Part 2 of Chapter 4 from Archimedes of Syracuse, a Historical Novel

A while back I posted a chapter from my first novel, Archimedes of Syracuse. I thought I ‘d do it again. It’s a little long for a blog, so I’ve broken it down in parts. Here is Part 2. If you missed Part 1, scroll down.

 Archimedes is living in Syracuse on the island of Sicily. Many legends about Archimedes stem from his early years working for King Hieron, a tyrant. Many of us know the story about when he yelled “Eureka!” Many of the details are vague, so in my novel, I tried to fill in logical details. Enjoy.

 Chapter 4—The Gold Crown (255 BCE, in Syracuse)

 Lagus helps Archimedes get out of his tunic and into the bath. He removes his own clothes, and places his oils, brushes, combs, and perfumes within reach. Taking a sponge, he enters the bath. Archimedes places the gold bar next to the box of sand, and starts making calculations in the sand. Lagus begins to scrub him. Lagus is glad that Archimedes is concentrating on his work, and hardly aware of what Lagus is doing. He shakes his head when he sees weeks of accumulated dirt and grime on Archimedes’ elbows and hands. As he takes one arm to wash to scrub the elbow, and clean the hands and fingernails, Archimedes allows him to do so, continuing to work with the other hand.

This is working out well, Lagus thinks.

After he finishes Archimedes’ body, he begins to work on his hair. The soap for the hair is out of reach so Lagus climbs out to retrieve it. As he leaves the bath, Archimedes notices the change in the water level. He watches Lagus exit the bath. As Lagus reenters the bath, Archimedes watches the water level rise.

“Stop!” shouts Archimedes after Lagus enters the water.

Lagus freezes, not sure what to do. Archimedes waits for the water surface to settle, and draws a line on the side of the bath at the level of the water.

“Get out!”

Lagus, still confused, obeys. Again, Archimedes waits for the water to calm down, and draws another line with his finger at the new water level. Then Archimedes gets out very slowly, hardly disturbing the water. He goes over to his previous marks, and marks the new water level. Then he reenters the water very slowly, and observes the rise in the water.

“Come back in slowly.”

Lagus obeys, imitating Archimedes’ slow movements. Archimedes watches the water rise.

“Get me a large bowl! No, no! Bring two large bowls. One must fit inside the other. Hurry!”

Lagus talks to the Bath Master who returns with two wooden bowls. Archimedes takes the smaller of the two bowls, fills it with water, and sets it inside the larger bowl. He reaches for a perfume bottle but Lagus grabs the expensive perfume bottle, and pulls it out of Archimedes’ reach. Lagus quickly hands Archimedes a smaller and less expensive bottle of perfume. Archimedes pours the perfume into the bath, and uses the bottle to fill the smaller bowl to its top, eventually finishing by adding one drop at a time with his fingertip. When he is satisfied that the bowl cannot hold another drop, he sponges out any water that spilled into the larger bowl. He takes the bar of gold, places it into the smaller bowl, and watches as the water flows out of the smaller bowl into the larger bowl. He repeats the procedure a second time and then a third. Lagus, realizing that the bath is over, starts to collect his things, and put them into the basket. Finally, Archimedes stares at the bowls for several minutes. Lagus knows this is when his master is working on the solution. Archimedes turns, and scribbles something in the sand. He smooths the sand over, and writes again. He smooths that over, and writes something else.

Suddenly shouting, “Eureka! That’s it! I have found it! I’ve done it!”

Archimedes bolts out of the bath, heading for the door. Lagus grabs his own tunic, and pulls it on while picking up Archimedes’ clean tunic, all the while shouting, “Bath Master! Bath Master!”

The Bath Master comes running, “Quit shouting! Here I am.”

Lagus is already heading for the door to catch Archimedes.

“Watch that bar of gold. I’ll be back for it.”

Archimedes runs out of the bathhouse, and into the street causing screams and a few laughs from citizens in the street. Lagus is right on his heels shouting for him to stop. Finally, Lagus is able to get a grip on Archimedes’ hair, and stops. Archimedes’ head jerks back, and he loses his balance, falling backward onto his butt, naked in the street.

“Lagus! What are you doing? Let me go! I have to tell the King. I know how to determine if the crown is solid gold.”

Putting Archimedes’ tunic over his head, “Master, if you go like this, the King will have you arrested.”


“You have no clothes on!” answers Lagus.

Looking down, “Oh! Oh! Where are my clothes?”

“Put on your tunic. Besides, the King is probably dining at this hour. Later, when you are properly dressed, you can tell the King.”

“Yes. Yes, of course. I still have to test my theory on the crown.”

“That’s right. We must be presentable for the King. Now let me help you up, and get you home. We will get the gold from the bath on the way.”

 END of Part 2 of Chapter 4

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