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Dionysodorus of Caunus (ca. 250 BCE - ca. 190 BCE) was an ancient Greek mathematician.


Life and work

Little is known about the life of Dionysodorus. Pliny the Elder writes that Dionysodorus was from Caunus, not to be confused with another Dionysodorus from Pontus who was mentioned by Strabo.

Dionysodorus is remembered for solving the cubic equation by means of the intersection of a rectangular hyperbola and a parabola.[1] Eutocius credits Dionysodorus with the method of cutting a sphere into a given ratio, as described by him.[2] Heron mentions a work by Dionysauras entitled On the Tore, in which the volume of a torus is calculated and found to be equal to the area of the generating circle multiplied by the circumference of the circle created by tracing the center of the generating circle as it rotates about the torus's axis of revolution. Dionysodorus used Archimedes' methods to prove this result.

It is also likely that this Dionysodorus invented the conical sundial. Pliny says that he had an inscription placed on his tomb, addressed to the world above, stating that he had been to the centre of the earth and found it 42 thousand stadia distant.[3] Pliny calls this a striking instance of Greek vanity; but this figure compares well with the modern measurement.

Citations and footnotes

  1. ^ Heath (1921)
  2. ^ Eutocius, Comment on book ii. prop. 5, of the Sphere and Cylinder of Archimedes
  3. ^ Pliny, Hist. Nat. ii. 109


  • T. L. Heath, A History of Greek Mathematics II (Oxford, 1921).

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