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Early Modern Play: Three Perspectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 November 2018

Bret Rothstein
Indiana University Bloomington


Let us Draw on the past as we look toward the future. Specifically, let us begin with the Propositiones ad acuendos juvenes, or “Problems to Sharpen the Young,” by Alcuin of York. Written sometime in the later eighth century, this text offers a number of logical and mathematical problems meant, as the title suggests, to refine one’s intellect. Some of the problems are fairly straightforward, as in the case of a question about how many sheep might fit in a field measuring 200 × 100 feet, with each sheep being allocated a space of 5 × 4 feet. Others, like de porcis, are somewhat trickier. This latter example is an impossible puzzle that asks how one might slaughter 300 pigs in three days by only slaughtering an odd number on each of the days.

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Copyright © 2018 Renaissance Society of America

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