Label 2: Sylvanus’s 1511 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography

These images are from Sylvanus’s 1511 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography. Ptolemy held that the world was spherical and so dealt with the challenge of depicting the earth’s geography in two dimensions. He only knew, however, the geography of a portion of the earth.

The first reproduction displayed here shows the title page of the book.

The map in the second image resembles a Ptolemaic projection, which appears early in the book. 

The map in the third image displays results of new navigational discoveries. It represents a cordiform, that is heart-shaped, map projection. 

 Subsequent map-makers continued to develop new map projections. 

In his article “The Sylvanus 1511 World Map: The New World Locked in an Old Cage”, McGuirk mentions that: 

He [Sylvanus]…comments, “When I considered that Ptolemy, with more care than any other geographer, had determined the relative positions and distances of the places, I was astonished that his maps only occasionally corresponded to the experiences of the mariners of our time.” ….

Sylvanus’s plight is summarized by Adrian Johnson when he states that this “typifies the dilemma of the humanist scholar, depending on the unquestioning faith in antiquity, yet unable to reconcile this with the new mariners’ observations.”

Ptolemy (2nd cent).
Claudii Ptholemaei ALexandrini liber geographiae cum tabulis et universali figura et cum additione locorum quae a recentioribus reperta sunt diligenti cura emendatus et impressus.
[Venetiis, Iacobum Pentium de leucho, 1511].

▶Encountering New Worlds
▷Label 2: Sylvanus’s 1511 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography