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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.


  • [The greatest geometer of antiquity; born in Syracuse, of Greek extraction, about 287 B.C.; enjoyed the favor of King Hiero, for whom he made many inventions in the art of war; killed at the capture of Syracuse, 212.]
  • Eureka! or Heureka, as it should be in analogy with [Greek], the Greek form.

  • Archimedes was consulted by the king in regard to a gold crown, suspected of being fraudulently alloyed with silver. While considering the best method of detecting any fraud, he plunged into a full bathing-tub; and with the thought that the water which overflowed must be equal in bulk to his body, he discovered the method of ascertaining the bulk of the crown compared with an equally heavy mass of pure gold. Excited by the discovery he ran through the streets, undressed, crying, “I have found it!”
  • Equally celebrated is his remark, “Give me where to stand, and I will move the world,” [Greek] (or “universe”). (V. PLUTARCH: Life of Marcellus.)
  • This saying may, however, be doubted, because the fulcrum must have been placed outside the kosmos, which is impossible.
  • His only remark to the Roman soldier who entered his room while he was engaged in geometrical study was, “Don’t step upon my circle;” which has come down to us in the Latin form, Noli turbare circulos meos, or, as given by Valerius Maximus, Noli obsecro istum [circulum] disturbare. Brandis (Scholia in Aristotelem) quotes the Prolegomena of an unnamed author to the Neo-Platonic Porphyrius, who gives the remark of the philosopher, “My head, but not my circle.” Refusing to follow the soldier to Marcellus, who had captured the city, he was killed on the spot.