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Pythagoras
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{{good article}}{{short description|ancient Greek philosopher and mystic}}{{redirect|Pythagoras of Samos|the Samian statuary|Pythagoras (sculptor)}}{{other uses}}{{pp-semi-indef}}{{pp-move-indef}}







factoids
570 BC}}| birth_place = Samos495 BC|lk=no}} (aged around 75)Crotone>Croton or Metapontum| era = Ancient Greek philosophy| region = Western philosophy| school_tradition = PythagoreanismMathematics Metaphysics >Music Mysticism >Ethics Politics >Religion}}Communalism Metempsychosis> Musica universalis}}Attributed ideas: {{ublist Geographical zone>Five climactic zones Platonic solids>Five regular solids Proportionality (mathematics)>Proportions Pythagorean theorem >Pythagorean tuning Spherical Earth>Sphericity of the Earth |Vegetarianism}}Thales of Miletus >Anaximander Pherecydes of Syros>Pherecydes |Themistoclea}}| influenced = Plato and, through him, all of Western philosophy}}Pythagoras of Samos{{efn|{{IPAc-en|US|p|áµ»|ˈ|θ|æ|É¡|É™r|É™|s}},WEB,weblink American: Pythagoras, 25 September 2014, Collins Dictionary, n.d., {{IPAc-en|UK|p|aɪ|-}};WEB,weblink British: Pythagoras, 25 September 2014, Collins Dictionary, n.d., , or simply ; in Ionian Greek}} ({{circa|570|495 BC|lk=on}}){{efn|"The dates of his life cannot be fixed exactly, but assuming the approximate correctness of the statement of Aristoxenus (ap. Porph. V.P. 9) that he left Samos to escape the tyranny of Polycrates at the age of forty, we may put his birth round about 570 BC, or a few years earlier. The length of his life was variously estimated in antiquity, but it is agreed that he lived to a fairly ripe old age, and most probably he died at about seventy-five or eighty." William Keith Chambers Guthrie, (1978), A history of Greek philosophy, Volume 1: The earlier Presocratics and the Pythagoreans, p. 173. Cambridge University Press}} was an Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of the Pythagoreanism movement. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy. Knowledge of Pythagoras's life is largely clouded by legend and obfuscation, but he appears to have been the son of Mnesarchus, a seal engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, in around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton, where he founded a school in which initiates were sworn to secrecy and lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. He probably prohibited his followers from eating beans, but he may or may not have advocated a strictly vegetarian diet.The teaching most securely identified with Pythagoras is metempsychosis, or the "transmigration of souls", which holds that every soul is immortal and, upon death, enters into a new body. He may have also devised the doctrine of musica universalis, which holds that the planets move according to mathematical equations and thus resonate to produce an inaudible symphony of music. Scholars debate whether Pythagoras himself developed the numerological and musical teachings attributed to him, or if those teachings were developed by his later followers, particularly Philolaus of Croton. Following Croton's decisive victory over Sybaris in around 510 BC, Pythagoras's followers came into conflict with supporters of democracy and Pythagorean meeting houses were burned. Pythagoras may have been killed during this persecution, or he may have escaped to Metapontum, where he eventually died.In antiquity, Pythagoras was credited with many mathematical and scientific discoveries, including the Pythagorean theorem, Pythagorean tuning, the five regular solids, the Theory of Proportions, the sphericity of the Earth, and the identity of the morning and evening stars as the planet Venus. It was said that he was the first man to call himself a philosopher ("lover of wisdom"){{efn|Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, 5.3.8–9 (citing Heraclides Ponticus fr. 88 Wehrli), Diogenes Laërtius 1.12, 8.8, Iamblichus VP 58. Burkert attempted to discredit this ancient tradition, but it has been defended by C.J. De Vogel, Pythagoras and Early Pythagoreanism (1966), pp. 97–102, and C. Riedweg, Pythagoras: His Life, Teaching, And Influence (2005), p. 92.}} and that he was the first to divide the globe into five climatic zones. Classical historians debate whether Pythagoras made these discoveries, and many of the accomplishments credited to him likely originated earlier or were made by his colleagues or successors. Some accounts mention that the philosophy associated with Pythagoras was related to mathematics and that numbers were important, but it is debated to what extent, if at all, he actually contributed to mathematics or natural philosophy.Pythagoras influenced Plato, whose dialogues, especially his Timaeus, exhibit Pythagorean teachings. Pythagorean ideas about mathematical perfection also impacted ancient Greek art. His teachings underwent a major revival in the first century BC among Middle Platonists, coinciding with the rise of Neopythagoreanism. Pythagoras continued to be regarded as a great philosopher throughout the Middle Ages and his philosophy had a major impact on scientists such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton. Pythagorean symbolism was used throughout early modern European esotericism and his teachings as portrayed in Ovid's Metamorphoses influenced the growth of the vegetarian movement.

