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Famous Samians

Many notable people were born or lived in Samos in the Antiquity.

The philosopher Pythagoras, Aesop and Epicurus are the well-known ones. The historian Heredotus also lived in Samos for a time.

Pythagoras: Pythagoras the Samian lived between 570 BC- 500 BC. He was born in Samos and travelled during his youth seeking knowledge. He went to Egypt which was a centre for mathematics. Then he moved to Croton, a city of Magna Graecia (Great Greece) which is located in today’s southern Italy. He taught his philosophy at his school which was close to the idea of Ying Yang as the universe is the combination of the opposites fighting with each other. The Pythagoreans, the members of his school, studied his mathematical principles. His famous geometrical Pythagorean theorem is that “the sum of the areas of the two squares on the legs equals the area of the square on the hypotenuse (a2 +b2 = c2). “

The town Tigani was renamed as Pythagorion in 1955 in honour of the famous mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras. See also Pythagorion Museum in Samos.

Epicurus: Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus lived between 341 BC-270 BC. He was the son of an Athenian family who moved to Samos. He lived in Samos until he was 18 and after then moved to Athens. As the founder of the Epicureanism school of philosophy namely “The Garden” in Athens, the main purpose of his philosophy is to reach happiness. His disciplines explain the eternality of the universe and all the happenings in the real world are the motions and interactions of the atoms - a guide to modern science. The school searches the way to happiness. The right action cannot be without the right knowledge .The relationship between pain and the pleasure are the measures of the good and evil, which are the basis of the right knowledge.

Aesop: The very famous Greek storyteller Aesop lived in Samos around 6 BC. as the slave of a merchant namely Xanthus. He travelled to various cities when he was freed. The records of his life and his narrations are, however, uncertain. His fables were first collected by Demetrios of Phaleros in 4 BC, then by Phaedrus in Latin in 1 AD and by Babrios in Greek. The main characters of his stories were the animals which were the great inspiration of French La Fontaine’s fables.

Aristarchus: Lived between 310 BC-230 BC, Aristarchus of Samos was the Greek astronomer. His idea stating that “The planets are turning around the sun and, therefore, the sun is the centre, not the earth” were first rejected , but then his heliocentric theory was brought back to life by Copernicus 1800 years later.

Herodotus: The Greek historian Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus (today’s Bodrum,Turkey) lived between 484 BC–425 BC. As he was exiled from Halicarnassus due to a coup against the king, he lived in various cities including Samos. His stories about the wars, political events and more in foreign lands attacted the audiences. He narrated the Greco-Persian Wars in his valuable work of “The Histories”. Although the exaggerated style of Herodotus was criticised as it raised doubts about its accuracy, he was known as the father of history.

Rhoecus: The Samian sculptor Rhoecus lived in the 6th centuy BC. His famous works were the temple of Hera in Samos, which was later damaged by fire, marble night figure formerly located in the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus.