = sin-'

ET
- sin-'
EG

2e sin c,

The ni~correctedequation of centre uses right triaagle CTE. Since CQ = GO units,

TILLSgives

C E = J(60

+ 2e cos

+ (2e sin c,,,)',

ET

a(%,)= LTCE = sin-' C E - sin-'

2e sin c,,
J(GO

+ 2e cos

+ (2e sin %)2

(12.14)

~ , ) 2

Firraiiy, tire correction f;lctoz 6 is h l l d using (12.5).

The mode1 for h4ercury requires a different calculatiou, but Ptolemy proceeds as
doselq. as possible to his reasoning fur the other planets. The mean centrum c, = L AUG
(Figure 12.3) increases finealy? and differs from the true centnun c = LABG by the

Chapter 12. Phwetaq. Loizgit udes (Dooks IS-XI)

Figure 12.4: Ptolemy's cdculatiou of the equation

cif

centre for Mercury

Chapter 12. Plarletary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

ccjuation of centre q = LUGE. Join D and Zj' (Figure 12.4). T ~ a s l g k&UD is isosceles

(since QU = QD)and c,,, = LAQII); thus

LQDU = LQUD

Cm

= 2'

Using (an equivalent of) the sine theorem, Ptolerny gets

e sin c,

DU =

sin c,,,/2

'

wfuch can be siiiiplified to


c,
DU = 2e cos -

(although Ptolemy's presentatioo requires no such simplifici~tion).~


Project D onto UG,
extending UG if necessary, to produce AT. From

Ptolemg uses right triangie DMU to get

c,

3cm

DM = DU sin -c, = 2e cos -sin 2


2
2 ?
and

Then right triangle DGAf gives

C','

3%

GM = JGDZ
- DM2 = 1 3600 - (2e cos -sin T ) 2 ,
Y

and by subtractim,

gPederseu's analysis (Stlrsey, 319) uses the simplification.

Chapt a 12. Pftu~etaryLongitudes (Books IX-XI)

Projed E w t o

UG, producing A'. Since LELJM=

EIV = e sin c,

and

253

z,
Ptolcmy gets
VAT = -ecosc,.

(12.24)

Then

and the distance p from the Eartk to Mercury is


p(cn) = GE = \/ehr2

+ BAT2 = J(s + e cos cm)2+ (e sinc,,,)2,

(12.26)

which simplifies to
p(c,) =

\/s2

+ c2 + 2es cos em.

(12.27)

Then finally right triangle EGN gives the equation of centre:

Ptolemy gives tables for the uncorrected equation of centre a(&) and tlie correction

. .,
factor 6(%), for all five planets and the standard arguments c, E {6",12",.. .,90,930,,
MI0}.Since a user of the tables simply needs to add the d u e s a(c;,) a d &(c,) to give
q ( h ) and never requires a or

6 indi~ridually,there seems little poiut in presenting the

two tables separately rather t h m simply tabulating q(cm). Ptolemy explains:

...the third [colunin] wilf contain the equations corresponding to the mean
position in longitude.. .under the simplifying assumption that the centre of
the epicycle is carried on the eccentre which produces the mean motion lie.

the equant] jaf~,j].The fourth c o i ~ l l l ~


will
l contain the corrections ta the
equations [S(c,,)j

cfue to the fact that the epicycle centre is carried, uot on

the above circle, but on mother. . ..In this place, siiice this is a fscir:ntificj
treatise, it mas appropiate to display this way of separating the zodiacal

Chapter 12, P h u e t ary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

anomaly, and hence to tabulate it in two columns. However, f a actual use,


a single column formed by combining these two will

Indeed, in his later Hanciy Tables the two are combined to forin a table for q(%).l1 Since

it is implausible and without historical precedent to believe that Ptolenly calculated


6(c,) independently in some way rather than computing q(c,)
the tables for a(c,,) and the reconstructed tables for q(c,)

and subtracting a(%),

are presented 111 Tables 12.2-

12.11 with error plots in Figures 12.5-12.14. Note that the colnplexity of the calculations
for Mercury's true equation of centre does not reflect an increased error: in fact, the
Mercury tables are the llrost accurate of all the planets, both for a(%) and for q ( k ) .

Chapter 12. Pla.neta,ryLoiigi t udes (Books IX-XI)

Error
0
0
0
-1
-1
-1
-2
-2
-1
0
1
2
1

c,,~

Error

c,,,

cr(c,,)

93
9G
99
102
105
108
111
114
117
120
123
126
129

-1

138

4;45

Error
-1

Table 12.2: Saturn ui~correctedequation of centre table (XI,11)

Figure 12.5: Srtf;urnuncorrected equation of centre table: error plot

Chapter 13. Planetary Lon@t udes (Books IX-XI)

Error
0
0
0

0
0
-1
-1
-1
-1

0
1
2
1

Error
0
-1
-1
-1
-1
-1
0

1
1
1
2
1

1
0

--1

Error
0
":

0
-1
-2
-2
-2
-2
-1
-1
-1
-1
-1
1
0
0

Table 12.3: Saturn true equation ~f centre table (XI.ll)

Figure 12.6: Saturn true equation of centre table: error plot

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Table 12.4: Jupiter uncorrected eqliation of centxe table (XI.11)

Figure 12.7: hipiiter uncorrected equation of c e ~ ~ t rtable:


r:
error plot

Chapter 12. Pfmetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Error

Error

0
1
1

0
0
I

1
2
2
2
2
3
2
2
1
1
0
0

1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
1
1
0
0

T&le 12.5: Jupiter true equation of centre ta~ble(XI.11)

Fignre 12.8: Jupiter true equation of centre t a l k enor plot

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Error
-1
-2
0
0
0

1
0
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
0

Table 12.6: R4as uncorrected equation of centre table (XI.11)

Figure 12.9: &lass iritcomected ecpation of centre. table: exror plot

Tabk 12.7: Mars true equation of centre tt~ble(XI.11)

Figwe 12.10: Mars true equation of centre tahle: error plot

Cliapter f 2. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Table 12.8: Venus uncorrected equat,ion of centre table (XI.ll)

Figufe 12.11: Venus uncorrected equation of cext rr: table: error plot

Error

Error

Error
-1

-2
-1
0
-1
-1
-1

-1
0
0
1
0
0

-1
0
Tzble 12.9: Venus true equation of centre table (XI.11)

Figure 12.12: Venus trne equation of centre talde: error plot

Error
1

Error

Error

0
0
0

1
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
-1

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

0
0
0
0
1

1
0
0
0
0

0
0
0

0
0
0

0
0

Table 12.10: Mercury uncorrected equation of ccu tre table (XI.11)

Figure 12.13: Mercury uncorrected equation of celrtre table: error plot

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XIj

Error

1
0
0
0

1
0
0

0
-1
0
0

-1
-1

- Error

0
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
-1
0
0
0
0

Error
0
1
1
1
0
1
1

1
1
0
0
0

0
0

Table 12.11: Mercury true equatjion of centre table (XI.11)

Figure 12.14: Mercury true equation of centre table: error plot

Chapter 112. Plallctary Lon@tudes (Boolis IX-XI)

Phiet m ~ dFmction Sun1 af h i d i s of Node Errors


25
Saturlr
a(c,)
.r:
Saturn
q(cm)
-.-.
Jupiter
a(c,)
22
Jupi tcr
q (c,)
24
Mars
a(cm)
23
Mars
(~(cm)
23
Ve~uis
a(cm)
Veilus
q ( ~ )
22
20
Mescury
a(%)
25
Mercury
q(h)

Probability
0.151
0.304
0.151
0.696
0.304
0.500
0.500
0.696
0.941
0.151

Table 12.12: Planetsry equatim of centre tables: interpolation grid test results
12.3.1

Interpolation for odd values of

c,,

Altbough inspection does not suggest interpolation for odd values of c,, in the latter
parts of d l the equation of centre tables, for completeness I examined the possibility by
applying the interpolation grid test of S3.3 to all five tables for a, and tlle five reconstructed tables for q. The results, in Tczble 12.12, give the probability of obtaining a node
error rank sum as great or greater than the observed node rank sum. I conclude that the
errors for cdd c,, are not. significantly greater than the errors for nearby even c,.

12-33 Error clustering


Both the uncorrected and the true equation of centre tables seem to exhibit some
clustering of error. I performed the clusteiing test of $3.2 ou all ten tables (removing
the entry for c,], = 180" in each case), with results summarized in Table 12.13. The last
column gives the uumber of runs of error in the table, with the number of simulations
out of 1OOOO that contained that many or fewer runs. For 'all the Saturn and Jupiter
tables there seeills no doubt that t h errors cluster more than one might expect by
iudependent cdculatioa. For M a s and the inferior plancis, however, the results are

Chapter 12. P h e t a r y Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Planet, and Table

Conclusioii

Saturn
Saturn
Jupiter
Jupiter
Mars
Mars
Ve11us
Venus
Mercury
Mercury
Table 12.13: Error cluster.ing test results for the planetary equation oi cen trc tables
much less conclusive.

12.3.3

The dependence of S(c,) on q(cml\

The Almagest tables for a a i d S are at least in theory relat,ccl by (12.5). A computation
of tables for 5 sl~ouldintroduce the errors in the tables for a , along with the unknown

errors in the calculations of q. The dependence may not be present if, for instance, S WG
calculated from some pre\ious tables for a , or if other errors mask those iutroduced by

a.
The table dependence test of $3.1 was performed on the t d ~ l e sfor all five planets,
testing for dependence of the $-tables on the a-tables. In each case file entries !or
c,,, = 180" are removed, since no calculations are involved.

The quantities an and

cwp

are, respectively, the correct and Ptokmy's values for a (wliere an is cotuputed using

the parameters given in the text). The quantity a~ is the ralue of a reconshcted from

Clt ap t er 12. Plair ct ary Longitudes (13ooks IS-XI)

Plailet

Spearman's p

Lignificance

UTilcoxoilT

Significance

Saturn

0.348

< 29%

828.5

0.000

Jupiter

0.858

814

0.000

Mars

0.712

< $%
< $%

592

0.260

Veuus

0.896

< $%

503

0.930

Mercury

0.750

< $%

693

0.021

Table 12.14: Planetary equation of centre: table dependence test results


Ptolemy's

d u e

bp for the correction factor:

I computed Spearman's p for the data, pairs ( a p - a ' ~a, , ~- a ~ )and


, performed the
TYilcoxon signed-rank test on the qnantities

The results, in Table 12.14, show that p is significantly positive, although of varying sizes,
for the tables for each planet. This suggests that roundoff error obscures some of the

depeudence, an unsurpsislng result since Ptolemy's values for 6 are rounded drastically
cornpared to their absolute size. The Wilcoxon test results give p values for rejection
of the hypothesis t h t the median is zero in favour of a l ~ c d i a nless than zero. They
favour dependeucc for Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury (strongly for the first two), but give
insigzrificant results for hfass and Venns. This does not necessarily indicate a divergence in
the methods of cdcul,, :ion. Due to the differences in the parameters, different calculations
are involved for each p: :let, so roundoff error may affect tablcs by varying aiuounts from

table to table.

Chapter 13. Planetary Longitudes fBooks IX-XI)

12.4

The Equation of -Anomaly Tables (XI.;;)

Once the longitude of the centre 3f the epicycle G (Figure 12.2) is deter~ninedusing ttre
equation of centre, the o d y qumtity left to find is the angulx displacement. from 5: to
the planet P caused by the planet's location oil tlie epicycle. Ptolemy assumes that the
planet rotates uxiiformly around the epicycle with respect to the point A, on the epicycle
furthest from the centre of the equant

Q. Thus the mean anomaly a,(t) = LA,,GP

is a h e a r function of time, and may be found using mean iliotion tables wliich Ptolemy
provides in IX.4. Since A,,, does not lmve the same longitude i t s the centre cf tlre epicycle,
Ptolemp converts tlre ruean anomaly to the true anomaly n ,(t) = IA,GP, ~vhereA, is
tlte point on the epicycle directly behilid the centre G observed from Earth. From Figure

12.2, it is easy to see that


av(t>= um(t)

+ q(crn).

(12.30)

The equation of anomaly, the difference between thc positions of 6 and P , is


p = LGEP. It is determined by the plauet's position on the epicycle (represented by a,

or a,), and to a lesser estent by the epicycle's distance fronr the apogee A (represented
by c, or

c).

Ptolemy cllooses to consider p as a function cif a, and c, and argues as

follows: drop a perpendicular P L fiom tlie planet

P L = r sin a,

and

P to t h t line EG.4,. From this,


GL = 7- cos a,.

(12.31)

The distauce p(c,,,) =PEGhas already been found in the calcnlations for thc ecluatioll of
centre (12.10). Thus:
Accordingly, the ratio of tlte whole line EGL to L P mill be given. Hence

L LEP will be @en, md we will have coinputed the angle AEP which cumpxises the a.ppareut distance of tlie planet fsom the apogee.12
12Almagest XI.9, 545. The letters representing some of tlie points have been changed lme to conform
to my diagram.

CA ap t cr 12. Planet ~LTJJLongit,udes (Books 1X-XI)

This suggests t l ~ s Ptolerny


t
used right triangle ELP to calculate p = f LEP by

PL
EL

p(a,, c,) = tan-' - = tan-'

p(c,)

sin a ,

sin a,

1%

(12.32)
'

However, he provides uo sample calculations, and indeed he cannot, since he cannot


evaluate air arc tangeut. h4ore likely the calculator avoided the arc tangent as in previous

siinilitl. situatioils by using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the hypotenuse EP, and
applying an arc sine. Then

EP = J E L ~+ P L , =
~

fip+ r cos a,)2 +

sin a,)',

(12.33)

+ ( r sin a,)?

(12.34)

(7.

m d the equation of auomdy is

PL

p(a,, c,,,) = sin-' E P - sin-'

sin a ,

d ( p ( ~ , ) r cos a,)?

For Mercury the mean m d true aaomdy are defined i d c i l t i d y to the above, where

.4,, is the point

Gn

the epicycle furthest from the centre of u~~ifornz


motion

U. Mercury

nlovcs on its epicycle with coilstant velocity relative to A,,,, so that a , may be found
using the meail motion tables (IX.4). From (12.30) and q(cr,,)ione may find a,. From this
point tlte argument above applies equally well to Figure 12,3, giving (12.34) for Mercury
also. The difference iu the models affects only p(c,).
Since the equation of anomaly is a function of two varial~les,Ptolemy uses his interpd?ttion method to tabulate it. The weak variable is %, so p is evaluated fox the extreme
d u e s of c,, where the epicycle centrc

Note that p(OO) = 60

G is at apogee and st perigee:

+ c and p(180) = GO - e units, simplifying the d d a t i o n s .

(For

Mercury, Ptolemy defines pz(a,) = p(a,, 120),the location of the perigee. The difference
itl the model leads to different d u e s of p.) In addition, Ptolemy computes p for c, = ck,

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes ('Books IX-XI)

-A-

Figure 12.15: The definition of c:,

Table 12.15: Precise d r r e s of the parameter

c:,

for each planet

CJiaptcr 62. Plituetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

271

a c w t r d d u e of c,, defined so that t1:e ccatre of the epicjdc G is ?(cO,) = 60 w i t s from

the Eartll (Figure 12-15). This gives a. central value of

em, and a

third function

Ptolexny does uot give cO,, explicitly in the AZmagest for m y planet, since its precise value
does not arise in calculstions (except indirectly in the interpolation tables, to follow).
Pedersen has derived the expression

from geometric ~ousiderations.~~


The value of cf, is slightly greater than 90, depending
on the value of the eccentricity (except for Rkrcury). Accurate values of cO, for each
planet are given in Table 12.15.
Ptolenly @yes po(ar), po(av) - PI (a,), and pz(a,) - po(cl,) in the tables, to ease the
cdculations for his user in later interpolation. The recomputaiions provided here in
Tables 12.16-12.30, wit11 error plots in Figures 12.16-12.30, are for the table po and the

tables for pl and pz reconstructed by the appropriate additions or subtractioils. All tables
are computed for a, E (6',.

I".

Pedersen, Survey, 293.

. .:90, 93':. . . , 180)as usua1.

