The paths to greatness are as numerous and diverse as the roads to Rome. This is typified by the career of Dominique Francois Jean Arago (1786 to 1853). Although one might argue that his name may be excluded from the list of greats in optics, I contend that his researches, his lectures, and above all else, his influence on other investigators, mark him as one who has had a profound leverage on our understanding of optical phenomena. Before we turn to these achievements, however, it is of interest to review his early life.
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