The New Student's Reference Work/Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam (khī̇-yäm′), a Persian poet and astronomer, was born at Nishapur about the middle of the 11th century.  Khayyam is his poetical name, and was taken from his father’s business as a tent-maker.  He was educated under one of the great Persian teachers and offered a place at court, but refused and was given a pension instead.  He reconstructed the calendar, making it, as Gibbon says, “very much superior to the Julian, approaching in accuracy to the Gregorian style.”  He wrote mathematical treatises in Arabic, one on algebra, which has been translated into French.  He was better known as an astronomer than as a poet until 1859, when Edward Fitzgerald, published a translation of his Rubáiyát or quatrains, which gave him a place among the true poets, though the translation is deemed much finer than the original.  His astronomical work brought on him the suspicion of heresy, which his poem did not remove, and to allay the feeling against him he made a pilgrimage to Mecca.  He died at Nishapur in 1122.  See Letters and Literary Remains of Fitzgerald, Vol. III.; Rubáiyát.