[54a] their nature adequately. Now of the two triangles, the isosceles possesses one single nature, but the scalene an infinite number; and of these infinite natures we must select the fairest, if we mean to make a suitable beginning. If, then, anyone can claim that he has chosen one that is fairer for the construction of these bodies, he, as friend rather than foe, is the victor. We, however, shall pass over all the rest and postulate as the fairest of the triangles that triangle out of which, when two are conjoined, [54b] the equilateral triangle is constructed as a third.1 The reason why is a longer story; but should anyone refute us and discover that it is not so, we begrudge him not the prize. Accordingly, let these two triangles be selected as those wherefrom are contrived the bodies of fire and of the other elements,— one being the isosceles, and the other that which always has the square on its greater side three times the square on the lesser side.2Moreover, a point about which our previous statement was obscure must now be defined more clearly. It appeared as if the four Kinds, [54c] in being generated, all passed through one another into one another, but this appearance was deceptive. For out of the triangles which we have selected four Kinds are generated, three of them out of that one triangle which has its sides unequal, and the fourth Kind alone composed of the isosceles triangle. Consequently, they are not all capable of being dissolved into one another so as to form a few large bodies composed of many small ones, or the converse; but three of them do admit of this process. For these three are all naturally compounded of one triangle, so that when the larger bodies are dissolved many small ones will form themselves from these same bodies, receiving the shapes that befit them; [54d] and conversely, when many small bodies are resolved into their triangles they will produce, when unified, one single large mass of another Kind. So let thus much be declared concerning their generation into one another.In the next place we have to explain the form in which each Kind has come to exist and the numbers from which it is compounded. First will come that form which is primary and has the smallest components, and the element thereof is that triangle which has its hypotenuse twice as long as its lesser side. And when a pair of such triangles are joined along the line of the hypotenuse, and this is done thrice, by drawing the hypotenuses [54e] and the short sides together as to a center, there is produced from those triangles, six in number, one equilateral triangle.3 And when four equilateral triangles are combined so that three plane angles
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1 i.e., the half of an equilateral triangle; e.g. if the triangle ABC is bisected by the line AD, we have two such triangles in ADB and ADC.
2 i.e., in the triangle ADB (see last note) AB = 2Bsquared, and (AB)squared = (BD)squared + (AD)squared; therefore 4(BD)squared = (BD)squared + (AD)squared, and so 3(BD)squared = (AD)squared.
3 As in the figure the equilateral triangle ABC is divided into 6 triangles of unequal sides by joining the vertical points A, B, C to the points of bisection of the opposite sides, viz. D, E, F. Then the hypotenuse in each such triangle is double the shortest side (e.g. AO = 2FO). And FAO = 1/3 right angle; while FOA = 2/3 right angle. The “three plane edges” are thus of 60degrees each = 180degrees = “the most obtuse” plane angle; so that the solid angle is one degree less, i.e., 179degrees.
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