De Viribus Quantitatis

Ms. 250 - Biblioteca Universitaria di Bologna (Bologna, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

Von der Stärke der Menge

Facsimile edition
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Alternate Titles

Von der Stärke der Menge

Extent / Format

661 pages / 24.0 x 17.0 cm

Artist / School

Luca Pacioli


98 drawings

Short description

This exceptional treatise with the title De viribus quantitates presents the famous Italian Renaissance mathematician Luca Pacioli in a completely new light. Pacioli assembled a wild smorgasbord of entertaining and exciting games, instructions for magic tricks and tricky number puzzles. Originating from the years 1496-1508, the document has lost none of its fascination to this day and offers a gorgeous glimpse into the art of playful and challenging pastimes!

Facsimile editions available


De Viribus Quantitatis

Luca Pacioli (1445-1517), an Italian Franciscan priest, is considered to be one of the most famous mathematicians of the Renaissance. He was inter alia closely befriended with Leonardo da Vinci, the great historical universal genius, with whom he also collaborated. Pacioli left behind numerous groundbreaking and significant works, which were concerned with the problems of and fascination with mathematics in all its aspects. For example, the text De divina proportione about the golden rule or his chess book De ludo scachorum.

A Unique, Unpublished Manuscript

In the years 1496-1508, Pacioli finally composed a small book that only marginally dealt with mathematics and also did not ostensibly follow the perspective of a text book like his other works: De viribus quantitatis, The Strength of Numbers. This unique manuscript is stored today in the Bologna University Library. Pacioli wrote 661 pages with black and red ink and illustrated it with a total of 98 explanatory illustrations.

A Significant Math-Based Book of Entertainment

De viribus quantitates is certainly no mathematic treatise, but nonetheless contains a description of algebraic and geometric principles in the first section. The content that made the text famous follows thereafter: gimmicks both mathematical and otherwise, card tricks and number riddles, but also instructions for performing magic or juggling and much more, everything that is useful for a fun diversion. As a result, the book is a diverse, mathematically-entertaining puzzle book, a compendium of various tricks and amusements. Alongside mathematics and logic, other natural sciences are represented and even the literary!

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