Pythagoras & Euclid Conspiracy Theories
Strange conspiracy theories are circulating that claim Pythagoras and Euclid were myths invented by Christians. False!
Pythagoras is not a myth
Recently I provided information about the life of Pythagoras in an online debate about whether or not the Right Angle Triangle Theorem (RATT) should be named after Pythagoras. Some believe Pythagoreans lived yet Pythagoras did not.
Importantly, I am campaigning to have the name Pythagoras removed from school maths books and replaced with Baudhayana of India. Read the latest media article about my quest to rename Pythagoras’ Theorem Baudhayana’s Theorem here. Baudhayana wrote about the RATT 200 years before Pythagoras was born. Click here to sign the Baudhayana petition.
Is Pythagoras real or a myth?
1. Anyone can tell stories but no one seems to know any actual evidence for Pythagoras.
2. But what exactly is the historical evidence for Pythagoras?
3. This tactic … deviously hides the fact that there is actually no evidence for Pythagoras: whether he actually existed…
4. Racists are unwilling to honestly admit that there is no actual evidence for Pythagoras…
5. Since there is no evidence for “Pythagoras”…
This conspiracy theory is easily debunked by many ancient Greek primary sources. Pythagoras did exist and there is evidence if you look for it!
Yes! Pythagoras was a real historical figure!
Here are some early Ancient Greek Primary Source References to Pythagoras who died around 500 BCE
- Isocrates (Isoc.) was an ancient Greek rhetorician. He was one of the earliest known writers on Pythagoras as he lived 436 – 338 BCE.
- Xenophon (Xen.) was another Greek historian around 430–355 BCE who mentioned Pythagoras.
- Plato (Pla.) is a famous philosopher who lived around 429–347 BCE. He discussed Pythagoras as well.
- Flavius Josephus (Joseph. Ap) was a first-century Romano-Jewish historian. His comments about Pythagoras were written about 60 CE.
- Diodorus of Sicily (Diod. Sic.) was an ancient Greek historian. He wrote on Pythagoras between 60 and 30 BCE.
- Pausanias (Paus.) flourished around 143–176 CE. He mentioned Pythagoras in his book wrote Descriptions of Greece.
- Philostratus (Philostr.) lived around 170—245 CE. Known as ‘the Athenian’ he also wrote about Pythagoras.
- Diogenes Laertius (Diog. Laert.) was an ancient Greek historian who wrote about the history of various philosophers including Pythagoras. He is most known for Lives of Eminent Philosophers written around 220 CE.
Ancient Greek Secondary Source References to Pythagoras
- Antiphon c. 480 – 411 BCE
Pythagoras of Samos was a real person. There are simply too many references in Ancient Greek and Ionian manuscripts to have been faked. Benign myths can be created within the primary source language, yet they are usually embellishments of some core truth. By contrast, malicious myths are more likely to be created upon translation from primary sources into secondary sources. In the case of Pythagoras, Greek sources will have more credibility than Latin translations as
1) Confusion can arise as not all words parse correctly from language to language,
2) Original Latin texts may have been biased by being written for a Roman audience, and
3) Latin translations of Greek texts were initially undertaken by Romans as an occupying force.
FYI, in the text below, Pythagoras’ name appears as Πυθαγόρας in Ancient Greek and Πυθαγόρης in Ionic Greek. The material below is sourced from: https://artflsrv03.uchicago.edu/philologic4/Greek/
All extracts of primary source Greek texts below are via this Perseus link.
All extended translations are freely available to anyone via this Perseus link.
So, here are some inconvenient early ancient Greek primary sources that disprove C. K. Raju’s (false) claim that Pythagoras never lived.
- Isocrates was an ancient Greek rhetorician. He was one of the earliest known writers on Pythagoras as he lived 436 – 338 BCE.
- Xenophon was another Greek historian around 430–355 BCE who mentioned Pythagoras.
