Damo
Early Pythagorean
c. 535 BCE-435 BCE



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Damo is one of the daughters of Theano and Pythagoras. She was born in Croton. Both her parents were philosophers as were her siblings, Arignote, Myia and her brother Telauges.

She studied in the School at Croton and then went on to teach there. Apparently she was well trusted both for her philosophy, her integrity and her loyalty since before his death Pythagoras entrusted his written works to her care.

When the Pythagorean school in Croton closed, she emigrated to Athens. In Athens, she was, of course, one of the class of "Athenian Strangers" (see: the article about the classes of women in Athens at Aspasia and Athenian citizens and strangers

In Athens she had help from two well known Pythagoreans, also 'Athenian strangers' from Croton. There was Thymaridas, a Pythagorean known for his work on prime numbers. Philolaus, of Croton also assisted her. (Philolaus is known as a a Pythagorean cosmologist. He is one of the early thinkers to hold that earth was a planet that circled a central Fire. Philolaus was still alive when Socrates was born and so in some sense forms a link among the male philosophers from the Pythagoreans to Socrates. We do need to remember that it was this daughter of Pythagoras who had the original texts of her father's work. But given the political structure of Athens, she would need some male figures as colleagues.)

Iamblichus states that Pythagoras gave her his treatise on the Gods:

"Pythagoras composed his treatise Concerning the Gods, he received assistance from Orpheus, wherefore indeed that theological treatise is sub-titled, the learned and trustworthy Pythagoreans assert, by Telauges; taken from the commentaries left by Pythagoras himself to his daughter, Damo, Telauges's sister, and which, after her death, were said to have been given to Bitale, Damo's daughter and to Telauges, the son of Pythagoras and husband of Bitale, when he was of mature age, for he was at Pythagoras's death left very young with his mother Theano.

She is also cited by Geminus and is included among the philosophers noted by Diogenes Laertius:

"And many say that you philosophize in public, as Pythagoras also used to do; who, when he had entrusted his Commentaries to Damo, his daughter, charged her to divulge them to no person out of the house. And she, though she might have sold his discourses for much money, would not abandon them, for she thought poverty and obedience to her father's injunctions more valuable than gold; and that too, though she was a woman.

See: Diogenes Laertius: Life of Pythaogras: Damo



This page was updated 2 November, 2014.

Damo is one of more than 40 women philosophers featured in Busted!! A Pictorial History of Women Philosophers DVD Volume 1.

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