1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Anthemius

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2546781911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 2 — AnthemiusThomas Little Heath

ANTHEMIUS, Greek mathematician and architect, who produced, under the patronage of Justinian (A.D. 532), the original and daring plans for the church of St Sophia in Constantinople, which strikingly displayed at once his knowledge and his ignorance. He was one of five brothers—the sons of Stephanus, a physician of Tralles—who were all more or less eminent in their respective departments. Dioscorus followed his father’s profession in his native place; Alexander became at Rome one of the most celebrated medical men of his time; Olympius was deeply versed in Roman jurisprudence; and Metrodorus was one of the distinguished grammarians of the great Eastern capital. It is related of Anthemius that, having a quarrel with his next-door neighbour Zeno, he annoyed him in two ways. First, he made a number of leathern tubes the ends of which he contrived to fix among the joists and flooring of a fine upper-room in which Zeno entertained his friends, and then subjected it to a miniature earthquake by sending steam through the tubes. Secondly, he simulated thunder and lightning, the latter by flashing in Zeno’s eyes an intolerable light from a slightly hollowed mirror. Certain it is that he wrote a treatise on burning-glasses. A fragment of this was published under the title Περὶ παραδόξων μηχανημάτων by L. Dupuy in 1777, and also appeared in 1786 in the forty-second volume of the Hist. de l’Acad. des Inscr.; A. Westermann gave a revised edition of it in his Παραδοξογράφοι (Scriptores rerum mirabilium Graeci), 1839. In the course of constructions for surfaces to reflect to one and the same point (1) all rays in whatever direction passing through another point, (2) a set of parallel rays, Anthemius assumes a property of an ellipse not found in Apollonius (the equality of the angles subtended at a focus by two tangents drawn from a point), and (having given the focus and a double ordinate) he uses the focus and directrix to obtain any number of points on a parabola—the first instance on record of the practical use of the directrix.

On Anthemius generally, see Procopius, De Aedific. i. 1; Agathias, Hist. v. 6-9; Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, cap. xl.  (T. L. H.)