Noli turbare circulos meos!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Archimedes was summarily executed by a soldier after refusing to turn away from his math problem.

"Nōlī turbāre circulōs meōs!" is a Latin phrase, meaning "Do not disturb my circles!". It is said to have been uttered by Archimedes—in reference to a geometric figure he had outlined on the sand—when he was confronted by a Roman soldier during the Siege of Syracuse prior to being killed.[1]


According to Valerius Maximus, the phrase was uttered by the ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer Archimedes. When the Romans conquered the city of Syracuse after the siege of 214–212 BC, the Roman general Marcus Claudius Marcellus gave the order to retrieve Archimedes. Some soldiers entered the house of Archimedes and one of the soldiers asked Archimedes who he was. But, according to Valerius Maximus (Facta et dicta memorabilia, Book VIII.7), Archimedes just answered Noli, obsecro, istum disturbare[2] ("Do not, I entreat you, disturb that (sand)"), because he was so engrossed in the circles drawn on the sand in front of him. After that, one of the soldiers killed Archimedes, despite the order of Marcus Claudius Marcellus.


Plutarch does not mention the quote in his Parallel Lives.[2] Valerius Maximus (Facta et dicta memorabilia, Book VIII.7) attests the Latin form "noli ... istum disturbare" ("I ask you not to disturb that sand").[2] Valerius' is the only version of the phrase that survives from antiquity. In the modern era, it was paraphrased as Noli turbare circulos meos and then translated to Katharevousa Greek as "μή μου τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε!" (Mē mou tous kuklous taratte!).[2]


  1. ^ "Archimedes of Syracuse (Ca. 287-ca. 212 BC) -- from Eric Weisstein's World of Scientific Biography".
  2. ^ a b c d Rorres, Chris. "Death of Archimedes: Sources". Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Archived from the original on 10 December 2006. Retrieved 2014-05-26.