Biographical sources

No authentic writings of Pythagoras have survived to the present day{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=11}}{{sfn|Grafton|Most|Settis|2010|page=796}}{{sfn|Ferguson|2008|page=4}} and almost nothing is known for certain about his life.{{sfn|Ferguson|2008|pages=3–5}}{{sfn|Gregory|2015|pages=21–23}}{{sfn|Copleston|2003|page=29}} The earliest sources on Pythagoras's life are brief, ambiguous, and often satirical.{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=2}}{{sfn|Ferguson|2008|page=4}}{{sfn|Burkert|1985|page=299}} The earliest source on Pythagoras's teachings is a satirical poem probably written after his death by Xenophanes of Colophon, who had been one of his contemporaries.{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=12}}{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=62}} In the poem, Xenophanes describes Pythagoras interceding on behalf of a dog that is being beaten, professing to recognize in its cries the voice of a departed friend.Diogenes Laërtius, viii. 36{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=12}}{{sfn|Burkert|1985|page=299}}{{sfn|Copleston|2003|page=31}} Alcmaeon of Croton, a doctor who lived in Croton at around the same time Pythagoras lived there,{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=12}} incorporates many Pythagorean teachings into his writings{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|pages=12–13}} and alludes to having possibly known Pythagoras personally.{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|pages=12–13}} The poet Heraclitus of Ephesus, who was born across a few miles of sea away from Samos and may have lived within Pythagoras's lifetime,{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=13}} mocked Pythagoras as a clever charlatan,{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=2}}{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=13}} remarking that "Pythagoras, son of Mnesarchus, practiced inquiry more than any other man, and selecting from these writings he manufactured a wisdom for himself—much learning, artful knavery."{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=13}}{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=2}}The Greek poets Ion of Chios ({{circa|480|421 BC|lk=on}}) and Empedocles of Acragas ({{circa|493|432 BC}}) both express admiration for Pythagoras in their poems.{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|pages=14–15}} The first concise early description of Pythagoras comes from the historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus ({{circa|484|420 BC|lk=no}}),{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=16}} who describes Pythagoras as "not the most insignificant" of Greek sages4. 95. and states that Pythagoras taught his followers how to attain immortality.{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=16}} The writings attributed to the Pythagorean philosopher Philolaus of Croton, who lived in the late fifth century BC, are the earliest texts to describe the numerological and musical theories that were later ascribed to Pythagoras.{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=88}} The Athenian rhetorician Isocrates (436–338 BC) was the first to describe Pythagoras as having visited Egypt.{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=16}} Aristotle wrote a treatise On the Pythagoreans, which is no longer extant.He alludes to it himself, Met. i. 5. p. 986. 12, ed. Bekker. Some of it may be preserved in the Protrepticus. Aristotle's disciples Dicaearchus, Aristoxenus, and Heraclides Ponticus also wrote on the same subject.{{sfn|Burkert|1972|page=109}}Most of the major sources on Pythagoras's life are from the Roman period,{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=5}} by which point, according to the German classicist Walter Burkert, "the history of Pythagoreanism was already... the laborious reconstruction of something lost and gone."{{sfn|Burkert|1972|page=109}} Three lives of Pythagoras have survived from late antiquity,{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=5}}{{sfn|Copleston|2003|page=29}} all of which are filled primarily with myths and legends.{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=5}}{{sfn|Zhmud|2012|page=9}}{{sfn|Copleston|2003|page=29}} The earliest and most respectable of these is the one from Diogenes Laërtius's Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers.{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=5}}{{sfn|Zhmud|2012|page=9}} The two later lives were written by the Neoplatonist philosophers Porphyry and Iamblichus{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=5}}{{sfn|Zhmud|2012|page=9}} and were partially intended as polemics against the rise of Christianity.{{sfn|Zhmud|2012|page=9}} The later sources are much lengthier than the earlier ones,{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=5}} and even more fantastic in their descriptions of Pythagoras's achievements.{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=5}}{{sfn|Zhmud|2012|page=9}} Porphyry and Iamblichus did use some material from the lost writings of Aristotle's disciples{{sfn|Burkert|1972|page=109}} and material taken from these sources is generally considered to be the most reliable.{{sfn|Burkert|1972|page=109}}

