Pythagoras - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Religion

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Pythagoras

PYTHAGORAS. The ancient tradition presents different images of Pythagoras (c. 570 BCE–c. 500 BCE) that hardly square with one another: philosopher and initiator of rational inquiry, scientist and mathematician, politician and lawgiver, and religious wonderworker and leader of a sect of initiates. Surely he was an extraordinary personality and a charismatic chief, venerated by his followers and desecrated by his opponents. Soon he became a legend, whose historical nucleus is difficult to ascertain. The very nature of the association he founded is consequently controversial: it is mainly described as a philosophical school where scientific inquiries were practiced, as a political party, or as a religious confra-ternity.

The main sources on Pythagoras, while plentiful, are late and rarely impartial; for the most part they are cast in the distorting light of hostile polemic or religious veneration. Whether Pythagoras left any writing was in ancient times already controversial and is...

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This section contains 2,864 words
(approx. 10 pages at 300 words per page)
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Pythagoras from Encyclopedia of Religion. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.