## Quick Reference

(fl. ad 62),

mathematician and inventor, was known as *ho mechanikos* (‘the inventor’). The following works are associated with his name. *thaumata* (‘miracle-working’ devices used especially in temples).

*thaumata* (‘miracle-working’ devices used especially in temples).

Other works by Heron no longer extant include a commentary on Euclid's Elements (substantial remains in an-Nayrīzī's commentary on Euclid); Baroulkos, describing a machine for lifting huge weights by means of a combination of gear-wheels (parts are incorporated into Mechanica 1.1 and Dioptra 37); On Water-clocks (Proclus, Hypotyp. 120); and Cheiroballistra, another type of artillery weapon (fragmentarily preserved). The Geodaesia and Liber geoponicus are later compilations, largely extracts from the Geometrica and other mensurational works.

Heron, although very adept at both mathematics and applied mechanics, was probably not very original in either. But his mensurational works are of great importance as our main source for practical mathematics in Graeco-Roman antiquity. While classical ‘Euclidean’ mathematics aimed at constructing and proving theorems, ‘Heronic’ mathematics was directed towards solving practical problems, if necessary by approximation. Thus, Heron gives examples of approximations to irrational square- and cube- roots. He solves quadratic equations arithmetically, and gives the formula for the area of a triangle, Δ = √ {(s(s – a) (s – b) (s – c)}. The origins of this type of mathematics lie in Mesopotamia. In pneumatics, mechanics, and the other sciences too, though Heron often discusses theoretical matters, his purpose is utility and amusement; hence we get detailed descriptions, with figures, of devices such as siphons, a self-regulating lamp, a water-organ, pulley-systems, and a variety of mechanical toys. Although the discovery of the principles behind these, and perhaps many of the devices too, were due to Heron's predecessors, such as Ctesibius, here too he is of major importance as a source.

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**From:**
Heron
in
Who's Who in the Classical World »

*Subjects:*
Classical Studies.