Peter Artedi (1705–1735)

Peter Artedi was Linnaeus’ best friend during his studies in Uppsala. If Artedi had not died so young, he would probably have become as famous as Linnaeus.

Both Linnaeus and Artedi should have become clergymen, but changed direction and studied medicine instead. They were both good students and interested in plants and animals. They divided the organisms between them not to compete too much. Linnaeus took care of the birds, insects and most plants. Artedi chose to study the fishes, frogs and reptiles.

Linnaeus’ drawing of the fish grayling from his journal
from the journey to Lapland.

In Uppsala they promised each other that if one died before the other, the survivor would make sure to print the work of the dead one. Six years later this heavy task had to be taken care of by Linnaeus. Artedi was in Amsterdam in the same time as Linnaeus. The friends met and Artedi showed Linnaeus his new classification system for the fishes. A few days later Artedi was invited to friends for dinner. On his way home he got lost in the dark autumn night and fell into one of the canals of Amsterdam and drowned.

When Linnaeus saw his dead friend at the morgue he was struck by how much knowledge that was lost by the death of his friend. As he had promised he had Artedi's work published. He also named a plant genus (in the family Apiaceae) after him. During the rest of his time, Linnaeus was careful to write his thoughts down, and not just to keep them in his mind.

Last modified: 2021-06-21