Pythagoras is one of the most famous ancient philosophers and mathematicians
he is only known through the work of his disciples.
He was born on the island Samos, and was educated by Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes. Because of his aversion to Polycrates' tyranny, he left the island to settle in Crotoa in South Italy. There, he founded the Pythagoreanismian movement: a society with aims in the fields of religion, politics and philosophy.
Pythagoras is said to have chosen his disciples simply by looking at them. The Pythagoreans had to be silent and obedient, dress simply, eat very little - not meat and not beans, which they thought were relatives to the humans, and subject themselves to self-examination. Also, they were not allowed to wear rings, stir fire with iron or speak of Pyhagorean matters in the dark. When rising from their beds they had to erase any impressions of their bodies on the bed clothes to avert the evil eye. Their symbol was the pentagram with a star in it.
Pythagoras also stated the importance of true friendship: a friend should be ones other self, or better known in Latin: alter ego. The movement very much resembled a mystery cult, or sect, and Pythagoras taught the immortality and transmigration of souls, himself remember-ing all his previous lives, including the one as Euphorbus - a warrior in the Trojan War.
Empedocles, one of Pythagoras' disciples, claimed to remember several previous existences, as well as former lives as a bird, a fish and a bush. The disciple one day committed suicide by jumping into the volcano Etna, sick and tired of the constant reincarnations, but the volcano threw up one of his sandals.
Pythagoras made important contributions to mathematics and geometry by studying numbers and making the so-called Pythagora's theorem: the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the squares of the other two sides. He is said to have started dealing with this theorem when visiting the pyramids as a youth, and when he had worked it out he thanked the gods, sacrificing a hundred oxen. He also observed a mystic symbol that consisted of ten dots in a triangular shape.
One of Pythagoras beliefs was that everything is based on numbers, and that true reality consist of them. He also discovered that the tones in music are relative to the length of the strings. The Pythagorean astro-nomy was also important, since it stated that the earth was round and revolved around a central fire together with the other planets. This movement created a musical harmony that we are so used to that we cannot hear it.
As a person, Pythagoras was reputed to be a very serious man, and according to tradition he was married to Theano. She was so moral, that when she by accident showed her arm and a gentleman remarked it was beautiful, she immediately covered it saying "it is not public".
The couple were said to have had a daughter, Damo, to whom Pythagoras entrusted all his secrets which she took to her grave despite her poverty.
The Pythagoreanists were to become a political factor in South Italy, and in the city Amyclae almost everybody belonged to the movement. Eventually the city is said to have died, since the inhabitants refused to fight snakes. The brotherhood did make war against the city Sybaris, which was well known for its luxurious lifestyle. After defeating it they tore it down, but it was soon rebuilt.