Chapter 13. Planetary Longitudes (13001;s K-_XI)

Tddc 12.16: Saturn equa~tiouof a.nomzdy a t aposve table (XI.11)

Figure 12.16: Saturn equation of anomaly at apogce table; error plat

Chapter 12, Planetary Longitudes jl3ooErs

33

30
36
42
48
54
GO
66
72
78
84
90

2;50 1
3;20
3;49

'

4;17
4;42
5; 4
5;25

5;42
5;55
6; 5
6;12 1

0
-1
-1
-1
-1
-1
0
0
0
0
1

/ 105
108
111
114
117
120
123
12G
129
132
135

IX-XI)

612

Error
-1

G; 9
6; 5
6; 0
5;55
5;48
5;40
5;31
5;21
5;lO
4;58
4;45

0
-1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

a,

po(a,)

138
141
144
147
150
153
156
159
162
165
168
171
174
177
180

4;31
4;lG
4; 0
3;43
3;25
3; 7
2;48
2;29
2; 9
1;48
1;27
1; 6
0;45
0;23
0; 0

Error
1

1
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
1
1
1
0

Table 12.17: Saturn centrd equation of anomaly table (XI.ll)

Figure 12.17: Saturn central equation of anomaly table: error plot

Chapter 12. Plai1etar.s L o ~ g iudes


t
(Books IS-XI,)

a,

6
12
18
24

55
42

48
54
60
66
72
78
84
90

/
'

112(~,,)

0;38
1;15
l;52
2 2
3;33
4; 4
4;34
5; 1
5;24
5;45
6; 3
6;16
6;27
6;34

1I

Error
1

I/
/

2
,

a,

93
96
99
102
105
108
111
117

2
1
2
0
1
1

120
123
126
129
132
135

p,(a..)
6;35
6;36
6;36
6;36
6;33
6;30
6;25
6;12
6; 3
5;54
5;43
5;32

5;19
5: 5

/
II

Error
0
0
1
2
2

2
2
2
2
1
2
2
2
2
2

a. ' pz(a,) Erros


138 4;50
2
141 4;34
2
144 4;17
2
147 3;58
0
150 3;39
0
153 3;20
0
15G 3; 0
1

159
162
165
168
171 I
174

/
i'ia 1

240
2;19
1;56
1;34
1;ll
0;49

7;2:

2
1

2
1

2
2
0

Table i2.18: Saturn ecluation of anomaly at perigee table (XI.11)

Figure 12.18: Satam equation of anomaly at perigce table: error plot

Chapter 12. Plaictary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

"

I pt(u,) / Error
1 6 1 0;56 0
12 1 1;51 I 0
/

a,

18
24

130

36
42

48

54
60
GG
72
78
84
90

2;45
3;"
4131
5;21
G;10 I
655
7;38
8;16
8;51 1
9;22 i
9;48
10; 9
10;25

1
1
1

a,

-1

-1

0
0
0
0
1
2

1
1

53
96
99
102
105
108
111
114
117
120
123
126
129
132
135

/ pl(a,)
10;30
10;33
10;35
10;35
10;33
10;30

10;24

10;15
10; 5
8;54
9;41
9;25
9; 8
8;48
8127

'

Error

2
1
2
2
1
2
1
0
-1
-1
0
-1
-1
-1
-1

p, ( a , ) Error
-1
138 8; 4
-1
141 7;39

a,

144
147
150
153
156
159
162
165
168
171
174
17'7
180

7;13
6;44
6;13
5;41
5; 7
4;32
3;56
3;18
2;40
2;0
1;20
0;40
0; 0

1
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
0
-1
0
0

Table 12.I9: Jupiter equation of anomaly at apogce table (XI.11)

Figure L.19: Jupiter equation of asomdj- at apogce table: error plot

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books D-XI]

Error
0

a,,

138
141
144
147
150
153
156
150
162
165
168
171
174
177
180

Error
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0

Table 12.20: Jupiter central equation of anomaly table (XI. 11)

Figure 12.20: Jupiter central equation of anomaly table: error plot

I Error

l o
1
0
0
0
-1
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
1

pz(a,)
93
11;28
96 11;32
-99 11;34
102 11;35
105 11;34
108 11;32
111 11;26
114 11;19
117 11; 9
120 10;58
123 10;43
126 10;27
129 10; 8
132 9;48
135 9;25
a,

Error
0

0
-1
0

0
1
1
1
1
1
0
1
0
1
1

a,

138
141
144
147
150
153
156
159
162
165
168
171
174
177
180

pz(a,)
9;0
8;32
8; 2
7;31
6;57
6;21
5;43
5; 4
4;24
3;42
2;59
2;15
1;30
0;46
0; 0

Table 12.21: Jupiter equation of anolnaly at perigee table (XI.11)

Figure 12.21: Jupiter equation of auomaly at perigee table: error plot

Error
1
1
1

Error

0
0

0
1
1
0
0
0
0
-1
0
1

-1
0
0
1
1
1
1
1

Error

0
-1
0
1

Table 12.22: Mars equation of anomaly at apogce table (XI.11)

Figure 12.22: Mars equation of anonraly at apogce table: error plot

Chapter 12. PIauetar~;Longitudes (Books IX-X'I)

] J ~ ( u " ) Error

2;24 [

11
11

a,

93

Error
0
-1
0

a, I po(a,) Error
138 40;45
-2
141
144

-1

147

-1
-1
-1
0
1

150
153
156
159
162
165
168
171
174
177

1
0
-1
-1
-1

180

T&le 12.23: Mars central equation of anomaly table (XI.11)

Figure 12.23: Mars central equatioii of anomaly table: error plot

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Dooks IX-XI)

Error

a,

93
96
99
102
105
108
111
114
117
120
123
1%
129
132
135

Error

-1
-1
1

0
-1
-1
-2
-2
-3
0
-2
0
1
0
0

Table 12.24: &!tars equation of anomaly at perigee table (XI.11)

Figure 12.24: Mars equatiou of anomaly at perigcc table; error plot

C h p t ~ l r13. Planetary Lorrgit udes (Books IX-XI)

Error
1
1
0
0

Error

Error

-2

0
0
-1
0
-1
-1
-1
-1
-2

1
0

-1
0
-1
1
1
0
0
-1
0

0
0
0
1
0
1
0
0
-1
1
3

0
0
-1
1

Table 12.25: Venus equation of anomaly table a t apogee (XI.11)

-2.5

30

60

90

120

150

Degrees

Figure 12.25: Venus equation of anomaly table a t apogee: error plot

180

Chapter 12. Planeta.ry Longitudes (Books IX-X'I)

Error

a,

Error

a,

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
-1
-1
0

93
96
99
102
105
108
111
114
117
120
123
126
129
132
135

-5
-1
-1
-1
-1

138
141
134
147
150
153
156
159
162
165
168
171

-1

0
0
0
-1
-1
-1

:i 1
-1

180

Table 12.26: Venus central equation of anomaly table (XI.11)

Figure 12.26: Venus central equation of anomaly table: error plot

C h p t e r 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

f Error
1
0
1 0
1
1
1
1
1
0

Table 12.27:

Error
-5
-1
-1

a,

99

102

108
lo5
111
114
117

0
0
0
2
f

a,

138
141
144
147
150
153
156
159
162

'CTenusequation of anomaly at perigee

table ( X I . l l )

i'igure 12.2'1: Venus equation of anomaly at perigee table (XI.11)

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Bsoks IX-XI)

Error
0
-1
0
0
0
0
0
0
1

0
0
0
0
0
0

p~ ( a , ) Error
18;20
0
18;35
1
0
18145
f
18;54
18;59
0
19; 1
-1
19; 0
-1
18;57
0
18;50
0
18;39
0
18;24
0
1
18; 5
17;41
0
0
17;13
0
16;41

Error
0
0
-1
0
1

1
0
0
-1
1
1

0
0
0
0

Table 12.28: Mercury equation of anomaly at apogee table (XI.11)

Figure 12.28: Mercury equation of anomaly at apogee table: error plot

Chap ta I,?. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Error
0

a,

po(a,)

Error

138

19;lO

-1

Table 12.29: Mercury central equation of anomaly table (XI.ll)

Figure 12.29: Mercury central equation of anomaly table: error plot

C h p t e r 12. Planetary Longitudes (l300Jis 1.-XI)

Error

Error
-1

Error

0
0
0

0
6

-1
0

-1

-1

-2
-2

0
0
0
0

-1
0
1
1
0
0
0
0

-1
-1
-1
0
-1

Table 12.30: Mercury equation of anomaly at perigee table (SI.11)

>C

0 5 ,

X
A

,- 0 5
f

X
X
-

--

-- ----

X
-

nx

xx
x

__X

I
_

_-

*<

X
X

-;rC

--

_ __ _

Figure 12.30: Mercury equation of anomaly at perigee table: error plot

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

PI airet and Function Sum of Ranks of Node Errors

Probability

Saturn
Saturn
Jupiter.
Jupiter

Jupiter
Mars
Mars
Mars
Venus
Venus
Venus
Mercury

Mercury
Merctirv

Table 12.31: Planetary equation of anomaly tables: interpolation grid test results

12.4.1

Interpolation for odd values of a,

Since many of the equation of anomaly tables change considerably more quickly for

high a , than for low a,, the use of interpolation for the odd values of a, in the latter
part of tlie tables would cause large errors. Nevertheless, thc interpolation grid test was
applied to all 15 equation of anomaly tables to consider thc possibility that the entries
for the odd d u e s of

a,

were interpolated. The results in Table 12.31 give the probability

oi obtaining a node error rank sum as great or greater than the node error rank sum in

the tables. They do not decide in favour of interpolation for any of the tables.
12.4.2

E r r o r clustering

Most of the equation of anomaly tables exhibit some error clustering. The results of

the error clustering t.est of $3.2 for d


l fifteen tables (removing the entry for c, = 180" in
each case) are given in Table 12.32. The equation of anomaly table for Saturn at perigee

Chapter 12. Pfanetaq Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Conclusion

Planet a i d Table
Saturn

p(runs 5 19) =

Saturn

pjruiis L: 15) = & = 0.31%

Saturn

-- 0.24%
p(runs 5 20) = 2
1 OD00

Jupiter

p(runs 5 20) =

Jupiter

p(runs

< 19) =

Jupitex

p(runs

5 20) = & = 1.04%

Mars

= 38.56%

= 0.7'2%
= 19.79%

p(runs _< 22) =

= 1.69%

Ve11us

< 24) = = 5.76%


p(rui'"i < 17) = & = 0.01%
p(runs < 25) =
= 18.72%

Vems

0.05%
p(runs _< 18) = 5
10000 -

Venus

p(runs _< 18) = & = 0.02%

A'Ia3.s
Mars

p(runs

< 20) =

- 46.63%

R4ercury

p(runs

Mercury

p(runs 5 20) =

= 14.02%

hkrcury

p(ru1~s5 18) =

= 1.18%

4663

Table 12.32: Error clustering test results for the p1aietar-y ccjuatiou of a n a l d y tables
seems to contain a bias of about one minute, violating the test's requirement that the
error distribution be symmetric. As an approximate compensation, the errors in this
table only are decreased by one minute before applying the test. Most of the test resi~lt~s
favour clustering, with varying levels of confidence.

12.4-3 Dependences between the equation of anonlily tables for each planet
For each &net, the equation of anomaly is calculated for three different d a c s of h.

Since c, only enters p though the value of p ( ~ ) we


, may suppose that p is calculated

Cftitlif~r112. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

289

for three t d u c s of p determined by the parameter e:

p(OO)= GO S e;

p(c%) = 60;

p(180)= 60 - e.

(12.38)

For Mercury,

Let A = E P lie the distance from the Earth to the plai~et:

A=

au)2

+ ( r sin av)2.

(12.40)

be the function giving the distance from the Earth to the planet for the

k t
-

d(p+ r cos

appropriate value of c, leadiug to pi(au). Then

r sin a,
sin p;(av) = Ai(av) '
Replace i with j in the above and take ratios of the two eqnations. Afker simplification
we have

sin pj(av) =-&(a,)


sin pi(.U)
Aj(au) '

(12.42)

This equation gives an alternate method of calculation for the p,-table once the pi-table

has Bem completed. Siuce 4;(av) and sinp;(a,) have dready been found, the user may
h d sinpj(av) directly from Aj(a,) using (12.42). Thus Ptolemy may have used (an

pj(av) = sin"

sinp;(a,) .&(a,)
A,(au>

pj(a,) = sin-'

r sin a,
-

Aj(L) '

For ease of catcdation, there is little to choose between these two methods.

Tlte alternate form of calculation clearly leads to some dependence between the tables
for pi 'idpi. Tbe direct method (12.44) may dso cause a dependence, since the quantities

Chapter 13. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Spearman's p

Significsncc

0.371

< 1%

0.636

< $76
< 3%
< $%
< 4%
< ;%
< :%
< $%
< $96
< 1%

0.686

Jupiter

0.771

Jupiter

0.661

Jupiter

Mars
Mars

1
1

PI

--)

P2

0.593

Po

'Y1

0.666

PZ

0.479

PO -t

~1 + ~2

0.598

0.371
Venus

po

--+ p2

0.554
0.645

Mercury

Mercury

PO

Pl

31

+ P2

0.695

Wilcoxon T

Significance

< $%
< $%

0.673

< ;%
< $%

0.717

< $76

Table 12.33: Planetary equation of anomaly: table dependence test results


lssed for (the equivalents of) r sina, and r cos a, would presumably have been the same
for all three tables, iutroducing the same errors. Since three tables are involved for each

plauet, three dependence tests are performed: first, to test whether pl depends

011

po;

second, to test whether pz depends on po; and third, to test whether pz depends on p l .

The choice of the arection of dependence is d i t r a r y . Let p represent the underlying


tabfe- The quantities used for the

tcsts

are p p and P A , Ptolerny's and the actual values

of the underlying table for p, and 1,;:. the values in the uulerlying table reconstructed

Chapter 12, Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

&om the dependent table working backward from (12.43) and Ptolerny 's - d u e for pj(a,).

Tztble 12.33 gives tlie Spearman p for tlre quantities ( p A - p ~ , p p- p R ) and the 'IViEcoxon
statistic and siguificance level rejecting a median of zero in favour of a median less than
zero, wliich would favour dependence. Clearly the results are mixed. The high value of
p for every test suggests that other errors are confounding the dependence, if it exists.

12.5

The Equation of Anomaly Interpolation Tables (XI.11)

Ncxt, Ptolemy must work from the values for the equation of anomaly at the selected

geuerate a d u e for p ( a , , c,,) for an arbitrary c,.


adopting an interpolation function. For c,,

For

> cP,,, he requires f2

SO

He does this in the usual way by

< ck, he requires a function fi(c,,) so that

that

Note that fl(cz,)= f*(c;) = 0, and that the domains of yfi and

fi

are coutiguous. Thus

Ptolerny may talmlate them in a single interpolation table with arguments from 6" to

As before? fi and f2 are defined based on the assumption that the rate of change of
p with respect to c, is proportional to the rate of change of some other function with
rcspect to G,.
He argues:

The computation of this correction [fi and fi] is based only on the maximum
quation ([ie.] that formed IF +hctangent from the observer to the epicyc k ) at each i n t e r n d a t e distal;ie [ G ~for
];

the [fraction] of the difference to

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

be applied for any particular position [of the pkuiet] ou tile epicydc is not

significnntly different from that for the greatest equation.'"


Thus, Ptolemy claims that the maximum equation of anomaly

increases at a rate similar to p with respect to G,.To Ptolemy, this implies that

Comparison with (12.45) gives

Applying similar reasoning to (12.49) and comparing to (12.46) gives fi similarly:

For Mercury the definitions are identicaltl,except that 1180" is replaced by 120" i,n. (12.52)
to accoul~tfor the different location of the perigee.
14AlmtegwtXI.10, 546.
15Tbcorrects an error in the definition Pedersen gives for fi, Sururjg, 294,

Chapter 13. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI,)

Figure 12.31: The cdculation of the planetary maximum equation of anomaly

Table 12.34: Ptolemy's values for p,,,(c,)

at the boundary d u e s for c,

Chapter 12. Planetary Lou& u des (Books 1X-XI)

294

To calculate fi,,as(c,,l)for a given cnl,Ptolenlr uses the fact that the line EP joiuing
the Earth to the planet nus st be tangelit to tile epicycle if 1) is to be maximized (Figure

12.31). Siuce E G = p(c,,) and G P = Y, right triangle GEP gives


pnlaZ(c,) = LGEP = sin-'

EG
r
- sin-' GP
P(c,~)
'

The same holds for Mercury, although the different definition of p(cnE)causes n difference
in the full expression for pm,,(c,).
Values for the parameters p,,,, (0),p,,

(ct3), and p,,,,,.

(180') (p,,,

(120") for Mer-

cury) are given for each planet in XI.10 and recomputed in Table 12.34. The interpolation tables fl and

f2

are recomputed for the correct valucs of these parameters as well

as Ptolemy's d u e s in Tables 12.35-12.39, with error plots in Figures 12.32-12.36. A


horizontal line in each table indicates where the table of j1 stops aed the table of fi
begins (for Venus this is between 90and 93').

Large errors similar in nature to those

in the lunar interpolatiou table (V.8, $9.7)occur through d l five tables. Note also that
the Saturn table for fi appears to be rounded to the nearest 30 units in the last place,
the Venus fl table to 5 units, and the Mercury fl table to 20 units, and the last three
elltries of the Saturn talde for

fi

are 60; 0. The first differences in all the t d ~ l e ssuggest

linear interpolation for certain stretclies, but do not exhibit precisely constnnt values.

