One of the most celebrated of the Grecian philosophers, and the founder of what has been called the Italic School, was born at Samos in the period of 586-69 B.C., the year 582 being favored as the probable one of his birth. Educated as an athlete, he subsequently abandoned that profession and devoted himself to the study of philosophy. He traveled through Egypt, Chaldea, and Asia Minor, and is said to have submitted to the initiations in those countries for the purpose of acquiring knowledge.
On his return to Europe, he established his celebrated school at Crotona, a Dorian Colony in the south of Italy, about 529 B.C., much resembling that subsequently adopted by the Freemasons. His school soon acquired such a reputation that disciples flocked to him from all parts of Greece and Italy. Pythagoras taught as the principal dogma of his philosophy the system of metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls. He taught the mystical power of numbers, and much of the symbolism on that subject which we now passes is derived from what has been left to us by his disciples, for of his own writings there is nothing extant. He was also a geometrician, and is regarded as having been the inventor of several problems, the most important of which is that now known as the forty-seventh problem of Euclid. He was also a proficient in music, and is said to have demonstrated the mathematical relations of musical intervals, and to have invented a number of musical instruments.
Disdaining the vanity and dogmatism of the ancient sages, he contented himself with proclaiming that he was simply a seeker after knowledge, not its possessor, and to him is attributed the introduction of the word philosopher, or lover of wisdom, as the only title which he would assume. After the lawless destruction of his school at Crotona, he fled to the Locrians, who refused to receive him, when he repaired to Metapontum, and sought an asylum from his enemies in the temple of the Muses, where tradition says that he died of starvation at near the end of the sixth or the beginning of the fifth century. Some claim the date to be 506 B.C., when he was about seventy-six years old.
- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry