Anaxagoras of Clazomenae

Born: 499 BC in Clazomenae (30 km west of Izmir), Lydia (now Turkey)
Died: 428 BC in Lampsacus, Mysia (now Turkey)

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Anaxagoras was an Ionian who was the first to introduce philosophy to Athenians. He moved to Athens in about 480 BC. In about 450 BC he was imprisoned for claiming that the Sun was not a god and that the Moon reflected the Sun's light. Russell in [5] writes:-

The citizens of Athens ... passed a law permitting impeachment of those who did not practice religion and taught theories about 'the things on high'. Under this law they persecuted Anaxagoras, who was accused of teaching that the sun was a red-hot stone and the moon was earth.
While in prison he tried to solve the problem of squaring the circle, that is constructing with ruler and compasses a square with area equal to that of a given circle. This is the first record of this problem being studied.

Anaxagoras was saved from prison by Pericles but had to leave Athens. He returned to Ionia where he founded a school. The anniversary of his death became a holiday for schoolchildren.

References (7 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

There is a Crater Anaxagoras on the moon. You can see a list of lunar features named after mathematicians.

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JOC/EFR December 1996