Pythagoras's Belief That Beans Are Human May Have Killed Him

Essentially his views make you eating refried beans a figure on par with Hannibal Lecter. German Vizulis /

If you think of Pythagoras, you probably picture an old guy with a beard in a tunic, likely gazing at a triangle and making goo-goo eyes. The philosopher is often credited for many scientific and mathematical discoveries, from identifying the morning and evening stars as Venus to the one that irritated you for years: Pythagorean Theorem.

He was also, to be fair to him, a pie. Pythagoras had some pretty strange beliefs, even for his time. You probably weren't taught in math that he ran a commune that forbade followers from wearing wool, and forced them to put on the right sandal before the left. It would have slowed down the class somewhat if all of his children wanted to know his thoughts on flip-flops.

The best part of his beliefs, however, related to beans. 

Pythagoras, you see, believed that when you die, your soul gets transferred into another animal. Though we don't know for sure, it's claimed that he stopped eating meat in order to prevent that ever so awkward scenario of accidentally eating a dead buddy.

Old Triangles didn't only believe that, he also believed that humans and beans come from the same source – why not – and decided to conduct an experiment to prove it. He got a bunch of beans and buried them, not noticing how this is rarely done to humans, and waited for them to grow for a few weeks. When he dug them up again, he noted that they looked a bit like human fetuses. 

Satisfied with his experimental design, and not even bothering to try burying a human, he concluded that eating beans would basically be like cannibalism, and forbade his commune from eating them. To Pythagoras and his followers, beans could contain the souls of the dead.

Smashing or crushing a bean counted as murder, even if you don't go as far as ramming the corpses in your mouth, maybe in a nice tomato sauce. Essentially his views make you eating refried beans a figure on par with Hannibal Lecter (who famously also ate beans), and your 5-year-old someone who dines exclusively on the flesh and souls of humans.

The philosopher, according to legend, even took the time out of his busy schedule to explain to an ox that it should never eat beans again, while the herdsmen looked on and giggled, before being surprised later on when the ox stopped eating beans.

Sensible stuff I'm sure you'll agree, though I don't know why I expected better from someone whose biggest achievement was basic GCSE maths.

His belief, while definitely something that at best would get you the reaction "what the hell are you talking about man, they're beans", ended up leading to his demise. As with all legends about figures like this, you should take it with a pinch of salt, though it's a fun story and we thought we'd tell you it on National Bean Day.

According to legend, a son of a nobleman named Kylon attempted to get into Pythagoras's bean cult (come for the lack of beans, stay for the triangles) but was rejected for his unwillingness to abide by the training rules, involving 5 years of silence before you even get to the triangles. 

Naturally, Kylon formed a mob (look, this is just how things were done back then) in order to attack Pythagoras and burn the commune's buildings. As they fled, the mob would stab them to death, but Pythagoras managed to escape the mob thanks to his friends, who formed a human bridge to get him out of the buildings. Unfortunately, as he fled the worst happened: His path took him right into a bean field.

Refusing to trample through the field, committing genocide like Beanzilla, Pythagoras stood there and was stabbed to death. A crime I'm sure Pythagoras noted at the time was so heinous it was on par with forking a bean.

Various other theories about his death include that after his followers were killed in the fire he died by suicide, or else starved while hiding from the mob. Which is a lot less beany and fun.


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