Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

For other examples, visit HERE:



μὴ μοῦ τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε.
Mḕ moû toùs kúklous táratte.


Do not disturb my circles.

This is one of the most macho things ever allegedly uttered by a mathematicians. From wiki:

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 (“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. Valerius Maximus (Facta et dicta memorabilia, Book VIII.7) attests the Latin form “noli … istum disturbare” (“I ask you not to disturb that sand”). 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!).

Leave a Reply