Life

Early life

{{rquote|right|There is not a single detail in the life of Pythagoras that stands uncontradicted. But it is possible, from a more or less critical selection of the data, to construct a plausible account.|Walter Burkert, 1972{{sfn|Burkert|1972|page=106}}}}{{See also|Pythagoras (sculptor)}}Herodotus, Isocrates, and other early writers agree that Pythagoras was the son of Mnesarchus{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=6}}{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=16}} and that he was born on the Greek island of Samos in the eastern Aegean.{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=6}}{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=11}}{{sfn|Ferguson|2008|page=12}}{{sfn|Kenny|2004|page=9}} His father is said to have been a gem-engraver or a wealthy merchant,Clemens von Alexandria: Stromata I 62, 2–3, cit. BOOK,weblink Iamblichus and the Foundations of Late Platonism, Brill, 2012, Eugene V. Afonasin, John M. Dillon, John Finamore, Leiden and Boston, 15, 9789004230118, {{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=21}} but his ancestry is disputed and unclear.{{sfn|Ferguson|2008|pages=11–12}}{{efn|Some writers call him a Tyrrhenian or Phliasian, and give Marmacus, or Demaratus, as the name of his father: Diogenes Laërtius, viii. 1; Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 1, 2; Justin, xx. 4; Pausanias, ii. 13.}} Pythagoras's name led him to be associated with Pythian Apollo; Aristippus of Cyrene explained his name by saying, "He spoke (, {{transl|grc|agoreúō}}) the truth no less than did the {{sic|Pythian}} (, {{transl|grc|Pūthíā}})".{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=59}} A late source gives Pythagoras's mother's name as Pythaïs.Apollonius of Tyana ap. Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 2. Iamblichus tells the story that the Pythia prophesied to her while she was pregnant with him that she would give birth to a man supremely beautiful, wise, and beneficial to humankind.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=59}} As to the date of his birth, Aristoxenus stated that Pythagoras left Samos in the reign of Polycrates, at the age of 40, which would give a date of birth around 570 BC.Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 9During Pythagoras's formative years, Samos was a thriving cultural hub known for its feats of advanced architectural engineering, including the building of the Tunnel of Eupalinos, and for its riotous festival culture.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|pages=45–47}} It was a major center of trade in the Aegean where traders brought goods from the Near East.{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=11}} According to Christiane L. Joost-Gaugier, these traders almost certainly brought with them Near Eastern ideas and traditions.{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=11}} Pythagoras's early life also coincided with the flowering of early Ionian natural philosophy.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|pages=44–45}}{{sfn|Kahn|2001|page=6}} He was a contemporary of the philosophers Anaximander, Anaximenes, and the historian Hecataeus, all of whom lived in Miletus, across the sea from Samos.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|pages=44–45}}

Alleged travels

Pythagoras is traditionally said to have received most of his education in the Near East.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=7}} Modern scholarship has increasingly shown that the culture of Archaic Greece was heavily influenced by those of Near Eastern cultures.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=7}} Like many other important Greek thinkers, Pythagoras was said to have studied in Egypt.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|pages=7–8}}{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=16}}{{sfn|Gregory|2015|pages=22–23}} By the time of Isocrates in the fourth century BC, Pythagoras's alleged studies in Egypt were already simply taken for granted as fact.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=59}}{{sfn|Joost-Gaugier|2006|page=16}} The writer Antiphon, who may have lived during the Hellenistic Era, claimed in his lost work On Men of Outstanding Merit, which is used as a source by Porphyry, that Pythagoras learned to speak Egyptian from the Pharaoh Amasis II himself, that he studied with the Egyptian priests at Diospolis (Thebes), and that he was the only foreigner ever to be granted the privilege of taking part in their worship.Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 6.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=7}} The Middle Platonist biographer Plutarch ({{circa|46|120 AD|lk=on}}) writes in his treatise On Isis and Osiris that, during his visit to Egypt, Pythagoras received instruction from the Egyptian priest Oenuphis of Heliopolis (meanwhile Solon received lectures from a Sonchis of Sais).Plutarch, On Isis And Osiris, ch. 10. According to the Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria ({{circa|150|215 AD|lk=no}}), "Pythagoras was a disciple of Soches, an Egyptian archprophet, as well as Plato of Sechnuphis of Heliopolis."{{sfn|Press|2003|page=83}} It was from the Egyptians, some ancient writers claimed, that Pythagoras had learned geometry and received the doctrine of metempsychosis.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|pages=7–8}}cf. Antiphon. ap. Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 7; Isocrates, Busiris, 28–9; Cicero, de Finibus, v. 27; Strabo, xiv.Other ancient writers, however, claimed that Pythagoras had learned these teachings from the Magi in Persia or even from Zoroaster himself.Diogenes Laërtius, viii. 1, 3.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} Diogenes Laërtius asserts that Pythagoras later visited Crete, where he went to the Cave of Ida with Epimenides. The Phoenicians are reputed to have taught Pythagoras arithmetic and the Chaldeans to have taught him astronomy.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} By the third century BC, Pythagoras was already reported to have studied under the Jews as well.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} Contradicting all these reports, the novelist Antonius Diogenes, writing in the second century BC, reports that Pythagoras discovered all his doctrines himself by interpreting dreams.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} The third-century AD Sophist Philostratus claims that, in addition to the Egyptians, Pythagoras also studied under Hindu sages in India.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} Iamblichus expands this list even further by claiming that Pythagoras also studied with the Celts and Iberians.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}}

