Pythagoras of Samos is Born

Pythagoras of Samos (Greek: Ὁ Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος, O Pūthagoras o Samios, "Pythagoras the Samian", or simply Ὁ Πυθαγόρας; c. 570-c. 495 BC) was an Ionian Greek philosopher and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism.

Most of our information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, thus very little reliable information is known about him. He was born on the island of Samos, and may have travelled widely in his youth, visiting Egypt and other places seeking knowledge. Around 530 BC, he moved to Croton, a Greek colony in southern Italy, and there set up a religious sect. His followers pursued the religious rites and practices developed by Pythagoras, and studied his philosophical theories. The society took an active role in the politics of Croton, but this eventually led to their downfall. The Pythagorean meeting-places were burned, and Pythagoras was forced to flee the city. He is said by some to have ended his days in Metapontum.

For the reasons given in 1. The Pythagorean Question and 2. Sources above, the following account of Pythagoras' philosophy is based in the first place on the evidence prior to Aristotle and in the second place on evidence that our sources explicitly identify as deriving from Aristotle's books on the Pythagoreans as well as from the books of his pupils such as Aristoxenus and Dicaearchus. One of the manifestations of the attempt to glorify Pythagoras in the later tradition is the report that he, in fact, invented the word philosophy. This story goes back to the early Academy, since it is first found in Heraclides of Pontus (Cicero, Tusc. V 3.8; Diogenes Laertius, Proem). The story depends on a conception of a philosopher as having no knowledge but being situated between ignorance and knowledge and striving for knowledge. Such a conception is thoroughly Platonic, however, (see, e.g., Symposium 204A) and Burkert demonstrated that it could not belong to the historical Pythagoras (1960). For a recent attempt to defend at least the partial accuracy of the story, see Riedweg 2005: 90–97 and the response by Huffman 2008a:207–208.