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Pythagoras was not only the leader of a new religion, but also the leader of a academy or lodge for perfect geometry, in which he expounded the secret of that art.

The astonishing theorem of Pythagoras, which can be considered as one of the fundaments of freemasonry, is seen by many masons as his own invention. (constitutions 1738)

Plutarchus however mentions this theorem as one of the essentials from Egyptian religion.

In a ancient english ritual from 1730 we can find:

Q: Why was you made a mason? 
A: For the sake of the letter G. 

Q: What does it signify? 
A: Geometry 

Q: Why geometry?
A: because it is the root and foundation of all arts and sciences.

During the entire Middle Ages one can see a red thread through religious philosophical thinking. 

The knowledge of geometry is maintained since the Greek philosophers throughout the Middle ages by (amongst others): Augustinus (354-450). It was a attempt to bring the knowledge of the Greek philosophers together with the basic assumptions of Christianity.The church father Augustinus was declared holy, and the scholars of that time were referring to his writings and labors on geometry, in reasonable safety for prosecution. 

The authors of the Middle Ages refer too the Holy church father! In his Trinitatae Augustines puts already into retrospective the decisions made in Nicea (325), where the antithesis Father-Son is elevated into a dogma. (Only in 365 the Holy Spirit is inserted as third); Plato puts his antithesis Spirit-Matter in his Trimaios and resembles that with Father-Mother, while the son is seen as synthesis.

So, you can find in the eleventh century a elaborate neo-Platonic-Christian literature, in which the School of Chartres plays a leading role. And until deep in the twelfth century Augustinus and Boethius are viewed to be the most important literature on geometry.

Since the eleventh century an other line of Platonic thinking is coming up. In Spain, in Cordoba, the Islamic University also starts teaching in Latin. And then, in about 990 the School of Chartres is created by bishop Fulbertus, who was a pupil of Gerbert, who wrote a book on geometry and became Pope Sylvester II in 999.

What exactly is Geometry?

In the lectures of Plato we can see geometry at a large scale , although the exact word geometry is not mentioned. the Timaios is actually completely based on geometric thinking. Plato tells us in his preamble, that his knowledge can be traced back to Solon, who supposedly had this knowledge from old Egypt. But Plato was a bit wrong here. Pythagoras did that; he has been traveling through Egypt in his day. Through the books of Augustinus and also from Boethius this knowledge penetrated into the Middle Ages, at which also Gerbert d'Aurillac. the later Pope Sylvester II played a important part. He wrote a book called 'de Geometria' in about 990, with knowledge he had found largely in Spain, Cordoba.

Geometry is the knowledge of the structure of heaven and earth, expressed in number, measure and proportion.

The philosophers from the Ancient- and the Middle Ages had by far not the knowledge of details of our scientists today, but they had a deeper general understanding in what we could call the backgrounds, whom were present in many different sciences . And this understanding, they gave through from generation to generation with the aid of a symbolism, in which geometric thinking was the basic middle point.

In the ancient days it was the Pythagorism or the teachings of the Pythagoreans, put onto paper for the first time by Plato, whose Timaios influenced the philosophers from the Middle ages and through them the cathedral builders. And that dear Sisters and Brethren, is still to be seen in our (free)masonry of today.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014