- Plato is a famous philosopher who lived around 429–347 BCE. He discussed Pythagoras as well.
- Diodorus of Sicily was an ancient Greek historian. He wrote on Pythagoras between 60 and 30 BCE.
The earliest extant reference to Pythagoras in relation to any discovery at all appears in a secondary source Latin Text titled De Natura Deorum (The Nature of the Gods)* by Marcus Tullius Cicero, written about 45 BCE. In it, he wrote:
LATIN Neque Herculi quisquam decumam vovit umquam, si sapiens factus esset – Quamquam Pythagoras cum in geometria quiddam novi invenisset Musis bovem immolasse dicitur; sed id quidem non credo, quoniam ille ne Apollini quidem Delio hostiam immolare voluit ne aram sanguine aspergeret.
ENGLISH It is true there is a story that Pythagoras used to sacrifice an ox to the Muses when he had made a new discovery in geometry! But I don’t believe it, since Pythagoras refused even to sacrifice a victim to Apollo of Delos, for fear of sprinkling the altar with blood.
* Cicero, M. T., & Rackham, H. (1933). De natura deorum: Academica. London: Heinemann.
The next secondary source Latin Text is that of Vitruvius Pollio, who in 15 BCE wrote in De Architectura Libri decem^:
LATIN Ita quantum areae pedum numerum duo quadrata ex tribus pedibus longitudinis laterum et quattuor efficiunt, aeque tantum numerum reddit id unum ex quinque descriptum. id Pythagoras cum invenisset, non dubitans a Musis se in ea inventione monitum, maximas gratias agens hostias dicitur his immolavisse. ea autem ratio, quemadmodum in multis rebus et mensuris est utilis, etiam in aedificiis scalarum aedificationibus, uti temperatas habeant graduum librationes, est expedite.
ENGLISH Thus the area in number of feet made up of the two squares on the sides three and four feet in length is equalled by that of the one square described on the side of five. When Pythagoras discovered this fact, he had no doubt that the Muses had guided him in the discovery, and it is said that he very gratefully offered sacrifice to them.
^ Vitruvius, P., Krohn, F. R., Faventini, M. C., & Faventini, M. C. (1912). De architectura: Libri decem. Leipsic: Teubner. [LATIN] and Vitruvius, P., Morgan, M. H., & Warren, H. L. (1914). Vitruvius, the ten books on architecture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. [ENGLISH]
Remember! Later secondary source Latin texts cannot overturn earlier primary source Greek (and Ionic) texts.
No, Euclid was not invented by Christians during the crusades pushing back against Muslim invasions
Without any ancient Greek or Latin texts to support the conspiracy theory, some believe Euclid’s Elements was written in the 5th C. CE by a lady called Hypatia, who he also claims was black. Some believe Euclid’s Elements first came to Europe in the 12th C. CE.
Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a picture with some facts and questions people refuse to address.
Let’s return to the myth about the Christian creation of Euclid during the 12th century.
The rumour is: “Adelard was the first to translate the Elements , from Arabic into Latin. This was when Christian Europe first heard of the Elements”.
Again, simply not true. Euclid’s Elements was known in Europe at least 600 years before. We read:
Six palimpsest folios – or, to be accurate, three bifolios – of the Verona manuscript, Biblioteca Capitolare XL (38), contain fragments of a Latin translation of Euclid’s Elements: fols. 331v–r and 326v–r, 341r–v and 338r–v, 336r–v and 343r–v. The folios are dated to around A.D. 500… 
Again, the conspiracy theory is not based on an unbiased impartial academic search for evidence and connecting facts. We read:
“‘Euclid’ is not an isolated lie; it is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg, the top of a whole dung heap of lies about history which the church told to justify that Christians were superior”
“Those who claim “Euclid” no longer matters should allow (in school texts) that “Euclid” was actually a black woman from Africa raped on a church altar and then lynched by a mob closely related to the one which burnt down the library of Alexandria.”
