The King and the scientist

“Sire, there is no Royal Road to geometry…” (Euclid to King Ptolemy)

  • Euclid was a Greek mathematician, also known as the “Father of Geometry”. His work ‘Elements’ (Στοιχεία Ευκλείδου) is one of the most important in the history of mathematics and has been used as the foundation of geometry education in the West and in the Arab world for the past 2000 years.
  • Ptolemy I ‘Soter’ was a companion of Alexander the Great and served as one of his 7 personal bodyguards. After the death of Alexander, Ptolemy became ruler of Egypt, proclaimed himself Pharaoh, and his dynasty (ending with Cleopatra) ruled Egypt for centuries.

Ptolemy personally sponsored the great mathematician, Euclid. But Ptolemy found Euclid’s seminal work, the ‘Elements’, too difficult to study. So he asked if there were an easier way to master it.

Only to be confronted with Euclid’s sarcasm…

Inside the Library of Alexandria