Burning Mirrors
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Wall painting from the Stanzino delle Matematiche in the Galleria degli Uffizi (Florence, Italy). Painted by Giulio Parigi (1571-1635) in the years 1599-1600.

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by John Tzetzes (circa twelfth century AD)

Book II, Lines 118-128

When Marcellus withdrew them [his ships] a bow-shot, the old man [Archimedes] constructed a kind of hexagonal mirror, and at an interval proportionate to the size of the mirror he set similar small mirrors with four edges, moved by links and by a form of hinge, and made it the centre of the sun's beams--its noon-tide beam, whether in summer or in mid-winter. Afterwards, when the beams were reflected in the mirror, a fearful kindling of fire was raised in the ships, and at the distance of a bow-shot he turned them into ashes. In this way did the old man prevail over Marcellus with his weapons.

The above passage is from

   Translated by Ivor Thomas
    Loeb Classical Library
    Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1941
   Volume II, Page 19


by John Zonaras (circa twelfth century AD)

9, 4

At last in an incredible manner he [Archimedes] burned up the whole Roman fleet. For by tilting a kind of mirror toward the sun he concentrated the sun's beam upon it; and owing to the thickness and smoothness of the mirror he ignited the air from this beam and kindled a great flame, the whole of which he directed upon the ships that lay at anchor in the path of the fire, until he consumed them all.

The above passage is from

   Translated by Earnest Cary
    Loeb Classical Library
    Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1914
   Volume II, Page 171

Logo of the Archimede Restaurant (trattoria) in Syracuse, Sicily, located at Via Gemmellaro, 8.

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