Dates: fl. AD 250
Brief biography: Very little known; dates depend on a letter of Michael Psellus (C11 AD) linking him with Anatolius bishop of Laodicea from AD 270. Epigram in the Greek anthology tells that Diophantos married at 33, had a son who died at 42, 4 years before his father died aged 84. His Arithmetica concerns computational arithmetic needed to solve practical problems. There were originally 13 books; 7 were lost early. Hypatia (end C4 AD) commented on only 6, and there are only 6 in the earliest MS surviving today. Contrary to what older textbooks say, this is NOT algebra. The discovery of 4 new books in Arabic translation shows that the Greek books labelled 4-6 are numbered according to a later recension that changed the numbering, and perhaps the order of contents, of Diophantos’ work.
References: K Vogel DSB 4.110-9, and 15.Supp.1.
T E Rihll
Last modified: 11 March 2003