So, now Euclid has morphed into a black woman, called Hypatia. The logic is that the Greeks had occupied Alexandria so long they must have become black like the Egyptians upon whose land it is today. I suppose Aussies who have English ancestors must have also turned black over the past 200 years as well! Did the British turn black in India after a couple of centuries?
Once again, let’s look at the evidence. The earliest authoritative reference to Hypatia, long before skin colour was wrongly associated with either inferiority or superiority, is evidence to the contrary.
A Byzantine (now known as Istanbul) encyclopedia collated in the 900s called the ‘Suda Lexicon’ described Hypatia as “exceedingly beautiful and fair of form”. Fair of form obviously means the typical indoor skin tone of a Greek, not the black skin of an African Egyptian.
Anyone doing basic research should know and WOULD KNOW the information on this page. Yet instead of being truthful. Conspiracy theorists keep it hidden from the public because it destroys the fake stories.
Hiding the truth is a stain on the reputation of India, whose motto is Satyameva Jayate – Truth Alone Triumphs.
So, despite the cover of the book Euclid and Jesus portraying Hypatia as black, she wasn’t. There’s no doubt the Egyptians were masters at geometry and that the ancient Greeks would have learnt much if not most of their geometry from black Egyptians. That is not in dispute.
What is plainly ridiculous is the idea Hypatia wrote (Euclid’s) Elements in the 5th century CE. Here are some more inconvenient truths C. K. Raju ignores.
Long before Hypatia’s time:
- Zeno of Sidon 150 – 70 BCE Criticised Elements
- Demetrius Lacon c. 100 BCE Criticised Elements
- Hero of Alexandria fl. 1st c. CE Wrote on Elements
- Diophantus c. 250 CE Taught (Euclidean) geometry
- Pappus c. 290 – 350 CE Wrote on Elements
- Iamblichus c. 242 – 327 CE Criticised Elements
Also, Martianus Capella 360 – 428 CE Wrote on books 7, 8 & 9 of Euclid’s Elements while Hypatia was supposedly writing it.
Nowhere does any conspiracy theorist address the inconvenient issue of Euclid’s several other books. The Arabs also translated Euclid’s Data and Euclid’s Optics. Did Hypatia magically write these books as well as Euclid’s Elements?
How is Thābit ibn Qurra’s Restoration of Euclid’s Data explained away?
How is the “Kitab Uqlidis fi Ikhtilaf al-manazir, the Arabic Version of Euclid’s Optics explained away?
Those saying Euclid was a myth have no answers to any of these fact-based questions, and sadly, they are at it again. Recently they started to extend the ‘Euclid is a Christian myth’ conspiracy theory to include Pythagoras, whom he also claims is a myth, without the scholarly research you should DEMAND! Yet, as I recently noted here, that is simply not true.
QUESTIONS NEEDING ANSWERS ABOUT EUCLID AND JESUS
Q1. Where is the independent primary source evidence dated within approximately 500 years of Hypatia’s death that states she was black? (The only evidence I found thus far says she was ‘fair’.)
Q2. Why has no African or Egyptian mathematics historian stated that Hypatia wrote Euclid’s Elements or that she was black? Surely, they would want to promote their hero!
Q3. Why has the existence of Euclid’s Elements in Europe at least 600 years BEFORE the bogus claim been hidden from the public? Is that because it would destroy the myth that Euclid was invented during the 12th century?
So far, all the main conspiracy theorist has done is call me a Church Mole and write a totally off-topic blog post in which he writes hundreds of words without addressing any of the evidence summarised above. The conspiracy theorist dances around primary source evidence-based jabs better than Muhammad Ali!
There are plenty of personal attacks against me for my presenting facts and demanding answers. You can read them below along with facts debunking such stupid false claims.
- Do I know any mathematics?
