Pythagoras genious or fraud?

The squared hypothenuse of a right angled triangle is equal to that of its two remaining sides, squared. This is the gist of the famous ‘Pythagorean theorem’. Its simplicity and efficiency makes it one of the most useful theorems in modern math. How much praise can you give our good man Pythagoras for this discovery, though?

There is little reliable information about Pythagoras, since all records of his life were written centuries after his death, but we are fairly sure that he was born on the Greek island of Samos (hence his name, Pythagoras of Samos) and that he founded a school in the Greek colony of Crotone, situated in present day Italy. There is also mention, in several works, of a Pythagorean cult that he supposedly founded . They believed that everything in he world could be linked to math, and that numbers was the ultimate existence. Apparently  Pythagoras wanted all of the cult’s discoveries to be attributed to him. This sparks the question: How much did Pythagoras actually do?
As previously stated, there are few reliable records of Pythagoras’ life. As such, the only source of information available to us regarding the subject are texts written by pursuers of the same profession. The majority of these praise him for his discoveries and supposed genious, but he does receive some criticism, mainly for his odd cult. Apparently the members of the cult followed some very strict rules; all discoveries were to be attributed to the leader, the consumption of certain foods was banned and any heresy was strictly forbidden. The penalty for breaking these rules was death. According to legend, one of his students once discovered that √2 is irrational. This smashed Pythagoras’ perfect world, where everything could be explained with math. The student was sentenced to death by drowning.
Although many agree that Pythagoras was quite wise and educated, as he had studied in Babylon itself, one of the mightiest cities of the era. The fact that he had so many people look up to him probably means he got things done, too. He may or may not have been behind all the discoveries we praise him for, but he certainly wasn’t idle.
Frida, Arvid och Carl



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