Greece – 10 euro silver, MATHEMATICIANS – EUCLID, 2023
Euclid is considered the father of geometry. He lived in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I and must have flourished about 300 BC. His central work was the Elements, where he presented the fundamental concepts and principles of geometry and, based on five indemonstrable postulates or axioms (e.g. two points determine one and only one straight line), managed to summarise the geometric wisdom of the time in a comprehensible and coherent system, named Euclidean geometry in his honour.
His influence was so immense that it was not until the 19th century that a non-Euclidean geometry was developed. He also wrote Optics, Catoptrics, Conics, etc. They say that when Ptolemy once asked him if there was in geometry any shorter way than that of the Elements, he replied that there was no royal road to geometry.
GREEK CULTURE – ANCIENT GREEK TECHNOLOGY – THE ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM. The Antikythera mechanism was recovered from a shipwreck found in 1900 by sponge divers off the island of Antikythera.
Built in Hellenistic times, this intricate device was used for astronomical calculations and has been described as the oldest analogue computer. Its more than 30 bronze gearwheels rotated pointers over different dials. Thus, manually selecting a date on the main dial – which represented the zodiac, as well as the solar and lunar years – shifted the smaller gears, so that the pointers on the other dials indicated the position of the selected date in the four-year cycle of the Panhellenic games (Olympia, Pythia, Isthmia, Nemea), the positions of the five then-known planets and the correlation with astronomy cycles that were of particular interest to the ancient Greeks.
The mechanism also predicted solar and lunar eclipses. Research on the mechanism, which has fascinated scholars for decades, is still ongoing under the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, which, using advanced imaging technologies, continues to provide impressive new insights into the mechanism’s complex inner workings.
George Gordon Byron (London 1788-Missolonghi 1824) was an emblematic figure of European Romanticism and one of the most important poets of the 19th century.
From a very young age, he embraced liberal and philhellenic ideals. His Grand Tour of the Mediterranean in 1809 brought him to Greece, to which he dedicated the second canto of his defining poetic work, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.
The outbreak of the Greek Revolution in 1821 set fire to Byron’s romantic soul. He ultimately moved to Greece in 1823 in order to take part in the struggle and settled in Missolonghi, where he spent much of his fortune on setting up military and naval units. However, he was never to see action, as his life was cut short on 19 April 1824, following a serious illness. His untimely death was a tragic loss and was deeply mourned by the Greeks, but at the same time boosted philhellenic sentiment around the world.