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(island of Samos, current Greece, h. 572 BC.-Metaponto, today disappeared, current Italy, h. 497 BC) Greek mathematician and philosopher. Little news of the biography of Pythagoras that can be considered reliable, since their status as founder of a religious sect led the early emergence of a legendary tradition in lathe have their person.
It seems certain that Pythagoras was son of Mnesarco and that the first part of his life was spent in Samos, the island that probably left a few years before the execution of the tyrant Polycrates, in 522 BC It is possible to then travel to Miletus, to visit then Phoenicia and Egypt; in this last country, birthplace of esoteric knowledge, is credited with having studied the mysteries, as well as geometry and astronomy.
Some sources say that Pythagoras then marched to Babylon with Cambyses, to learn arithmetic and musical knowledge of the priests there. One also speaks of trips to Delos, Crete, and Greece before, in order to establish, its famous school in Croton, which enjoyed considerable popularity and power.
The community led by Pythagoras finished, plausibly, to become an aristocratic political force which aroused the hostility of the Democratic Party, which resulted in a revolt that forced Pythagoras to spend the last years of his life in Metaponto.
The Pythagorean community was probably surrounded by mystery; It seems that the disciples had to wait several years before being presented to the teacher and always keep strict secrecy about the received teachings. Women could be part of the brotherhood; the most famous of its attached was Theano, wife perhaps of the own Pythagoras and mother of a daughter and two sons of the philosopher.
The pythagoreanism was a style of life, inspired by an ideal ascetic and based in the community of goods, whose main objective was the purification ritual (catharsis) of its members through the cultivation of knowledge in which the music and mathematics played a major role. The path of this knowledge was the philosophy, a term which, according to tradition, Pythagoras was the first to employ in its literal sense of "love of wisdom".
Also attributed to Pythagoras have transformed mathematics in liberal education through the abstract formulation of its results, regardless of the material context in which were already known some of them; This is, in particular, the case of the famous theorem that bears his name and which establishes the relationship between the sides of a right triangle, a relationship whose practical application there are testimonies from other Greek civilizations.
The effort to increase the generality of a mathematical theorem from its compliance in individual cases exemplified the Pythagorean method for purification and perfection of the soul, which he taught to the world as harmony; under this, the universe was a cosmos, i.e. a set ordered on that celestial bodies were a harmonic provision making that their distances were together in proportions similar to those in the musical octave intervals. In a sensitive way, harmony was musical; but his intelligible nature was of numeric type, and if all was harmony, the number turned out to be the key to everything.
The unified will of the Pythagorean doctrine was reflected in the relationship established between the cosmic order and morality; for the Pythagoreans, the man was also a true microcosm in which the soul appeared as the harmony of the body. In this sense, they understood that medicine had the function to restore the harmony of the individual when this would be disturbed, and, being the music instrument par excellence for the purification of the soul, considered, therefore, as a medicine for the body. Holiness preached by Pythagoras meant a range of hygienic standards based on taboos such as the prohibition of eating animals, which seems to have been directly related to the belief in the transmigration of souls; It is said that the own Pythagoras claimed to be the son of Hermes, and that his disciples regarded it as an incarnation of Apollo.