How did Sadi Carnot get his name?

French president Sadi Carnot (1837-1894)
Sadi Carnot

There were two famous Frenchmen commonly known as Sadi Carnot.

The most recent was statesman Marie François Sadi Carnot (b. 1837), who served as the President of France from 1887 until his assassination in 1894.

He was named after his uncle, mechanical engineer Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot (b. 1796), who is often described as the “father of thermodynamics.”

The older Sadi Carnot was named by his father, mathematician Lazare Carnot (b. 1753), after thirteenth-century Persian poet Saadi Shirazi.


[Saadi’s] poems, most notably the Gulistan (or Rose Garden), were popular in Europe in the late eighteenth century. It seems likely that Lazare chose the name to commemorate his association, in the 1780s, with the Société des Rosati, an informal literary society in Arras in which a recurring theme was the celebration of the beauty of roses in poetry.

Speaking of names…Lazare, who participated in the French Revolution alongside Napoléon, is one of the 72 men whose names are engraved on the Eiffel Tower.


Image: Portrait officiel de Sadi Carnot

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