580-489 BC

Pythagoras was a Greek mathematician, mystic, and scientist who made important and influential contributions to philosophy, mathematics, and religious teaching. He is best known for the Pythagorean theorem, showing how one can compute the length of a third side of a right-angled triangle from lengths of the other two sides.

Pythagoras forwarded a theory of four basic elements that guided Greek, Roman, and medieval thinking for years. His theory was that everything on earth was made up of the four elements of water, earth, air and fire. These elements also made up the human body. He saw these substances as interchangeable and mixed. For example, fire could be compressed into air, earth could be expanded into water.

Writings about Pythagoras, his life, and his contributions

de Vogel, C. J. (1966). Pythagoras and Early Pythagoreanism

Gorman, P. (1979). Pythagoras, a life (1979).

O'Meara, D. J. (1990). Pythagoras revived : Mathematics and philosophy in late antiquity (New York, 1990).