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Pythagoras' birth

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    Posted: 09 Jun 2020 at 07:43
Pythagoras was born in Tyre, according to stories, it is very interesting because his father, Mnesarchus, was from Samos.  Mnesarchus went to the Delphic Oracle and the Delphic Oracle (which said whatever they want in response to your question) said, congratulations! your wife is going to give birth to a son!

Now if Mnesarchus' wife was back home in Samos, then why would he take her to Tyre?  In fact, if she was there with him, why would he not take her home for the pregnancy, so she could be at home for the birth?

I think that the oracle's congratulations was doubly a surprise, not only did he not know that he was going to have a son, he also did not know he was married.

But, one does not argue with the oracle, in acknowledgment of the Delphic Oracle's blessing.  He renamed his wife (whose name was Parthenis) to Pythais, after the Delphic oracle, and his son was to be named Pythagoras.

Parthenis is a name for girls who have got in the family way, but no body knows who the father is.  Athena Parthenos is the virgin goddess.  Parthegenic birth does not happen in humans, but it can happen in snakes.  It is a nicer way to say that the girl got herself in trouble.  Re-naming her was a way of showing that he acknowledged her as his wife, and her son as his.  Pythagoras had (later?) two brothers, Tyrhennus and Eunomus.

I think that Mnesarchus went to Tyre with his (new) wife, because it would be suspicious to show up in Samos after, say, a month, with a wife six months pregnant.

Of course, I don't know whether this is what happened, but this is what I get for "reading between the lines" of Iamblichus, On the Pythagorean Life."  Read it, and decide for yourself.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2020 at 14:55
Kind of reads like the story of Mary and Joseph.
Are there specific reasons why Mnesarchus marries Parthenis?
Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2020 at 05:13
Because the oracle said she was his wife, and who is he to argue with the oracle?  Bad things can happen if you don't follow the oracle appropriately.  Not that you should follow the oracle because bad things can happen otherwise, you follow the oracle because the oracle knows you better than you do.

My brother in High School used to go alpine skiing with a guy named Kevin Coleman.  One day (not with my brother) Kevin Coleman hit a tree skiing (he was skiing, not the tree), and was killed.  At his eulogy, his parents told that he was adopted.  They were on vacation, and visiting a church service.  The minister held up a baby boy and asked if there was anyone who would take this baby and raise it.  They took up the call.  That is how they adopted him.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2020 at 05:18
Or maybe he married her because she was a meek little girl who had got herself in trouble and kicked out of the house, with nowhere else to turn to but the temple, and they turned to him.

There is a saying in Pythagoreanism, basically, "do not help someone put down a burden, but help someone pick up a burden."  Kinda reminds me of Jordan Peterson.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2020 at 18:25
Ah, the oracle said it so it's truuuue. For some reason you are sounding like Lenny Bruce tonightSmile

And the adoption story is a beautiful thing
Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2020 at 03:25
Yes, you understand, it is true, but you have to figure out how it is true.  The Lydian King tested all the oracles, and decided Delphi was legit, so he sent an envoy with the question, "if I attack my neighbor will I be victorious."  The oracle responded, "if you attack, a great kingdom will fall."  He attacked, a great kingdom fell.  His own."  It is always true, but usually vague and in need of interpretation.  The oracle was a woman, priests interpreted her ravings, then the applicant has to interpret it for himself.  Now understand that the Pythian Temple of Delphi was an intelligence service which had its feelers everywhere.  Sometimes they could get it really wrong, like supporting the Persians for the Persian Invasion.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2020 at 06:47
In the movie "the 300" Spartans get a similarly dual message;

The Oracle warns them that the Persian king has the might of Zeus, and will not stop until he has destroyed either the city, or a king. Naturally, Leonidas thought this was a prophecy about him, that this was his chance at glory.Oct 4, 2013
Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. (J. R. R. Tolkien)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2020 at 12:11
I don't know if there is any oracle regarding Sparta and the Persians.  I would check Herodotus, which I have not entirely read in recent history.  I suspect it just a good story.  Delphi was on the side of the Persians, but Delphi is not a polis but a sacred precinct.  As far as the Greeks were concerned, however, the Persian king was a mortal, a very powerful mortal, but a mortal.  Nobody has the might of Zeus, except Zeus.  It would be blasphemy to say otherwise.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jun 2020 at 07:14
I think that Pythagoras' mother may have been an unwed mother-to-be in Delphi, that Mnesarchus made into an "honest" woman.  But there is in Iamblichus a couple of lines of a poetry fragment that say that Pythais was the most beautiful of Samian woman (actually, the beautiful of the many Samian women is more like the Greek original.)  In Athens, you were not Athenian unless both your parents were Athenian.  I don't know for other Greek poleis you (as a wife) could marry into a culture.  There were a _lot_ of Greek poleis (poleis is the plural of polis, from whence we get the word politics).  100s, if not a couple thousand, spread around the Mediterranean, 'like frogs on lily pads around a lake.' (Plato).
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