MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Birds (-414)
Aristophanes
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In one scene of this classic Greek play, the geometer Meton appears and...well, it's pretty short. So why should I summarize it when I can simply reproduce it here!

(quoted from The Birds)

(Enter METON, With surveying instruments.) METON I have come to you...

PITHETAERUS (interrupting) Yet another pest! What have you come to do? What's your plan? What's the purpose of your journey? Why these splendid buskins?

METON I want to survey the plains of the air for you and to parcel them into lots.

PITHETAERUS In the name of the gods, who are you?

METON Who am I? Meton, known throughout Greece and at Colonus.

PITHETAERUS What are these things?

METON Tools for measuring the air. In truth, the spaces in the air have precisely the form of a furnace. With this bent ruler I draw a line from top to bottom; from one of its points I describe a circle with the compass. Do you understand?

PITHETAERUS Not in the least.

METON With the straight ruler I set to work to inscribe a square within this circle; in its centre will be the market-place, into which all the straight streets will lead, converging to this centre like a star, which, although only orbicular, sends forth its rays in a straight line from all sides.

PITHETAERUS A regular Thales! Meton...

METON What d'you want with me?

PITHETAERUS I want to give you a proof of my friendship. Use your legs.

METON Why, what have I to fear?

PITHETAERUS It's the same here as in Sparta. Strangers are driven away, and blows rain down as thick as hail.

METON Is there sedition in your city?

PITHETAERUS No, certainly not.

METON What's wrong then?

PITHETAERUS We are agreed to sweep all quacks and impostors far from our borders.

METON Then I'll be going.

PITHETAERUS I'm afraid it's too late. The thunder growls already. (He beats him.)

METON Oh, woe! oh, woe!

PITHETAERUS I warned you. Now, be off, and do your surveying somewhere else. (METON takes to his heels. He is no sooner gone than an INSPECTOR arrives.)

Thanks to Tefcros Michaelides for pointing this out to me!

More information about this work can be found at classics.mit.edu.
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to The Birds
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  2. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne
  3. The Franklin's Tale (in The Canterbury Tales) by Geoffrey Chaucer
  4. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  5. Back to Methuselah by George Bernard Shaw
  6. Topsy-turvy (Sans Dessus Dessous) by Jules Verne
  7. The Devil and the Lady by Alfred Tennyson
  8. Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
  9. Micromegas by Fran├žois Marie Arouet de Voltaire
  10. Inquirendo Island by Hudor Genone
Ratings for The Birds:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
1/5 (1 votes)
..
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
GenreHumorous,
MotifAnti-social Mathematicians,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry,
MediumPlays,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)