Anthemius of Tralles

Anthemius of Tralles (c. 474 – c. 534) (Greek Polytonic|Ἀνθέμιος από τις Τράλλεις) was a Greek professor of Geometry in Constantinople (present-day Instanbul in Turkey) and architect, who collaborated with Isidore of Miletus to build the church of Hagia Sophia by the order of Justinian I. Anthemius came from an educated family, one of five sons of Stephanus of Tralles, a physician. Of his brothers, Dioscorus followed his father's profession in Tralles; Alexander became at Rome one of the most celebrated medical men of his time; Olympius was deeply versed in Roman jurisprudence; and Metrodorus was a distinguished grammarian in Constantinople.

As an architect he is best known for replacing the old church of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople in 532; his daring plans for the church strikingly displayed at once his knowledge and his ignorance. His skills seem also to have extended to engineering for he repaired the flood defences at Daras.

One perhaps apocryphal story concerning Anthemius may illustrate the nature of his character. After a quarrel with his next-door neighbor Zeno, Anthemius simulated earthquakes, thunder, and lightning in the upper room in which the man entertained his guests, using curved mirrors and steam piped in through hydraulic leather tubes connected to the flooring.

Anthemius was also a capable mathematician. He described the string construction of the ellipse [cite book|last=Boyer|authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer|title=|year=1991|chapter=Revival and Decline of Greek Mathematics|pages=193|quote=The commentary by Eutocius on the "Conics" of Apollonius was dedicated to Anthemius of Tralles (t534), an able mathematician and architect of St. Sophia of Constantinople, who described the string construction of the ellipse and wrote a work "On Burning-mirrors" in which the focal properties of the parabola are described.] and he wrote a book on conic sections, which was excellent preparation for designing the elaborate vaulting of Hagia Sophia. He compiled a survey of mirror configurations in his work on remarkable mechanical devices which was known to Arab mathematicians such as Ibn al-Haytham.

A fragment of his treatise "On burning-glasses" was published as "polytonic|Περί παραδόξων μηχανημάτων" ("Concerning wondrous machines") by L. Dupuy in 1777, and also appeared in 1786 in the forty-second volume of the "Histoire de l'Academie des Instrumentistes". A. Westermann gave a revised edition of it in his "polytonic|Παραδοξογράφοι" ("Scriptores rerum mirabilium Graeci", "Greek marvel-writers") in 1839. In the course of the constructions for surfaces to reflect to one and the same point
# all rays in whatever direction passing through another point,
# a set of parallel rays,Anthemius assumes a property of an ellipse not found in Apollonius work, that the equality of the angles subtended at a focus by two tangents drawn from a point, and having given the focus and a double ordinate he goes on to use the focus and directrix to obtain any number of points on a parabola—the first instance on record of the practical use of the directrix.


* Procopius, "De Aedific". i. 1
* Agathias, "Hist". v. 6-9
* Gibbon's "Decline and Fall", cap. xl.
* T L Heath, "A History of Greek Mathematics"(2 Vols.) (Oxford, 1921)
* G L Huxley, "Anthemius of Tralles" (Cambridge, Mass., 1959).
*cite book
first=Carl B.
authorlink=Carl Benjamin Boyer
title=A History of Mathematics
edition=Second Edition
publisher=John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Citations and footnotes

External links

*MacTutor Biography|id=Anthemius

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