Chaptcr f 2. Planetary Longitudes (13001i~ IS-XI)

45;39
47;37
49;34
51;32
53;29
54;49
56; 6
57;24
58;42
59;2 1
60; 0
60;0
GO; 0
T&le 12.35: Saturn equation of anomaly interpolation table. E l gives the error calculated
with Ptolemy's values for the parameters. E2 gives the error calculated with the correct
d u e s for tlie parameters.

Ptolemy parameters

Actual parameters

-100

1
?

3b

60

90

120

750

180

Degrees

Figure 12.32: Szlturn equation of anomaly interpolation table: error plot

Chapter 13. Plane tnry Longi t ndes (Books I-Y-XI)

Table 12.36: Jupiter equatiou of anomaly interpolation table. Error representation is


identical to the Saturn table.

Ptolemy parameters

1
Actual parameters

30

60

90

120

150

180

Degrees

Figure 12.33: Jupiter equation of auomaly iuterpolalkm table: error plot

Cfiqtcr 12. Plaue tary Lon@tudes (Books IX-XI]

Table 12.37: Mars equation of anomaly interpolation table (XI.11). Error representation
is ide~tticalto the Saturn table.

Ptdemy parameters
Actual parameters

Figure 12.34: hlars equation of anom-dy interpolation table: error plot

Chapter 12. Plaue tary Longi .it udes (Books IS-XI)

Table 12.38: Venus equation oi anomaly interpolation tablc?. Error representation is

identical to the Saturn table.

F-7
I

Ptolemy parameters

Actual parsmeters

Figure 12.35: Yeuus equation of anomaly interpolation table: error plot

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Table 12.30: Mercury equation of aaomaly interpolation table (XI.11). Error representation is identical to the Saturn table.

Ptolemy parameters
Actual parameters

30

90

120

180

Degrees

Figure 12-36: Mercury equation of mom& interpolis {.iontable: error plot

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-IYI)

12.5.1

Reconstructing the m a i m u r n equation of anomaly tables

The planetary equation of anomaly interpolation tables arc si~nilaxto their lunar counterpart in several ways (V.8; see 59.7). The functions are a31 defined by an application of
Ptolemaic interpolation, using the maximum equation of anomdg function to generate
tlze rate of change of the equation of anomaly itself. The equation (12.53) defining the
maximurn equation of anomaly is identical to its lunar counterpart (9.33). The error
patterns in the planetary tables are also reminiscent of thc lunar table: they are about
the same large magnitude, contain distiuctive patterns, and exhibit appaent vestiges
of linear interpolation. Thus it is natural to test the same hypothesis that explained
the errors in the lunar table: that the errors in the planetary tables are due to rounded
values for the maximum equation of anomaly and the use of linear interpolation in the
underlying p,,,

table.

Using (12.51), (12.52)and the values for p,,,(OO),

p , , , ( c ~ , ) , and p,,,(180)

(p
,,,,

(120")

for Mercury), I conlputed backwards horn Ptolemy 's interpoldion tables to hypothetical
maximum equatiou of anomaly tables for all five planets. The reconstructior~sare given

in Tables 12.40-12.44, arid the histograms of the second fractional sexagesi~ndplaces of


each entry are given in Figures 12.37-12.42. Clearly the second fractional places in the
tables for Saturn, Jupiter, and Mercury exhibit strong clustcring around ei tlier 0/60 and

30, or around 0160, 15, 30, and 45. Back computing from tllc table of fi for Venus gives

precisely 0 or 30 in the secoud fractioiral place. The tables for Mars aud the

f2

table for

Venus, however, exhibit no clustering.

The reconstructed d u e s for Saturn and Jupiter (Ta1,lt.s 12.40 and 12.41) have a
rounding uuit of 0; 0,3G for c,

< 00and 0;0,f5 for

c,,,

> 90". Howcvcr, the only

recoztstructed entries containing a 15 or 45 in the last place are those for c,, = 93", 99",

14T0, l53O, and 171" for Saturn, and c, = 9g0, 105*, 141'; 153', 15g0, lGGO, 171": and

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books 1 . - X I )

301

lVOfor Jupiter; all odd. The first differelms confir; t!;at all ei~trieafor odd c, In these
two tables are linearly iuterpolated between the entries fox even c,,.

No further linear

it~terpol&mis present.
Tlte reconstiucted Mercury table contains a rounding uliit of 0; 1 for c,, < 90' and

0; 0,30 for c,,

>

BOO.

However, aJl ten entxies containing a 30 in the last place are for odd

c,,, . Inspection coi~fismsthat the entries for odd c,, are linearly interpolated between the

entries for even c,,,. No further linear interpolation is present.

The table of fi for Venus contains no linear interpolation or odd entries of c,. The
tr~bleof fi for Venus a d both &Jars tables, while they cannot be reconstructed like the
others, clearly suggest that each entry for odd c,,, was interpolated between the entries
for even c,,. The lack of clustering around 0/60, 15, 30, and 45 in the third sexagesimd
place might have been cmsed by evaluating p,,,(c,)

to more places than in the other

tables.

The reconstructed tables of the planetary masimum equation of anomaly axe given
with errors and interpolated entries removed in Table 12.45. The error plots in Figures
12.43-46 reveal little of interest. The apparentiy different units of rozlnding in the tables

of f~ for Saturu, Venus, and Mercury, and the three values of 60; 0 at the end of the
Saturn table, are not r e d variations hut may now be seen to be vestiges of the method
of calculation.

Reconstructed
5:.53, 0
5;53,30
5;54, 0
5;54,30
5;55,30
5;56,30
5;57,30
5;58,30
6 ; I), 0
6; 1,30

6; 3, 0
6; 5, 0
6; 7, 0
6; 9, 0
6;11,30
Reconstructed

Reconstructed
6;28,30
6;29,30
6;30,30
6;31,15
6;32, 0
6;32,45
6;33,30
6;34, 0
6;34,30
6;35, 0
6;35,30

G;35,45
6;36, 0
6;36, 0
6;36, 0
Table 12.40: Reconstruction of p,,,(c,)
for Saturn. The second column coutains the
back computed values, the third cofumn contains the recons t rncted values, awl the fri~rrth
column contains the first. differences of the reconstructed ralues.

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Reconstructed
10;34, 0
10;34,30
10;35, 0
10;35,30
10;36,30
10;38, 0
10;40, 0
10;42, 0
10;44, 0
10;46, 0
10;49, 0
10;52, 0
10;54,30
10;57,30
11; 0,45

Reconstructed

Reconstructed
11;26, 0

A
;1,15

Table 12.41: Reconstruction of p , , , ( h ) for Jupiter. The second c o l w t contains the


back computed
the third cofumn contains the reconstructed values, and the fourth
coIuuut contains the f i r s t differences of the reconstructed valnes.

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books I-X--73)

Table 112.42: p m a , ( ~ )for Mars. The secoud column coutains the back computed values,
aud the third column contains the first differences.

Chapter 12. Pliiaetaxy Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

c,,

pmaZ(c,,)

6
12
18
24
30
36
42
48
54
GO
66

44;49, 0, 0
44;50,30, 0
44;52, 0, 0
44;54, 0, 0
44;56,30, 0
45; 0,30, 0
45; 5, 0, 0
45; 9,30, 0
45;15,30, 0
45;22, 0, 0
45;28,30, 0

Reconstructed
45;49, 0
45;50,30
45;52, 0
45;54, 0
45;56,30
45; 0,30
45; 5, 0
45; 9,30
45;15,30
45;22, 0
45;28,30
45;35,30
45;42,30
45;50, 0

A
93 46; 1,56,47 ;4, 5, 7
96 46; 6, 1,54 ;3,47, 9
99 46; 9,49, 3 ;3,45,52
102 46;13,34,55 ;3,47, 9
105 46;17,22, 4 ;3,45,52
108 46;21, 7,56 ;3,47, 9
111 46;24,55, 5 ;3,45,52
114 46;28,40,57 ;3,47, 9
117 46;32,28, 6 ;3,45,52
120 46;36,13,58 ;3,33, 2
123 46;39,47, 0 ;3,30,28
126 46;$3,17,28 ;3,17,38
129 46;46,35, 6 ;3,15, 4
132 46;49,50,10 ;3, 0,57
135 46;52,51, 7 ;3, 0,57
C,

pn,,z(crn)

Cm

138
141
144
147
150
153
156
159
162
165
168
171
174
177
180

A
;1,30
;1,30
3.27 0
-2 30
;4, 0
-4
7 730
;4,30
;6, 0
;6,30
;6,30
;77 0
1

l~rn*z(~rn)

46;55,52, 4
46;58,38,54
47; 1,24,27
47; 3,40,29
47; 5,56,31
47; 7,43, 2
47; 9,28,16
47;10,58, 6
47;12,25,22
47;13,44,56
47;14,59,22
47;15,44,17
47;16,29,12
47;16,57,26
47;17, 0, 0

A
;2,46,50
;2,45,33
;2,16, 2
;2,16, 2
;1,46,31
;1,45,14
;1,29,50
;1,27,16
;1,19,34
;1,14,26
;0,44,55
;0,44,55
;0,28,14
;O, 2,34

Table 12.43: Reconstrnction of p , , , , ( h ) for Venus. The second columu contains the
back conxputed values, the third colulnu contaius the reconstructed values for c, 5 90,
axid t.he last. cdu~uncontains the first differences of the reconstructed values.

Chapter 12. Plalietary Longitudes fL3ooX-s IS-XI)

Reconstructed
19; 4, 0
19;10, 0
19;18, 0
19;30, 0
19;45, 0
20; 3, 0
20;23, 0
20;45, 0
21; 8, 0
21;31, 0
21;55, 0
22;19, 0
22;39, 0
22;57, 0
23;15, 0
PmaZc m )

Reconstructed

Reconstructed
23;45, 0

Table 12.44: Reconstruction of pma,(cm) for Mercury. The second colurm~contains the
back computed values, the third c o l u ~ mcontains the reconstructed values, and the fanrth
column contains the f i s t differences of the reconstructed values.

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IT;-XI)

Digit

Figure 12.37: Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimd places of the back computed
maximum equation of anomaly table for Saturn

Digit

Figure 12.38: Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimal places of the back computed
u~axiinumequation of anomaly table for Jupiter

Chapter 12. Planetmy Longitudes ( B o o k IS-XI)

Figure 12.39: Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimal places of the back computed
maximum equation of anomaly table for Mars

Digit

Figure 12.40: Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimal places of the back computed
maximum equation oi anomaly table for Mercury

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Digit

Figure 12.41: Histogram of the second fractional sexagesimal places of the back computed
maximum equatiou of anomaly table for Venus, from the table for fi (c, 5 90)

Figure 12.42: Histogram of the second xactionalsexagesimal places of the back computed
maximum equation of anomaly table for Venus, from the table for fi (c,2 93")

Chapter 12. Plazietary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Satur

Venus

Mercury
-

Table 12.45: The reconstructed maximum equation of anomaly tables. The errors are
given to the irearest 1/2 minute (1 minute for Mercury), to reflect the level of rotnnding
present in the tables,

Chapter 12. Plaaetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

X
X

30

60

90
Degrees

120

150

Figure 12.43: Saturn maximum equation of anomaly table: error plot

Figure 12.44: Jupiter maximum equation of anomdy table: error plot

180

Chapter 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

12.6

Summary of Results

The planetary lougitude tables contain a number of similarities. The equation of centre
and eqnation of anomdy tables for planetary motion share several charactexistics. None
may be verified to contain interpolation grids, yet many of these tables contain substantial
e~idenceof error clustering. The cause of tlr;s clustering cannot readily be identified. The
uncorrected and corrected equation of centre tables exhibit a numerical depende~~ce
for
three of the five planets; for the other two planets the dependence is likely obscured
by other sources of error. The equation of anomaly tables do not show dependences

on each other, but even if the dependence exists the errors nlay not be large enough
for the statistical test to detect it. Finally, the large error;

111 the

equation of anomdy

interpolation tables are due to rounding in the underlying (and reconstructed) masinlum
equation of anomdy tables; linear interpolation in these underlying tables causes some
of the error as well.

Chapt a 12. Planetary Longitudes (Books IX-XI)

Figure 12.45: Venus maximum equation of anomaly table (c,

-1.5

30

60

90

1X )

< 90'):

error plot

750

Degrees

Figure 12.46: Mercury maximum equatiou of anomaly table: error plot

C h a p t e r 13

R e t r o g r a d e Motions and h5aximum Elongations (Book XPI)

P tolemy's planetary theory compiled in 5ooks IX-XI completely cbasacterizes every


planet's motion in longitude at any time. This is a solution to a problem mudl more
general than those dealt with by traditional Greek and earlier astronomers, who were
more concerned with predicting regular synodic phenomena. For the planets these included predicting the length of time that a planet spends in its occasional motions against
the direction of its forward west-east motion (the retrograde motions), and the maximum differewe in longitude between an inferior planet and the Sun (the maximum
elongation).l Ptolemy's planetary models predict the planets' longitudes at dl times,
and so determine completely both the retrograde motions of a l l planets and the maximum elongations of the inferior planets. However, the methods of calculation s l ~ dtables

in Books 1);-XI are not suited to finding them. Ptolemy devotes Book XI1 to applying
his theories to their calculation.

13.1

R e t r o g r a d e Motions; Apollonius' Theorem

As I havediscussed previously, each planet (not including the Sun and Moon) periodically
slows and stops its west-east course along the zodiac, then travels backward for a short

time before stopping again and returning to its iorward motion, Ptolemy's planetary
models account for this motion by requiring that the planet move quickly on the epicycle,
in a direction opposite to that of the epicycle's centre on the deferent. When a plarret

lo. Pedersen, Survey, 329.

Fig~irr13.1: The simple epicyclic model and Apollonius' Theorem


(zpproscbes the p i g e e of the epicycle, its rotation on thc epicycle works against the
rotation of the cpicyclc itself, causing the planet to appear to move backwards with
respect to an observer on Earth for a short time (Figure 12.2). For the superior planets,
the plailet is in apposition to the Sun somewhere near tlic middle of tlris retrograde
arc; for the inferior plwiets, a conjiinction with the Sun occurs within the retrograde
arc. Ptole~ilywishes to locate the stationary points S1 and S2 on the epic-ycle (where
the plaliet appears to Lc motionless) (Figure 13.1), which iudicate the beginning and
e i d oi the retrograde iilotion respectively. From this one may calculate tlie length of

the retrograde arc C = SlHS2, aad fionl this the duratiou of the retrograde motion
J = S/w,,wherc

is the rate of clmlge of the planet's mmn anomaly (scc 812.4).

The calculation of t l ~ cstationary poiuts may be accomplished through Apollmius'

Theorem. Apollonius studied the properties of the simple ryicyclic xuodel of planetary
motion, identical to Ptolemy's first model (Figure 12.1) esccyt that the Earth is at the
centre of the deferent rather than 2e u i t s fro111 the centre (Figure 13.1). Lei S be a, point
on the epicycle, lct 17 bc the point where the extension of E S crosses the epicycle again,
and let T be the iuidpoil~tof SIT. Apollonius proved that

i~

point S on the epicycle is a

stationary point (that is, the planet appears to be rnotionl~ssobserved from the Earth

t the speed of the planet


the ratio of the (augulilr) speed of tlw epjcyclc on the d c f e m ~ to
on the epicycle. In Fignre 13.1 S = S1 is the stationary point at the lxginning of

retrograde motion; S = S2 is the stafionary point at the elit1 of retrograde motion. Note

,vhere sl = av(S1) is tlw arc AVVSIand

s2

= au(S2)is t l arc
~ A,VS2. The proof of

the theorem is ignored liere since only tllc fu~tdalllentalrelation (13.1) is rcquired for the
tables to follow.

13.2

The Tables of Stations (XII.8)

Ptofemy's goal is to provide tables of sl = a,(S1) = LA,\ - 7, and sz = au(sz)for each


planet, although s2 nliiy be found from sl using (13.2) aLuve. Flom st and

s2,

the

cpantities C and J mag. be found easily by tlic relations almve. In the siniple epicyclic
model there i s olily one d u e for sl for each planet, but P tolm~y'smodel is considerably
more complicatecl: the distance p(c,,,) = EC: is always clmltging. Indeed, Apollonius'
Theorem does not apply even to Ptolemy's first model with t he Earth removcd from the
centre of the elefcrent. Instead Ptolclny finds sl as a functioii of the mean centrum c,.

Chapter 13. Retrograde Motions

ail(!

