The Diagrams of Calcidius

In about 400 CE, Calcidius presented what might be described as the world's first known slideshow. It illustrated what may have been a lecture series on the Timaeus of the Greek philosopher Plato. The diagrams helped his audience visualize some difficult ideas in a book which was already 750 years old and had recently been gaining renewed interest.

Calcidius (for whom we possess no biographical data) translated part of the Timaeus from Greek to Latin (probably in hope of a grant or legacy from one wealthy Osius) and wrote a commentary with a series of visual analogies to both elucidate and modernize these ancient ideas for contemporary students who knew some mathematics, but probably very little else about ancient Greek thought.

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