Today, the Pythagorean Theorem is a mathematical idea studied in classrooms all over the world. It was developed hundreds of years ago by Pythagoras, a Greek man, who was not only a mathematician, but a philosopher, a scientist, and a religious leader as well. In his lifetime, Pythagoras discovered and developed many new ways of thinking, and his teachings attracted followers from all over the ancient world. Pythagoras was a brilliant thinker who made many revolutionary discoveries in math and science. His ideas spread all throughout the ancient world and had a lasting impact on the people of the ancient world as well as people today.
Behind every brilliant thinker is an excellent education. Pythagoras was born around 570 BCE on the island of Samos in Greece. His father, Mnesarchus, was a merchant, and he brought Pythagoras along with him on many of his journeys around the Mediterranean. These travels exposed Pythagoras to extensive knowledge and new ideas from countless different places. During the time of Pythagoras, Samos was one of the most powerful Greek islands, and its people experienced a time of great prosperity and achievement. Trade with other Greek cities as well as Egypt contributed to economic growth and inspired interest in math and astronomy. As a boy, Pythagoras was taught by many wise thinkers, and learned about numerous subjects, such as math and music. Pythagoras also studied under the Magi in the city of Babylon, where he was educated about magic, math, and astronomy. Through his thorough education, Pythagoras developed his own set of ideas, as well as making new discoveries. Later in his life, Pythagoras traveled to Crotona, a city in the South of Italy colonized by Greece, where he began to share his teachings with other people. The background and education of Pythagoras allowed him to become the wise philosopher he was, and contributed to his lasting impact on the world.
Pythagoras came up with many different ideas that had a vast effect on the people of the ancient world. When he settled in Crotona, Pythagoras established a secret society of men and women who agreed with his ideas. They lived together under Pythagoras’ strict rules concerning how to live one’s life, and took and oath of secrecy and loyalty to Pythagoras. Pythagoras promoted the idea of metempsychosis, or the concept that the soul continues to be reborn in different bodies until it is able to achieve release from the cycle. He taught that the actions in one’s previous life would affect what one would be reincarnated as. Pythagoras created guidelines for people’s daily life regarding how to live virtuously, and instructing people to avoid certain behaviors that would taint the soul.
Pythagoras’ many supporters in the city of Crotona allowed him to take over the governing of the city of Crotona, where he set up a system of weights and measures and introduced a uniform coinage. When a noble named Cylon tried to force his way into Pythagoras’ society and threatened to destroy it, Pythagoras fled to Metapontum, Italy, where he eventually died around 490 BCE. After Pythagoras died, his followers regained control of Crotona, and they wrote down the teachings of Pythagoras. These teachings influenced the ideas of philosophers such as Plato and Aristoxenus for years to come. The philosophy of Pythagoras most definitely influenced the people of the ancient world.
In addition to his philosophical and religious teachings, Pythagoras made many discoveries that changed the way people thought about math and science. The main belief of Pythagoras was that numbers control everything and that math accounts for all areas of life. Pythagoras was the first person to realize that numbers could stand on their own, rather than representing other things. Before this discovery, numbers were only associated with, for example, the amount of land someone had or how many horses someone was selling. This breakthrough was revolutionary in the world of math and science; mathematics could be expanded further than ever before, and applied in ways that were previously impossible. One way this new idea was applied was in the famous Pythagorean Theorem- the notion that the square of a right triangle’s hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the two other sides.
This theorem is still used and taught today. Pythagoras also further related numbers to music. He realized that music could be written in mathematical terms, and established that the difference in length between two strings on an instrument determined the difference in sound the two strings gave off. Pythagoras also applied mathematics to astronomy. He believed that the solar system was heliocentric, or that the Sun is at the center of the planets that revolve around it. This concept, though expanded upon over the years, is still accepted today. Pythagoras also believed that each planet circling the sun made its own sound determined by its distance from the sun, linking back to music and math. Undoubtedly, Pythagoras’ ideas about mathematics led to many discoveries of his own and also paved the way for more advances in the future.
Evidently, Pythagoras was a great philosopher whose ideas positively impacted society. His ideas, developed from his many travels and extensive education, influenced the people of the ancient world and many philosophers that came after him. Pythagoras’ revolutionary notions about mathematics allowed for many of his own great discoveries, and allowed for further developments in the future. Pythagoras’ ideas guided the people of the ancient world as well as people today.