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Pythagoras lived approximately from 582 to 507 BC. He was a Greek mathematician and philosopher, for whom the Pythagorean Theorem is named. Pythagoras was one of the Presocratic Philosophers. He was also an astronomer and a musician.

Historical placement

The first Greek author whose birth and death dates are known is Solon, who lived from 638 BC to 539 BC, so Solon and Pythagoras may have watched one or more of the 51st through the 60th Olympic Games (the First of which beginning in 776 BC) in the same audience.

Pythagoras would have been born on the island of Samos just a few years after the king of Babylon had finally crushed Judea (and began besieging Tyre), a fate from which God, by His wrath at Judea's scorn since sometime during the reign of Solomon in 970-931 BC, refused to spare them (2 Chron. 36:16).

So while to the Greeks Pythagoras lived during the very first phase of its history following their Dark Age after the Homeric and Hesiodic poets and during the Lelantine War, by that point, history by year had already been well-established for centuries in Judea, making Pythagoras subject to the kind of historical analysis today that barely would have existed in Greece at the time.

Pythagoras, though not an Athenian, would have been a young man during Athens' embarrassment of her democratic government having been seized by the tyrant Pisistratus in 560 BC (and twice later; a tyrant, characteristic of the respect for such types of traditions at that time, who nevertheless administered the city according to its laws), a year thought to be a political turning point for Greece to a period of national growth lasting 70 years by 19th-century Greek historian George Grote, during which Pythagoras lived for most of its duration.


Pythagoras believed in the reincarnation of human souls as animals and, consequently, kept a strictly vegetarian diet. Pythagoras sought to reduce music and astronomy to numerical patterns. He believed in a concept of translating musical notes into mathematical equations and vice versa called Pythagorean tuning by use of the ratio 3:2. He also believed that the mathematical motions of the planets in outer space produced a cosmic musical symphony that he called the harmony of the spheres. He was one of the first people to realize that Venus seen as the morning star and Venus seen as the evening star were actually the same planet.

The Pythagorean School was founded by Pythagoras in about 585 B.C. A brief list of Pythagorean contributions includes:[1]

  1. Philosophy.
  2. The study of proportion.
  3. The study of plane and solid geometry.
  4. Number theory.
  5. The theory of proof.
  6. The discovery of incommensurables.
  7. The round Earth.[2] (though this actually originated with Isaiah of Judah[3] 100 years earlier.[4]


  1. The Origins of Greek Mathematics
  3. Isaiah 40:22
  4. The book of Job in chapter 26 verse 10 also describes the Earth as round describing its terminator (line where day and night "meet") as a circle, which would only be true 100 percent of the time on a perfect (or close enough to perfect) sphere. However, the Bible gives almost no clue as to when Job was written.

See also