27. Beans Eventually Did in This Weird Mathematician
Pythagoras and his followers set up shop in Croton, whose people were forced to deal with the weird new arrivals. They crossed the line, however, when they tried to force ordinary citizens to follow Pythagoras’ beliefs. Specifically, they tried to ban beans and meat. Croton’s citizens were not about to put up with that, got violent, and engaged in a full on persecution of the Pythagoreans. By the time the dust had settled, many of the weird cultists had been exterminated, while the rest were forced to flee. The survivors tried to regroup and carry on elsewhere. However, they never achieved as much prominence or power as they had secured in Croton, and the cult soon faded away. As to their weird leader, he was killed in the backlash against his cult, and various accounts depict his demise.
In one of them, Pythagoras fled for his life with angry pursuers hot on his heels, and his flight took him to a field of beans. Since beans were sacred to him, Pythagoras stated that he would rather die than step on a single bean. And die he did, when his pursuers caught up with him at the edge of the bean field and cut his throat. In another account, the people of Croton attacked a house in which Pythagoras and his followers were conducting a meeting, and set it on fire. Pythagoras escaped with a small group of followers, and eventually took shelter in a temple. There, he was besieged, and eventually starved to death. In this version, he refused to eat the only food available: beans. As things turned out, Pythagoras was not divine, and contrary to his and his followers’ prediction, he did not return from the dead.