Pythagoras (580 a.C.-500 a.C.)
Pythagoras was born on the island of Samos, Greece in 569 BC, and died about 500
BC in Metapontum, Lucania. He traveled extensively in Egypt, learning math,
astronomy and music. Pythagoras was also a healer, a wrestler, and was
Pythagoras left Samos in disgust for its ruler Polycrates. He settled in
Cretona, a Greek colony in southern Italy. There he founded a movement with
religious, political and philosophical goals. To facilitate his movement, he
created a school where his followers lived and worked. He had many devoted
followers who were called Pythagoreans. They had to adhere to certain strict
rules. Obedience, silence, abstinence from food, simplicity in dress and
possessions, and the habit of frequent self examination were required of the
Pythagoreans. They also believed in immortality and transmigration of souls.
Pythagoras did much more than just discover what is now referred to as the
Pythagorean Theorem. Pythagoras and his followers contributed to music,
astronomy and mathematics. Pythagoras believed in secrecy and communalism, so
distinguishing his work from the work of his followers is almost impossible.
When joining Pythagoras's group, you had to remain silent for five years before
you could contribute to the group. Some of their discoveries were right, and
some were proven wrong in time.
Among the many mathematical investigations of the Pythagoreans were the study of
odd, even, prime and square numbers. This helped them develop a basic
understanding of mathematics and geometry to build their Pythagorean theorem.
The Pythagorean theorem states that the square of the hypotenuse of a right
triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Though it
was known to Babylonians 1000 years before, Pythagoras was the first to
decisively prove it.
Pythagoras had a great impact on mathematics, music, and astronomy. His theories
are still used today, in mathematics. Pythagoras is one of the great thinkers of