The Golden Ratio-Kelly Sechler

Golden Mean in art

After last classes lecture I became very interested in the golden ratio and how it is used. There are claims of it being found in the human body, many other natural forms, artwork music and ligature. When doing further research I found that there are even claims of the golden ratio being used to form the structure of Virgil’s Aeneid. Professor George Eckel Duckworth, who worked at the University of Michigan wrote a book titled Structural patterns and proportions in Virgil’s Aeneid : a study in mathematical composition. In his book Duckworth argues that “Virgil consciously used Fibonacci numbers to structure his poetry and so did other Roman poets of the time”(

What I began to find in my research that I found interesting was the less known yet still popular opinion that the believers in the golden ratio have turned into a cult that will look so hard to find the golden ratio that they inevitably will eventually. It is argued that there is no evidence that Leonardo De Vinci, or any other renaissance artist for that means, ever intentionally used the golden ration in their work. They claim that, “In every case the application of golden ratios to a Leonardo painting is extremely arbitrary and obtained only by fudging. Parts of a figure will extend beyond the borders of the imagined rectangle, and other parts will fail to touch the borders”. Also, the same source believes that, “There is not the slightest evidence that the Egyptians, Greeks, or any other ancient people, used phi in any of their buildings or art. The dimensions of the Parthenon vary from source to source probably because different authors are measuring between different points. With so many numbers available a golden ratio enthusiast could choose whatever numbers gave the best result”. (These examples come from George Markowsky’s, a computer scientist at the university of main, paper, “Misconceptions About the Golden Ratio).

Lastly, I want to point out that this idea of a particular number being found everywhere and holding particular meaning has been very popular with film and television. Recently a film was released titled The Number 23 where Jim Carry is haunted by finding the number everywhere. This theme can be traced back in film and television all the way to the original Twilight Zone which aired an episode titled “Twenty-Two” with a very similar plot.


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