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Pythagoras' cosmos was developed in a more scientific and mathematical direction by his successors in the Pythagorean tradition, Philolaus and Archytas.
Pythagoras succeeded in promulgating a new more optimistic view of the fate of the soul after death and in founding a way of life that was attractive for its rigor and discipline and that drew to him numerous devoted followers.
Iamblichus' work was just the first in a ten volume work, which in effect Pythagoreanized Neoplatonism, but the Pythagoreanism involved was Iamblichus' own conception of Pythagoras as particularly concerned with mathematics rather than an account of Pythagoreanism based on the earliest evidence.
Porphyry also emphasizes Pythagoras' divine aspects and may be setting him up as a rival to Jesus (Iamblichus 1991, 14).
It is best to start with the extensive but problematic later evidence and work back to the earlier reliable evidence. 234–305 CE) each wrote a , which includes some biography but focuses more on the way of life established by Pythagoras for his followers.
The most detailed, extended and hence most influential accounts of Pythagoras' life and thought date to the third century CE, some 800 years after he died. All of these works were written at a time when Pythagoras' achievements had become considerably exaggerated.
No one did for Pythagoras what Plato and Xenophon did for Socrates.
Third, only fragments of the first detailed accounts of Pythagoras, written about 150 years after his death, have survived.
Pythagoras was famous (1) as an expert on the fate of the soul after death, who thought that the soul was immortal and went through a series of reincarnations; (2) as an expert on religious ritual; (3) as a wonder-worker who had a thigh of gold and who could be two places at the same time; (4) as the founder of a strict way of life that emphasized dietary restrictions, religious ritual and rigorous self discipline.In such a cosmos, the planets were seen as instruments of divine vengeance (“the hounds of Persephone”), the sun and moon are the isles of the blessed where we may go, if we live a good life, while thunder functioned to frighten the souls being punished in Tartarus.The heavenly bodies also appear to have moved in accordance with the mathematical ratios that govern the concordant musical intervals in order to produce a music of the heavens, which in the later tradition developed into “the harmony of the spheres.” It is doubtful that Pythagoras himself thought in terms of spheres, and the mathematics of the movements of the heavens was not worked out in detail.Diogenes may have some claim to objectivity, but both Iamblichus and Porphyry have strong agendas that have little to do with historical accuracy.Iamblichus presents Pythagoras as a soul sent from the gods to enlighten mankind (O'Meara 1989, 35–40).