Mathematics and Metaphysics

in the Premodern World



Assignment 1b


Annandale: Thursday, January 31st




This class is running in two places in parallel, but delayed by one week.  It's running on the Annandale campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the Fishkill campus, one week later, on Wednesdays and Fridays. Students will typically receive an assignment page like this for every class.  It will describe the readings for the next class as well an any other assignments or projects or announcements.  There will typically be readings and regular exercises to be done for homework.  See the Policy Page for details on grading and expectations. 


To be done for Thursday, 1/31-Annandale...

Read the following...


-Wisdom of Solomon [1]

       Questions to answer as homework:

1. What is the theory of matter that is suggested in this passage?

2. Is there a suggestion of universal natural law in this passage?  If so, what is it?

3. How does the size of the world compare to the larger divine cosmos?

    4. What the hell is going on here?  What is the point of this passage?  [You might have look into the larger context.  Read more of this text or find a summary.]


- Iamblichus. On the Pythagorean Life. Translated with notes and introduction by Gillian Clark.  Liverpool University Press. 1989. Excerpts. Pp. xvi-xix, 6-9, 24-25, and 48-55.


- Burkert, Walter. Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism. Translated by Minar. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1972. Excerpts. Pp. 172-173 and 183-184.



Do the following for homework...

1. Answer the questions for the Wisdom of Solomon reading (above).  Turn in on paper only.  Restate each question and then answer it as you see fit.

2. Choose a story or phrase or scene or idea from the readings on the Pythagoreans.  Draw something that illustrates that scene on paper.  It could be realistic, comic-book style, abstract, psychedelic, meta-trans-national, hypno-tragicomical, etc.  Use any medium you like (pencil, paint, ink, etc.)  Be sure to indicate what you are illustrating by citing the source of your inspiration and providing a little prose to set it up. Also describe what your illustration is doing... how it illustrates the episode/phrase/scene. Use the illustration to explain, analyze, or comment upon the anecdote.


Back to Quadrivium Main Page


In Our Time: Pythagoras [podcast]


1b Readings


From Gaffurius' Theorica musicae (1492/6)

Note: IV-BAL is Jubal, the biblical founder of music.