Metrodorus (grammarian)

Metrodorus (grammarian)

Metrodorus (fl. c. 6th-century) was a Greek grammarian and mathematician, who collected mathematical epigrams which appear in the Greek Anthology.

Nothing is known about the life of Metrodorus. The time he lived is not certain: he may have lived as early as the 3rd-century AD, but it is more likely that he lived in the time of the emperors Anastasius I and Justin I, in the early 6th-century.[1]

His name occurs in connection with 45 mathematical epigrams which are to be found in book 14 of the Greek Anthology.[2] Although he may have authored some of the epigrams, it is generally accepted that he collected most of them, and some of them may pre-date the 5th-century BC.[1] Many of the epigrams lead to simple equations, and they are of the same type as those found in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (17th-century BC).[3] Among the problems Metrodorus collected are:[3]

  • Twenty-three simple equations with one unknown, one of which is the famous epigram which reveals the age of Diophantus[4]
  • Twelve are easy simultaneous equations with two unknowns.
  • One gives a simultaneous equation with three unknowns.[5]
  • Six are problems about filling and emptying vessels by pipes.


  1. ^ a b Henrietta Midonick, (1965), The Treasury of Mathematics, Volume 2, pages 51–2. Penguin Books.
  2. ^ Greek Anthology, xiv. 1–4, 6–7, 11–13, 48–51, 116–147
  3. ^ a b Sir Thomas Little Heath, (1921), A history of Greek mathematics, Volume 2, From Aristarchus to Diophantus, pages 441–3. Oxford
  4. ^ Greek Anthology, xiv. 126
  5. ^ Greek Anthology, xiv. 51

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