Oxford 2005 Colloquium

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Board Game Studies Colloquium VIII


Jorge Nuno Silva


Rithmomachia, or Ludus Philosophorum, was a medieval pedagogical game. Played on a 8x16 board with 48 pieces, each with a number, was linked to the teaching of Boethius quadrivium and was practiced by the learned in Churchs and Universities. The Arithmetic of the quadrivium was heavily Pythagorean, and so was the game, progressions and proportions among whole numbers being its main ingredients. Manuals in several languages survived, the oldest dating from the 11th century.

Francesco Barozzi (1537-1604) was an Italian humanist, professor and mathematician. Born into a patrician family, Barozzi was given a humanistic education. He learned Latin and Greek. Later, he taught in the university of Padua. He translated Proclus and intended to publish commented versions of Plato and Aristotle. He also dedicated himself to necromancy, which got him a conviction by the Venetian Inquisition. He was a complex intellectual.

In 1572 Barozzi published a manual of Rithmomachia, Il nobilissimo et antiquissimo giuoco pythagoreo nominato rythmomachia cioč battaglia de consonantie de numeri.

We present a brief biographical note on Barozzi, an English version of his manual, and a short description and historical survey on this game.

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