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Pythagoras of Samos is often described as the first pure mathematician He is an extremely important figure in the development of mathematics yet we know relatively little about his mathematical achievements Unlike many later Greek mathematicians where at least we have some of the books which they wrote we have nothing of Pythagorass writings The society which he led half religious and half scientific followed a code of secrecy which certainly means that today Pythagoras is a mysterious figure We do have details of Pythagorass life from early biographies which use important original sources yet are written by authors who attribute divine powers to him and whose aim was to present him as a god-like figure What we present below is an attempt to collect together the most reliable sources to reconstruct an account of Pythagorass life There is fairly good agreement on the main events of his life but most of the dates are disputed with different scholars giving dates which differ by 20 years Some historians treat all this information as merely legends but even if the reader treats it in this way being such an early record it is of historical importance Pythagorass father was Mnesarchus 12 and 13 while his mother was Pythais 8 and she was a native of Samos Mnesarchus was a merchant who came from Tyre and there is a story 12 and 13 that he brought corn to Samos at a time of famine and was granted citizenship of Samos as a mark of gratitude As a child Pythagoras spent his early years in Samos but travelled widely with his father There are accounts of Mnesarchus returning to Tyre with Pythagoras and that he was taught there by the Chaldaeans and the learned men of Syria It seems that he also visited Italy with his father Little is known of Pythagorass childhood All accounts of his physical appearance are likely to be fictitious except the description of
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