CONON (of Samos)

, a respectable mathematician and philosopher, who flourished about the 130th olympiad, being a contemporary and friend of Archimedes, to whom Conon communicated his writings, and sent him some problems, which Archimedes received with approbation, saying they ought to be published while Conon was living, for he comprehends them with ease, and can give a proper demonstration of them.

At another time he laments the loss of Conon, thus | admiring his genius. “How many theorems in geometry, says he, which at first seemed impossible, would in time have been brought to persection! Alas! Conon, though he invented many, with which he enriched geometry, had not time to perfect them, but left many in the dark, being prevented by death.” He had an uncommon skill in mathematics, joined to an extraordinary patience and application. This is farther confirmed by a letter sent to Archimedes by a friend of Conon's. “Having heard of Conon's death, with whose friendship I was honoured, and with whom you kept an intimate correspondence; as he was thoroughly versed in geometry, I greatly lament the loss of a sincere friend, and a person of surprising knowledge in mathematics. I then determined to send to you, as I had before done to him, a theorem in geometry, hitherto observed by no one.”

Conon had some disputes with Nicoteles, who wrote against him, and treated him with too much contempt. Apollonius confesses it; though he acknowledges that Conon was not fortunate in his demonstrations.

Conon invented a kind of volute, or spiral, different from that of Dynostratus; but because Archimedes explained the properties of it more clearly, the name of the inventor was forgotten, and it was hence called Archimedes's volute or spiral.

As to Conon's astrological or astronomical knowledge, it may in some measure be gathered from the poem of Catullus, who describes it in the beginning of his verses on the hair of Berenice, the sister and wife of Ptolomy Euergetes, upon the occasion of Conon having given out that it was changed into a constellation among the stars, to console the queen for the loss, when it was stolen out of the temple, where she had consecrated it to the gods.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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CONIC Sections
* CONON (of Samos)