Adximum Elongatiom (Book X I )

To facilitate $fie cahr~ations,Piolemy assiimes that for a gii7cii

317

the Apollonian model

wit11 E G = ~ ( c , , , )fixed is approximately correct for all c, nc:arbj-. This allows Ptolemy
to use Apollcrnius' Theorem.
To fitld sl(c,,,)directly, even with this simplification, is cornputatiolially difficult.
Ptolemy uses his interpolation rnetllod to reduce his labours by finding sl for three
t d u e s of c, only. The first is for E G = p(c,,) = 60 units. The other two are for c,
-

cliosen so that the opposition (or conjunction) in the middle of the retrograde arc occurs
cxactly when tlic epicycle's centre G reaches the apogee or perigee of the deferent. For
the apogee this mealis f hat

EG = P ( & ) is not exactly 60 + e units (60 + 3e units for

Mercury), since G will not have reached the apogee by tlic time the planet reaches the
stationary point S,; thus C, is slightly less than zero. For tlic perigee, p(c,) is not exactly

GO - e u n i t s for a similar reason; thus c,is slightly less than 180.Ptolemy acknowledges
this, but states that tlic eccentricity is s ~ n enough
d
to igilore the difference for Saturn

and Jupiter.* For the other three planets he computes sl for c, = 0' aud 180,and
~nakesa corzectiou later.

Under these simplifications, Ptolciny calculates as follou~sfor c, = ck: let a = ESl,

and let b = SIT (Figure 13.1). Apollunius' Theorem g i ~ ~ e s

ESl E V = EH EA,
by Eucfid (fI.35), substitation gives
a(a

+ 2b) = (60 - r)(GO + r ) .

(13.4)

Chapter 13. Rctrogradc Motions

a11(1

hlaxhl urn Elongatimis (Book XII)

318

Dividing (13.5) by (13.6) gives bZ, am1 taking the square root gives

Then a is found using (13.3). Now

ET
LEGT = sin-' - - sin-'
EG'

a + Z,
-.

60

The st(ztioi1 sl (cl',,) is now found by


LEGSl = 180" - sl = LEGT

2,
+G
- LSIGT = sin-'- a GO
- sin-' -.
r

(113.10)

Ptolemy proceeds siil-rilarly for tile epicycle at apogee nud at perigee. The equation

(13.5), however, is changed to

where the signs are


c,,,

+ for the apogee, and - for the perigee. Also, for the incan position

= cO,, Ptolemy llrd assumed that tlie velocities of the epicycle and of the 1)laneton the

epicycle are eq~mlto the mean velocities wi and w,. For t l apogee
~
and perigee cases,

he adjusts the ratio of tlie velocities to t(zke into account t . 1 changes


~
in both velcxities
introduced by tlie eqaatim of centre. This affects tlie ratio

ii/L

in (13.3). First, note that

Chpter 13. Refrograclc .lfotions a i d M a x i m urn Elongatioils (Book X I , )

Sil~cea, = a,,, - q and c = c,.,

$ q,

Tlw derivative clq/dc,,, is estimated using an approximation in the planetary equation of


Fsom tlds, the method to fiud sl is identica.1 to the previous calculation,
centre ti~lles.~
giving

u+b 180" - sl = sin- sin"


~(cnl>

L
-.
r'

Given the valitcs for sl(OO):sl(cO,,),and ~ ~ ( 1 8 0 "Ptoleilty


),~
requires two interpolation
fiii~ctioiisto fill ill entries for iuterincdiate h:first, for

~ L I Lsecond,
~

c,,

< cO,,

for c,,, > c:, ?

Ptolerny argues:

17% obtained the arnounts for these [entries] [sl(%>]too from the [ntlmbers]
demonstratccl above for mean, least m d greatest dist tinces [sl(cO,), s1(0),
s1(180)],a i ~ dfrout the increments at distances in between these, wl~ichwe

happen to have determined alrctzdy in [our computatioils of] the millutes to

be ta,bulatcd in tlic eighth column of the tables for armndy

Ifl

and

f2

from

Sf.11;see $12.51. For in dernonstra.ting the amount of the rnaximnaaa equation


of anomaly corresponding to each eutry in mean motiolt, one simultaneously
3For ti full analysis see 0. Pedersen, Sutruey, 342-3.
$The values sl(UO) and sl(1800) are corrected for Mars, Venus aid Mercury to account for the fact
that the calculations of sl are for values of c , near, but not equal to, U0 and 180,

demoilstratcs the distance of the epicycle, which, is thc principd factor affecting the difference ill [the position of] the ~ t a t i o n s . ~
Tltus, since p(c,,,) was already found in the process of calcuhting
p n z a Z ( ~=, )sill-'

T
-

(13.17)

~(cm)

(see (12.53)), Ptoleiny uses these valiies of p to generate tltc interpolatory functions in

the usud m m ~ n e r : ~

for c,,

< cEZ,aid

for c,

> cO,,. This leads to

and

The equations for c,,,

> cz, are inferrcd, since no sample calculations are given for c, >

Cm*

Ptolerny computes sl(c,) for c,, E {0,6",12", .. . ,180}for each planet, omitting the

odd c, from the standard grid in the latter parts of the tables. (He also computes $2, but
since s2 = 360'

- sl the table for sz corltaiirs nothing of iutercs t numerically.) I recornpute

sl in three differcent ways in Tables 13.1-13.5. First,

I used (13.13) to give tile ratio a / b

(using an extrenlcly accurate approxiination to the derivatiw d q / c l ~ ~thcn


) , used (13.7)
to obtain b. Finally, I found sl froiu (13.40), replacing 60 with p(c,).
e,

Tllc parameters

r , w,, md wt arc used precisely as given in the Almagest. Second, I perform the same
GThefollowing corrects an error in Pedcrsen's representation, Suruc.g, 350.

Chapter 13, Rcbrugratle Motions a i d AIIrz~mumEIongatio1l.s (Book XII)

321

compuiation, exccpt tlmi 1use the value given by Ptolemy for the ratio w,/wtin XII.2-

XII.6 iatl~erthan the csact ratio. Third, I use the interpolatioii methods (13.15) and

(13.16), with tllc parameters sl(OO),sl(c;), and s1(18O0) ns given in the test. Figures
13.2-13.6 give tltc error plots for all three nletl~odsof computation.

The inaguitutlc of tllc errors for the first two (exact) mctliods compared to the third
(interpolati~lg)~ucthodconfirms that the tables were calculated using Ptolemaic interpolation. The diiferenccs between t , l third
~
error and thc first two measure the effect
of using Ptolemaic iutcrpolation ratl~erthan some exact ~tlcthod. Note that they are
particularly larg-c for f\/lilrsand Mercnsy, due to tlbeir large eccentricities, a d in the case
of Mercury, due

to
O

{L

different inodcl. The difference Lctween the first two errors

depicts the inhior effect, caused by Ptolcmy's errors in his d u e s for the ratios wa/w8.
Since the differellcc in t l m e errors is overwhelmed by the effcct of interpolation, I cannot
decide between Pt.olemy's ratios and the correct ratios.

Errors

Cm

96

Errors
114;10 0 0 0
-1 -1 0

SI(G~;)

0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1

O
-1 0
-1 0
0 0
0 0
0 0

0
0
1

0
0
0

1
1
1

1
1
1

0
1
0

T a l h 13.1: TaLle of stations for Saturn (XII.8)

Figure 13.2: Table of stations for Saturn: cmor plot

Errors
2 2 0
2 2 1

Errors

-3 -3

-3 0
-4 -1
-4 0
-4 -3.
-4 0

-3
-4

1
1
1

1
1
1

0
0
0

-4
-4
-4

1
0

1
0

0
0

-1
-1
-1
-2
-3

-1 0
-1 0
-1 0
-1 0

-4 -1
-3 0
-3 -3 0
-3 -3 0
-3 -3 0
-3 -3 0
-4 -4 -1
-4 -4 0
-3 -3 0

-2 -1
-3 -3 -1
-3 -3 0
-3 -3 0

-4
-4

Table 13.2: Tablc of stations for Jupitw (XII.8)

Exact fonnula
Ptdemy 's w m

Figure 13.3: Table? of stations for Jupiter: error plot

Errors
-23 -23
-22 -22
-20 -20
-18 -18
-15 -15
-11 -11
-9 -8
- 7 -7
-3 -3
-2 -2
2
2
4
5
5
41

"/
5

7
5

Table 13.3: Talk. of statious for Mars (XII.8)

Figurc 13.4: Table of statious for Mars: error plot

0
-1
-1
-1
0
0
-2
0
-2
0
0
1

2
0

Chapter 13. Retrogrrcztlc Motioi~samit1 Adasinl urn Elongations (Book XII)

Errors
1G5;51 -2 -2 0

sl (c),

CW

9G

Errors
0 0 1
0 -1 0
-1 -1 0
-1 -2 -1
-1 -1 0
0 -1 1
0 -1 0
-1 -1 0
-1 -2 0

-2
-1
-1
-1
-2
-1

-2 -1
-2 0
-2 0
-2 0
-2 -1
-1 0

Table 13.4: Table of stations for Venus (XII.8)

Exactformula
C;

Ptolemy's w a h t
Ir
Interpolation

Figurc 13.5: Tablc of stations for Venus: error plot

Chapter 13. Re t.rogrrarle A4otioizs ad hrlilxim run Eloxqptiolls (Book XU,)

Errors
10 11
12 12
16 1 G
22 22
29 29
37 37
44 44

Errors
38
29 29
18 19
9
9
-2
-2
-13 -13
-23 -23
-33 -33
-42 -42
-43 -49
-5G -56
-62 -62
-GG -66
-69 -69
-G9 -69

0
1
0
0

38

0
0
52 52 1
56 5G 0
60 GO 0
59 59 0
57 57 0
56 5G -1
55 55 0
52 32 0
38 38 0

0
0

-1
1
0
0

0
0

0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Tablc 13.5: Tablc of stations for Mercury (XII.8)

Exact formula

x
Pldemy 5 walrHt

Intarpolabon

Figuse 13.6: Table of statio2s for Mercury: error plot

Chapter 13. Rcfrogratlc Motions a d Mrz.r;ininrn Elongittio~is(Book H I )

13.3

327

The Maximum Elongation Tables for Venus (XII.10)

Tlle rest of Book XII is concerned with the calculation of t 1 1greatest


~
possil~ledifference
in longitude between the Sun and both of the inferior plancts. The fact t l d two plan-

cts rcmain near t611eSun at alI times led Babylonian astroiiomers to dforts to find the
maximum elongation, the greatest difference in longiturlo between an iilferior planet
m d the Sun.7 The topic of maximmn elongations did not garner the sanle interest in

Ptolemaic astro~tomy,and even in tlie Atmapst this topic is restsicted to XII.9 and a

Ptolerny consitlcrs tlw planets Vellus and Mercury ~ e ~ a m t e lalthough


y,~
the object of
study is plirased identically for both planets. Given the plil~~et's
longitude A, determine
the greatest possi1)le elougation wlieri the planet is behind the Sun (a morning star):
771

(A) = niax(X(Su11)- A),

a i d whelk the plawt is ahead of the Sun (an evening star):


q2(A) = max(X - X(Sun)).

(13.23)

For Venus, Ptolerny begins by noting that the planet P is at its greatest elongation
when tlie line joiuing the Earth to tlic planet is tangent to tllc epicycle, behiid the epicycle's centre G fox

111

(Figure 13.'i(a)) and aheacl of G for 92 (Figure 13.7(b)). The Sun's

mean longitude is equd to Venus' mcsn longitude (since t l l ~Sun shares its longitudinal
iirotioli with both inferior planets); thus LAQG = AA - A,,.
Drop perpeu&culass from Q onto DG, from

Also, LAEP = X A - A.

D onto EP, and horn D onto G P (ex-

teading G P if nccessar?;), to deteimine M : I< aud L respectively. Since DE = e and


'0.Neugebauer, HAMX, 230.
RI camlot understilud Pctlersen's statelncnt (Survey,354) that "essc*ntiallythe same method can be
applicd" to both theories. Sce $13.4.

LEDK = 90"

- ( A A - A),

right triallgle EDI< gives

DK(= L P ) = esin(XA - A).


Thus, since G P = r ,

GL= GP- L P = r-esin(XA - X )


for the morning star, all41

for the evening star. Since DG = 60, right triangle D G L givcs

k = LGDL = sin-'

GL.
= sin-'
GD

r f e siu(XA- A)
GO

Tke angle betweeu DG' and the apsiclal line A E is now determined by
= LADG = LADL

- LADG = LAEP - LADG = ( A A - A) - Ji

(13.28)

for the morning star, m c l


771

= LADG = 180' - (LEDIi'+ L G D K )


= 180"

for the evening

- [(90 - (AA - A)) + (90" - k)]

NOWright triangle QDA4 gives

S ~ S .

Q M = e sin nz

and

D4.d = L C

Tlrus

AfG= D G - D M = 60 -ecosIr,
Then right triangle QAiG gives

O S ~ .

(13.30)

Cbapter 13. Re trogra tle Motions and Maxim am Elongations (Book XTII)

'

Figure 13.7: Ptolcmy's cdculation of Venus' maximum ebagations: (a) rel~resentsVenus


as a morning star; (b) ~cpresentsVeiius as ari evening star.
Pedersen uses tllc approsiination QG x AdG in his analysis,"ut

the sample calculations

in the AEmagest appear to use the exact forn~ula.'~


From right triangle
FZ =

QGM,then, we have

Q M = sin-'
LQGM = sin" -

QG

e sin 172
J(e sin m)2

+ (GO - e cos

(13.33)
m)2

Then
XA - A, = LAQG = LADG + LQGM = rn + n.
'0.Pederseu, Sutaey, 353.
'DAinzagesi!SII.9, 589, 591.

This deter~uinesthe Suu's mean longitude, ilencc !he Suu's equation of ccntre qja,n),
mlich gives the position of the true Sun (not slloml in Figure 13.7):

A(Sun) = A,,,

+ q(a.,,,).

(13.35)

This gives the madmuiu elongatiou for Vems as a morriing star:


91(A) = A(S111~)- X

Tlle maximum elongation as an evening star, by a similar argument, is

VP(X) =
The difference bctween

111

+ +
(771

12)

- q(a,) - A,, .

(13.37)

and q2, other than sign, enters tllrough the cdsulation of k

(13.27).
Ptolemy calcdates

and

~2

wllcn Venus is at the beginning of eacl~zodiacal sign

(A E (0,300,.. .,330')). The tables are recomputed in Table 13.6, with error plots

in Figures 13.8 and 13.9. The errors arc of moderate sizc and present few problems.

The approximation QG x MG used by Pedersen makes a difference to only one entry:

q1(3300)= 45; 21 instead of 45; 22. This is not enough evideuce to conclude whether the
approximation w a s used.

13.4

The Masirnurn Elongation Tables for Mercury (XII.10)

Ptoleruy's method to calculate the lnaximum elongations of Venus, whiie rcsmpiicated,

is at least a valid geometrical argument. The moving def~rentin the Mercury mndd
renders this method i n d i d for Mercury, requiring a diffe~c a n t theory. T l k causes an

ius~mouutableproblem:

I Error

1
-1.
0
-1

-1
-2
-5
1
0
1
0
-2

q 2 ( X ) Error

46;22
45;31

-1

44;49
44;25
44;31
44;55

0
-1

-1
3

45;41
46;30
47;13

1
2
-2
-4

47;35
47;34
47; 7

-7
-5
-3

Talh 13.G: Maximum elongation tables for lrc.uus(XII.10)

Figure 13.8: hfaxiuium elongation table for Verus as morning ?-a:


error plot

Chapter 13. Refrograde Motions and Ardaxbu~zmElongatioi~s(Book XII)

332

Figure 13.9: Mailnurn elongation table for Venus as cveniizg star: error plot
Now, accorcfing to our hypotlaesis for Mescury, wlaen tllc apparent position of
the planet [A] is given, ihe mean position in longitude A[],

cannot be found,

since line DG does not remain the same constant length, always equal to the
radkis of the eccentre [deferent] (as it does in the saine hypothesis for the
other [planets]).l1
Toomer notes that Ptolemy is corrcct in stating that A , cannot be found from X for
&fercury by Euclidean method^.'^

Instead, Ptolenly is forced to use ail approximative mct.hod to calculate ql(X)


7]2(X).

Let c, be a multiple of 3' so that X(c,,) < X < X(c,

hkxcurp's longitude for a given

c,).

3O)

Mercury's equation of centre is

and

( a h r e A(c,) is
q(c,,,)=

LUGE

(Figure 13.10). K0t.e that the equation of anomaly p = L G E P is not in this iustance a
function of the p1;uiet's position on the epicycle, since that is ~ietenninedby (he condition

that the elongation must be maximized. Thus p(c,) = LGEP.


llAlmagesi. XII.9, 591.

12G. Toomer, Ahagest 591, note 95.

