Remembering Pythagoras at Metaponto

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  • March 2, 2016

Hands up who remembers Pythagorus?

Pythagorus and his theorem are one of the only things I remember from high school maths, apart from Mrs Moffatt, the slightly terrifying woman who taught it to me.

So when I was researching our last trip to Italy and I came across a temple where Pythagorus used to teach, the combination of a Greek temple and an old maths buddy was difficult to resist.

The site is called Metaponto and it’s on the Basilicata coast, on the soft fleshy underside of the boot.

Greek temple at MetapontoMetaponto was once a rich and flourishing outpost of Magna Grecia. These days it’s a tiny (and quite frankly creepy) town with some half-forgotten ancient ruins, and like many similar monuments in southern Italy it’s rarely visited, and in the middle of nowhere. You just park your car and walk right in – no staff, no entrance fee, and when we were there, no other visitors.

Greek temple at MetapontoTavole Palatine, as the temple is called, is a late 6th century Doric temple dedicated to Hera, built in an area where the ruins of a Neolithic village have been found. Pythagorus who lived from 570-495 BC, reportedly spent time here in the last years of his life.

Greek temple at MetapontoFor me there’s always been something really magical about touching things so ancient, that so many hands have touched, and so many feet have walked over. And I’ve always found it easy to imagine myself in the bustling city it once was, and see Pythagorus himself teaching his students here, more than 25 centuries ago.

Greek temple at MetapontoIf you want to visit, there’s also a small archaeological museum nearby called the Antiquarium of Metaponto, with objects excavated from this and other nearby sites. Unfortunately it was closed where we were there.

This one’s for you Mrs Moffatt, wherever you are.

Until next time, safe travels,

The Travelling Pantaloni

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