36 1. Trisecting Angles Gauss had a normal family life. By modern standards his life had an enormous amount of personal tragedy. After the birth of their third child, his wife died in 1809. Shortly thereafter, the child died. But in 1810 he married his wife’s best friend, after proposing in writing to his prospective wife, Mennia Waldeck, and saying that he could only offer her a “divided heart, in which the picture of the deceased should never be erased.” Gauss seems to have been motivated more by a need to solve the practical problems of raising two children than by an emotional commitment. But as time passed he grew to love his new wife. Two additional sons and a daughter were born during Gauss’s second marriage. His second wife died in 1831 and Gauss lived the last 24 years of his life as a widower. During his lifetime Gauss was regarded as the greatest living mathe- matician. Many today believe he was the greatest to have ever lived, and is often accorded the title Prince of Mathematicians. For further reading see Margaret Tent, The Prince of Mathematics: Carl Friedrich Gauss, A K Peters, 2006.
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