Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-ix

This project rises from two sources. The first is a long-standing interest in teasing out what ancient literary descriptions of monuments tell us about the authors who describe them, figures whom I anachronistically imagine standing in front of each of these monuments and waving...

Contents

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Abbreviations

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p. xiii

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Introduction: The "Life of Archimedes"

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pp. 1-14

In the first chapter of his dissertation on Archimedes, published in 1879 as Quaestiones Archimedeae, Danish scholar Johan Ludvig Heiberg methodically sets forth a narrative biography of the great mathematician.1 The information about the lives of all the ancient...

Part One

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1. The "Eureka" Story

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pp. 17-31

During most of Archimedes' life, Syracuse was ruled by Hieron II, who had come to power through a military coup and thus reigned as a tyrant—a usurping monarch—for some years before being proclaimed king. The story of Archimedes' helping Hieron solve a problem...

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2. Cicero at Archimedes' Tomb

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pp. 32-47

A painting by Benjamin West, in the Yale University Art Gallery, shows a group of figures in classical dress in a Mediterranean setting. Smoke rises from a volcano in the background. Almost all the adult men are bearded, by which West conveys that they are Greek; one is rather portly. ...

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3. Why Two Spheres?

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pp. 48-68

Cicero's account of finding Archimedes' tomb transforms the grave marker into a symbol of knowledge neglected and lost by its original owners, while the digression itself acts as an extended metaphor for the recovery and appropriation of that knowledge by a worthier heir. ...

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Coda to Part One. The Afterlife of the Spheres from the De republica

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pp. 69-72

To see even more clearly how Archimedes' two spheres together form a figure for the transmission of knowledge, we can examine the discussion of a sphere that appears in a work from late antiquity, the Matheseos libri VIII, eight books of astrological learning...

Part Two

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A Sketch of Events at Syracuse

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pp. 75-76

I include here, simply to orient the reader, a brief sketch of events at Syracuse, based largely on Polybius, Livy, Cicero, and Plutarch, some of the very sources discussed in the following chapters.1 ...

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4. Who Killed Archimedes?

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pp. 77-100

Valerius Maximus, author of the nine-book Memorable Deeds and Sayings (Factorem et dictorum memorabilium libri IX), tells the story of Archimedes' death as an example of extraordinary industria, or "diligence."1 ...

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5. The Defense of Syracuse

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pp. 101-122

Cast as the story of Marcellus receiving the news, the "Death of Archimedes" plays a role in the aristocratic competition for glory in republican Rome: any thug can kill an unarmed old man, but it takes greatness of character to recognize and commemorate the virtues of an enemy who...

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Coda to Part Two. Claudian on Archimedes

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pp. 123-127

I here take leave of the ancient Archimedes with a glance at a text by the late antique writer Claudian, whose collection of short poems includes a fourteen-line epigram on Archimedes' sphere.1 Of Archimedes' mechanical achievements, it is the planetary sphere, not the giant...

Part Three

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6. Petrarch's Archimedes

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pp. 131-148

Petrarch includes biographical accounts of Archimedes in two early prose works, the De viris illustribus and the Rerum memorandarum libri.1 The De viris illustribus includes a life of Marcellus (the De Marco Claudio Marcello, hereinafter Marcellus), which in turn includes an account...

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Conclusion

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pp. 149-155

Archimedes enters historiography, via Polybius, as the possessor of a power on which the Romans did not reckon and as the embodiment of a principle that they could not foresee. The attack on Syracuse, in theory, should have worked, but the Romans' mathematical reckoning...

Notes

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pp. 157-207

Bibliography

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pp. 209-223

Index

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pp. 225-230