Mathematician (c.300 BC)
The most famous and prominent mathematician of antiquity and the Father of Geometry, Euclid lived and flourished in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I. He worked in the Library of Alexandria, which at the time was the world’s most illustrious scientific and cultural center next to the Academy. Euclid compiled all of the then known geometry into one treatise, the Elements, which is considered as the most important book on geometry ever written.
The Elements is considered Euclid’s greatest contribution to humanity. It is an encyclopaedia of geometry consisting of 13 books. Except from containing all of the geometric theorems discovered until the time of Euclid, the treatise completes the works of Theaetetus and Eudoxus and includes many original works by Euclid. The first 6 books are dedicated to elementary geometry. Books 7, 8 and 9 are about arithmetic geometry and the theory of numbers. The tenth is about asymmetry, a major issue in the Ancient Greek mathematics. The last 3 tomes are dedicated to stereometry and to Platonic solids.
The entire treatise is based on 5 axioms, on which geometry was based on for more than 2000 years. There had been other compilations of geometry prior to Euclid’s Elements, such as by Hippocrates of Chios. However, Euclid was the first who succeeded in publishing such a treatise with strict and organized formulations. Euclid’s Elements served as the primary textbook of mathematics, and in particular geometry, worldwide, from the time of its publication until the 20th century when non-Euclidean geometry emerged.
Other works of Euclid include Data, which contains applications and inclusions of the theories from Elements, On Divisions of Figures, a book that was found during the 16th century in Latin. In it, Euclid discusses sections of geometric shapes. Porisms consisted of 3 books. It dealt with theories and problems in geometry. On Conic Sections, which also does not survive, contained works on the conic sections, largely inspired from the homonymous work of Apollonius of Perga. Another one of Euclid’s lost books is Pseudaria, which was intended for students regarding errors of mathematical solutions. Other important works include a book on astronomy called Phenomena and multiple books on physics and mechanics such as Optics and Catoptrics, On the Heavy and the Light, Mechanics and Introduction to Harmonics.
Euclid’s profound influence in mathematics, especially geometry, has made his magnum opus Elements one of the most published books in history. During the Renaissance, there had been more than 2000 publications in various European languages and today, it has been translated into all European languages. To date, England is the only country where in gymnasiums geometry is studied completely from the Elements. Euclid indeed, as his name suggests, was glorious.
- Euclidis o Aleksandreus. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens, 1946. Print.
- Georgakopoulos, Konstantinos. Ancient Greek Scientists. Georgiades, Athens: 1995. Print.
- Koutoulas, Diamantis. The Ancient Greek Religion and the Mathematics. Dion Publications, Thessaloniki: 2001. Print.