Lovers in paratexts: Oronce Fine's republic of mathematics

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In the 1520s, Oronce Fine addressed a “republic of mathematics.” The term captured Fine’s goals for an emerging discipline. Fine, the first professor of mathematics of the Collège Royal in Paris (est. 1530), turned to the language of amicitia and scholarly love to make space in the Republic of Letters for mathematics. Such language drew on an ethics of scholarly love which animated his predecessors in Paris, the circle of Jacques Lefèvre d’ Étaples. This article considers Fine and his colleagues’ efforts to imagine a public – and so reimagine a discipline – using the language of love in the letters, poems, and other paratexts that layered the technical books he authored. The vantage point of mathematical studies shows how practitioners could use the notion of amateur to garner support for their discipline while levelling social distinctions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-583
JournalNuncius: Journal of the Material and Visual History of Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Oronce FIne
  • mathematics
  • amicitia


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