Archytas of Tarentum: Pythagorean, Philosopher and by Carl Huffman

By Carl Huffman

Archytas of Tarentum used to be a primary determine in fourth-century Greek existence and idea and the final nice thinker within the early Pythagorean culture. He solved a well-known mathematical puzzle, kept Plato from the tyrant of Syracuse, led a robust Greek urban country, and was once the topic of 3 books through Aristotle. this primary large research of Archytas' paintings in any language provides a noticeably new interpretation of his value for fourth-century Greek inspiration and his courting to Plato, in addition to a whole observation on the entire fragments and testimonia.

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46–47; Mejer 1978: 38–39). Diogenes makes no attempt to reconcile this report about a book On Mechanism by another Archytas with his comments a few lines later about Archytas of Tarentum’s contribution to mechanics. 13 The only other evidence for a book on mechanism ascribed to an Archytas is Vitruvius’ mention (B7 = vii , praef. 14) of Archytas in a long list of names of authors who had written about machines (de machinationibus). Vitruvius refers to Archytas on three other occasions. In each of these cases the emphasis is on his mathematical ability.

There is no indication of the title of the book(s) of Archytas on which Pliny drew. It could be then that there was just one treatise On Agriculture circulating under the name of Archytas on which Varro, Columella and Pliny all drew and to which Diogenes refers, but that, whereas Diogenes regards the book as by a separate Archytas, the other authors regard it as by Archytas of Tarentum. Given the proliferation of pseudo-Archytan treatises by the first century bc and the fame of Archytas of Tarentum in that period, it is more likely that a treatise by another Archytas is being ascribed to the famous Archytas than the reverse.

It is true, however, that many books are known mainly by their title and assumptions about their contents rather than a precise understanding of their actual argument. It seems to be quite possible that Horace never read the Sand Reckoner but, on the basis of the title and a common perception of it, sees it as an attempt to count the grains of sand. Such a perception does in fact get some support from the text of the Sand Reckoner. At the beginning, Archimedes refers to the belief that the number of grains of sand in the world is infinite and implies that he thinks that a number can be put to them, although he does not claim that he will actually count them.

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