Alleged Greek teachers

{{multiple image| align = right| direction = horizontal| header = | width = | image1 = Pythagoras Bust Vatican Museum (cropped).jpg| width1 = 202| alt1 = Bust of a somewhat elderly and rather tired-looking man with a short, curly beard, vaguely similar to Greek busts of HomerVatican Museums, Vatican City, showing him as a "tired-looking older man"{{sfn>Joost-Gaugierpage=143}}| image2 = Archytas of Tarentum MAN Napoli Inv5607.jpg| width2 = 135| alt2 = Bronze bust of a man with a short, curly beard wearing a tainia, which resembles a turban. Short curls hang out from underneath the tainia. The face is much broader than the other busts and the neck much fatter. The brow ridges are very prominent.Tainia (costume)>tainia from Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum, possibly a fictional bust of Pythagoras{{sfn2005Joost-Gaugierpage=143}}}}Ancient sources also record Pythagoras having studied under a variety of native Greek thinkers.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} Various ancient sources identify (:fr:Hermodamas|Hermodamas of Samos) as one of his possible tutors.Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 2, Diogenes Laërtius, viii. 2.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} Hermodamas represented the indigenous Samian rhapsodic tradition and his father Creophylos was said to have been the host of rival of the poet Homer.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} Others credit Bias of Priene, Thales,Iamblichus, Vit. Pyth. 9. or Anaximander (a pupil of Thales).Porphyry, Vit. Pyth. 2.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} Other traditions claim the mythic bard Orpheus as Pythagoras's teacher, thus representing the Orphic Mysteries.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} The Neoplatonists wrote of a "sacred discourse" Pythagoras had written on the gods in the Doric Greek dialect, which they believed had been dictated to Pythagoras by the Orphic priest Aglaophamus upon his initiation to the orphic Mysteries at Leibethra.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=8}} Iamblichus credited Orpheus with having been the model for Pythagoras's manner of speech, his spiritual attitude, and his manner of worship.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|pages=8–9}} Iamblichus describes Pythagoreanism as a synthesis of everything Pythagoras had learned from Orpheus, from the Egyptian priests, from the Eleusinian Mysteries, and from other religious and philosophical traditions.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|pages=8–9}} Riedweg states that, although these stories are fanciful, Pythagoras's teachings were definitely influenced by Orphism to a noteworthy extent.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}}Of the various attributions regarding his Greek teachers, Pherecydes of Syros is mentioned most often.Aristoxenus and others in Diogenes Laërtius, i. 118, 119; Cicero, de Div. i. 49{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}} Similar miracle stories were told about both Pythagoras and Pherecydes, including one in which the hero predicts a shipwreck, one in which he predicts the conquest of a city, and one in which he drinks from a well and predicts a shipwreck.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}} Apollonius Paradoxographus, a paradoxographer who may have lived in the second century BC, identified Pythagoras's thaumaturgic ideas as a result of Pherecydes's influence.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}} Another story, which may be traced back to the Neopythagorean philosopher Nicomachus, tells that, when Pherecydes was old and dying on the island of Delos, Pythagoras returned there to care for him and pay his respects.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}} He reportedly stayed with him until Pherecydes breathed his last.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}} Duris, the historian and tyrant of Samos, is reported to have patriotically boasted of an epitaph supposedly penned by Pherecydes which declared that Pythagoras's wisdom exceeded his own.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}} On the grounds of all these references connecting Pythagoras with Pherecydes, Riedweg concludes that there may well be some historical foundation to the tradition that Pherecydes was Pythagoras's teacher.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}} Pythagoras and Pherecydes also appear to have shared similar views on the soul and the teaching of metempsychosis.{{sfn|Riedweg|2005|page=9}}Before 520 BC, on one of his visits to Egypt or Greece, Pythagoras might have met Thales of Miletus, who would have been around fifty-four years older than him. Thales was a philosopher, scientist, mathematician, and engineer,BOOK, Boyer, Carl B.,weblink A History of Mathematics, 1968, also known for a special case of the inscribed angle theorem. Pythagoras's birthplace, the island of Samos, is situated in the Northeast Aegean Sea not far from Miletus.{{sfn|Zhmud|2012|pages=2, 16}} Diogenes Laërtius cites a statement from Aristoxenus (fourth century BC) stating that Pythagoras learned most of his moral doctrines from the Delphic priestess Themistoclea.Diogenes Laërtius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, viii. 1, 8.

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