Archimedes faced death with courage

The Death of Archimedes

Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Archimedes died c. 212 BC during the Second Punic War, when Roman forces under General Marcus Claudius Marcellus captured the city of Syracuse after a two-year-long siege. According to the popular account given by the Greek biographer Plutarch, Archimedes was contemplating a mathematical diagram when the city was captured.

Archimedes

A Roman soldier commanded him to come and meet General Marcellus but he declined, saying that he had to finish working on the problem. The soldier was enraged by this, and killed Archimedes with his sword. Plutarch also gives a lesser-known account of the death of Archimedes which suggests that he may have been killed while attempting to surrender to a Roman soldier. According to this story, Archimedes was carrying mathematical instruments, and was killed because the soldier thought that they were valuable items. General Marcellus was reportedly angered by the death of Archimedes, as he considered him a valuable scientific asset and had ordered that he not be harmed.

The last words attributed to Archimedes are "Do not disturb my circles", a reference to the circles in the mathematical drawing that he was supposedly studying when disturbed by the Roman soldier. But there is no reliable evidence that Archimedes uttered these words and they do not appear in the account given by Plutarch. Valerius Maximus, writing in Memorable Doings and Sayings in the 1st century AD, gives the phrase as "... but protecting the dust with his hands, said 'I beg of you, do not disturb this.'"

"There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly." - Cicero

View Count: 164.
Other stories from the life of Archimedes

Hosted by: datatorch