The famous ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras of Samos was born around 570 BC on the island of Samos. Pythagoras' father Mnesarch was, according to some sources, a merchant, according to others - a stone cutter. Mnesarch was a wealthy man and was respected among his compatriots. In the years of famine, he did charity work, distributing bread to the hungry. There is a legend that even before the birth of Pythagoras, a certain soothsayer told his father that his son would be a famous man and bring people a lot of good.
Since childhood, Pythagoras dreamed of long journeys. He listened with delight to the stories of experienced sailors who arrived on the island of Samos. At the age of 18, Pythagoras left his home and returned back only after many years.
For a long time he lived in Egypt, where he was captured by the Persian ruler Cambyses, who sent a slave to Babylon. It was here that Pythagoras took place as a great thinker. Having lived in Babylon for 12 years, Pythagoras studied mathematics, astronomy, philosophy. At the age of 40, Pythagoras managed to return to his homeland, where the tyrant Polycrates ruled. The philosopher had to leave his native island again and settle in the Greek colony of Croton in southern Italy.
In Crotone, he created his own school, in which children from noble aristocratic families studied. The discipline at school was tough - the students led an ascetic lifestyle, the daily routine was strictly regulated. Those who entered the school took an oath to strive for the knowledge of the truth. The Pythagoreans spoke of their teachers only in an excellent degree.
Pupils of the Pythagorean school became vegetarians. They believed that eating meat was tantamount to cannibalism. It was also impossible to sacrifice animals to the gods. According to another version, only the use of certain types of meat was prohibited.
Little information has been preserved about the Pythagorean family. The documents mention his wife by the name of Theana, daughter of the philosopher Brontin, friend and student of Pythagoras. Moreover, Pythagoras married at a very mature age, he was already about 60 years old. It is also known that they had children, but no reliable information about them has survived.
Pythagoras participated in the Olympic Games and even became a champion. True, there is a lot of confusion here. Some historians claim that the philosopher won competitions in fist fighting, while others are sure that in pankration, a single combat that combines the techniques of wrestling and fist fighting. But the historian Plutarch mentioned Pythagoras as the winner in the tournament of runners. True, Plutarch lived six centuries after Pythagoras.
One of the students of Pythagoras, Milon of Crotons, was a six-time Olympic champion in wrestling. There is a legend that a pillar collapsed at a school in Croton. The mighty Milo kept the roof on his shoulders until all the students left the hall. It is assumed that Milo's wife could be the daughter of Pythagoras.
Pythagoras never sought to make his philosophical knowledge available to everyone. He believed that this teaching should be limited to a narrow circle of selected students. Disclosure of information to the "uninitiated" was strictly prohibited. Some ancient authors mention a large number of books written by Pythagoras. But, none of his works has survived to this day. Perhaps he simply did not write them, but transmitted knowledge orally.
The "Pythagorean theorem" is also known to modern schoolchildren. But its authorship is disputed. A number of historians suggest that Pythagoras himself did not prove this theorem, he only passed on to the Greeks the knowledge that was known in Babylon long before him. But, so far no one has been able to present weighty evidence of such "plagiarism".
The religious and philosophical organization of Pythagoras, called the "Pythagorean Union", consisted of representatives of the nobility. Of his students, Pythagoras strove to make an aristocracy, from which the best statesmen would emerge. But, this did not always correspond to the democratic spirit of most Greek city-states. The popular revolt forced Pythagoras to flee first to Tarentum, then to Metapont.
Information about the last days of the life and death of Pythagoras is also contradictory. There is a version that a revolt against Pythagoras broke out in Metapont. An elderly philosopher, who was then already more than 80 years old, dies, and his school falls apart. At least, the philosopher of the 3rd-4th centuries thought so. AD Porphyry. But not everyone agrees with him. Some ancient authors are sure that Pythagoras deliberately passed away, starving himself to death. It happened around 490 BC.
By the way, the date of birth of Pythagoras is also considered conditional. According to the information of ancient Greek authors, Pythagoras left the island of Samos, fleeing the tyranny of Polycrates, in 531 BC at the age of 40. Thus, the approximate date of birth of the philosopher is considered to be 570 BC.