Who is Pythagoras?

Born: about 569 BC in Samos, Ionia

Died: about 475 BC

Pythagoras is often described as the first pure mathematician.  He was born to Mnesarchus and Pythais.  He was one of either three or four children, there is proof for both of these accounts.  During Pythagoras's early life, he traveled all over the world with his father.  At a very early age, Pythagoras learned to play the lyre and recite Homer.  Pythagoras also wrote poetry at a very early age.  Pythagoras got his education from three philosophers, the most important mathematically being Anaximander.  Pythagoras meet Anaximander, through Anaximander's good friend Thales, in Egypt at around the age of thirty. 

Around 515 BC Pythagoras went on a journey to Croton, where he established a philosophical and religious school.  Pythagoras was the head of the inner circle of the society, his inside followers were called mathematikoi.  The mathematikoi had to follow very strict laws that Pythagoras believed.  The five things that Pythagoras believed very deeply were 1)that at its deepest level, reality is mathematical in nature, 2)that philosophy can be used for spiritual purification, 3)that the soul can rise to union with the divine, 4)that certain symbols have a mystical significance, and 5)that all brothers of the order should observe strict loyalty and secrecy.  Both men and women were allowed to join the society.  

Pythagoras was not acting as a modern research group at a major university.  Pythagoras and his society they studied mathematics, the principles of mathematics, the concept of numbers, the concept of the triangle and other mathematical figures, and also the abstract idea of proofs. 

All this information came from the Full MacTutor Biography.