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PYTHAGORION -SAMOS ISLAND- The city of PYTHAGORAS

Dedicated to my friend kprotop from Samos

Pythagoras of Samos (Greek: Πυθαγόρας; born between 580 and 572 BC, died between 500 and 490 BC) was an Ionian Greek mathematician and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. He is often revered as a great mathematician, mystic and scientist; however some have questioned the scope of his contributions to mathematics and natural philosophy.
Herodotus referred to him as "the most able philosopher among the Greeks". His name led him to be associated with Pythian Apollo; Aristippus explained his name by saying, "He spoke (agor-) the truth no less than did the Pythian (Pyth-)," and Iamblichus tells the story that the Pythia prophesied that his pregnant mother would give birth to a man supremely beautiful, wise, and of benefit to humankind.

He is best known for the Pythagorean theorem, which bears his name. Known as "the father of numbers", Pythagoras made influential contributions to philosophy and religious teaching in the late 6th century BC. Because legend and obfuscation cloud his work even more than with the other pre-Socratics, one can say little with confidence about his life and teachings.
We do know that Pythagoras and his students believed that everything was related to mathematics and that numbers were the ultimate reality and, through mathematics, everything could be predicted and measured in rhythmic patterns or cycles.
According to Iamblichus, Pythagoras once said that "number is the ruler of forms and ideas and the cause of gods and demons."

He was the first man to call himself a philosopher, or lover of wisdom, and Pythagorean ideas exercised a marked influence on Plato.
Unfortunately, very little is known about Pythagoras because none of his writings have survived. Many of the accomplishments credited to Pythagoras may actually have been accomplishments of his colleagues and successors.

Pythagoras was born on Samos, a Greek island in the eastern Aegean, off the coast of Asia Minor. He was born to Pythais (his mother, a native of Samos) and Mnesarchus (his father, a Phoenician merchant from Tyre). As a young man, he left his native city for Croton, Calabria, in Southern Italy, to escape the tyrannical government of Polycrates. According to Iamblichus, Thales, impressed with his abilities, advised Pythagoras to head to Memphis in Egypt and study with the priests there who were renowned for their wisdom. He also was discipled in the temples of Tyre and Byblos in Phoenicia. It may have been in Egypt where he learned some geometric principles which eventually inspired his formulation of the theorem that is now called by his name. This possible inspiration is presented as an example problem in the Berlin Papyrus. Upon his migration from Samos to Croton, Calabria, Italy, Pythagoras established a secret religious society very similar to (and possibly influenced by) the earlier Orphic cult.


Bust of Pythagoras, VaticanPythagoras undertook a reform of the cultural life of Croton, urging the citizens to follow virtue and form an elite circle of followers around himself called Pythagoreans. Very strict rules of conduct governed this cultural center. He opened his school to male and female students alike. Those who joined the inner circle of Pythagoras's society called themselves the Mathematikoi. They lived at the school, owned no personal possessions and were required to assume a mainly vegetarian diet (meat that could be sacrificed was allowed to be eaten). Other students who lived in neighboring areas were also permitted to attend Pythagoras's school. Known as Akousmatikoi, these students were permitted to eat meat and own personal belongings. Richard Blackmore, in his book The Lay Monastery (1714), saw in the religious observances of the Pythagoreans, "the first instance recorded in history of a monastic life."

According to Iamblichus, the Pythagoreans followed a structured life of religious teaching, common meals, exercise, reading and philosophical study. Music featured as an essential organizing factor of this life: the disciples would sing hymns to Apollo together regularly; they used the lyre to cure illness of the soul or body; poetry recitations occurred before and after sleep to aid the memory.

Flavius Josephus, in his polemical Against Apion, in defence of Judaism against Greek philosophy, mentions that according to Hermippus of Smyrna, Pythagoras was familiar with Jewish beliefs, incorporating some of them in his own philosophy.

Towards the end of his life he fled to Metapontum because of a plot against him and his followers by a noble of Croton named Cylon. He died in Metapontum around 90 years old from unknown causes.

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Additional Photos by Costantino Topas (COSTANTINO) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9231 W: 23 N: 16502] (102986)
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