Finæus, Orontius

, in French Finé, professor of mathematics in the Royal college at Paris, was the son of a physician, and born at Briungon, in Dauphine, in 1494. He went young to Paris, where his friends procured him a place in the college of Navarre. He there applied himself to polite literature and philosophy; yet devoted himself more particularly to mathematics, for which he had a strong natural inclination, and made a considerable progress, though without the assistance of a master. He acquired likewise much skill in mechanics; and having both a genius to invent instruments, and a skilful hand to make them, he gained high reputation by the specimens he gave of his ingenuity. He first made hinaself known by correcting and publishing Siliceus’s “Arithmetic,” and the “Margareta Philosopiiica.” He afterwards read private | lectures in mathematics, and then taught that science publicly in the college of Gervais; by which he became so famous, that he was recommended to Francis I. as the fittest person to teach mathematics in the new college which that prince had founded at Paris. He omitted nothing to support the glory of his profession; and though he instructed his scholars with great assiduity, yet he found time to publish a great many books upon almost every part of the mathematics. A remarkable proof of his skill in mechanics is exhibited in the clock which he invented in 1553, and of which there is a description in the Journal of Amsterdam for March 29, 1694. Yet his genius, his labours, his inventions, and the esteem which an infinite number of persons shewed him, could not secure him from that fate which so often befalls men of letters. He was obliged to struggle all his life with poverty; and, when he died, left a wite and six children, and many debts. His children, however, found patrons, who for their father’s sake assisted his family. He died in 1555, aged sixty-one. Like all the other mathematicians and astronomers of those times, he was greatly addicted to astrology; and had the misfortune to be a long time imprisoned, because he had foretold some things which were not acceptable to the court of France. He was one of those who vainly boasted of having found out the quadrature of the circle. His works were collected in 3 vols. folio, in 1535, 1542, and 1556, and there is an Italian edition in 4to, Venice, 1587. 1


Gen. Dict. —Niceron, vol. XXXVIII. —Moreri.