Damon and Pythias


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The story of Damon (Greek: Δάμων) and Pythias (Greek: Πυθίας) in Greek historic writings illustrate the Pythagorean ideal of friendship which became the most symbolic relationship in history.
For the great mathematician and philosopher of Ancient Greece, Pythagoras of Samos ((Greek: Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος - 570–500/490 BC) who is credited with the Pythagorean Geometric Theorem that bears his name, friendship (Greek: φιλία - philia) meant equality of brotherhood - the truest of all relationships.
The friendship of Damon and Pythias was an embodiment of complementary qualities of loyalty, trust and respect that signified the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the sake of a friend.


True Friendship

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The foundation of a strong and enduring friendship may be defined as mutual and unconditional love that is different from the type you might receive from your family or partner.
True friends stand by each other even in the darkest of times no matter what.
Damon and Pythias had been the best of friends since childhood and were hardly ever apart.
Each trusted the other like a brother and there was nothing each would not do for the other.
The moral of the story teaches the timeless virtue of devoted loyalty - regardless of circumstances.


Bonds of Childhood Friendship

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Damon and Pythias
There are many forms of friendship that we make throughout life.
Other friends may come and go but, childhood friendships are forged with bonds that are built on innocence, mutual affection and a wealth of happiness filled with fun and carefree days.
Childhood friends understand you in special ways because they know how you were as a child.
They know your family.
They made you feel like you were a part of their family.
You lived in the same neighborhood or street, went to the same school, you shared common backgrounds or interests and you grew up with them.
Your mutual affection, trust and support knows no bounds.
These are the friends with whom you can reminisce of the good times from your past.
These are the genuine friendships that last forever.

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Story of Damon and Pythias

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There lived in those days in the Greek city-state of Syracuse, Sicily, two best friends called Damon and Pythias during the reign of the tyrant, Dionysius I (405–367 BC).
Dionysius I had made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies and the seat of an empire stretching from Sicily and across Italy.
Pythias was accused of plotting against Dionysius who put him in prison and condemned him to die.
Accepting his sentence, Pythias asked to be allowed to return home one last time to settle his affairs and bid his family farewell.
The mother of Pythias was very old, and lived far away from Syracuse with her daughter.
Damon vainly tried to obtain his friend's pardon and release but, the king refused, believing that Pythias would flee and never return.
He would only agree if someone else took his place.
Should Pythias not return by an appointed time, the hostage held, would be executed in his stead.
Damon, anxious to gratify his friend's last wish, offered to sacrifice himself as a hostage knowing that if Pythias did not return, he would die.
Dionysius allowed them to change places, warning Pythias, that his friend, Damon would have to die in his stead should he not return.
So Pythias hastened home, found a husband for his sister and provided financial security for his mother.
After bidding them farewell, he set out to return to Syracuse.
On his return journey, Pythias fell into the hands of thieves, who bound him fast to a tree.
After hours of desperate struggle, he managed to free himself and hurried as quickly as possible to beat the return deadline set by Dionysius.
Dionysius was convinced that Pythias would never return, and as the appointed day came, he called for Damon's execution.
Damon knew within his heart, that his friend, Pythias would return, unless hindered in some unforeseen way.
And yet, as the last hour came and the guards led Damon to the place of execution, he sincerely hoped Pythias would come too late, so that he might die in his stead.
Just as the executioner was about to kill Damon, Pythias arrived just in time to save his friend.
Dionysius was so astonished by Pythias return and pleased with their close bond of friendship, he pardoned both.

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Pythagoreanism

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Damon and Pythias were both followers of Pythagoras of Samos (570 – 495 BC) (Greek: Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος) ancient Ionian Greek philosopher, polymath and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism in the 6th century BC.
Pythagoras made important developments in mathematics, astronomy and the theory of music.
He is most famous for his Pythagorean Theorem, a mathematical formula for finding the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle.
He believed that through numbers, the universe and all things within were made by numbers and thus, could be counted and understood.
Pythagoras was also a founder of a way of life based on philosophic tradition and religious practice.
Pythagoreanism worshiped the Pythian Apollo god and preached an austere life.
They believed that the body acted as a tomb for the soul in this life - they also believed that the soul will continue to exist in the next life (a belief before Jesus Christ and His Resurrection).
The first Pythagorean community was founded in the ancient Greek colony of Kroton, in modern Calabria (Italy) who were renowned for their moral strength.
Early Pythagorean communities spread throughout Magna Grecia (Greek: Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς (Megálē Hellás), a term referring to the Greek-speaking coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day Italian regions of Calabria, Apulia, Basilicata, Campania and Sicily that were extensively populated by Greek settlers starting from the 8th century BC.
Pythagorean ideas influenced Plato (Greek: Πλάτων - 427 – 348 BC, ancient Greek philosopher of the Classical Period) and through him, all of Western philosophy.
Pythagoreanism was revived in the 1st century BC, giving rise to Neopythagoreanism (a school of Hellenistic and Roman philosophy which revived Pythagorean doctrines).

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Works Based on Damon and Pythias

"Damon and Pythias" came to be an idiomatic expression (natural to a native speaker) for "true friendship."
In a 1959 episode of Leave It to Beaver, Beaver's father, Ward Cleaverm relates to his son, the Damon and Pythias story.
Beaver donates his homework to his friend Larry Mondello to prove their friendship.
Larry confesses to his teacher that it was not his homework during class, moments before Beaver loses a week of recesses.
In 1914, Universal Pictures produced and released the film Damon and Pythias starring William Worthington and Herbert Rawlinson in the title roles.
The 1962 MGM film Damon and Pythias starred Guy Williams as Damon and Don Burnett as Pythias.
The Dreamworks animated film "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" (2003) features the title character going on a journey to find a treasure, while his best friend remains behind in Syracuse to be executed in his place should he fail to return.
He comes back and both are saved.
During World War II, P-51 fighter pilots Major Dominic Salvatore Gentile (1920–1951) and his wingman Captain John T. Godfrey (1922–1958), both of the 4th Fighter Group, were referred to as "Damon and Pythias" - they destroyed over 50 German aircraft.

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