A Eulogy in Honour of Anders Johan Lexell, an 18th Century Finnish Mathematician

Joonas Ilmavirta and Johan C.-E. Stén
Proceedings of Bridges 2016: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Education, Culture (2016)
Pages 545–548 Short Papers


We present a poem written in the honour of Anders Johan Lexell (1740–1784), a mathematician of Finnish origin, who became a collaborator and successor of Leonhard Euler. The poem was composed in Latin by Fredrik Pryss (1741–1767) in the honour of the 18-year-old promising young man in 1759. We discuss the poem itself and its connections to ancient poetic tradition as well as the foresight of Pryss in seeing the career that lay ahead of Lexell. We find that the poem is of excellent quality as a piece of art following ancient style in form, language and content. Discussing Lexell’s life in light of the poem reveals that Pryss did see that Lexell would rise to fame, but not how.