Archytas

, of Tarentum, a celebrated mathematician, cosmographer, and Pythagorean philosopher, flourished about 400 years before Christ, and was the master of Plato, Eudoxus, and Philolaus. He gave a method of finding two mean proportionals between two given lines; and thence the duplication of the cube, by means of the conic sections. His skill in mechanics was such, that he was said to be the inventor of the crane and the screw: and he made a wooden pigeon that could fly about, when it was once set off, but it could not rise again of itself, after it rested. He wrote several works, though few are now extant. It is said’he invented the ten categories. He acquired great reputation both in his legislative and military capacity, having commanded an army seven times without ever being defeated. He was at last shipwrecked, and drowned in the Adriatic sea. His philosophy as well as his moral character was more pure than that of many of the ancient philosophers. The sum of his moral doctrine was, that virtue is to be pursued for its own sake in every condition of life; that all excess is inconsistent with virtue; that the mind is more injured by prosperity than by adversity, and that there is no pestilence so destructive to human happiness as pleasure. Brucker thinks that Aristotle was indebted to Archytas for many of his moral ideas, particularly for the notion which runs through his ethical pieces, that virtue consists in avoiding extremes. With respect to his personal character, it is said of him that he never chastised a servant, or punished an inferior, in wrath. To one of his dependants who had offended him, he said, “It is well for you that I am angry; otherwise, I know not what you might expect.” We have only a metaphysic work by Archytas, “On the nature of the Universe,” published in Greek by Camerarius, Leipsic, 1564, 8vo; Venice, 1571, 4to. Gr. and Lat. and sundry fragments on “Wisdom,” and “Of the good and happy man,” preserved by Stobseus, and edited from him by Gale. 2

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Gen. Dict. Brucker. Stanley. —Hutton’s Math. Dict.