Pythagoras (c570 - c480 BC)


So who was this guy Pythagoras? A good question, as his life is shrouded in a certain amount of mystery as befits anyone who starts up a secret society. As far as we know he was born into a well off family around 570 BC and lived on the Island of Samos (close to modern Turkey). He was well educated and well travelled. Around 547 BC, when he was about 23 years old, he travelled to Egypt. He stayed in Egypt for 20 years or so studying with the wise men and was initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries. His studies would have included such subjects as astronomy and geometry. When Cambyses invaded Egypt, (525 BC), Pythagoras was made a prisoner and sent to Babylon. Here he continued his studies in maths and science. From there some say he travelled as far as India, before eventually returning to Samos at the age of 56.
He quickly became disillusioned with life in Samos and moved to Italy in about 518BC, where he set up a secret society devoted to Religion and Philosophy. They attempted to find mathematical explanations to life, the universe and everything as Pythagoras believed that all relations could be reduced to numbers.
Here the records are hazy towards the end of his life. Some say he was killed by a revolt by a jealous nobleman others that he was exiled and died an old man or was even murdered.
Whatever the truth, he was no doubt a charismatic man of great learning. Pythagoras and his group of devotees came up with some astonishing new ideas for the time, such as the mathematical relationships in music and they also noted that the bright morning and evening stars were in fact the same planet Venus.
In regard to the Theorem that bears his name, the properties of the right angle triangle were probably well known to scholars well before Pythagoras time, but it is thought he or his group of disciples were able to prove that it was true in all cases.


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