How would you know this world of the mystic ancients from the one we live in today? Of course it would be far quieter and closer to the natural environment. For those comfortable camping without recreational vehicles and cable TV hookups, however, that wouldn't be a major difference.
It is remarkably like the world of today, only filled with the thrill of discovery and the self-esteem of being masters of new technology and philosophy. The world of Pythagoras includes the global achievement of the Sixth century before our Common Era when there was a universal surge of understanding and discovery. Lao Tzu in China, the Buddha Siddhartha in India, Ezekiel in Babylon with the Jewish Exiles as the Chaldean astrologers were developing the individual horoscope; the Chaldean King was creating the first unified Empire seeking to preserve the ethnic diversity of his people instead of absorbing them all while destroying their institutions and cultures.
The Island of Samos where Pythagoras was born and lived to age 40 was a bustling city-state. Trade, industry, technological discovery were all in great flower. The Island of Samos was a center of this new mastery. Here off the coast of what is now Turkey they were masters of ultimate high technology. New iron tools were developed. They changed the local environment. The harbor was enlarged and improved as well as an aqueduct built over 900 yards long through the Hill of Kastro to supply the expanding city-state with water. This aqueduct was built as a tunnel through the hill that was started and both ends and met the middle of the hill to an accuracy of a few feet, demonstrating an absolute mastery of geometry and surveying.
Rhoecus, Telecles and Theodorus were great inventors creating the technique to cast life-size bronze statues. Theodorus also built a system of central heating into the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. He invented the level, the square, the rule and the lathe, thus making possible to the physical construction of geometrical principles. And even more importantly, the manufacture of pottery that was highly valued and the source of vast trade and wealth for the Island.
Under the warlord (tyrannos) Polycrates, control came to the commercial class, wresting power from the landed aristocracy. In ancient Greece, the aristocracy was based upon one's genealogy, in terms of descent from the victorious cavalry officers who were bonded by their family relationships in their gens (in Greek Demos or clan groups as in Democracy for rule by the gens or by vote of individuals in all the demos, not command by the descendents of the officers of the cavalry aristocrats who owned enough land to be able to afford to maintain cavalry horses.)
In the ancient pagan ancestor cult religion established by the conquest by the Indo-European cavalry of inland Asia, nomads with mobile wagons who swept through all of Europe and India millennia earlier bringing the Olympian gods to drive the local religion underground as the Titans, rape and murder were normal rights of conquest except that such acts against one's own parents were a terrible violation of the religion to be punished by the Furies.
It was the struggle between the urban commercial class and the rural landowning aristocracy which forms the background of all cultural development and is the story of freedom in ancient Greece. It was also the competition between the agricultural mentality with its isolationist views fearing strangers who might take the harvest against the maritime commercial view who looked upon strangers as customers and the source of vast sales and profits. As the forces of the traditional aristocracy were replaced by control by the commercial elite who were creating vast fortunes by the maritime sale of their new pottery and bronze work, Samos became a center of cosmopolitan markets and eager intellectual exploration.
Pythagoras traveled widely and studied the mysteries of the great teachers in Egypt and elsewhere, becoming a leader and a master of new knowledge and mathematical understanding. He was also a political leader who gathered up his followers when the growing might of Asian Empire was about to conquer the Island of Samos and escaped by ship to the Wild West of the time, Crotona in Italy. In this lawless time, the various city-states were conquering one another, seizing each other's goods, making slaves of the neighbors women and children. Pythagoras brought the opportunity of civil peace under his rule where all could live without war. It seems likely this involved some deal where he bought the land for a bit of gold, making all tenants of this single state which therefore they could all live in harmony under one government rather than being several states who spent their time conquering each other.
Whatever the arrangement, it involved the farmers being tenants to the land now being own by Pythagoras and his followers. Eventually, the traditional terms of land tenure were such that as the fertility of the land ebbed away and there were more bad harvest, the farmers faced debt slavery. The only remedy they had would be to burn up all the heirs to the landlord, so as to destroy them totally and extinguish their debt contract. The equivalent situation today would be an economy totally dependent upon mortgage, bond, and credit card debt which is controlled by the whims of the securities markets. In a serious crisis things would quickly turn ugly as all securities and pension funds became worthless paper, although all mortgages and debts would still be enforced.
It was a world very similar in concept to what we know today, although the details and the activities of daily life were very different. The astronauts were merchants traveling the Mediterranean and the great scientists were sculptors and architects. Pythagoras attained myth-hero status by being able to tell fishermen the number of fist in their net. This is a matter of judging the weight of the total catch from the number of men required to lift it and knowing the average weight of fish large enough to be caught in the mesh. Then a simple division (which was a magical to the average citizen then) gave how many fish would be counted in the catch.
