chapter  1
35 Pages

EARLY GREEK MATHEMATICS: THE EVIDENCE

Our story officially begins in the Greek-speaking world around the late sixth-fifth century BC, during a period also known as the Classical Age of Greece. Most of what we know about mathematics from this period comes from Athens. The most powerful and among the richest Greek states at the time, Athens was also the cultural centre for art, rhetoric, philosophy. Consequently, it attracted people, including mathematicians, from all over the Mediterranean. Moreover, Athens was a democracy, in that its citizen body (comprising only free native adult males), over a period of time and through various upheavals, including periods of tyranny, had gained right to political representation. There was a general public assembly; many public offices were in principle open to any citizen; the law was administered to a significant extent by jury courts, filled by lot from the assembly. The citizen body also manned the army and navy.