Great math riddles and paradoxes have a long and illustrious history, serving as both tests and games for intellectual thinkers across the globe. Passed through the halls of academia and examined in-depth by scholars, students, and amateurs alike, these riddles and paradoxes have brought frustration and joy to those seeking intellectual challenges.
Hollywood has gone to elaborate lengths to recreate the violence and mayhem of ancient warfare in movies such as Gladiator and Troy. But what were ancient battles really like? What weapons, tactics, armor, training, and logistics were used? And what were the crucial factors that could turn the tide of battle, giving one side victory and consigning the other to slaughter, capture, or, at best, escape to fight another day?
Even though you might never stop to think about it, the ancient world and the civilizations it produced are with you in almost everything you do. The ancient world has influenced our customs and religious beliefs, our laws, and the form of our governments. It has taught us when and how we make war or pursue peace. It has shaped the buildings we live and work in and the art we hang on our walls. It has given us the calendar that organizes our year and has left its mark on the games we play.
Ancient Greek is a language like no other. It records an astonishing array of great works in different genres, stretching across a thousand years of history. Homer, the most influential poet ever, recited in the matchless cadences of the epic literary Greek dialect. The Apostle Paul, the Four Evangelists, and the other authors of the New Testament also left their accounts in Greek, using Koine, the beautifully clear conversational Greek spoken in the eastern Mediterranean of their day. Likewise, Sappho, Euripides, Aristophanes, Herodotus, Plato, Demosthenes, and many other ancient authors wrote in Greek, each with a distinct style that makes their individual voices live across the centuries.
What is striking when you talk with mathematicians is that sparkle in their eyes, and their sudden joyful voice trying to share with you a concept, a theory. They continuously use words such as invention, beauty, freedom. You then ask yourself : how such a rich language, this quasi-philosophical proposition about the world becomes rejected by a majority, 'the only discipline where one prides itself to be bad at it'! But for 40 years, mathematitians have become essential in sickness and in health!