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Pythagoras is often referred to as the first pure mathematician. He was born on the island of Samos, Greece in 569 BC. Various writings place his death between 500 BC and 475 BC in Metapontum, Lucania, Italy. His father, Mnesarchus, was a gem merchant. His mother’s name was Pythais. Pythagoras had two or three brothers.

Some historians say that Pythagoras was married to a woman named Theano and had a daughter Damo, and a son named Telauges, who succeeded Pythagoras as a teacher and possibly taught Empedocles. Others say that Theano was one of his students, not his wife, and say that Pythagoras never married and had no children.

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Pythagoras was well educated, and he played the lyre throughout his lifetime, knew poetry and recited Homer. He was interested in mathematics, philosophy, astronomy and music, and was greatly influenced by Pherekydes (philosophy), Thales (mathematics and astronomy) and Anaximander (philosophy, geometry).

Pythagoras left Samos for Egypt in about 535 B.C. to study with the priests in the temples. Many of the practices of the society he created later in Italy can be traced to the beliefs of Egyptian priests, such as the codes of secrecy, striving for purity, and refusal to eat beans or to wear animal skins as clothing.

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