Oeuvres De Mr. Mariotte

Edme Mariotte, 1717

Edme Mariotte (1620-1685) was a French priest, physicist, and a founding member of l'Académie des sciences de Paris (1666). The early life of Edme Mariotte is almost unknown. He may have stayed most of his life in Dijon, or he was prior of St Martin sous Beaune. His title of "Sieur de Chazeuil" was probably inherited from his older brother, Jean. From 1654 till 1658 he worked as a physics teacher, but what drew attention from Jean-Baptist Colbert (minister of finances from Louis XIV) to join the Academy was a discussion of Claude Perrault’s theory of the vegetation of plants where the academy asked for both to do more experiments. In 1668, Mariotte published Nouvelle Dé couverte touchant la vue, a treatise dedicated in finding the blind spot of the eye, and in 1670 he moved to Paris to dedicated himself in the activities of the Academy.

Mariotte's interests were among the widest variety: he dealt with solids and fluid mechanics, optics, hydrodynamics, vision, colors, weather forecasting, and published several treatises on these topics. He is most known for the blind spot of the eye, the Boyle-Mariotte's Law (at constant temperature, pression and the volume of the gas are inversely proportional), and his experiments with pendulums (Newton’s pendulum). But his most famous treatise was posthumous: he died 1684 and the Traité du mouviment des eaux et des autres corps fluides was published in 1686 in Paris, in French. A second edition in French was published in 1700, by Philippe de La Hire. In 1723 a third edition was published in Braun and translated to German by Johann Christoph Meinig. Whereas, the first English translation was published in 1680, with the title A treatise of the motion of water and other fluid bodyes, and a German translation appeared in 1723 entitled Des Weyland vortrefflichen Herrn Mariotte. Grund-Lehren Der Hydrostatick.

The treatise Oeuvres de M. Mariotte, also published posthumously in 1717 in Paris (the second edition was 1740), contains all of Mariotte's treatises. This collection of works is divided into two volumes. The first concerns the work he carried out on the percussion or striking of bodies, in which the main rules of movement are explained and is divided into different chapters: “The vegetation of plants”, “The nature of the air”, “Of heat and cold” and “The nature of the colors”. The second volume is divided into several sections dealing with different topics: “Treatise of the movement of water and other fluid bodies”, “rules for water jets”, “new discovery affecting sight”, “treatise of levelling”, “treatise of the movement of pendulums”, “Experiences with touching colors and freezing water” and “test of logic containing the principles of physics”.

The discovers made during that time was extremally import to understand the movement of the water, and Mariotte's contribution was essential, as was that of his other contemporaries. The water, in the transition between Renascence to Baroque gardens meant movement, began to be an object of creativity, bringing about different rhythms and scenarios only possible because of these discoveries. Baroque gardens emerged between the 17th and 18th century and in Portugal examples can be seen in the Palace of Queluz, the Palace of Estói, Episcopal Palace in Castelo Branco, Convent of Santa Cruz do Buçaco and many others.

In Portugal, this treatise can be found at the library of the University of Coimbra.

Editions & translations

  • The first edition was published in 1717 in Paris.


[1] Costabel, P. (1986). Mariotte, savant et philosophe, 1684. Paris: Vrin.

[2] Baigrie, B. (2001). The Renaissance and the scientific revolution (1st ed.). New York: C. Scribner's Sons.

[3] Andrzej G. Pinar A. Edme Mariotte (1620-1684): Pioneiro da Neurofisiologia. Pesquisa de Oftalmologia. Julho-agosto de 2007; 52 (4): 443-451.