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Who is Pythagoras of Samos?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Pythagoras of Samos was an early philosopher and mathematician who lived between 570 and 480 BC. Many of Pythagoras' mathematical insights and discoveries influenced modern mathematics such as the Pythagoras Theorem.

The Pythagorean Theorem holds that the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. Some historians believe that Pythagoras' Theorem was information known by the Egyptians and Babylonians even before Pythagoras of Samos was credited with creating it. Pythagoras did develop many theories, however, encompassing many different subjects such as religion and music. All of his theories involved numbers in some way.

Pythagoras' theory of music states that the time in between musical notes can be expressed as ratios between the numbers, or integers, one to four. Pythagoras believed that both music and numbers are powerful to the soul. That belief formed the basis of his religious convictions and teachings.

Pythagoras of Samos founded a school that taught what would later be advanced by Nostradamus as numerology. Pythagoras believed that numbers express reality. Just as he discovered that music could be explained with numbers, he thought that the nature of the entire universe could be explained by number theory.

Zeno of Elea and Parmenides of Elea, two other early thinkers who would later influence Aristotle's work in logical reasoning, both disagreed with some of Pythagoras' number theories. They asserted that some of Pythagoras' work contradicted itself. Pythagoras himself soon realized that Zeno and Parmenides were correct as he found the ratio of the diagonal through a square to its sides could not be expressed as a whole number as Pythagoras had thought.

The concept of irrational numbers was born, ironically due to Pythagorus' work with rational numbers. The use of irrational numbers helped correct Phythagoras' earlier calculations which became known as "the incommensurability of the diagonal." Irrational numbers have proven an important concept to the future of modern mathematics.

Pythagorus' Greek island homeland of Samos still exists today and is a popular tourist area. Most of the ancient architecture has been destroyed in Samos, however, to create resort areas. Samos was once known for its wealthy inhabitants. In ancient times, Samos had a road paved with marble that featured 2,000 statues and an elaborate temple. Concrete now covers the marble road.

Pythagorus' Greek Island homeland of Samos still exists today and is a popular tourist area. Most of the ancient architecture has been destroyed in Samos, however, to create resort areas. Samos was once known for its wealthy inhabitants. In ancient times, Samos had a road paved with marble that featured 2,000 statues and an elaborate temple. Concrete now covers the marble road today.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Terrificli — On Apr 09, 2014

@Vincenzo -- it's simple, really. Both believed the universe could be explained through numbers. Pythagoras is most known for his famed theorum, but he did a heck of a lot more that that. He even started a religion which was dominated by mathematics -- the right formula could explain anything, see?

Nostradamas was similar in his approach. He didn't see himself as a prophet or necessarily a seer, but subscribed to the notion that one could predict the future based on what had happened in the past. Those theories involved how the planets lined up and the application of a lot of math.

The two regarded themselves as scientists and philosophers and both relied heavily on math.

It does seem odd to say that Pythagoras was a forerunner of Nostradamas, but that is how things worked out in hindsight.

By Vincenzo — On Apr 08, 2014

Just curious -- how does one get from Pythagoras to Nostradamas? Nostradamas was known as a seer who made a lot of predictions about the future that people claim are still coming true, whereas Pythagoras is a giant in the world of geometry (thanks to the theorum mentioned in this article).

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