Chapter 13, Refmgradc Motions and A4asirntzm Elongations (Book XII)

Nute that

3 G = p(c,,,) 2nd GP = r; thus

Now LAEG = c,,, - q(c,,,). Thus Mercury's position relative to the apogee is

LAEP = LAEG =F LGEP = c,, - q(c,)

(13.39)

p(c,),

depeilclillg oil wlle tller b,lercury is a n~onliugor everting star rcspectively. Tkus Mercury's
longitude is

But A,,, = An

+ c,,.

30

that the Sun's longitude X(Sua) is given by

wlierc q(a,,) is tlic solar equation. Tlle difference between (13.40) and (13.41) gives the

Mow A(cn,) < X < X(G,


dso for A(%,

+ 3").

Tlle cslculatioals above give

771

and

772

for

and

+ 3") if repeated, but not for X itself. Ptolemy uses linear in tcrpolation to

apprczrcimate the inaximnm elongations at A from the two bracketing cases:

am1 sirttilarly for

1j2.

I recomputed the tables for 91 aud

72

in two ways: first, I found the actual maximum

elougations vl(X) and 712(X). This was done by varying c, ilntil A(%)

= X to six sexa-

gesilnal places. Second, I recomputed using the linear interpolation adopted by Ptolemy.
Tlre recomputations arc given in Tables 13.7 and 13.8, wit11 crror plots in Figures 13.11

and 13.12. The recomputations yield only five differences hr+ween precise computation

and Ptolemy's linear iuterpolation. Tlms the iliteryolatioil does not iatrocl~icelarge errors, and other errors t c l d to overwLelm the diffesence bet-wen exact compatation and
interpolation. A large error appears ill the table for q2(2706),noted by both Neugebauer

13.5 Summary of Results

The results on the tables on retrograde i~lotionsand maxiliium elongations confirm that
Ptolemy calculated as is stated in tlw Ahnagest. The tables of stations clearly use Ptolemaic interpolation to generate the eiltries, causiug errors wrying in magnitnde between

almost zero and one degree. The tables of ma>;imulnelongation contain sonkc substantial
errors, but in tllc case of Mercury, these errors are not diic to Ptolemy's use of linear
interpolation in the table's construction.

I3O. Neugebauer, HAhll.4, 234, note 10, aud G. Toomer, Aimagesf 596, note 102. My lccomputrttion
Neugebauer's 18;54 rather thau Tooxner's 18;53.

agrees with

Chapter 13. Rc f mgratle Motions

a11tl

Maxim rim EJongatioils (Book XI11

335

Errors
1 1
-1 -1
1 1
3 3
1 1
0 -I
0 0

-5
-1
0
0
0

-5
0
0
1
0

'Sable 13.7: h%axi~num


elongation table for Mercury as morning star. The first column
of ersoxs comparcs to exact calculation of 71; the second col~i~lm
compares to Ptolemy's
method using liucar iintcrpdation.

X
0

q2(X)

19;36

Errors
0
1

star. The first column


Table 13.8: Maxilimn clongation taLle for RIIercury as e~-o~,ing
of errors cornpara to esact calculat.ion of 71; the second col~mncompares tfo Ptolemy's
~nethoclusing liucx iintberpolatiou.

Figure 13.10: P t o l e q ' s calculation of h9escury's maximultr elongations.


Mercury as a morning star; (b) reprcsents Mercury as an ej.clung star.

represents

( i ~ )

Chapter 13. Retrograde Motions

Figure 13.11: Maximum elongation t&le for Mercury as morning star: error plot

Figme 13.12: Maximurn elongation table for Mercury as evening star: error pldt

Chapter 14

Planetary Latitudes (Book XIII)

The only inotio~isof celestial bodies left to be addressed ,\re the yluets' motions in
latitude. The models of longitude in Books IX-XI were assumed to take gla,ce in the
ecliptic, but in reality the planets wander a~vaj7
from the eclil)tic by up to scvcral degrees.
Ptolemy deals witA the problem of latitude for the planets as lie did with the Moon: the
lougitucle theory is considered to be complete, unaffected b y any chmges irltroduced by
the account of lalitudes. Thus the original model remains iii the ecliptic for the purpose
of predicting longitudes (although Ptolemy does at one point argue that the changes

to the model do not affect the longitudes significantly). Siuce some of the vaxiations in
latitude appear to Bc ,&ted to the pli~net'sposition on the cpicyde, the longitude model
influences the latitude to some degree.

14.1

The Latitude Model for the Superior Planets

Ptolemy has difficulty with latitudes in the Almagest, The models lie uses arc so camplicated that he fill& it necessary to argue that the simplicit3. of a planetary inodd is less
important than its fit to the phenomena; since what is si11r~)le
for humans may not be
what is simple in lleavcidy things.' Even so, Ptolemy was clearly not satisfied with Elis
models, siace he simpiifics them considerably iu the later Ihzndy Tables. The phenomena of latitude are quai;:,rtively cliffcreiit for the superior
Ptolemy to constmict two different models.

;111d

inferior plaltcts, leading

Chapter 14. Planetary Latitudes (Book ? X I )

Ascending
node

Figure 14.1: The placement of the deferent circle for the superior planets

Each superior planet traverses a path indined by several degrees to the ecliptic, similar
to Ptoleiny's model fox the Moon's latitude except that t l ~ cascending and descending
nodes for the plmets are fixed. However, marked variatious to this path depend on
the plauet's position on the epicycle. The regular motion is accounted for by placing the
deferent circle at a11 incliuation i to the plane of the ediptic (Figure 14.1). Tlle ascending
and desceiding nodes (where the clcferent crosses the planc of the ecliptic) remain in
place, unlike the modd for the Moon. The positions of the nodes are not related to
the position of the apogee of the dcfereut, except that tllc centre of the deferent D is
sontewhere North of thc~plane contaildng the ecliptic. Tllus i i ic line connecting the nodes

does not cut the clefemit in equal parts, and is at an oblicl~:t*angle to the apsidal line

QE.

Figure 14.2: The orientation of the epicycle (snperior planets)


To allow the planet's position on the cpicycle to affect the latitude, PtolYmytakes the
epicycle out of tlic plane of the deferent. Indeed, the epicyclc's orientation with respect to
the deferent changes, depending on the distance from tlle nodes to the epicycle's centre

G. Let the line betweeu the epicycle's centre G and the Earth E be projected onto
t h tilted epicycle by titldng the intersection of the disc oI fhe epicycle will1 the plane
perpendicular to the ecliptic containing E G (Figure 14.2). This line A,GII,, the first

diameter, conti~iiistllc epicycle's true apogee A,. The lint through the rcntre of the
epicycle a d in its plailc at right angles t,o the first diametct~.,the second diameter, is
always parallel to the ecliptic. The iitclination between t l ~ cdeferent and t.Lc epicycle j
varies so that it is zero at both nodes, and rcaches its maximum j,,

at bile top and

bottom of the deferent. The epicycle is always tilted so that ils true perigee JJ, is furthex
from the plane of the ediptic than tlle centre G. The exteut of the epicyclc's tilt varies
sinusoidally as it moves from the ascending node to the top uf the deferent i ~ l l donw~trdb,

Chapter 14. P I i i ~ ~ e tLatitudes


(q
(Book XIII)

Figure 14.3: Thc lneclliulism accouxting for the variation in the epicycle's tilt (superior
planets). The diagram is a vertical cross-section of Figure 14.2 along the line EG.
Ptolemy adds a ~ ~ i e c h a ~ ~
toi saccount
m
for this variation Ly attaching a s n d circle to
the line EG, positioned vertically (Figure 14.3). The circle is attached to tllc perigee 11,
in such a way tllat a poiltt H on the circle is the same distancc above the deferent as II,.

rotates aroulicl the circle with thc same velocity as the mcsn motion in longitude, so

that it returns to tke pl;ine of the deferent whenever G retnnrs to a node.

14.2 The Latitude Tables for the Superior Planets (XIII.5)


The latitude j9 is a function both of the position of the epicycle, determined by the mean
centrum c,,,, and of tlte position of tlte planet on the epicycle, determined by the true
anomaly a,. Railtcr than measure tlle position of G from thc apogee of the deferent using
c,,,,

Ptoleniy prefers to iueasure it from the top of the defwmt T (Figure 14.1). Thus

the argument of latitude a, the arc from T around the circle to

G (coui~terclockwise

Chapter 14. Plimetary Latitudes ('Book S I I I )

Figure 14.4: Ptolemy's calculatioll of

when G is a t tlze northern h i t

viewed from above), deicrmines both c, and the mean longitude of the planet. Ptolemy
considers /? = / ? ( I I , a").
Since ,B is a double argument function, Ptolemy computos i t using interpolation. First
he computes @ for the two extreme 17alues of n: n = O0 wheu G is at its northern limit,
and n = 180' wlml G is at its southern limit. The con~lmtationof ,B(OO, a,) (Figure

14.4) Begins by projecting P orthogonally onto A,&, produc.ing I{. Next, IIC projects P
and I< onto the plane of t.lre ecliptic, producing L and B respectively. S i n e u , = LA,GP
(measured cour~terclockwise,aboiit 3130' in Figure 14.4),riglit triangle G K P gives

K P = r sin a,

aud

GK = r cos a,. 2

(14.1j

2Aetually S F = -rsiuu, in the diagam, but I consider the nieasurement of IIP to br in the

Chapter 14. P h e t a r ~Latitudes


.
(Book XHI)

343

= LI1,G.E = lA.iG-,!f, fight

Project Ii' onto EG, exiellciing EG if necessary. Since j,,,,

triangle AlGII" g k s

A41C = sin j,,,,,

. jmaz
.
. GK = r sm

G M = cos j,, . GK = r cos j,,

cos av

(14.2)

cos a,.

(14.3)

Next Ptolemy requircs p = EG, which is independent of

(1,.

Ptolemy finds p for each

planet "by means of the t.heorems ivc went through before, iu treating the an~malies".~

EM = EG -I- G M = p + r cos j,,,

cos a,.

(14.4)

From right triangle E M K , then,

EK = JEW + A I I P = J ( p+ r cos ,j.

EIc = Jp2

+ 2p cos jm..

cos a,)2

cos a,

(I.

sin ,.j

+ (r cos a,)'

cos a,)2,

(14.5)

(14.6)

(although Ptole~~iy
has uo need to clo this in his presentatic~n).Pedersen uses the good
approximation E K x EM in his analysis. Ptolemy does not use this approximation
in his sample calculatioli for Mars,4 dthougk E K = EM to all places displayed in the
sainplc calculatioils for Saturn and Jupiter-.' For Jupiter, Ptolenty's phrasing suggests
titat the approxil~iatiouis u s d 6 I v I ~recomputations show that only four entries in the
clirectiofi of the epicycle's n~otionin Figure 14.4. GK is measured ton-ard the apogee.
3Afmtbgest XII1.4, 613. Ptvfefsen claims that it is 11ot solvable geonictrically, since it requires finding
the mean centrum fmin the true centrum (Swruey, 366-7). Toomer disagrees (review of Sumeg, Archives
Iniernationules d'Histoire dcs Sciences 27 (1977), 137-30).
4Almagest XIII.4. 619.

5 i t h ~ g e sXXII.4,
t
613, 61Y.
6A13nagesl XIII.4, 617.

Chapter 14. Planetary Latitudes (Book S I I I )

344

sis tables affected by tile approximation? all in the Mars la ti tnde table for the southern
limit ( n = 180"). change in the first fractional sexagesimal place when the approximation
is sdoptecl. All foilr of tliese entries mere generated by linear interpolation (see $14.2.1),

and thus do m t allow one to decide whether the approximation was used.
Now riglit triangle EMK gives

But LBEG = i, so tirat LBEK = i

+ y. From right triangle B E K , then,

BK(= LP) = Eli' sin(i + 7 )

and

E B = EIi cos(i + y ).

Note that

Finally the planet's latitude is


/?fOO,au)=

LP

f P E L = sin-' EI' '

(A full equation for ,/3(0,a,) may be generated by substituting equations for L P and EF
into the above, bnt it is very compEcatec1 and is omitted hcre.)

An identical cnicnlation for the latitude at the southern limit,

P( f 80,ci, j,

yields a

different function because p = EG is smaller. Ptolemy computes P(Oo,u,) aid P(180,a,)

for all thee superior planets, for the standard arg~mentsa, E (6',12",. . ., 90,93",.. .,180).

'r

is measured U

from M ,so it is negative here.

I J W ~ ~ ~

Chaplm 14. PIirtietargpLatitudes (Book XIIJ)

I/

PP

Table
1 5ode Rank Sam Significance
19
0.420
Saturn h'ortlicm
0.420
19
Saturn Sou tltern
0.076
Jupiter Nortlmn
22
0.273
Jupiter SoutI~ern
20
0.997
12
Mars
Nortltcrn
0.273
20
Mars Soutliern

'1

No&: Rank Sum Significance


19
0.420
18
0.580
23
0.032
21
0.155
13
0.989
20
0.273

Table 14.1: Interpolatioii teat results for the superior planet latitude tables. The Significance column gives the probability of obtaining a node rank sum as great or greater than
t.hat observed.
My recomputation is hiudered by some confusion regarcling tile value of thc longitude of

the apogee of tlrc deferent XA. This enters the calculation through the detcrrnination of
p. Ptole~ny'sdiscussiou of the application of the tables8 does not use the values of

XA

given in Books IX-XI, h t rather valties rounded to the nearest 10'. Of eleven entries in

the tables where the value of X A (and hence p) makes a difference, eight favour the exact
d u e of X A . For the recolnpntations in Tables 14.2-14.7, first 1use the exact values of

hA a d generate p &om tliem by a numerical &ethod. Second, I use the vallles of p given
in the text (all rounded severely). Only ten entries differ to the places given. Of these,
five favour the exact p xrd five favour Ptolemy's p. Two lmge computatiold errors in

the table for Mass at tlrc southern IilLLit, for

a, = 174'

and

:I,

= 177O, are rcruoved from

this comparison. Error plots are giwn in Figures 14.6-14.1 1.

14.2.1

Interpolation in the superior planet latitude tables

!+eugc'oauer commeiiis on the tables for

p(O",a,) aad /3(f80,a,}:

But, as the graph . ..shows, linear interpoiation has been used for. certain
sections am1 in pasticnlar near the maxima for the case of Mars wlicse the

Chapter 14. Plmetary Latitudes (Dook XR7)

Figare 14.5: From 0. Neugebauer, HATVIA, 1282. A graph of the values of the superior
planet latitude tables
curve shoultl end in a horizoiitd tangent. The resuliiug error is, Imvever,
negligible escepting [,f?(180,a , ) ]where it can reach 0;

I find no clear evidence for linear interpolation from either Xeugebauer's graph or the
tables for the Jtipiter and Saturn tables. The results of tl'c interpolatioi~test (Table
14.1) for a 9" grid and a , 2 90" are similarly inconclusive, wing both Ptolciny's stated
d u e s of p = p p , and the correct v;llues of p. The Mars titldes use linear i~i~erpolation

with a grid of 9' for large a,, u&kh may be seen by the first differences of the entries

(Tables 14.6 and 14.7). The lasge errors for a, = 174" ad 177" in the t,;J,le for Mars
at, the

southern limit were caused by this interpolation. .ripart horn these two entries,

the error never exceeds 0; 2. This grid is uuusual but not unprecedented, aucl is st:n&blc

Cfiap t er 14. Pia 11 e t itry La.titu des (Book SUI)

347

considering the layout of the tables. For the Jupiter and Saturn tables the function's

clcrivativc c11allgc.stoo slowly to disti~iguishlinear interpolation from accurate calculation

with any certainty.

Chapter 14. Planetary Latitudes (Book XIII)

Table 14.2: Table of latitudes at northern limit for Saturn (XIII.5). The error El is
cdculated using esact p; the error E2 uses the p given in t h v text.

Figure f 4.6: Table of latitudes at northern limit for Saturn: error plot

Chapter 14. Plz~iretary La tit udes (Book XIII)

,!3(1805,u,)
2; 2
2; 3
2; 3
2; 4
2; 5
2; 7
2; 8
2;lO
2; 12
2; 15
2;18
2;21
2;24
2;27
2130

Table 14.3: Table of latitudes at southern linllt for Satur~l(XIII.5). The error El is
calculated using exact / I ; the error E2 uses the p given in tlie text.

Figure 14.7: T a l k of latitudes at southern limit for Saturn: error plot

Chapter 14. Planetary Latitudes (Book ,YIII,)

Table 14.4: Table of latitudes at noxtllcm limit for Jupiter (XIII.5). The errors are as
for the Saturn tables.

