Measuring Heaven: Pythagoras and His Influence on Thought and Art in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

By Gavaler, Chris | The Virginia Quarterly Review, Fall 2006 | Go to article overview

Measuring Heaven: Pythagoras and His Influence on Thought and Art in Antiquity and the Middle Ages


Gavaler, Chris, The Virginia Quarterly Review


Measuring Heaven: Pythagoras and His Influence on Thought and Art in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Christlane L. Joost-Gaugier. Cornell, January 2006. $45

Though best known today for a geometry theorem named in his honor, the Pythagoras of independent scholar Joost-Gaugiers' study is arguably the most influential figure in all of human history. As the original Greek "philosopher" (he coined the term), his likely champions and proteges include a who's who of antiquity and early Christianity, including Sappho, Plato, Arisotle, Cicero, Ovid, Philo, Seneca, Emperor Julian, Emperor Hadrian, Eusebius, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine. His areas of influence span all of the "liberal arts" (a Neopythagorean term), but his greatest contributions may be religious. Remembered as a virgin-born, miracle-working son of God born well over five hundred years before Jesus, Pythagoras is credited for first articulating the concepts of Monotheism, the soul, and reincarnation, as well as for promoting and modeling a lifestyle of ideal virtue and austerity. Joost-Gaugier credits this diversity of belief for preserving Pythagoras' reputation well into the Middle Ages, where his biographies continued to be copied in monasteries and Pythagorean numerical and cosmological symbolism reproduced in Gothic cathedrals. …

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