The whole is greater than the part.


The “Elements” remained the definitive textbook on geometry and mathematics for well over two millennia, surviving the eclipse in classical learning in Europe during the Dark Ages through Arabic translations.

365 BCE

The Greek mathematician Euclid lived and flourished in Alexandria in Egypt around 300 BCE, during the reign of Ptolemy I. Almost nothing is known of his life, and no likeness or first-hand description of his physical appearance has survived antiquity, and so depictions of him (with a long flowing beard and cloth cap) in works of art are necessarily the products of the artist’s imagination.

He probably studied for a time at Plato’s Academy in Athens but, by Euclid’s time, Alexandria, under the patronage of the Ptolemies and with its prestigious and comprehensive Library, had already become a worthy rival to the great Academy.

Euclid is often referred to as the “Father of Geometry”, and he wrote perhaps the most important and successful mathematical textbook of all time, the “Stoicheion” or “Elements”, which represents the culmination of the mathematical revolution which had taken place in Greece up to that time. He also wrote works on the division of geometrical figures into into parts in given ratios, on catoptrics (the mathematical theory of mirrors and reflection), and on spherical astronomy (the determination of the location of objects on the “celestial sphere”), as well as important texts on optics and music.

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alexandria, egypt

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