Genius of Pythagoras

Genius of Pythagoras

Ratings: 7.17/10 from 35 users.

Genius of PythagorasThis Documentary describes Pythagoras. It was produced by Cromwell Productions in 1996.

Pythagoras (fl. 530 BCE) must have been one of the world’s greatest men, but he wrote nothing, and it is hard to say how much of the doctrine we know as Pythagorean is due to the founder of the society and how much is later development.

The word Genius perfectly describes Pythagoras; at times his ideas and theories were so radical, they were considered dangerous or subversive by the rulers of their day.

Set against the backdrop of Ancient Greece, this film tells the story of a true genius. Immortalized in the popular imagination by a single mathematical theorem, Pythagoras' place in history was assured.

The story of Pythagoras is one of innovation, change, determination and sheer genius. As an accurate picture of his life emerges, it is clear that there was more to this great man than one single, simple truth - here was a great mathematician, philosopher and political leader.

It is also hard to say how much of what we are told about the life of Pythagoras is trustworthy; for a mass of legend gathered around his name at an early date.

Sometimes he is represented as a man of science, and sometimes as a preacher of mystic doctrines, and we might be tempted to regard one or other of those characters as alone historical.

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15 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Massar

    There is a nice film about Pythagoreanism and rationalist philosophy ‘Balthazar and I’, you can watch it on youtube

  2. Istoan Silviu

    Pythagoras is alive! :)

  3. Matt Shelby

    in addition to aforementioned complaints you would think the people making this would be studied enough in history not to have the actors in a wide range of brightly colored robes...

  4. Platoson

    Good documentary, but disappointing that almost nothing was said of his spiritual teachings and mystic experiences, which are not only legendary but were to influence the cult worship of Dionysis and pagan religions which in turn influenced Christianity.

    In fact, in his own day, Pythagoras was most known not as a scientist or mathematician, but as a great spiritual leader and miracle worker which is how Aristotle remembers him.

    Moreover, its widely unrecognised by most, but Plato who is the most influential philosopher ever (influenced Christianity through Saint Augustine and the Hellenic world which laid the foundations for Western civilisation through Aristotle and later Alexander the Great) a lot to the work of Pythagoras whom he freely borrowed from and was influenced by, but without giving credit to the source of his ideas.

    Plato's own nephew (Speusippus) who later led the Academy, Aristotle and Cicero were later to explain Plato's reliance to Pythagoras which led Bertrand Russell to claim that Pythagoras must be considered the most influential philosopher of all time.

    Still, as I said, a good documentary and thanks for posting.

  5. cezy

    When I studied Pythagoras in school I learnt that he was for keeping the knowledge from common people (the non-initiated) and not spreading it. This documentary seems to suggest the opposite, or am I wrong?

    1. Epicurean_Logic

      You are not wrong. The cult of which Pythagoras was the leader was very strange and secretive. It was organised very much like a modern cult and was structured in the secretive and elitist style of his mentors in the mystery schools of Egypt and Babylon.

      The cult was made up of 3 circles:

      The outer circle were called the akousmatiki or listeners and were forbidden from speaking (Maybe Vlatko should apply this rule to some of the more vociferous commentators here on TDF!). The middle circle were the mathematiki or learners (this is where the modern word mathematician comes from). Finally the inner circle was the man himself and his closest acolytes who were actively engaged in taking the doctrines and knowledge forward.

      Members gave up all their worldly possessions, were vegetarians, believed in reincarnation and women were considered equal to men.

      Pythagoras and his followers brand of knowledge could be described as mysticism. Later Hellenes took the spiritual component out of knowledge and split it into the current division of science and religion.

      Pythagoras was killed by an angry mob in an uprising when the city of Croton was pillaged and burned. It is thought that this was a reaction to the Pythagoreans moral and social elitism. Separatist doctrine that radically differs from the majority viewpoint tend to be frowned upon and even reacted to with hostility.

      So maybe an element of secrecy in his dealings is understandable.

    2. cezy

      thank you! very informative.

  6. Abester420

    I liked it.
    It was only a few hundred years ago we thouht that the world was flat, and this guy was talking about that stuff 500 years before Christ was born?
    This man was a genius

    1. far

      Who is this "we" that thought that the world was flat.
      You really think the Egyptians and Babylonians before him didnt "talk about that stuff".

    2. Icculus574

      The western world has known that Earth was round (and were accurate about its size within a few thousand miles) since the Ancient Greeks. While I'm unsure of the Eastern world, I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case there too.

      If you're thinking of Columbus, it's a common misconception that he had trouble because people thought it was flat. On the contrary, people were hesitant to fund him because they knew the size of the world and understood that he likely wouldn't have enough supplies to make it to India (which he wouldn't have). Thankfully for him, he happened to hit the Americas thus saving his bacon.

  7. ben1101

    Genius if he is the one who brought the knowledge and known wisdom to the western world.
    Please have someone explain to this producer (a) what Indians and Arabs contributed to humanity for maths and geometry and how he usurped this knowledge and )b) how the basic tenets of his philosophy was derived directly from religions existed hundreds of years prior to his birth.

  8. far

    Very annoying documentary. Where is the genius?!?

    You would think that the ancient Egyptians thousands of years before would know something about right angle triangles (see Rhind Papyrus)!

    1. Epicurean_Logic

      The Rhind Papyrus which incidentally was Babylonian (Wrong, it is Egyptian as far correctly noted), contained many very large integer right-angled triples (currently called Pythagorean Triples) It is known that they were aware of at least one of the formulae used to generate a family of such triples. No mean feat considering the archaic and unweildy number system that they used.

      The Genius of Pythagoras was in providing the first known proof of the theorem that famously bears his name.

    2. far

      The Rhind Papyrus is Egyptian... maybe you are confusing it with the Babylonian Plimpton 322... maybe you are also confusing genius with famous...but then thats what a diet of Hollywood does to you ;-)

    3. 0zyxcba1

      Just one example of the importance of Pythagoras' genius is seen in his having posed, for the very first time, a new kind of question the likes of which rivals in impotence even that of fire!

      Yeah, sure, everybody knows that.
      But can you PROVE it?

      With that single question, Pythagoras had flung open the door to true mathematics, a world humanity will explore till the end of time.

      (PS: Naturally, all this applies only to the Western tradition.)