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> A dialogue between Pythagoras and Eupalinos Issue: 2008-2 Section: Other




We present here the work of students inspired by an abstract of the Dialogues of the Dead. It was written by Lucian a writer who was born in Syria in 120 b.C. and it is included in the students’ book of Ancient Greek Language.

For this course, the pupils of the Second Grade (12 years old) were assigned to invent by themselves a dialogue carried out in Hadis’ (Greek: Αδης) kingdom of the underworld.

The interesting point of the work presented here is that the student Chris Doudakmanis made up a dialogue between Pythagoras, a great Greek philosopher, mathematician and theorist of music and Eupalinos, an architect from Megara, who both lived during the 6th century B.C.

These two eminent Greeks discuss about the cup invented by the former and the famous-for-that-era technical achievement, the tunnel (ορυγμα) that the latter constructed at Samos island.

A group of students from a higher class (16 years old) helped the younger pupils to understand the scientific principle behind Pythagorasinvention of the cup.

That is, how the siphon works. They helped them to perform the experiment with a cup bought in Samos island as a souvenir. Moreover, they constructed a Pythagorean cup using a plant pot, some wax, a piece of pipe and a plastic cup. They video taped the experiments and published them in You Tube.

Two teachers, the English language teacher Ms. Vagia Spanou and the Physics teacher Ms Eleni Kyriaki helped us to carry out the project.


Anna Giota.


The “Dialogue” between Pythagoras and Eupalinos

Eyp: My dear friend Pythagoras I haven’t seen you for a long time.

Pyt: Yes, I’ve been so busy lately; I don’t have time What about you?

Eyp: I’m busy manufacturing a ditch so that water can be transferred from the one side of the island to the other.

Pyt: It must be a difficult task.

Eyp: It is indeed, but I manage, with some problems of course.

Pyt: What kind of problems?

Eyp: I had a crater for the workers to drink wine but one day Platon and Polinikis had an argument and broke it. Since then I have been giving them to drink in small glasses and they complain about it.

Pyt: You are very lucky. I manufactured a glass some time ago.

Eyp: What kind of glass?

Pyt: It’s an unusual glass. It’s got a hole at the bottom of it and a line at its rim. If the amount of the liquid exceeds the line, then the liquid comes out through the bottom of the glass.

Eyp: Fantastic! Could you sell it to me?

Pyt: Of course, I can temporarily lend it to you for a test.

Eyp: Thank you very much.

Pyt: Would you like to join me for lunch?

Eyp: Yes, thank you. What have you prepared?

Pyt: Chicken with seasonings.

Eyp: Very tasty food. Now that I remember, why have you manufactured this glass?

Pyt: I would like my friends as well as myself to drink wine in moderation and, as a result, I manufactured this glass.

Eyp: That’s nice. We’ll talk things over at lunch.

Pyt: All right.


Chris Doudakmanis.


Pythagorean cup - The Theory

The Pythagorean cup is a form of drinking cup which allows the user to fill the cup with wine up to a certain level. If the user fills the cup no further than that level he may enjoy his drink in peace. If he exhibits gluttony however, the cup wreaks instant retribution by spilling its contents out through the bottom. Pythagorascup looks exactly like a normal drinking cup, except that the bowl has a central column in it.

The central column of the bowl is positioned directly over the stem of the cup and over the hole at the bottom of the stem. A small, open pipe runs from this hole almost to the top of the central column, where there is an open chamber. The chamber is connected by a second pipe to the bottom of the central column, where a hole in the column exposes the pipe to the contents of the cup. When the cup is filled, liquid rises through the second pipe up to the chamber at the top of the central column.

As long as the level of the liquid does not rise beyond the level of the chamber, everything is all right. If the level rises further however, the liquid spills through the chamber into the first pipe and out through the bottom.

Hydrostatic pressure then creates a siphon through the central column causing the entire contents of the cup to be emptied through the hole at the bottom of the stem. By this way the avid is punished.

It is also called Cup of Justice because except from hydrostatic pressure, it reflects one of the basic principles of justice, the principle of Vituperation (in Greek: Ύβρις) and Vengeance (in Greek: Νέμεσις).

When the limit is exceeded (vituperation), not only are lost those that have exceeded the limit, but also all the precedents that had been acquired (vengeance). With a simple example of hydrostatic pressure, Pythagoras teaches us to accept what we already have and not ask for more and more.


Stelianos Theodoros.


Eupalinian aqueduct

The Tunnel of Eupalinos or Eupalinian aqueduct (in Greek: Efpalinion orygma, Ευπαλίνιον όρυγμα) is a tunnel in Samos, Greece, built in the sixth century BC to carry water to the city.

The tunnel was excavated from both ends (amfistomon, αμφίστομον, 'having two openings').

It is a tunnel 1036 m. long, starting from the north side of Mt. Ambelos and ending to the south.

It is located 55 m. above sea level and 180 m. below the top of the mountain.

The dimensions of the tunnel are 1.80 x 1.80 m. Inside, at a depth of 2-9 m. is the channel that carried the water to the city.

Two architectural phases have been distinguished:

a) the Archaic, with the polygonal masonry and the pointed roof;

b) the Roman, with a barrel-vaulted roof. The Eupalinos tunnel was the longest tunnel of its time. Today it is a popular tourist attraction.


Stelianos Theodoros.



  • Dialogues of the Dead by Lucian