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11 Facts about Pythagoras

By Yona Williams    4/30/12

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In ancient history, Pythagoras is a name that is often mentioned in the same breath as philosophy and math. The Ionian Greek thinker not only influenced a great deal of people from the past and in modern times, but also founded a religious movement known as Pythagoreanism.

1.    Pythagoras was also called Pythagoras of Samos or Pythagoras the Samian.

2.    Pythagoras was born on an island called Samos. When he was young, he engaged in many different travels, including Egypt and other locations that piqued his interest in gaining more knowledge.

3.    When Pythagoras moved to Croton in about 530 BC, he set up his religious sect in the Greek colony located in southern Italy. He attracted followers that embraced his religious rites and practices. They spent time studying his philosophical theories as well.

4.    There is a written account that states Pythagoras took a lady of Croton named Theano as his wife. They produced four children – a son named Telauges, and three daughters – Damo, Arignote, and Myia.

5.    Unfortunately, texts written by Pythagoras are not known to have survived the ancient past. Over the years, forgeries bearing his name have surfaced. Ancient thinkers, such as Aristotle question whether these works were authentic.

6.    Pythagoras is responsible for creating the Pythagorean theorem:, which states that the sum of the areas of two squares on the legs (called a and b) equals the area of the square on the hypotenuse (c).

7.    Pythagoras is credited with establishing the tetractys – the triangular figure of four rows, which add up to the perfect number of ten. In mystical circles, the symbol was significant to the Pythagoreans method of worship. They would swear their oaths by the symbols.

8.    Pythagoras believed that religion and science were interconnected. He was a believer of metempsychosis, where he sided with transmigration – meaning the reincarnation of the soul that takes place in the bodies of humans, animals, or vegetables in a repetitive process until the soul become immortal. These ideas would influence the way ancient Greeks viewed religion.

9.    Great philosopher Plato was greatly influenced by Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans.

10.    A form of drinking cup has been credited to Pythagoras – called the Pythagorean cup or Pythagoras cup. The construction of the cup forces a drinker to only consume alcohol in moderation. The user fills the cup with wine that only reaches a certain level. If the user fills the cup only up to that level, he can peacefully enjoy his beverage. However, if he proves himself a greedy drinker, the cup will spill its entire contents out the bottom

11.    There are conflicting accounts as to how Pythagoras died. Some say that he lost his life in the temple with his disciples when the building was set on fire. Others believe that he fled the city – first relocating to Tarentum, and then finding his way to Metapontum when he was driven out of the previous destination. It is said that when he was there, he starved himself to death.

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