Figure 14.8: Table of latitudes at northern limit for Jtlpiter: a r m plot

Talh 14.5: Table of 1at.itudes at southern limit for Jupiter (XIII.5). The errors are as
for the Saturn t a l h s .
2

- --

I
,&

x X x

Ptolemy s rho
X

Exact rho

X
____Y

=
X

figure 14.9: Tirble of latitudes at soutf~entlimit for Jupiter: error plot

Chapter 14. Planetary Latitudes (Book S I I I )

Table 14.6: Table of latitudes at northern limit for hilass (XIII.5), ,8(0,u,). The errors
are as for the Saturn tables. The colulm labelled A gives the first diffcrcilces of the
entries.

Figure 14.10: Table of latitudes at nortllern limit for Mars: error plot

C h p i e r 14. Planetary Latitudes (Book X'1I.l)

Ti~ble14.7: Table of latitudes at soutllern limit for Mars (XIII.5), P(180,a,). The errors
are as for the Saturn tables. The colulllu labelled A givcs the first differences of the
err tries.

Figure 11.11: TaMe of latit.u&s at southern limit fur h4ars: error plot

Chapter 14. Planetary Latitudes (Book S I I I )

14.3

The L a t i t u d e Interpolation Table (XIII.5)

The tables give11 so far allow the user to find $(0,a,) mcl P(18Q0,a,).

Fxorn these

Ptolemy requires B(n,a,). Since the period of ret.urns of j is identical to the period of
returns of the latitude of the epicycle's centre G, P tolemp argues loosely t,hnt the d u e
of n, holding a, fixed, affects the latitude as if the planet were travelling on a single
circle inclined to the ecliptic rather tllaa both a deferent alltl an epicycle.l0 This gives a
situation identical to tlre lunar latitude tiieorp, where the latitude was

pm-(n)

= sin-'[sin 5" * sin(n - 00)]

Ptolemy assumes that tile planet's latitude is approximately proportional to the Moon's
latitude, holdmg

and for f n

(1,

fixed and varyirig n." Tlms, for j

77

I< 90,

I> 90,
P(n, a,)

(37 )
= Prr*oon
5

b(180,a,,).

(14.15)

Ptolemy gives ,z table for g ( n ) = Pm,,,(n)/5" and iiistrlicts the reader to use (14.14)
or (14.15) as (zppropiistc to cdculate P ( n , a,). The table, wllich is reproducecl for each
lilanet in the AZmagesi, is given in Title 14.8, with an ersar plot in Figure 14.12. The
entries for n

< 90" are iclcntid to tlre entries for 180" -n and are not given hiw. Ptolemy

claims that this table is calculated siinply by taking the t a l k for

&,,,(TL),

multiplying

by 12 and shifting the sexagesirnal poiut to tlre left, tllrls effectively dividing by 5".

hdeed, each extry is divisible by 12 in the last place. Howcvcr, several h a w noted that a
remlrstrtrction of the mctedying lunar latitude table does

nclt

yield a perfcct match with

Chapter 14, Planetary Latitudes (Book X11)

355

the tatlc for ,&;,,,,(n) in V.8.12 The reconstructed vdues for ,,,(n),
snldler than tlic values in the original table of ,!?m,n(~z)
ralues of

in Table 14.8, are

bg- one minute for the following

12:

99"

102"

108"

111"

135"

138"

144"

153"

156"

165"

168"

The otlrer 19 values match the origi~lilltable.


As with the hir~aslatitude table, the difference between the exact formula above and

the obvious simplificatioir


Jj(,,zoon(n)
= 5" . sin(n - 90') = -5" . cos n

(14.16)

is almost undetectable horn the nuiubers, Pedersen13 uses the approximation without
sualysis, and Ncugebauer states that "it is easy to see that tlze tables follow the law"14
given by the approximation. However, Ptolemy gives no indication that any approximation is used in his analysis for the superior planets,15 awl the difference between the
exact fonnda aid the approximatioil is too small to decide ~ d ~ i method
ch
11-as used from
the nunAers alone.

14.3.1

The rounding method in t h e lunar latitude tables

The lunar latitude tablc reconstructccl &om the planetary table is clearly different from
the table of Dm,,, in V.8; perhaps it was an earlier table which Ptolemy later recomputed.
Where the recoilstructed table differs from the origind table, it is always by minus 1

minute. The errors theinselves rereal a clear bias of alnzost exactly -112 minute, as may

be seen by Figure 14.12.l"


'%. Liankius {tr.f, P!cie&as: Rcndbuctt der Aslwnozzie
632 note 53: 0. Keugebauer, HAIIIX, 219 uote 3.

(YO!.

I), 1621, 428; G. Tooiner, Almugest,

1 3 0 . Pccierseu, Sur-aey, 3G8.


''0. Seugebauer, HAMA, 219.
'?Aimagest SIII.4, 631.
IGIf the yasis of Figure hL.12 is relabelled as increments of 1/2 niinute, it is the error plot of the

recoustritcted tablc.

Chapter 14. Plauetary Latitudes (Book 2211)

Error

Error

71.
-

0
1
0

138

0
-i
-1
-1

147

0
0
0
0
0
-1
-1
-1

141

144
150
153
156
159

162
1G5
168
171
174
177
180

Error
-11
-2

-8
-7
2
-16
-13
-1
-4
-9
-5
-4
-4

-7
0

Error
-1

0
-1
-1
0
-1
-1
0
0
-1
0

0
0
-I
0

Ta.ble 14.8: Planetary latitude interpolation table (XIII.5) and reconstruc tccl lunar latitude table

Fignre 14.12: Plaaetary latitude interpolation td~le:error plot

Cliapter 14. PIanetary Latitudes (Book XIII)

1
1
Lunar Table (V.8)
I Reconstructed Table (XIII.5) 1
1
1 Positive Error Negative Error Positive Error Kegi~tiveError
5
1
I Modern buudizlg 1
4
13

Truncation

I1

Table 14.9: Errors in the lunar latitude tables (origind artucl reconstructed) using both
~izodernrounding and truncation

The use of tr~mcatiourather t h m modern ~oundingsuggests itself, since truncation


introduces a bias of precisely -1/2 minnte. Table 14.9 gives the xxnxuber of entries with
positive and negative errors in both the origiual lunar latitnch. table and the rcconstructed
table, first using modem rounding a d second using truncation. Using truncation, the
recoustructed table cont.:~iusonly sewn errors (as opposed to 14 using modern rounding),
four positive and three negative. A similar argument suggests modern rounding was
used in the origi~ldtable. I coudude that truncation eslllains the error bias in the

reconstructed t a l k , and may well have been usccl here.

14.3.2

Error clustering

The error clzrsterii~gtest of $3.2 was applied to the recou.structed lunar latitude table
(Table 14.8) undcr the hypothesis that. truncation was used railrer than modern rounding.
This requires tllnt o milst not be generated from the proportion of entries within
the correct

3 of

T - ~ U C .I l ~ ~ t e i ~ d ,

the simulations to
(renwiug the errtry fur n = 180") gives a = 0.0050437. Cl~u~paring
the 7 ruus of error observed in the table (cdcdated using tr~lucation)gives

Chapter 14, Planetitfy Latitudes (Book XU,)

14.4

The Latitude hIode1 for the Inferior Planets

Vmus a i d Merc~tryh a w much larger epicycles t h ~ uthe sapcrior pluiets, so that vluiatious caused by tlle planet's position on tlie epicycle are ntrlcli easier to cletcct. Perhaps
this helped lead Ptolenq- to construcf a more coniplicdml ~uodelfor the latitudes of the
inferior planets.'7 The model for the inferior planets shares the nmizil: fci~tuzesof the
origind model: tlle incliuations of both the deferent and thc cpicycle are varicd to fit tlle
observed latitudes as \
dl
as possible. However, since the l)kenomeila u c different for

the inferior planets, P t ~ l c m yis led to a diEereilt model.


Two changes to the basic model for tlle inferior planets affect the position of the
deferent. First, the defcrent 's incliuation to the ecliptic varies with tinlc. 'When the
epicycle's centre G is at a node, the deferent is in the plane cA the ecliptic (Figare 14.13

(b) and (d)). When G irloves away from tlie node the defcrcnt becomes inclined to the
ecliptic, reaclung its ~llnsimurninclination i = ,,i

deferent (Figure 14.13 (a) and

(c)).

wl~cuG reaches tlie top of the

The deferent is always iliclined so thid G is above

the ecliptic for Vezlus, a i d below the ecliptic for Mercury. Second, the i~udesare 90'
removed from bhe apogee of the defercnt.18 Thus the incli~litfiollis at its maximum when

G is at apogee and at perigee. Mote that the argument of :r~tituden is thus equal to the
t.me centrum c ( f ) ,the distance from i l ~ ephnet's apogee to G.

The epicyde itself contains two l~lotionswltich alter the ixldinations of the first and
second diameters. The f i ~ s dimetcr
t
undergoes s similar siuusoidal ~ m t i ~to*its
i coulr-

terpart in the model for tlie superior planets: except that it is in the plane of the deferent
at apogee m d perigee and reaches its maximum deviation j = j,,,

at tlic nodes. For

Venus, this deviation is oriented so that the perigee of the epicycle points npward at the
170.Pedersen, Saruey, 360, For an analysis of the kinematic ntotic!.i of Venus and Mercury see R.
Ridden, T h e latitudes of Yetnus and Meretrry in the Aimagest", 1881, 9.5-111.
18h'ok that G reinains above the ecliptic except at the nodes, so that it makes no sense to define
ascending and desceudig uodes.

Chapter 14. Plnuetary Latitudes (Book NIII)

Figure 14.13: Thc latitude model for Venus. The diagrams represent the progression of
G from apogee (a) to tlie node (b): on to perigee (c), and findly to the otltcr node (d).

Chapter 14. Pl;mctarj. Latitudes (Book ? X I )

360

rtode after the apogee (Figure 14.13(b)) and downward at the node before the apogee

(Figure l4.l3(d j j. The secord dimwter, wllich was fixed for the superior planets, varies

with the s a n e siuusoidal motion as the deferent and the first diameter. At the nodes
the second diameter is parallel to the ecliptic (Figure 14.13(11) and (d)). At the apogee
tlte sfant 1; readies its maximum k,,,,,

(Figure 14.13(a)), causing the secmd diameter

to tilt upwards from West to East. for Venus. At the perigee the slant is -I;,

(Figure

14.13(c)), so that the second diameter tilts downwards from West to East. For Mercury

i~l1tl~reeangles i,,,,,, j,,,,,,

and k,,,,

are in the other direction. Ptolemy mechanizes the

motiolls of i, j a d k wit11 small circles similar to the device used to tilt the epicycle for
tlic superior plancts (Fignre 14.3), altbhoughsome of these circles are placed on the diagram sligl~tlyoff center so that uniform rotation of the circles produces the four positions

of Figure 14.13.'"
14.5

The Calcuiation of Inclination

Co~rstrucdingtables to find the latitude ,!? for the inferior plantbts with so many interacting
effects would be very difficult. P t'olemy adopts the simplifying approximation that the
latitude effects caused by the inclination, the deviation, and the slant may all be treated
independently.20 Thus

where B1 is the cl~angciil latitude due to the i~iclinationi,


the deviation j, iilld

p2 is the chauge caused

by

is the change caused by the slant k .

Tlic illechailisrl~to Yasy the i i x l i i ~ t i o ncauses i to vary according to the relation


,

= ,z,

cos n..

(14.20)

To find ,O1(n), Ptclemy argues fllat the situation for the inc~liua~tion
is a g a h similw to

the sit.ua.tion for the R:Ioon3slatitude

Thus

sin ,& = sin i sin(n + 90").

(14.21)

However, since i is small, /?I will be id11~0~t


proporti~nalto ,d,,

with respect to 7%. Thus

Ptolemp sets

PI ( n )z i . g ( n ) = it,,,,

(14.22)

cos n g ( n ) ,

where g(12) is tllc same function derived from tlle table for

P,,,,,,(I~) used for the superior

planets .
To find

fsonl the tables, Ptolemy illstructs the user to calculatc accortling

Thus for the first time P tolemy implicitly uses the a?proxilmtion

(14.24)

g ( n ) z cos n.

The table for g ( n ) , identical to the ta.bles given for the sul)cr,'or planets, is repeated for
both Venus and Mercury.
14.6

The Tables of Deviation (XIII.5)

Although the deviation is affected Ly the inclination, PColcmy has alrcad y made the
simplifying assumption that the tltrce latitude effects are i~lclepetident. Wide ,LIZ is a
function of two argumcuts n and a,, Ptbolelny begins by crdculatiug

p2 at

orlc of the

nodes. Siilce P2(9o0,a,) = -P2(2'i00, a,), it is unimportant which node is cl~osm." For
21AlmagestXIII.4, 631.
22Almagesi XIII.G, 636.
23Pedersen's analysis (Su.raey, 377-9) cl~oosesthe node prior to apogce ( n = 270),while Toomer's
diagram (Almagest, 607) cl~oosesthe node after apogee (n = 90).

Figure 14.14: The calculstion of p2(2700,a,)


Figure 14.14, I clmose the node prior to apogee ( n = 270),Here the deviation is at its
greatest ( j =

and the inclination and the slant are zero. The distance p = EG

from the Eart4ht o the epicycle's centre is roughly its mean distance, 60 uuits for Venus
and 56;40units for Mercury.24
Iu Figure 14.14, tlten, it is requilcd to fincl the planet's angle of inclination, LMEP.
Now EC; = p is given above, LEGIT, = j,,,,,,

and L A v G P = a,. Drop a pcrpenclicular

from P auto ,4,IT,,to forill I<. Also clrop K and P onto the l)lane of the eclil)tic, forming

L and d l . Then &(2'70,a,) = LMEP. From right triangle G K P ,

GIi = r cos uo

and

ICP = 9 . sin a,.

(14.25)

"Ptdemy states wrongly that the value for Mercury was found previously (Almagest SIII.4,608-9,).
Neugcbaucr (HAMA, 221) filtds p = 56; 37, alld Toomer (Almagest, 600 uote 33) finds p = 5G; 43,g.I find
tlic saim value as Tooiuer. The correct value of p for Venus is easy to calculate, and my recomputation
agrees with Neugelaucr's 59; 59,13 (HAMA, 221).

Chapter 14. PI;ule tar)- Latitztdes (Book XIIT)

Since j,,,,, = LEGIT, = i r'i GL,


~ then, right triangle K G L gives

I<L = GI< sin j ,,,

= r cos a,

GL = GI<cos j ,

= I- cos a, sin j ,,,,,..

sin 3

,,,,,,.

and

Then

E L = EG + GL = p + r cos a , cos j,,,,,


(note that p is constant). Now

a11d

EP = ~ E +
WMP2 =

\l(p+ r cos a , cos

jn,,,)2

+ IiL*.

-t ( r sin a,)2

(1-

cos a , sin j,,

)2,

(14.31)

which may be sin~plifiedto

E P = Jp2

+ 2pr cos j,.,

cos a ,

1.2

(14.32)

(although the silnplifica,tion is not an issue in Ptolemy's calr.111ations).Finally

B2( 2 m 0 ,a,)

= L k f E P = sin-'

AJP
KL
= sin-' EP
EP

To find ,B2(12, a,), P tolemy uses the same tecllnique he il~tsoducedfor the inclirtation
fmction. He asscsts that

p2 varies sillusoidaUy as n varies (since its v d u e ie determined

I;j. the rotatioil 3f oue of tlle srna.11 circ!es, as before), reachiug its maximum at n = 2?P.
Thus

& ( n , a,) z ,-(n

+ 90") .P2(270, a,).

(14.34)

Agaii~,Ptcjlemy iinplicitly uses g ( n ) Z.cos 12.

Ptoleiny tabnlstes P2(2700,a,) for Veilus and Mercury, using the standard gsid a, E
(Go,.

. . ,9DG,93", . . . ,180"). Note that p2> 0 for a, < 90, a i d P2 < 0 for a, > 90'. The

slxdute values appear in the tables, and the text gives instructions concerning whether
to add or subtract the tabulated value when computing
of the tables for B2(27o0,a,)

P itself.25 My recomputations

are in Tables 14.10 and 14.11, with error plots in Figures

14.15 a i d 14.16. The large errors in the Venus table for large a, and the first differences
of the ei~tries,illake it char tllat Ptolciny interpolated on intcr~& of 9@for a,

> 90, an

uuusual but reasoual>leclloice wilsidesing the layout of the tables. He has already used
the same gsid in several of the lunar parallax taldes and in the Mars latitude tables.26 The
t d d e for Mercury is considerably more accurate; thus it is unclear whether interpolation
was used. The first differences are too irregular and the tabulated values too accurate
to admit the possibility of linear interpolation. The interpolation test gives a node rank
sum of 17, and a signific;~ncelevel of 0.727, confirming this conclusion.
To compute

,&(?I,

a,) for any n, Ptolemy uses the same device he used for

P2 is maximized for n = 2T0,and j

varies sinusoidally by t.lle small circles, g ( n ) may be

nsed to aplxosiinate the fraction of ,4(27G0, ay) that makes up


P2f12,a,)

for

11

PI. Since

g(n - 90')

Pz(n, a c ) :

.P2(29O0,u . ~ )

E (18O0,36O0), and the same but negative for n

E (O", 180"). (Again, for Mercury

tlie signs ase rewrsed.)


