|Back to . . .||This section . . .||
Computer Output (1st part)
Computer Output (2nd part)
which Archimedes solved in epigrams, and which he communicated to students of such matters at Alexandria in a letter to Eratosthenes of Cyrene.
Zur Geschichte und Literatur. Aus den Schatzen der HerzoglichenThe above English translation is taken from
GREEK MATHEMATICAL WORKSThis book also contains a Greek text of the epigram edited by J. L. Heiberg (Johan Ludwig, 1854-1928).
The word “thrinacian” means three-cornered in Greek (Θρινακία) and refers to the triangular island of Sicily (Strabo, Geography [6.2.1]). The cattle (or oxen) of the Sun belonged to the sun-god Helios. The Greeks believed that they grazed near the Sicilian town of Taormina, 85 kilometers north of Syracuse. The original Greek settlers of Taormina called it Tauromenion (Ταυρομένιον), a name derived from tauros (ταύρος)the Greek word for bull (Diodorus, Historical Library [14.59.1-14.59.2]).
Odysseus’ crew slaughtered some of the cattle of the Sun for food, for which they paid with their lives when Zeus tossed them from their ship with his thunderbolts (The Odyssey, Book XII, lines 383-589). Homer’s Odyssey also contains a precursor of Archimedes’ Cattle Problem in the following lines (Book XII, lines 194-198, translation by George Chapman, originally published in folio 1614-1616):
Thou shalt ascend the isle triangular,
A translation by A.T. Murray (Book XII, lines 127-130) in 1919 gives the same lines as:
And thou wilt come to the isle Thrinacia. There in great numbers feed the kine [cattle] of Helios and his goodly flocks, seven herds of kine and as many fair flocks of sheep, and fifty in each.
The original Greek text of these lines is below: