Saturday, 25 June 2016

Pythagoras: Summary Of The Mystical Life Of A Mysterious Genius (That Had A Lot Less To Do With Mathematics Than You Think)

Acropolis, Athens, Greece, Antique, Old, Vintage

If, just like me, you remember learning about Pythagoras' theorem for right-angled triangles in high school, you might think there is not much more to say about a long-dead mathematician. But once again, this is proof that what we learn in school is most often than not only a tiny fraction of all there is to know about a subject, and many very important topics are usually not even studied. I don't think you have heard of Nikola Tesla in school either, and this is a very disturbing proof that something is wrong with what we are being taught. You will most probably have your mind blown after discovering in this article that Pythagoras was said to be, after a pionneer of mathematics, a philosopher, metaphysician, astrologer, astronomer, musician, oracle, and creator of one of the most influencal brotherhoods in history.

The main thing to remember throughout this summary of this mysterious genius' life is that there is very little direct documentation of Pythagoras' writings and life. All the knowledge we have of what he did was written many many years after his death by philosophers whom he influenced and people who claimed to have known him. There are also many different versions of his story, depending on the source you consult. This text is a summary of the 'average story' of this incredible man whose knowledge was so great that he was even said to be some sort of God or divinity by admirers and legends.

Early Life

It is hard to find an exact date for Pythagoras' birth, but the most commonly agreed upon would be 570 BC. He was supposedly born in Samos, a Greek island. His father, Mnesarchus, was either a gem-crafter or merchant, while little to no information about his mother is available. It is said that while Pythagoras' mother was pregnant with him, the Pythia (or Oracle of Delphi) came to her and prophesied that she would give birth to a man supremely beautiful, wise, and beneficial to mankind. This explains the meaning of Pythagoras, which relates to agor, the one who speaks, and Pyth; like the Pythian. 


Map, Atlas, Geography, Earth, Travel, World, Global

Pythagoras would have left Samos to go on a knowledge-seeking journey around the world in 530 BC, at the age of 40. He is believed to have perfected his knowledge mainly in Egypt, Arabia, Phoenicia, Judaea, Babylon, Greece and India. It is believed that he spent some years in Egypt being taught geometry by Egyptian priests, among who was Oenuphis of Heliopolis. Some legends even say Hermes (Egyptian god Thoth) himself was his teacher at some point. Phoenicians would have taught him arithmetics, Chaldeans astronomy, Magians religion, and a Delphic priestess, Themistoclea, taught him the principles of ethics.

Life in Croton

After acquiring all the knowledge and experience he was looking for, Pythagoras settled in Croton, Italy. I did not take long after his arrival for him to become very admired and he quickly attained an extensive influence as many people began following him. Many documents tell stories of how Pythagoras convinced masses of admirers in Croton to abandon their luxurious and corrupt ways of living to follow a purer system which he introduced them to. His disciples then established a select brotherhood for the purpose of deepening their study of their master's teachings. The brotherhood's activities quickly became very secretial and mysterious. The organisation of the group was very complex, and the new members would have to go through an extensive testing period where they were evaluated on their capacities of maintaining silence, their general temper, disposition and mental abilities. Pythagoras' teachings of mathematics, philosophy and religion were given to two different groups or rankings among his followers. The former was called the mathematikoi (learners) and the latter akousmatikoi (listeners). The learners would study extensively the theories and teachings of their master, while the listeners would be introduced to the more general picture of the subjects. The Pythagoreans, as they were called at the peak of their fame, had a very close relationship to each other and to the brotherhood. It is said that they would have meals together, and have a daily routine of physical exercise and musical activities. Also, the discoveries made by the Pythagoreans were all attributed to Pythagoras in late texts, which explains why so many theories are related to him in modern mathematics and philosophy. The group's glory eventually started attracting lots of hostility and jealousy from the people of Croton. and this led to the destruction of the Pythagorean order. buildings used for secret meetings were burnt down, killing the oldest and less healthy members, and those who couldn't escape in time. There are a few theories regarding the cause of Pythagoras' death. Some say that he perished in his temple with his disciples, others say that he escaped in Tarentum, Italy, before eventually starving to death.

Other Facts About Pythagoras

Ecclesiastical, Church, Priestly, Religious, Spiritual

  • He believed in reincarnation and transmigration of souls in different bodies such as animals, plants or any living organism. This explains why many texts state that meat was not allowed among Pythagoreans and they lived on a plant-based diet. However, some other texts dismiss this hypothesis.
  • He claimed that he could remember his past lives, and also those of people around him. There is a story according to which he once heard a dog barking as he was getting beaten. Pythagoras recognised the voice of a deceased friend in its bark and came to the dog's rescue. He said that this dog had been Euphorbus, from the Trojan War, as well as a tradesman, courtesan, and more.
  • He was said to have practised divination and prophecy.
  • He supposedly married a woman named Theano, and together they had one son, Telauges, and three daughters, Damo, Arignote, and Myia.
  • The lack of written evidence suggests that his teachings in the Pythagorean brotherhood were mainly oral.
  • He greatly influenced the philosopher Plato's writings.
  • He is also known for his study of what he called musica universalis, One day he heard the harmony of the sounds produced by a blacksmith hammering pieces of metal, and he decided to research the scientific and mathematical laws of musical harmony. He could possibly have also discovered the properties of string length.
  • He also said that he found a mathematical equation explaining the movements of planets in the universe, which correspond to musical notes, thus producing a symphony.
  • Aristotle and others said that he could travel through time and space, and that he could communicate with plants and animals.
  • Some say that he was the discoverer of the famous Golden Ratio.
  • An extract from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says: 'Pythagoras is said to have had a golden thigh, which he showed to Abaris, the Hyperborean priest, and exhibited in the Olympic games.'
  • Pythagoreanism would be the origin of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry.

Surely Pythagoras was a very mysterious character with much, much greater knowledge than he is given credit for in our school books. Once again we have proof that there are some things we must research ourselves if we want to pierce the secret of ancient knowledge and find the truth about our existence.

Did you like this article? Did it help expanding your mind to the universe we live in? If so, leave a comment and tell us what you think!

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