Ancient Neolithic cultures carved images of nature’s elements onto stone balls over a thousand years before they became known as the Platonic Solids. Greek philosophers and mathematicians studied the idea of basic geometric shapes as the building blocks of life and the universe. Some credit Pythagoras (570 BCE – 495 BCE), Empedocles (490–430BCE) or Theaetetus (417 BCE – 369 BCE) with their origins. Plato (424 BCE – 347 BCE), a student of Socrates wrote of them extensively in his dialogue Timaeus. He first described them as the building blocks of life represented by the four elements of earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle identified a fifth element he called Aether. Euclid (323 BCE – 283 BCE) brought them together, naming them the Platonic Solids, and gave them precise mathematical descriptions in his book Elements. This vast body of knowledge went virtually underground until Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630), a German astronomer, saw the sphere as a container for each of the five Platonic Solids. He also tried to connect the solids with the six known planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In Euclidean geometry, a Platonic Solid is defined as a regular, convex polyhedron, whose faces are congruent, regular polygons, with the same number of faces meeting at each vertex. Empedocles saw love as the power that attracts these forms of matter while strife separates them. The elements inspired art, science and insights into the elegance of our universe.
“The square symbolizes the solid physical world and the circle the spiritual and eternal. Man bridges the gap between these two worlds.” – Leonardo Da Vinci