This paper provides a textual comparison of selected primary sources on medieval mathematics written in Sanskrit and medieval Latin for the first time. By emphasising literary features instead of purely mathematical ones, it attempts to shed light on a neglected area in the study of scientific treatises which concerns lexicon and argument strategies. The methodological perspective takes into account the intellectual context of knowledge production of the sources presented; the medieval Indian and Latin traditions are historically connected, in fact, by one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of knowledge transfer across cultures: the transmission of the decimal place value system. This cross-linguistic analysis compares and contrasts the versatile textuality and richness of forms defining the interplay between language and number in medieval Sanskrit and Latin works; it employs interdisciplinary methods (Philology, History of Science, and Literary Studies) and challenges disciplinary boundaries by putting side by side languages and textual cultures which are commonly treated separately. The purpose in writing this research is to expand upon recent scholarship on the Global Middle Ages by embracing an Eastern literary culture and, in doing so, to promote comparative studies which include non-European traditions. This research is intended as a further contribution to the field of Comparative Medieval Literature and Culture; it also aims to stimulate discussion on cross-linguistic and cross-cultural projects in Medieval Studies.
Research Article| June 02 2019
Medieval Literature in Comparative Perspective: Language and Number in Sanskrit and Latin
Journal of Medieval Worlds (2019) 1 (2): 57–76.
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Alessandra Petrocchi; Medieval Literature in Comparative Perspective: Language and Number in Sanskrit and Latin. Journal of Medieval Worlds 2 June 2019; 1 (2): 57–76. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jmw.2019.120004
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