Archimedes' grave

From: scerir (
Date: Mon Feb 25 2002 - 10:38:54 MST

'His discoveries were numerous and admirable;
but he is said to have requested his friends and
relations that, when he was dead, they would place
over his tomb a cylinder containing a sphere, inscribing
it with the ratio which the containing solid bears to the
contained.' [Plutarch, Parallel Lives: Marcellus]

Actually in his work 'On the Sphere and Cylinder' Archimedes proved
that the ratio of the volume of a sphere to the volume of the cylinder
that contains it is 2:3. In that same work he also proved that the ratio
of the surface area of a sphere to the surface area of the cylinder that
contains it, together with its circular ends, is also 2:3.

'But from Dionysius's own city of Syracuse I will summon up from
the dust--where his measuring rod once traced its lines--an obscure
little man who lived many years later, Archimedes. When I was questor in Sicily
I managed to track down his grave. The Syracusians knew nothing about it,
and indeed denied that any such thing existed. But there it was, completely
surrounded and hidden by bushes of brambles and thorns. I remembered having
heard of some simple lines of verse which had been inscribed on his tomb,
referring to a sphere and cylinder modelled in stone on top of the grave.
And so I took a good look round all the numerous tombs that stand beside
the Agrigentine Gate. Finally I noted a little column just visible above the scrub:
it was surmounted by a sphere and a cylinder. I immediately said to the Syracusans,
some of whose leading citizens were with me at the time, that I believed this was
the very object I had been looking for. Men were sent in with sickles to clear the site,
and when a path to the monument had been opened we walked right up to it.
And the verses were still visible, though approximately the second half of each
line had been worn away.' [Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, V]

But where is now his tomb ? No one knows ...


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