Persian mathematician, astronomer,
and author of one of the world's best-known works of poetry.
He was born in Neyshabur (Nishapur, now in Iran); his name means Omar
the Tentmaker. As astronomer to the royal court, he was engaged with
several other scientists to reform the calendar; their work resulted
in the adoption of a new era, called the Jalalian or the Seljuk. As
a writer on algebra, geometry, and related subjects, Omar was one of
the most notable mathematicians of his time. He is, however, most famous
as the author of the Rubáiyát. About 1000 of these epigrammatic
four-line stanzas, which reflect upon nature and humanity, are ascribed
to him. The English poet and translator Edward FitzGerald was the first
to introduce Omar to the West through a version (1859) of 100 of the
quatrains. This version is a paraphrase, often very close, that despite
its flowery rhymed verse captures the spirit of the original.