March 18, 2020
Episode 87: Numerical Mysteries: Nichomachus of Gerasa, Arithmology, and Second-Century Neopythagoreanism
In this episode we pick up some dangling threads from the Neopythagorean ‘tradition’ (which is more of an idea of a tradition than a tradition, but one which then became such a strong idea of a tradition that it became a tradition, if you see what we mean), discussing the intriguing first-century figures Eudorus of Alexandria and Moderatus of Gades.
We then move on to Nicomachus of Gerasa, an early-second-century writer on mathematics, harmonics, Pythagoras, and arithmology. Finally we discuss the fourth-century Theology of Arithmetic, a handbook on the numbers one through ten, a.k.a. the sacred Tetractys, which preserves much of Nicomachus’ lost arithmological work. Along the way we reflect a bit on number viewed from the perspectives of symbolism and metaphysical function, in other words, arithmology.
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