Pythagoras of Samos




Pythagoras (c. 580-500 BC) is one of the most important and enigmatic Presocratic figures. He was born in Samos and traveled for many years in Egypt and the Orient. Due to Samosí tyrannical rule, Pythagoras migrated to southern Italy about 532 BC and established the Thiasos, a religious and philosophical academy-brotherhood at Croton with ethical and political aims.

Pythagoras was influenced by oriental thought and especially oriental mysticism. He wrote nothing but most of his radical thinking survived in the writings of his students Philolaus, Archytas and Alcmaeon. Pythagorasí ideas was also influential in Plato and later Platonism. Important stories about his life and activities, but dubious most of them, are presented in the Neoplatonic biographies of Porphyry and Iamblichus.


Pythagoras was a great mathematician. He seems to discover (1) the incommensurability of the side and diagonal of a square, and (2) the Pythagorean theorem for right triangles. On this basis, for Pythagoras cosmos is ordered according to hidden mathematical relations. The power of number has a functional significance, both ontological and cosmological, in the objective world. Number is the wisest and eternal principle in the natural world. It can be observed in the harmony of the world and the musical harmony of the heavenly spheres. Music is the best manifestation of the mathematical cosmos


For Testimonies about Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans
See Arthur Fairbanks translations at




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Giannis Stamatellos