What did Euclid originally call his treatise of thirteen books that we now refer to as "Euclid's Elements" ?

Was it "The Elements" ? Was it something else ? Does anyone know the exact Greek title ?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think it's just "Elements", I do not think Greek has an equivalent of article "the". I.e., the first book was "Element $\alpha$" and so forth. $\endgroup$
    – Vasili
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 12:30
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I don't think there are any extant copies of Euclid's original work, so we cannot be sure that the title was not given by Proclus or someone else. $\endgroup$
    – mau
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 13:18
  • $\begingroup$ Even when we get Extant Copies , we would still not be sure whether Euclid named it or the Scribes named it later , @mau , there will be no way to confirm it. $\endgroup$
    – Prem
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ @ Vasili I don’t want to be pedantic, but for the sake of truth, I have to say that in ancient Greek the definite article as the exists, the nominative singular is ò, è, , (masc., fem., neutral), the neutral plural is (stoikheīov is neutral), so with the definite article we would have tà stoikheīa. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ It's probably worth pointing out that what was known as of the early 1900s about Euclid, the text, and its reception from ancient times is thoroughly discussed in Heath's introduction to the Elements. See Knorr, doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0498.1996.tb00610.x, 1996 for an alternative view. Note: No one seems to think the title is in question. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


It is "Στοιχεῖα" [ Stoikheîa ] in Ancient Greek.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euclid%27s_Elements :

Euclid's Elements (Ancient Greek: Στοιχεῖα Stoikheîa) is a mathematical treatise consisting of 13 books attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria, Ptolemaic Egypt c. 300 BC.

Interesting titbit/trivia :

I recognized a word from my Chemistry Classes , hence I had a guess about Stoichiometry , which turned out to be true . . . .

https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Inorganic_Chemistry/Supplemental_Modules_and_Websites_(Inorganic_Chemistry)/Chemical_Reactions/Stoichiometry_and_Balancing_Reactions :

In Greek, stoikhein means element and metron means measure, so stoichiometry literally translated means the measure of elements.

[[ that Chemistry text may have a typo there : "singular of stoicheīa is stoicheīon, not stoicheīn" , curtesy of user "BakerStreet" ]]

When we make the Singular to the Plural , we get Stoikheîa , which is what Euclid wrote.


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