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Mechanics is the paradise of the mathematical sciences, because by means of it one comes to the fruits of mathematics.
Notebooks, v. 1, ch. 20.
Eratosthenes and the Mystery of the Stades
The Earth is a Sphere
5. That the Earth is a sphere.
At a time when not everyone believed so, Eratosthenes clearly had no doubt that the Earth is a sphere [3, p.116]. Many early Greek philosophers held that the Earth was a disc or a cylinder. The idea of a spherical Earth was first suggested by Pythagoras of Samos (580-500 BCE), about 300 years before Eratosthenes [20, p.1]. The spherical Earth model did not begin to gain widespread acceptance among scholars until the well reasoned arguments of Aristotle (384-322 BCE), only about 100 years before Eratosthenes [4, p.59]. Around the time of Eratosthenes, the globe was becoming a popular model of the Earth as many Greek scholars came to accept the idea of a spherical Earth [20, pp.2 ]. As it was the prevailing belief in the scientific community at the time, Eratosthenes is justified in making the implicit assumption that the Earth is a sphere.