Agnes Scott College

Theano

c.6th Century B.C.


According to tradition, Theano was the wife of Pythagoras. She and her two daughters carried on the Pythagorean School after the death of Pythagoras. She wrote treatises on mathematics, physics, medicine, and child psychology. McLemore writes that her most important work was the principle of the "Golden Mean." But discerning what Theano actually did is extremely difficult. As stated in the article in the Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science,

That Theano continued to operate the school of Pythagoras after his death is often affirmed but not confirmed. Thus, it can only be stated that, according to tradition, Theano was a mathematician, a physician, and an administrator—someone who kept alive an important training ground for future mathematicians.

In addition, Damo (ca. 535-475 BC), the daughter of Pythagoras and Theano, is said to have published her father's treatises on geometry as well as treatises on the construction of a regular tetrahedron and the construction of a cube.

References

  1. Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science, Marilyn Ogilvie and Joy Harvey, Editors, Routledge, (2000).
  2. McLemore, Ethel W. "Past Present (we) - Present future (you)," Association for Women in Mathematics Newsletter, 9(6) (Nov/Dec 1979), 11-15.