"Almagesi XIII.6, 63-54.

"The interpolation test for this grid givcs a node rank sum of 19, aud a significance level of 0.420.
Tlic cause of the test's failure is evident from Table 14.10: the errors in the nodes are often cancelled
coi~ddentallyby tlw error caused by the lineax interpolation.

C h p t e r 14. Pfa11eta~r~Latitudes (Book X I I )

j4

Error

j?~

0; 5

Error
0

,Bs Error
1;59

Table 14.10: The deviation table for Ve~ius(XIII.5), ,02(2i00,a , ) . The colurlzn fabelled
A gives the first cliffereuces of the entries.

Figure 14.15: The dv:-i;l t ion table for Venus: error plot

Error
1

0
0
0
1
0
0
0

u,

138
141

144
147
150
153

156
159
162
1G5
1G8
171
1'74
177

180

1
0
0
0
0

-P2(27P,
a " ) Error
-

Table 14.11: The deviation table for hilercnry (XIII.5)

Figure 14.16: The deviation table for Mercury: enor plot

Chapter 14. Planetary Latitudes (Book .,YIII)

Figure 14.17: T l ~ ecomponent of the latitude due to slant and the planet's equation of
anomaly. Note that p = LGEP,but Is drawn in the figarc after rotating the epicycle
into the plane of the deferent (from the solid to the dotted circle).

14.1 The Tables of Slant (XIII.5)


The ody quantity remaining to calculate is the value of thc slant, Ps(n, u,,). As with the
deviation, Ptolemy avoids composing a cloui>leargument t J d e by tabulatii~gP3 when it

is at its largest, arld using g ( n ) to interpolate for other vducs of n. Now,


with respect to

71.

is niaxixnizcd

for n = 180,since there the epicycle is ncnrest to the Eastli, However,

uuruericd calculations coiivince Ptolrmy that ,03 is ilot sigi~ificantlyaffected by p, hence

by n, for Venus- For Mercury the clifference is more sul~stantialand will ileed tcr be
addressed.
Although it is possilde to work out a formula for
m

&, Ptolemy adopts instead

h(O0,
a,.) similar to his carlier work

a curious and not entirely correct argument, Since the

Chapter 14. P1aletary Lrztitrtdes (Dook XUI)

flaws are not

368

vital to the tables: I give ouly a genet 31 ooutli~lehere. Figure 14.17 shows

tliat tlic slant is vitally connected to the planet's equation of snomaly p(a,, c,) (c,= 0"
at the apogee), In fact, /j3is the elevation of the side EP of the angle GEP. Now, as a,

P3 and p increase and decrease at about the same rates.


Ptolemy postulates that the ratio between P3 and p remains constant for all values of a,,
cltsuge~leavingG fixcd), both

which gives

where the maxima of

p3 and p are talcen with respect to

(1,.

Here Ptolelny has some

difficnlty clealing nitk the proper defiilitiou of p, since the cguation of anomaly should

il: actuality be the smdles angle p' ill Figure 14.17 if the flatness of the model in the
czrslicr long<tutle tbeory is replaced by the current model. Ptolemy argues that both p
nlicl

11'

reach their maxiinurn for the same value of a,. He also concludes, i i ~ o r r e c t l y , ~ ~

that tlle difference 11 - 1)' reaches its maximum for the sanlc value of a,, and does some
calculations to sllow that the original equations of anomaly p are close enough to the
corrcctcd equat,ious of anoilzaly pt for this extreme value of a, to justify leaving the
original theory u~lclrangccl.

P tolemy now presses onward, setting

for k ' i : ~(for


~ Mercury the fraction is 2; 30/22). However, Ire replaces p(a,, 0') = pl(a,)
with p ( a , , c:,) = po(a,). Since Ptolcmy has already argued that
significantly, cl~oosingc,,, = ,c:
values for p,,,,,

c,

does uot affect

P3

so tlli~tp = 60 (for Venus) is only a minor change. The

in (14.37) above are indeed rounded values of the largest entries in the

tables far Po(a,) found ill XI.11 (see Tables 12.26 and 12.29), 45;59 for Venus aad 22;2
for Mercury.

The final calculation of P3(n,a , ) from i l 3 ( O 0 , a,) is axlalogoms to the procc$ures for
and

Pa. Since a smdl circle regulates the size of k, &(n. a,,)nay be found

a1

by

This formula is adequate for Venus~but for h'lercury Ptoleli~ymust still account for the
variation caused by the changing value of p. He approxiimks this effect by decreasing

p3 by oiie tenth wken


p is loss

~ ~ E Wthe
I

and for all other

p is greater than the mean, and incrcnsing ,B3 by one tenth w h e n

n1ean. Thus for 90'

< n < 270,

92,

& ( n , a,)

0.9 y ( 1 1 )

@ 3 ( 0 ,a,,).

The p:anet,'s latitude ma.y now be cdculated easily by

Ptolcmy tabiil~itesP3(00,a,,) for both planets and the sta~lclardgrid a, E { G o ,

. , ,, 90,

93") .. ., 180"). The multiplicative const-ants quoted in tltc text2$ (2; 30/4G for Venus,
2; 30/22 for Mercury) nia y have had several values in actual coinput ation. Pcclersen gives

0; 3,16 for Venus and 0; 6,49 for

mliik Neuge1);~uergives 0; 3,15 for Venus

and 0; G,48 for k i e r ~ u r y . ~Neither


'
of these values is quite correct, Another possibility is
2; 30/45; 59 for Venus illid 2; 3O/22 ; 2 for Mercury, using tllc actual maximum equation

of anomaly values froin the planetary po(a,) tables rather than the rounded vdrres given
iu XIII.4. The ta1;les are recomputed by multiplying 2; 30/-1G and 2; 30/22 Lj: Ptolemy's
~)o(u,)table in Tables 14.12 and 14.13, with error plots in Figures 14.18 arid 14.19.
28Almagest XIII.4,631.
29Pederser, Suruey, 384.

300.
Xengebauer, HAMA, 222.

Error
0
0
0
0
0

'

a,
93

96
99
102

0
0
0
0

105
108
111
114
117
120

135

Error
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Taljle 14.12: The slant table for Venus (XIII.5)

Figure 14.18: .The slant table for Venus: error plot

Error
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

Error
0
0

0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0

a,
93
96
39
102
105
108
111
114

117
120

132

135
Table 14.13: The slant table for Mercury (XIII.5)

Figure 14-19: The slant: table for Mercury: cmor plot

Directiox of Error
Positive
Neg ;L tIve
-

I/ 0; C,48 1
19
2

;s

0; G,48,28

14
4

0; 6,49

= 0; 6,49,5

10
5

9
5

'

Table 14.14: Directiou of errors in the recomputation of tlle Mercury slant table for
candidate values of the ratio fi3,,,,/p,,,,

For Venus, only one crsor occurs in t l ~ eentire table for t l ~ eratio 2 ; 30/4G. Pedersen's
0; 3,16 gives six errors. all negative, while Neugebauer's 0; 3,15 gives 16 errors, all posi-

tive. Thus I conclude that P tolemy either multiplied by 2; 30, then divided by 46, or that
Ire took tile ratio 2 30/4G to at least t h e e fractional sexagesilual places. B 0th hypotheses

require about the same amouni of effort in calculation. The ratio 2; 30145; 59 is so close
to 2; 30/46 that only tlle entry for u, = 126' changes, froxi Ptolemy's

45;14to 45;15.

Tlie simplicity of cdculation of this table implies that no further tests are llecessary.
For himcury tlte situation is more complicated. Since thc table is merely a multiple of
an earlier table, tJle only possible source of error is the value used for the ratio 2 ; 30/22.

Thus, as for Veuns7 o m should expect. all erroneous ent.rics to be on the same side
(positi rye or negative) of the correct wlues. Table 14.14 givcs the number of errors, both
positive and negative, for all the calldidate ratios. The distribution of errors in this
table lead me to reject Neugebauer7s 0; 6,48 and possibly 2; 30/22; 2, but the difference
between Pederscn's 0;6%49 and 2; 30122 is too small to dlctw a choice. I conclude that
the

slant, table does not desive fsom Ptolemy's tal~lern(a,) in XI.11, but from

another (possil>lyearlier) table of po(n,). This is rerniniscen t of the reconstruction of the


11tna.r latitude table from tbe latitude interpolation table ($14.3), which disagrees with
Ptolemy's table in V.8 for a number of entries.

Chapter 14. Plmietaxy Latitudes (Book XIII)

14.8

T h e Tables for F i r s t and Last VisiSi!ities (XIII.10)

The Almagest colicludes ivith a small set of tables giving the elongations of the planets
from the Suil at the times of first and last visibilities. The proldem was of greater interest
to Babylonian astronomers than to

Pt o l e m ~ .who
, ~ ~ does not discuss them

as thoroughly

as some of the o t . 1 tables.


~~
Ptolemy hardly discusses their cornputation; therefore, since
there is no excplicitly gircn function, these tables pose

a,

qnillitatisely different problem

from those discussed in tlris work, and are not dealt with bcre.

14.9

Summary of Results

The planetary latitude tables reveal some of the more intercs ting discoveries i ~ this
r work.
The recalculations show that linear interpolation with a grid of 9" was used for the latter
portions of some of the tables of latitudes. The planetary latitude interpolation table
appears to derive from an underlying table, either of lunar latitudes or of trigonometric
origin, differing horn the lunar latitude table in Book V ill that truncation rather than
modern rounding was used. The difference between the \:cwus and Mercury tables of
slant strongly suggests that the Mercury table is not based

OIL

the Abrnugest table of the

equation of anomidy, but another, possibly earlier version of the same table,

310.
Neugebauer, HAMA, 242.

Chapter 15

Conclusion

To summarize this work requires that several complicating factors be acknowledged.


First, the sheer qnantity of results is so extensive as to preclude a listing of each finding,
Second, one cannot be sure that Ptolciizy 1lizuseIf computed all the tables in the Ahagest.
Even if none of the tables were borrowed from other sources, it is possible t l i d Ptolemy
ltad assista~rtsto perform some calculations. These assistants may or may not have
ltad some autouomy concerning rounding procedures, interpolation methods, and the
like. Tkus, my coilclusions about the Ahagest as a whole may not necessarily apply to
Ptolemy llimself, lmt rather to the project of constructing the Almagest.
An important but easily overloolted characteristic of the tables is that the same
method of computation generally applies to all the entries in a table. Only rarely can it
be verified tl~at.clifferent sets of entries within the same table were calculatecl differently.

The only significant example of this situation is the second lunar equation of anomaly
table (59.6).

This unifornlity of couiputation tllroughout a given tablc applies in particular to the


ro~u~ding
methotls employed thronghout the Almagest. Most of the tables use modern
rounding implicitly, altllough several meail motion tables and the reconstructed planetary
latitude interpolr~tiout&le adopt tnincation. I find no idclttifiable instances of the use
of a v,zr.iable, unpreclictable method of rounding in the entirc treatise. This consistency
helps make the tal~lesamenable to iualysis.

Chapter 15. Couclusion

15.1

The Relation Between the Text and the Tables

The verification of a coiuiection between the methods of comlmtation proposccl by Ptolenly


in the text and the methods used in the tables tltemselvcs (insofar as they can be deter~llined)is not a simple mat.ter. Generally, there seems little doubt that the functions
are conlputed in the tal~lesaccording to the descriptions g i v n of them in the text. The
slnall magnitude of the errors found in t l ~ erecomputations is enough to verify this fact.

-411 unexpected but strong verification of identity between the descriptions in the text
a ~ procedures
~ d
used for the tablcs appears in the analysis of the lunar a i ~ planetary
l
interpolation tablcs, wllcre I show that the mru;imum equatjcui of anomaly tables implied
by Ptoleuty to be an iutermediate stage in the calculation actually exist (59.7, 12.5). I
have also shown that the tables of planetary stations conforiil to Ptoleiny's suggest,ed me
of Ptolemaic iatcrpolation in the calculation process considerably more closely than to
the correct vdues ($13.2).
The values of astroilomical parameters used in the tnl~lesare Best determined by
van Dalen's estiutators'

Still, my recoil~putatioilsgenerally verify that tlic parameters

implicit in the taldes coilform very closely to the parsiiietcrs in the text. R. Newton's
conclusio~~s
that the parameters in the tables ase slightly diff'went from thosc in the text2
(usually values tllat are completely unsupported in the litcrature) are slmwn to suffer
from a lack of proper ststistical methodology Generdy his estimations a d rejections
of the text parameters are due to the application of traditional descriptive statistics
in a very non-trs&tioual statistical problem. The depcndwces between cntries due to
iuterpolatioa a i d other sources cause lus confidewe i n t e r d s for the parailleters to be
far narrower thait they should be. An analysis taking tltcsc dependences iuto account
lB. vau Dalen, '&Astatistical method for recovering unknown paramvters from medieval astrmomicd
tables*, [122], 85-145.
2R.Newton, T l ~ eOrigins of Ptolemy's Astronomical Parameiers, [YO], 151-56.

Chapter 15. ConcIusion

would likely include Ptolemy's values for the parameters.


1 liave also sltown that, on rare occasions, the method given in the text does differ
from the method used in the table. The most obvious and important example is the

cllord t a l k Neither tlle chord supplclnent formula nor the chord addition formula were
used ill the actual constrr~ction(54.8). This does not imply deceit by the author. Rather,
i t suggests that tlic purpose of the test's description of the table was to make available a

full range of trigononietric tools and to sllow how one may construct a chord table from
them. The actual construction bypasses these two numericdly unstable formulas, giving

secure results.

15.2

Theoretical a n d Actual Dependences Between Tables

A full range of findings from the table dependence test l~clpsclarify the question of
clependences between tables that are theoretically connected. In several cases the findings
are inconclusive. These iuclude the dependence of two of the three shadow length tables

on the latitude table ($7.2.1). One may well argue that this calls into question the
positive finding of dependence for tlle tliird shadow length t d e . The relations between
the original planetary equation of centre tables (a)and the corrected tables (q) are
verified nu~nericallywith strong results in three of five cases (512.3.3). The other two are
inconclusive, prohably dne to the obscuration of other errors clue to rounding. The lack of
a11 apparent relation between the trios of planetary equatioil of anomaly tal~les($12.43)
is likely clue to tlle tenuous nature of the connection betwccu the three (in a numerical
sense). Finally, the strong result that the chord interpolation table is considerably more
accurate t l ~ mclcpendeaxe on the chord table itself wodd admit (54.9) is proof that

the author used more sexagesimal places to calculate the table than the three places
displayed.

Chapter 15. Coiiclusioi~

377

Overall, these mixed results are ilot unespected. The ~uathematicdui~tureof the
problem and thc high accuracy of the tables' entries nlakcs i t likely that many dependences are obscured. To conclude that s tl~eoreticallyclepcldent table does not in fact
derive from the underlying table nrllen tlle dependent table is not more accurate that1
calculation hoin tlte ullderlying table would allow is a difficult, matter. In endl individual
case, one would l>e reqnired to idel'tify the main sources of the errors arisiilg from the
calculation from the uuderlying to the dependent table, or reconstruct the actual underlying table in a conviilcing nlanner (as I did in my analysis of the lunar and planetary
interpolation tables, 39.7, 12.5) to ascertain that

110

link exists between the tables.

The implicatious of these test rcsi~ltsdo not seriously call into question the autlkenticity of the autlior's presentation. The only strong eviclcnce of s lack of connection
between the table and tlle text conceriliaig dependence between tables is the chord table
and the chord interpolation table, wlme the supposed link can be conclusively severed

(s4.9). Still, it is reasonable to suppose that the two were in fact coznputed together
(although not precisely as stated in the text), and that the chords were rounded to three
sexagesinla1 places to preserve the accuracy of the figures.
15.3

Interpolation Met hods

Ptolemy's use of interpolation metl~odsto construct a talde more efficieutly than by


direct calculation seems limited to liuear interpolation in cascs where the mctllod may be
verified nuinei-icnlly. Tlle lunar parallax interpolation tables cixlploy linear iiiterpolation,
as explicitly stated in the text (310.G). The lunar and planetary maxiinum equation

of anomaly tables: not present in the A h a g e s t but recondrUct&l in this work, were
calculated with t l ~ eaid of linear interpolation as well (59.7, 12.5). Finally, it seems clear
that linear interpolation was also used near the end of the Mnrs tables of latittldes and the

Venus latitude deviation table, but probably not throughout these tables ($14.2, 14.6).

