When today we conjure up the name of Pythagoras (ca. 570–495 B.C.), most of us suppose his fame to rest on the discovery of a mathematical theory about right-angled triangles that we remember being taught in school. Perhaps we also recall being told that he was the first person to make the connection between number and musical harmony. As with so much that one learned in school, neither of these statements is true. Both observations were made by the Babylonians many hundreds of years before Pythagoras. The Chinese may have demonstrated a proof of the first as long ago as the eighth century B.C.

In his wise, wide-ranging, and exceptionally well-produced book on Pythagoras, When the Dog Speaks, the Philosopher Listens, Nigel...


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