Ancient Greek History

Euclid – Famous Ancient Greek Mathematician

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Euclid is known for being a gifted mathematician in Ancient Greece, and in particular, he developed many of principals of geometry we know today. uclid’s masterwork study of geometry “The Elements” represents the apex of concise and elegant mathematical theory. In truth, Euclid’s work in geometry has influenced the greatest mathematicians, scientists, historians, architects, and engineers produced by humanity for thousands of years.

Today, our modern study of geometry is based on the foundation that Euclid laid. Here’s more information about who he was and the influence he had over mathematics:

Development of a Genius

Not much is known about Euclid’s life since many of the records have been list. We do know, however, that he lived in Alexander and was born around 325 BC. Euclid lived at a time of great intellectual curiosity even as the power of Greece began to wane after the death of Alexander the Great.

Although he was born about one hundred years after Plato, in fact, it was to this other great thinker that Euclid likely owed much of his interest in mathematics. As he is in our own time, Plato was famous in Euclid’s day for his “Academy” of disciples and for his teaching of philosophy to the aristocratic sons of Athens’s leading families.

Love of Mathematics

A disciple of Socrates, moreover, Plato shared his mentor’s interest in the natural world and in the mathematical patterns that arise in nature. Having been written over its entrance, Plato’s Academy is famous for the slogan “Let no one unfamiliar with geometry pass through here.”

Plato saw geometry as a conceptual framework for thinking about the structure of the universe itself. Philosophical works of Plato’s such as the “Timaeus” explore the relationship between mathematics and the natural world in great depth.

As a result, Euclid was deeply influenced by books such as these; his ideas also bear a resemblance to those of the Greek mathematician Pythagoras.

Life of Euclid

Since his life remains a mystery, however, we can only speculate as to what specifically influenced Euclid’s way of thinking about the world. But it is clear that the philosophical atmosphere developed by thinkers such as Socrates and Plato held immense sway over Euclid.

For example, we see the same type of curiosity about mathematics in the work of Aristotle; Aristotle was himself student of Plato. Like Aristotle, Euclid likely saw the exploration of mathematics as an exploration of the world itself. As he uncovered the mysteries of geometry, Euclid was delving into nature as an explorer might delve into an unknown landscape.

Mathematics and Philosophy

However, Euclid was not just a mathematician; like many Ancient Greek thinkers such as Aristotle and Plato, Euclid was something of a polymath who placed a high value on philosophical thinking in addition to his mathematical work.

A commonly told story about Euclid illustrates this idea: Asked by a great king if there was a way to speed up the process of learning about mathematics, Euclid is said to have replied that “there is no royal road to geometry.”

It is this legacy that in great measure Euclid leaves behind him: By influencing figures such as Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, Euclid showed the world that the hard work of mathematical labor must be undertaken as a kind of calling intended to benefit humanity.


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This post was written by Greek Boston

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