Obituary | Published:


Nature volume 162, page 94 (17 July 1948) | Download Citation



SIR D‘ARCY THOMPSON was not the only man of science in his generation Who ‘kept up his classics' and pursued them in connexion With his professional Work. Other biologists were Sir Edward Poulton and Dr. F. A. Dixey. But Sir D‘Arcy‘s studies Were on an ampler scale. Both his "Glossary of Greek Birds", published forty years ago and recently in a well-groomed second edition, and his "Glossary of Greek Fishes", reviewed in these columns only a few months since, are the classical books of reference in their subject, and illustrate his wide range of literary scholarship as well as his tireless industry. They are supported by a rich flow of smaller articles and notes covering a wider field, and by invaluable services as a member of the staff of the revised "Liddell and Scott". Two examples will illustrate his range and versatility. He was the first to make geometrical sense of Herodotus description of the Great Pyramid, and to show how its form Was related to the processes of its construction. And his knowledge was at his instant disposal. I referred to him some years ago, at the request of a distinguished surgeon, the Homeric description of the death-struggle of Nestor‘s chariot horse, struck through the forehead by an arrow. The reply came by return of post—"written in the laboratory" : the arrow had grazed the cerebellum, and the convulsive movements of the limbs, causing the horse to roll over and over, were precisely what were to be expected. He had seen the same death-struggle in a rabbit, and dissected out the fatal pellet from an identical wound.

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