Greek: Πυθαγορας
Who: A philosopher and mathematician.
Born: 570 BC
Died: 495 BC (aged 75)
Birthplace: Samos

The statue of Pythagoras in Samos.

The statue of Pythagoras in Samos.

Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek mathematician and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. He was a great mathematician, mystic and scientist and was labeled as “the most able philosopher” among the Greeks and known as the”father of numbers”. What we know of Pythagoras is what has been written about him by his followers, of which he had many. He is most famously known for the Pythagorean Theorem which bears his name. It is a theorem in geometry that states that in a right-angled triangle the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle), c, is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, b and a.

He was the first person to call himself a philosopher (lover of wisdom) and had a great deal of influence on philosophy and religious teachings. Pythagoras and his students believed that everything was related to mathematics and that numbers were the reality of things and through mathematics everything could be predicted and measured in rhythmic patters of cycles. Pythagoras had stated:”number is the ruler of forms and ideas and the cause of gods and daemons.”

Pythagoras had travelled most of the known world to the Greeks and is thought to have picked up and learned some of his teachings in mathematics from other places. One interesting story was the way Pythagoras learned about musical notes. It was said that one day he was walking passed a blacksmith who was hard at work. He heard the sounds from their anvils being hit and thought they were beautiful and harmonious and decided that whatever scientific law caused this to happen must have been from mathematics. He went to the blacksmith and discovered that the hammers were simple ratios of each other as one was half the size of the first and another was 2/3 the size. Although this theory would end up being proven false Pythagoras did discover that musical intervals, which are recognized as concordant, are related by small integer ratios. Prior to this discovery musicians in ancient Greece tuned their lyres by ear until they heard a state of harmony that sounded right, something Plato referred to as “torturing the tuning pegs.”

Pythagoras Quotes:

  • A thought is an idea in transit.
  • As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other.
  • As soon as laws are necessary for men, they are no longer fit for freedom.
  • Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in a few.
  • Silence is better than unmeaning words.
  • The oldest, shortest words – “yes” and “no” – are those which require the most thought.

Pythagoras’ Theorem and the Ancient World:


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