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date: 18 April 2024

Archytas of Tarentumlocked

Archytas of Tarentumlocked

  • Carl Huffman

Summary

Archytas led the democratic Greek city-state of Tarentum and served as a successful general. He was a leading mathematician in the first half of the fourth century bce and a prominent Pythagorean philosopher. He famously sent a ship to save Plato from the Tyrant Dionysius I of Sicily, although his relationship to Plato was complex. Only four fragments of his genuine writings survive, but many fragments of works forged in his name are found among the Pythagorean pseudepigrapha. He solved the famous mathematical puzzle known as the duplication of the cube and gave a celebrated argument for the infinity of the universe. He was the foremost Pythagorean music theorist and devised mathematical descriptions of the musical scales of his day. He championed the four mathematical sciences that became the quadrivium of the Middle Ages. Anecdotes about him convey an ethics that values reason over pleasure and praises self-control.

Subjects

  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

Updated in this version

Article rewritten to reflect current scholarship.

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