Advanced celestial mechanics, which he built into his philosophy, was available to him by simple observation over sea voyages and of the sundial principles. Every vertical stick or ship's mast casts a shadow that points absolute due geographical North at precisely noon which is its shortest shadow since the sun is directly overhead. Simple geometrical construction, bisecting the arc of the shadow cast sometime before noon and a similar time after noon allows for the determination of precisely where this direction is. What we today require vast machinery of space satellites and atomic clocks to know, was available to Pythagoras with compass, straight edge and a vertical stick.
Looking at ships at sea coming up over the horizon, makes it clear by simple observation that the Earth is curved. Also from working with simple sun shadows in different places by latitude, it is easy to see that the local sundial must be tilted to the angle of the latitude in order for its shadow to track correctly the motion of the sun across the heavens. It is also clear that the Earth and the Sun are at an arbitrary angle to one another, since the Ecliptic the circle of the motion of the sun by day and the moon and planets by night is at an arbitrary though constant angle to the horizon.
The realization that the Earth is both spinning on its axis and revolving around the sun follows simply from the observed geometry; however, it is incredible in light of our personal perception of our local ground as fixed and stable. When the ground moved, it was an earthquake, which was an event of terrifying destruction. In news video today, you can tell whether you are seeing folks near the epicenter of the quake or far from it by their reaction. Most people just stop and look around, as the ground shakes a bit. Those at the epicenter cower in absolute terror reduced to huddling in fetal position and remain totally disabled by the experience.
Only those with extensive training could be expected to accept the notion of the Earth moving or to be able to contemplate such a circumstance without being horrified and dismayed. Pythagoras taught the celestial mechanics of a heliocentric astronomy very much like that believed today with the addition of an unseen, perfect realm that existed as a mirror image to the Earth but hidden from our view on the other side of the sun. This was the ideal realm of absolute perfection which was the abode of the perfected ones as many today envision Heaven. Its purpose was to give a concrete location to the goal of all one's efforts at development and self-control.
The notion of the Earth spinning on its axis and hurtling through space is only barely appreciated today as the General Relativity adjustments to Newtonian gravity. The Medieval Scholastic superstition that there exists a mystical force emanating from each bit matter which pulls all other matter toward it was philosophically denied by Newton, but still the only way to explain his equations. Today that same superstitious teaching is part of modern physics textbooks and even the explanation from General Relativity is that space is actually to be measured by Reimann non-Euclidean geometry which includes although with position an additional factor of gravitation as a curvature, so that gravity is explained as falling down this curvature. Of course, explaining gravity by a natural tendency to fall down is pure Aristotle and makes no sense. Further, Reimann's geometry has never been proved consistent nor is there any mechanism to translate geometrical mapping which is abstract concept into physical reality.
Einstein, in his 1950 popular article in Scientific American magazine on General Relativity put it very simply: "You can either believe the Earth is static with a Newtonian gravitational field or it is moving in complex motion where what we experience as gravity are the inertia effects of that motion." (Like the feelings you have when you are pushed in your car by the force of the vehicle turning a corner sharply.) Of course, today as with Pythagoras, it is believed that the Earth is not static but in complex motion. How modern scientists are able to account for the over-determination of gravitational effects by both Newtonian gravity given by the famous equation F= G*m1*m2/r2 and the impact of the complex motion is not known. The equation works and they talk about the motion and allude in general that it is all explained by Einstein though very few really can understand the math. The secret by the way is that Newton's equation does not explain gravitation, it is only a rough rule of thumb to convert the local instrument data available at any location into an assumed overall total concentrated at the "center" which can be chosen at will. It is a mathematical trick which works for finding new planets and guiding space probes and satellite launches. The price of that is believing all is just simple equations and losing one's soul, but no one notices as long as the markets are doing well.
Making the real General Relativity explanation isn't difficult, but it does require abandoning Newton. The popularity of Einstein was that he came up with a theory which could be alluded to explain away all the observed anomalies, while still stating that it was OK to continue to use Newton's equations in all scientific work. It was just that the readings would have to be adjusted to agree with anyone else's readings. Real understanding, rather than just believing what you are told and trusting the established professors interpretation is as difficult to come by today as it was in the World of Pythagoras. Actually it is the same process today as ever; only today one has to learn to transcend all the hype and marketing imagery to get in touch with your own personal reality.
Learning to get in touch with your own personal reality is the essence of the World of Pythagoras. It remains as open and accessible to YOU today as it was to the elite initiates of the School of Pythagoras. All that is required is a little guidance and your own commitment to Quest for Source in the absolute depths of Self instead of running after things that are treasured by other people.
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