Antiphon the Sophist

Born: 480 BC in (possibly) Athens, Greece
Died: 411 BC in Athens, Greece

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Antiphon was an orator and statesman who took up rhetoric as a profession.

He made an early attempt to square the circle and was the first to propose a method of exhaustion. He proposed successively doubling the number of sides of a regular polygon inscribed in a circle so that the difference in areas would eventually become exhausted.

Antiphon was involved in an anti-democratic revolution which failed and, despite his profession as a writer of defence speeches, his brilliant speech failed to save his life when he was tried for treason and he was executed.

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The method of exhaustion was developed by Archimedes and led to an early determination of an approximation for pi.
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JOC/EFR December 1996