Archimedes (II b.C.): the genius with a thousand inventions


Testo in italiano


Here it is Archimedes

Under the name of Archimedes, not only Syracuse, not only Sicily and Italy, but the whole world is filled with Glory!

His fame has been handed down for over twenty centuries and Syracuse boasts of having given birth to such extraordinary talent.

It was the second year of the 122nd Olympics, that is 186 BC when Archimedes was born.

We imagine him wandering the streets of Syracuse.

We imagine him entering this temple today incorporated into the cathedral of the city.

We imagine him looking at the sea and the sky.

We imagine him picking up the papyrus, which is so abundant in Syracuse, and writing his discoveries.

From an early age he devoted himself to the study of mathematics and astronomy.

His passion for these studies was so strong that often, according to Plutarch, he also would forget to eat and often drew his studies on sand and on the ground, and all the Syracusans knew him.

He traveled in different parts and in Egypt he became famous for the invention of a machine called screw for climbing the waters of the Nile, and for having built bridges and dikes in order to ensure the passage of the population from one shore to another, during a ‘flood.

The ancients report that he made over 40 mechanical inventions and the levers were his obession.

His famous sentence is : “give me a point of support and I will raise the world!”.

We remember the following of his inventions: the screw pump; the wonderful planetarium, a masterpiece of antiquity; the water clock; the divulsile to consolidate the dislocated limbs; the hydraulic organ; and then the various pulleys and the principles of static and hydrostatic.

And then the invention of a machine called propeller that served to lay the Galea ship that the king of Syracuse Gerone had built to give to the Egyptian king and that nobody had managed to put into the sea. It was considered one of the wonders of antiquity.

Archimedes also invented a large number of war machines that during the Roman siege of Syracuse, in 212 BC, repeatedly changed tactics to the consul Marcello.

Among all, the brilliant burning mirrors that were able to concentrate sunlight on the approaching ships, causing them to burn; the manus ferrea, a mechanical claw able to overturn enemy boats; and various jet weapons that caused boulders to fall and anything else from the sky.

In mathematics he made countless other discoveries involving in his studies polygons, spirals, spheres and curvilinear sizes.

It is said that one day, while he was taking a bath, he solved a complicated principle of hydrostatics and for the happiness  he ran naked on the street shouting his famous: Eureka!

As a good all-round scientist, he also wrote several books on his studies.

No one knows how the Syracusan genius died and there are different versions of the story.

Certainly, it seems that death occurred during the siege of the Romans, led by the consul Marcello, in Syracuse, in the third century BC

Archimedes started some of his diabolical inventions that allowed Syracuse to resist the siege for a long time but in the end the ancient capital of Sicily had to capitulate.

There are those who say that a Roman soldier having ordered Archimedes to follow him to the consul Marcello had obtained an answer: “I can’t come now. I must first resolve this problem. ”

And he is killed for the outrage.


Death of Archimedes, by Thomas Degeorge


Archimedes enjoyed great esteem both in his Sicily; and also in Alexandria, Egypt, where he corresponded with the most illustrious mathematicians of his time; both among the Romans, so much so that according to legend he was ordered to capture him alive.

The consul Marcello seems to have been very saddened by his killing and the loss of such an extraordinary man and he had a monumental tomb built in his honor with a sphere and a cylinder on it.

Cicero narrates that he found it and according to legend this is it, right in the center of Syracuse.

Here, we told you about Archimedes, a Sicilian of whom all Sicilians are proud.

The myth of Archimedes continues today in the history, science, art and physics books; in the asteroid dedicated to him; in schools and monuments; in music and paintings.

And also on Mickey Mouse, so that children all over the world will immediately learn to know one of the greatest geniuses that our planet Earth has ever had.


Text inspired by: Biography of the illustrious men of Sicily by Giuseppe Emanuele Ortolani, 1817

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