Jacobus Golius

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Jacobus Golius

Jacob Golius born Jacob van Gool (1596 September 28, 1667) was an Orientalist and mathematician based at the University of Leiden in Netherlands. He is primarily remembered as an Orientalist. He published Arabic texts in Arabic at Leiden, and did Arabic-to-Latin translations. His best-known work is an Arabic-to-Latin dictionary, Lexicon Arabico-Latinum (1653), which he sourced for the most part from the Sihah dictionary of Al-Jauhari and the Qamous dictionary of Fairuzabadi.

Oriental studies academic field focus on Asian cultures

Oriental studies is the academic field of study that embraces Near Eastern and Far Eastern societies and cultures, languages, peoples, history and archaeology; in recent years the subject has often been turned into the newer terms of Middle Eastern studies and Asian studies. Traditional Oriental studies in Europe is today generally focused on the discipline of Islamic studies, while the study of China, especially traditional China, is often called Sinology. The study of East Asia in general, especially in the United States, is often called East Asian studies, while the study of Israel and Jews are called Israel studies and Jewish studies respectively, although they are often considered the same field.

Abu Nasr Isma'il ibn Hammad al-Jawhari also spelled al-Jauhari was a Turkic lexicographer and the author of a notable Arabic dictionary.

Fairuzabadi, also known as El-Firuz Abadi or al-Fayrūzābādī (1329–1414) was a lexicographer and was the compiler of a comprehensive Arabic dictionary. The dictionary, called al-Qamous (القاموس), was one of the most widely used in Arabic for nearly five centuries.



Golius was born in The Hague. He went to the University of Leiden in 1612 to study mathematics. In 1618 he registered again to study Arabic and other Eastern languages at Leiden, where he was the most distinguished pupil of Erpenius. In 1622 he accompanied the Dutch embassy to Morocco, and on his return he was chosen to succeed Erpenius as professor of Arabic at Leiden (1625). In the following year he set out on a tour of the Eastern Mediterranean lands, from which he did not return until 1629. A key purpose of the tour was to collect Arabic texts and bring them back to the Leiden University library. [1] The remainder of his life was spent at Leiden where he held the chair of mathematics as well as that of Arabic.

The Hague City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

The Hague is a city on the western coast of the Netherlands and the capital of the province of South Holland. It is also the seat of government of the Netherlands.

Morocco Country in North Africa

Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country located in the Maghreb region of North West Africa with an area of 710,850 km2 (274,460 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, the largest city Casablanca. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Morocco claims the areas of Ceuta, Melilla and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, all of them under Spanish jurisdiction.

Leiden City and municipality in South Holland, Netherlands

Leiden is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. The municipality of Leiden had a population of 123,856 in August 2017, but the city forms one densely connected agglomeration with its suburbs Oegstgeest, Leiderdorp, Voorschoten and Zoeterwoude with 206,647 inhabitants. The Netherlands Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) further includes Katwijk in the agglomeration which makes the total population of the Leiden urban agglomeration 270,879, and in the larger Leiden urban area also Teylingen, Noordwijk, and Noordwijkerhout are included with in total 348,868 inhabitants. Leiden is located on the Oude Rijn, at a distance of some 20 kilometres from The Hague to its south and some 40 km (25 mi) from Amsterdam to its north. The recreational area of the Kaag Lakes (Kagerplassen) lies just to the northeast of Leiden.

Golius taught mathematics to the French philosopher René Descartes, and later corresponded with him. [2] It is therefore highly probable that he was able to read to him parts of the mathematical Arabic texts he had started to collect, among others on the Conics. [3]

René Descartes 17th-century French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–1649) of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. He is generally considered one of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age.


Among his earlier publications may be mentioned editions of various Arabic texts (Proverbia quaedam Alis, imperatoris Muslemici, et Carmen Tograipoetae doctissimi, necnon dissertatio quaedam Aben Synae, 1629; and Ahmedis Arabsiadae vitae et rerum gestarum Timuri, gui vulgo Tamer, lanes dicitur, historia, 1636). In 1656 he published a new edition, with considerable additions, of the Grammatica Arabica of Erpenius. After his death, there was found among his papers a Dictionarium Persico-Latinum which was published, with additions, by Edmund Castell in his Lexicon heptaglotton (1669). Golius also edited, translated and annotated the astronomical treatise of the 9th century Arabic astronomer Al-Farghani. [4]

Edmund Castell English orientalist

Edmund Castell (1606–1686) was an English orientalist.

Golius's Lexicon Arabico-Latinum, about 1500 pages, published at Leiden in 1653, was a big improvement on the Arabic-to-Latin dictionary of Franciscus Raphelengius, which was published at Leiden in 1613. Golius possessed mainstream medieval Arabic dictionaries written solely in Arabic, and was able to translate their contents into Latin. Raphelengius did not have the benefit of seeing these Arabic dictionaries. Golius's dictionary was later improved and expanded by Georg Freytag's Arabic-to-Latin dictionary in 1837.

Franciscus Raphelengius Dutch printer

Frans van Ravelingen Latinized Franciscus Raphelengius, was a Flemish-born scholar, printer and bookseller, working at Antwerp and later at Leiden. For the last decade of his life he was professor of Hebrew at Leiden University. He produced an Arabic-Latin dictionary, about 550 pages, published posthumously in 1613 at Leiden. This was the first publication by printing press of a book-length dictionary for the Arabic language in Latin.

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  1. Biography of Jacobus Golius at the Baheyeldin Dynasty site.
  2. Sasaki, Chikara (2003). Descartes's mathematical thought. (Volume 237 of Boston studies in the philosophy of science). Springer-Verlag. pp. 3, 206–207, 222–225. ISBN   1-4020-1746-4.
  3. Hattab suggests that this collection was the primary reason for Descartes' choice to study with Golius: Hattab, Helen (2009), Descartes on Forms and Mechanisms, Cambridge University Press, p. 156, ISBN   9780521518925 .
  4. Alfraganus: Elementa astronomica, in Arabic and Latin, year 1669, translation by Golius. Alfraganus is a medieval Latin spelling of Al-Farghani.

The Mathematics Genealogy Project is a web-based database for the academic genealogy of mathematicians. By 13 February 2019, it contained information on 238,725 mathematical scientists who contributed to research-level mathematics. For a typical mathematician, the project entry includes graduation year, thesis title, alma mater, doctoral advisor, and doctoral students.

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