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Pythagoras of Samos (Ancient Greek: Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος [Πυθαγόρης in Ionian Greek] Pythagóras ho Sámios "Pythagoras the Samian", or simply Πυθαγόρας; b. about 570 – d. about 495 BC) was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him. He was born on the island of Samos, and might have travelled widely in his youth, visiting Egypt and other places seeking knowledge. Around 530 BC, he moved to Croton, a Greek colony in southern Italy, and there set up a religious sect. His followers pursued the religious rites and practices developed by Pythagoras, and studied his philosophical theories. The society took an active role in the politics of Croton, but this eventually led to their downfall. The Pythagorean meetingplaces were burned, and Pythagoras was forced to flee the city. He is said to have died in Metapontum. Pythagoras made influential contributions to philosophy and religious teaching in the late 6th century BC. He is often revered as a great mathematician, mystic and scientist, but he is best known for the Pythagorean theorem which bears his name. However, because legend and obfuscation cloud his work even more than that of the other pre-Socratic philosophers, one can give only a tentative account of his teachings, and some have questioned whether he contributed much to mathematics and natural philosophy. Many of the accomplishments credited to Pythagoras may actually have been accomplishments of his colleagues and successors. Whether or not his disciples believed that everything was related to mathematics and that numbers were the ultimate reality is unknown. It was said that he was the first man to call himself a philosopher, or lover of wisdom, and Pythagorean ideas exercised a marked influence on Plato, and through him, all of Western philosophy.
Bust of Pythagoras of Samos in the Capitoline Museums, Rome Born Died Era Region School c. 570 BC Samos c. 495 BC (aged around 75) Metapontum Ancient philosophy Western philosophy Pythagoreanism
Main interests Metaphysics, Music, Mathematics, Ethics, Politics Notable ideas Musica universalis, Golden ratio, Pythagorean tuning, Pythagorean theorem Influenced by Influenced
1 Biographical sources 2 Life 3 Writings
4 Mathematics 4.1 Pythagorean theorem 4.2 Musical theories and investigations 4.3 Tetractys 5 Religion and science 5.1 Lore 6 Pythagoreans 7 Influence 7.1 Influence on Plato 7.2 Influence on esoteric groups 8 See also 9 References 10 Sources 10.1 Classical secondary sources 10.2 Modern secondary sources 11 External links
Accurate facts about the life of Pythagoras are so few, and most information concerning him is of so late a date, and so untrustworthy, that it is impossible to provide more than a vague outline of his life. The lack of information by contemporary writers, together with the secrecy which surrounded the Pythagorean brotherhood, meant that invention took the place of facts. The stories which were created were eagerly sought by the Neoplatonist writers who provide most of the details about Pythagoras, but who were uncritical concerning anything which related to the gods or which was considered divine. Thus many myths were created – such as that Apollo was his father; that Pythagoras gleamed with a supernatural brightness; that he had a golden thigh; that Abaris came flying to him on a golden arrow; that he was seen in different places at one and the same time. With the exception of a few remarks by Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, and Isocrates, we are mainly dependent on Diogenes Laërtius, Porphyry, and Iamblichus for the biographical details. Aristotle had...