Melancholia Magic Square

The most famous 4 x 4 magic square is the so-called Melancholia magic square. In 1514, Albrecht Dürer used the square in his engraving Melancholie which depicts the indecision of the intellectual. The two numbers, 15 and 14, in the centre of the bottom row date the engraving.
Durer never explained the rich symbolism of this masterpiece, but most authorities agree that it depicts the sullen mood of the thinker unable to engage in action. (In the Renaissance, the melancholy temperament was thought characteristic of creative genius.) Unused tools of science and carpentry lie in disorder around the disheveled, brooding figure of Melancholy. There is nothing in the balance scales, no one mounts the ladder, the sleeping hound is half-starved, the winged cherub waits for dictation while time is running out in the hourglass above. The wooden sphere and curiously truncated stone tetrahedron suggest the mathematical base of the building arts. The lunar rainbow arching over what appears to be a comet may signify the hope that the somber mood will pass.
The magic constant of the square is 34. In other words, the sum of the numbers in each of the four rows, the four columns, and the two main diagrams is 34. However, this square has an amazing number of other "magic" properties - including many more ways of attaining the constant sum of 34. Can you discover some on your own? Click here for the solution.
 
16 3 2 13
5 10 11 8
9 6 7 12
4 15 14 1
 


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09-May-2005
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