Pythagoras (c. 570 - c. 495 BC), arguably the most influential thinker among the Presocratics, emerges in ancient tradition as a wise teacher, an outstanding mathematician, an influential politician, and as a religious and ethical reformer. He claimed to possess supernatural powers and was the kind of personality who attracted legends. In contrast to his controversial and elusive nature, the early Pythagoreans, such as the doctors Democedes and Alcmaeon, the Olympicvictors Milon and Iccus, the botanist Menestor, the natural philosopher Hippon, and the mathematicians Hippasus and Theodorus, all appear in our sources as 'rational' as they can possibly be. It was this 'normality' that ensured the continued existence of Pythagoreanism as a philosophical andscientific school till c. 350 BC. This volume offers a comprehensive study of Pythagoras and the early Pythagoreans through an analysis of the many representations of the Teacher and his followers, allowing the representations to complement and critique each other. Relying predominantly on sources dating back to before 300 BC, Zhmud portrays a more historical picture of Pythagoras, of the society founded by him, and of its religion than is known from the late antique biographies. In chapters devoted to mathematical and naturalsciences cultivated by the Pythagoreans and to their philosophies, a critical distinction is made between the theories of individual figures and a generalized 'all-Pythagorean teaching', which is known from Aristotle.
- Publication Date:
- 31 / 05 / 2012