Tlic interpoli~tiontest in this work determines whether an i~iterpolationgrid is present,


but does not proceed to analyze tlie type of interpolation tliat was used. In two cases
s t least, I have found an interpolation grid but cannot recoilstruct the method used to
generate the internodal entries. One is tlie declination table, which contains an undeniable grid of lo0, but still quite accurate internodal entries (3G.3). This calls into question
Newton's severance of a connection between the chord and cleclination table^,^ and thus
van der Waerden's recol~structionof a chord table underlying t,he declinatiou tablee4The
lunar equation of centre table also contains a curious interpolation grid for arguments
c

> 90" (59.5.1). Iu tlte latter case in particular, the discovery of the grid may imply

some method of computation that, strictly speaking, does not fall under tlle class of interpolation. A local method of calculation, perhaps exact but more likely approximative,
may have generated the internodal entries from the grid elltries using trigonometric or
other functions.

15.4 Dependences Between Entries Within a Table


One striking pattcrn in the errors in many historical astronomical tables, including those

in the A h a g e s t , is a continuous drift of errors, indicating

(z

dependence between errors

in entries near each otlier in the table. This effect may bc caused by interpolation or
other inethods of computation relyinp; on nearby entries to generate new ones. However,
this study clearly indicates that tlie effect is much greater than may be expected from
tlre application of these methods.

The cause of this effict is likely a coiubiuation of several factors besides local forms
of cdctilation. In several. tables, such as the solar equation table (8.4), the dependence

3R.Newton, TIN Origins of Ptolemg's Astronomical Tables, [so],62-61.


4B.L. van der Wacrden, GReconstructionof a Greelr table of chords", [128],23-38.

Chapter 15. Couclusion

3?9

is statistically significaut but does not imply that the calcirlations themsdves were in
any way dependent. A purely ~natlwluaticaleffect, described in $3.2, arises when ekte
functio~i'ssecond de~ivi~tive
is sufficiently small and tlie rounding is sufficiently crude
relative to the increase of tlie function from entry to entry. In these situations stretches
of entries can be lineady related to the argumerit, so that the errors are the resiilt of
subtracting a linear function from the computed function.
Many results, however, show a sigiiificant cluste~ingof error that cani~otbe explained
by this effect. These include the solar and lunar parallax tables ($10.2.2, 10.4.1, 10.4.2),
some of the planetary equation of centre tables (both a and q , $12.3.2), and several of the
plmetary equation of anomaly tables (512.4.2). For many of these tables, ir~tcrpolation
and some other local foruis of calculation can be safely ruled out on grounds of practicality
alone. It seems that the only plausible explanation is that tlie author(s) of these tables
routinely smootlml the pattern of entries in the table by adjusting the cntries up or
down one or more units in the last place, to give the appearance of a smootldy changing
function. This would liave been done on an ad hoc basis, without any standardized
algorithm. As a result, it is impossible to test this l~ypotllesisusing a stz~tisticaltest
beyond verifying that the errors do in fact cluster in a way that might be exyected by
such a procedure.

15.5

Other Numerical Methods

Certain other nunlerical methods used iu the Almagest deillonstrate a certain practical
1;nowledge of tlie errors involved in interpolatiou and a desire to offset them. My suggestion that some of the cltord interpolation table entries were illtentionally rounded upward
requires that the author of the table was aware that linear interpolation would impose a
negative error, and therefore that he was aware of the concavity of the graph, at least in

a numerical sense. A sirdar strategic use of rounding occurs in the eclipse interpolation

taljlc:.
15.8

Questions for Further Research

Several questions conccriiing specific tables arise from tlus study. The method used to
gcncrate tlic t a l h of dcclinatious from the nodes (56.3)is a fascinating problem, and
may not have a single consistent answer. It is certain that the grid exists. Yet the
internodal entries, while less accurate than the nodes, are still more accurate than any
obvious iliterpolation method would dlow. Also, the apparent dependence between the
first two lunar parallax tables

(5 10.4.3) remains to be explaiued.

The unusual nature of the data from a statistical point of view creates interesting
problems that I llave att.empted to address. The data are Ip their nature observational,
and no controlled experiment can replace them. The deterministic quality of the data creates several unique problems; for instance, the inathematical nature of the functions being
calcdated irnplics that normal distribution assumptions may often fail. I have therefore
turned primarily to non-parametric tests and only occasionally used other methods. The
nature of the data seems t c exclude the randomness that one is required to assume in
statistical metllodology. Although many situations studied by statistics do not in themselves represent random processes bxt yet may be approximated by them, the situation
with the data in tlle Almngest: seems particularly thorny. In most cases of the type arising
in this work, a rxildom model may be found to fit the data fairly effectively." However,
unusual dependences may creep into tlte data in unexpected ways. It is ~lulikelythat
these problems irill ever be fully s01red.

Scvcral fiistorical questions arise from this work. The most obvious is tile connection

'M. Stepheus, *l?,oundofTerrors in medicval tables", [95].

between the Almagest tables and those in the H m d y Tables. This is a resea~chprob!ex\l
that ma>- be addressed in subsequent studies. General qwestions about the uumerical
tables include tbc verification or denial through iluinerical or statistical means that the
anthor(s) of the Almagest tables smootl~eclthe entsies. This is part of the broader problem
of finding a consistent and plausible model of calculation tlmt matches the entries ia a
given table with a high rate of success (say, 95%). If the elltries mere smoothed? t+llis
problem may ilever be solved for the Almagest tables. I h a w had some prc$vious success
with al-1illalili"s auxiliary table^,^ wliiclr do not seem to ~01ltiti11smootlled cntrics.
The broader questions of authorship and placement of the tables in their llistorical
context may only receive partial answers through a numerical analysis of this type. Certain dependences and lacks of depeudences have illustrated that the text is often a fair
reflection of the tables, but also that there are important clivergences. Tllc structure of
the tabies found iu this work does not refute or verify that, Pt'olemy hilr~self(or his assistants) authored the tables. The Almagest was a large masterworli, y e a s in the making, a
culmination of Ptolemy's early astronoinical efforts. It is tlmefore not surprising to find
evidenc.e of earlier versioils of the same table, different rouncliilg methods used in different
tables, and so forth. Nor is it unsettling to find that the text's method of calculation
differs from the table's method in several places. Tile purpose of the Almagcst is in part
pedagogical: it is intended to exp1icat.ethe rnetl~odsof astronomy, including the methods
of the required ~nathematics.~For t.lre reader's benefit, tllc text is shaped to present

the most aesthetically pleasing appcarallce and structured argumentation possible. It


is not ineant to be a technical report on the work actually clone to generate the tables.
Therefore, I find no empiricd criteriou based on tlris study t.o deny Ptofemy's a~thorsbip
of any of the Alma,gest tables.

"G.Van Brumn~elen,"The numerical structure of al-Khaliis auxiliriry tables*, [118], 667-99.


Gingerich, W a s Ptolciny a Fraud?%![23], 253-66; J. Britton, 011the Qualily of Solar and Lunar
Observations and Parameters i~ Ptolemy 's Almagest, [$I, 205-06.

Appendix A

Statistical Glossary

This tllesis makes certain necessary assumptions concernizg the reader's knowledge of
sti&stical ~netllodsa d language. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this thesis,
many of its reaclcrs may not be sufficiently conversant with the terns used to follow
the argunzentatioxl. Rather than clutter the text with cad111 explanations of concepts
that m e basic to the field of statistics, I include here a glossary of statistical terminology
used in tlie work. Mathematical definitions are not included here; for these the reader

is invited to collsult any general statistics text, and H. Neave and P. W7orthington's

Distribution-hec Tests [65] for the 110x1-parametricmaterial.


Assumption Ercry t e s t of significance makes a numbcr of assumptions about the
data to be i~lid3~zcd.
Generally these include that all the data are selected from the
same distribution, that they are normally distributed (see non-parametric

methods/tests), rmd that they are independent.


Autocorrelation The correlation between a data set q , .. . ,x,,I, and a "shifted"
version of itself, x k + l , . . . ,x , ~ .This is the lag k autocorrelation. A non-zero lag

1 autocorrelatio~iindicates a dependence between snccessive data values.


Central limiting effect The central limit theorem states tllat, regardless of the distribution of a raildom variable, the clistriLution of the sample's mean tends toward
a normal distribution as the size of the sample increases. In many cases, com-

biuing a large quantity of data in some way fiom different distributions results in

Appeizdix A. S t n tistical Glossary

sometlling close t,o che normal clistribution,


C e n t r e The centre of a distribution is a ineasure of t.lx mnidclk of the clistribution,
Esainples include the mean arlcl tile median.
Clustering Tllc tendency of data values to fall more closcly t30other data values that
I~ELJbe

expccted by random variation.

I11

this work, tlle teildeilcy of tlie errors in

a t alde to fall next to each other.

Confidence interval A range of values within whick one 11;~s


a high degree of confidence
that the true value of the quai1tit.y lies. A 95% confirlellce intcrval of 1-2,6] (for
esaxi~ple)states that the true vitlue of the quantity is likely t u fall betwccn -2 and 6.
The 95% figure implies that 100 tests made on samples takeu horn tllc underlying
distribution will generate collfidence intervals containing the true quantity 95
times.
Correlatiox coefficient A quantity nleasuring the relation between two samples

..

, x, wld yl . . . ,y.,

XI,

The Pearson correlation measures degree of linearity: a

correlation of 1 or -1 implies that f.lle relation betweell z;and y; is precisely linear;


a correlation of zero indicates no ohservable relationship. Tlle S p e a r m a n rank
correlation lneastrres monotonicity as opposed to linca~rity.

Cumulative distribution function The illtegra.1 of the density function of a distribution. The d u e of the CDF for a given argument

J:

is the prol,itbility that a

raidomly chosen sample has a value less than or equal to s.


Density function A firuction that $yes the probability tliat a sanple sdected fmm
the distribution will fall between xl and xz as the area under the graph of the
fuuctiou between

21

and xz. It may he considered to lje the limit of tlie histogram

Appe~ndixA. Statistical Glossary

384

of a distribution with infinitely many dasses as the number of samples approaches

bell curveis the density function of the normal distribution.


infinity. Tltc fi~miliz~r

Descriptive statistics Any term that ineasures some property of a set of data rather
t1ta1.r m&i~rgiufeselrces about the underlying distribution. Examples include the
saxnple mean and sample s t a n d a r d deviation.
Dispersion The tendeucy of a population to spread around its centre (usually the
mean or median). The s t a n d a r d deviation is one method to measure dispersion
&out the mean.
Distribution Tlle psttcru of variation of a random variable. To say that a variable is
normally distributed, for example, implies that its density function follows
the bell curve.
Distribution-free metfiods/tests See non-parametric methods/tests.
Estimator A statistical procedure that estimates the valuc of some quantity based on
a random saiuple of data that depends on tlus quantity in some way.

Gaussian distribution See also normal distribution.


Independence A set of data values n.1, . . .,s, is (statistically) independent if knowledge
of the value of any particular xi provides no new information about the distribution of any other

xj.

Inferential statistics -4statistical procedure that makes some inference about the underlying distribution from the sample data.

Lag 1 autocorrelation The Pearson correlation coefficient between the data

.. ., rcn-l a i d

sz, .

..,x,.

XI,

A noll-zero lag 1 autocorrela tion implies that the d u e s

xi

depelld in some way ou the dues of nearby zJ in the list,.

Least squares fit Tllc fine y = m x

+ b that minimizes t l x sum of the squares of the

vertical distances from the data (xl,yl), . . . ,(2,: y),

to the line. See dso regres-

sion.
Matched pairs See paired data.
Non-parametric methods/tests -4 collection of statistical methods t h a t makes no
assumptions about, the underlying distribution of the data (normal or otherwise).
This is acco~nplislledtypically by ranking the data, and working wi tli the ranks
rather than t l ~ eosigind data. The avoidance of the distribution assuinption comes
at the cost of a loss of decision-maliing power. Sometimes known as distri bu tion-fsee
methobs/tests.
Ma~lyempirical processes
Normal distribution The familiar bell-shaped &stributioi~+
and events may be described using the normal distribution. The central limiting

effect adds significantly to its import awe.


Null hypothesis The statement that is tested in a t e s t of significance. The significance level is used to measure the case against the n d l hypothesis, which usually
states "no effectn.
Observational d a t a Data that arises from the situation rather than being generated
in a controlled way by the expeiimenter. Controlled

(1it.h

are to be prcicrred, since

the random models assumed by statistical methods are more likely to be valid far
such data.
One-sided t e s t -4 test of significance where the null hypothesis states that a q ~ i { i :-i
tity is equal to a certain value, versus the alternative that the quantity is greatr~t

tltarr that value. Alternatively, one may replace "grcater than7' with ''less than".
See also two-sided test.

Outlier A data value that is in some way well outside the pattern established in the
rest of the data. This ma>-be caused by an error in data entry or something that
went. awry in the data collection. Since it is always possible that an outlier redly

does come from the same population as the rest of the data, there must be some
reason (external to datistics) to exclude it.

Paired data Tjyo sets of quantities

X I ,.

. .,s,

and yl ,. ..,y, such that there is some

relation between each x; and y;. Soxietinles called matched pairs.

Population A (theoretically infinite) collection of observr~tionsfrom which an experiment selects a finite number, Tllis collection is determined by its distribution.

Random sample A collection of d u e s XI,.. . ,x, taken at random from a population.

Rank Sum The sum of the ranks of a set of data.


Ranks Used primarily in non-parametric methods. The data q,.. . ,x, are ranked in
numerical order. For the purpose of tlle analysis, tlic, ranks replace the original
data, thexeby generating a known distribution (uniform discrete) from data
without a known distribution.

Reference Distribution A reference set of test statistics derived under the assumptions of the model. The actual test statistic is compared to the set of values attained

Regression The fitting of a linear model (of one or more variables) to an experimental
situation. An additional error tern is assumed to be normally distributed with

Appeudis A. St,a.tistical Glossary

387

mean zero. In the case of a sill& variable, regfessioil is eqiiirdent to findizrit; the

least squares fit of the data.

Runs Sequences of (discrete) data that have identical values. Runs axe used in this work
to measure the frequency of clustering of errors.

Significance (level) A percentage level generated by a test of significance, indicsting


the probali1it.y that a result deviates by as much or more from the value predicted
by the null hypothesis. .4 5% le77el (or lower) is often accepted by scientists

as sufficieut to reject the model specified by the null hypothesis, A statistically


sigrdkxnt result, lrowever, does not imply any causal significance.
Spearman rank correlation coefficient A correlation coefficient designed to mea-

sure the monotonicity of the relationship between matched pairs of data, X I ,. . . ,z,
and yl, . . . ,yn (whether y increases with z). Since thc data are converted to ranks
before analyzing, tlle Spearman rank correlation is placed with non-parametric

methods, although strictly speaking it is not a non-parametric statistic.


Standard deviation The square root of the variance, a measure of the dispersion or
spread of a population.

Symmetric distribution A distribution that is symmetric about its mean (or me-

d i a ~ ) .A uumber of non-parametric t e s t s require this minimal assumption on


the clist~ibntionof the data.

Test (of significance) -4 test to determine whether a certain statistical modelling of


an empirical situation is apprupriate. The model is called the null hypothesis,
and asnally represents '"no effect".

test statistic is generated from the data and

compared to a theoretical or reference distribution derived from the assurslptji~~s

Appc~~cfis
A. Statis tical Glossary

388

of the model. This generates a significance level measuring the appropriateness


of the model. If tlte significance level is low enough, the null hypothesis is rejected.

If the significance level is not lorn, no conclusion about the null hypothesis may be
reached.
Test statistic A quantity derived fionz the data in some arithmetic manncr. The test
statistic is compared to a reference or theoreticd distribution of the quantity
generated from the hypotheses of the model to determine whether the model is
appropriate (the null hypothesis).
Two-sample t-test -4traditional test designed to determine whether two samples come
from populations with different means. Normal distribution assumptions are
in effect.

Two-sided test A t e s t of significance where the null hypothesis states th& a quanti ty is equal to a certain value, versus the alternative that the quantity is not equal
to that vahie. See also one-sided test.
Uniform distribution A distribution such that ev,ry value in a certain sct of possible
values is eqiially liliely to be selected, in the discrete case. In the continuous case,
the distribution is such that the probability that a valne is selected from a certain
interval is proportional to the size of the interval.
Variance The sum of tlte squares of the differences between
rfi~idedby

72.

XI,.

. . ,x,

and the mean 3,

- 1.

Weighted test -4 t e s t of significance that takes certain data into account. more heavily tban others, due to aa external factor that places more importance on such
entries.

-4ppendis -4. Sta.tistica1 Glossary

Wilcoxon signed rank test for dispersion A non-parametric test clesigned to determine whether two paired data sets exhibit the same amount of dispersiou around
their medians.

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