The Almagest:
Introduction to the Mathematics of the Heavens

by Claudius Ptolemy.
Selections translated by Bruce M. Perry.
Edited with notes by William H. Donahue.

7 x 10", 264 pages, including index, bibliography, biographical notes, appendices.
Publication date, November, 2014.
For pricing and ordering information, see the ordering section below.

Ptolemy's Almagest coverGreen Lion Press has prepared a new translation of selections of Ptolemy’s Almagest as a Ptolemy reader. Designed as a text for use in courses, it contains extensive introductions to the celestial phenomena and to Ptolemy’s world system, as well as preliminaries to the individual books of the Almagest. The selection includes Ptolemy's presentation of the form of the universe, the mathematical tools necessary to construct planetary theories, and the theories of the sun, Venus, Mars, together with an account of retrograde motion and the procedure for computing planetary positions for any date. This book constitutes a lucid introduction to Ptolemy’s extraordinarily powerful constructions and his amazingly sophisticated mathematical methods.

Ptolemy’s text is accompanied by extensive notes and introductions that are aimed at making the book accessible to students encountering Ptolemy for the first time. The Preliminaries describe the basic phenomena of the heavens, such as the motions of the fixed stars and the observations that allow the sun’s path in the heavens to be discerned. Brief accounts of astronommical instruments and of sexagesimal computations follow, along with necessary terminology and instructions for using Ptolemy’s chronology. Many of Ptolemy’s books are introduced with their own Preliminaries, supplying readers with the information necessary to understand and work with with matters specific to those sections.


  • Single-volume reader of the thirteen books
  • Includes appendices that provide a summary of trigonometry, a day calculator, and other aids.
  • Makes Ptolemy accessible to students encountering him for the first time.
  • The translation and notes have been extensively classroom-tested at St. John’s College.


This is a wonderful book. Nothing will ever make mastering the astronomy of Ptolemy’s Almagest an easy task, but this book of selections, commentary and supporting material will at least make it a fair fight. ... Everything the student or teacher needs for reconing with chords to solve problems on the celestial sphere, or for calculating the positions of the Sun and planets from Ptolemy's own tables, is here, carefully and patiently explained. It's a bit like having an updated version of Ptolemy’s Handy Tables and Theon of Alexandria’s Commentary on the Almagest rolled into one — but better because it’s briefer and clearer

— James Evans
Author of The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy


The selection of chapters provides a navigable and compact overview of the Almagest. Various features enhance the book for students: several explanatory and background sections; insertions of new illustrations; clearly labeled and numbered propositions, calculations and observations; and the repetition of diagrams when a geometric argument spills over a page. Although the main thrust is to make the Almagest accessible, the translator and editors clearly maintain a deep respect for the original Greek text. ...
This well-produced book has the potential to introduce a forgotten classic to a new generation of students. They can only benefit from the experience.

— Glen R. Van Brummelen
Mathematical Reviews

Sample pages

Below are links to PDF versions of the Preface and Table of Contents.
You may need to open these PDF documents in Adobe Reader or an equivalent program.


Watch this space for links to compressed versions of all Ptolemy's proofs, keyed to the numbers in the translation. Coming soon!

Ordering Information for Ptolemy, The Almagest:
Introduction to the Mathematics of the Heavens

Sewn softcover, ISBN 978-188800943-9, list price: $23.95.

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