I have written articles and papers for the Mathematical Association of Victoria, mathematics conference papers, and recently contributed to an upcoming monograph on Zero to be published in 2023. Apart from my talks and lectures in Australia, I have also been an invited lecturer in India at Visva- Bharati University, Jadavpur University and Patna (University) Science College.
- Do I know any mathematics history?
The Indian Society for the History of Mathematics for the third year in a row has invited me to be a guest speaker on the history of Indian mathematics.
- Teaching Australian school kids.
This is a weird claim. I have never claimed to be a high school mathematics teacher. Maybe he’s confused by my son who has a PhD in quantum chemistry involving the latest advanced mathematics, physics and chemistry. My son is a full-time high school mathematics teacher, despite the fact he could earn much more elsewhere.
- I want to gain entry into Indian Education.
Yes, and American Education and Australian Education – in fact, my goal is for the world to update its K-8 maths foundations.
- My Review of Euclid and Jesus.
Because C. K. Raju keeps promoting his book Euclid and Jesus, I bought it. Isn’t that what he wants? I reviewed it recently, not ten years ago because I didn’t read it ten years ago! Read my review of C. K. Raju’s Euclid and Jesus here and form your own opinion.
- Did I write a letter to Narendra Modi saying C. K. Raju should get a Bharat Ratna award?
I have never written a letter to Narendra Modi saying C. K. Raju should get a Bharat Ratna award. I tweeted he deserves one for his research on Indian maths. I still believe he does. as I do for P.P. Divakaran and George G. Joseph.
- Bait Him??? Filthy review???
Bait him? I asked people to pray for him after C. K. Raju emailed me about his stroke. If C. K. Raju treats me like this I’d hate to be his enemy! I often promoted awareness of his YouTube before C. K. Raju joined Twitter. Everyone else except C. K. Raju is pleased that I am raising awareness of India’s original superior maths foundations that sadly, are not being taught in India. That’s why I have been interviewed by people like Sanjay Dixit and Rajiv Malhotra amongst many others.
- Do I have a degree?
Is C. K. Raju just trolling for sport? If this were a serious worry of his, he would have asked me by email. We have emailed back and forth many times between 2019 and 2022. This is like a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde scenario or a case of two personas. One persona asks for a receives help from me, as I do from him, and another publishes personal abuse against my character. Very strange and I would much rather C. K. Raju actually debate me and answer the many unanswered questions people have, which I will note shortly. So, if C. K. Raju really wants to see my degree from the University of Melbourne, he can email me with his desire and I will happily show it to him.
- What do I have to do with math or history?
I agree it must seem strange to be a private researcher without seeking money for it. I was in an accident and was told I might never walk again. So, given my desperate plight, I made a personal promise “God” to fix basic maths education if I were ever able to walk again. At the time I was an atheist and today I would describe myself as agnostic. Never in my life have I been a Christian, despite C. K. Raju calling me a “Church Mole” in various tweets online. Many people have interviewed me about my approach to my research and my life story. C. K. Raju can and should either do some real research about me or simply email me. He chooses to do neither.My goal since 18 March 1983 has been to fix the foundations of maths. It was not to become a maths teacher or to become a maths professor trotting out the same Broken British maths for centuries. Originally, I only intended to publish once I had finished my research. I began writing articles so late in the process only because the maths professors I was in contact with were urging me to. I only gave a lecture at the Mathematics Education for the Future Conference in 2017 in Hungary because I was asked to attend. I only toured India on the first two occasions because I was invited to by two Indian mathematics professors.C. K. Raju knows about my mathematics history activities via our many exchanges of emails. So, for those who don’t, here is a “nothing” list of talks and lectures I have given on mathematics and history.
- The Indiana Jones reference
Bestselling author Sunil Singh has written three books on mathematics education. In his latest book, Chasing Rabbits A Curious Guide to a Lifetime of Mathematical Wellness, Singh devotes considerable space to my personal story and mathematics history research. In his book, Singh called me “the Indiana Jones of ancient mathematics archivists”.
- Do I know any mathematics?