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date: 05 December 2023

Pythagoras (1), Pythagoreanismlocked

Pythagoras (1), Pythagoreanismlocked

  • Charles H. Kahn
  •  and Fritz Graf


Pythagoras, son of Mnesarchus, one of the most mysterious and influential figures in Greek intellectual history, was born in *Samos in the mid-6th cent. bce and migrated to *Croton in c.530 bce. There he founded the sect or society that bore his name, and that seems to have played an important role in the political life of *Magna Graecia for several generations. Pythagoras himself is said to have died as a refugee in Metapontum. Pythagorean political influence is attested well into the 4th cent., with *Archytas of Tarentum.

The name of Pythagoras is connected with two parallel traditions, one religious and one scientific. On the religious aspects, see below. Pythagoras seems to have become a legendary figure in his own lifetime and was identified by some with the *Hyperborean*Apollo. His supernatural status was confirmed by a golden thigh, the gift of bilocation, and the capacity to recall his previous incarnations. Classical authors imagine him studying in Egypt; in the later tradition he gains universal wisdom by travels in the east. Pythagoras becomes the pattern of the ‘divine man’: at once a sage, a seer, a teacher, and a benefactor of the human race.


  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Philosophy

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