Wednesday, April 5, 2017

D for Damo: Female Scientists Before Our Time

Damo was a philosopher born in southern Italy (Crotone) in 535 BC to parents Pythagoras and Theano. She may have had two sisters and a brother.  She belonged to a Pythagorean sect that followed the philosophical teachings of her father Pythagoras, who has been called “the first man to call himself a philosopher, or lover of wisdom.” 

The philosophy would greatly influenced religion and philosophy in the 6th century, including the beliefs and tenets of Aristotle and Plato. Historically and of most importance, Pythagorean philosophy began a movement that would deepen the "moral consciousness in Greece." 

There was a strong connection between the science of mathematics and mysticism in the philosophy. Numbers were important and represented the "essence and basis of all things," and there were complicated applications to music, cosmology, psychology, theology and ethics.

Damo is thought to have guarded and passed down her father’s writings to a daughter, but none have ever been found

Greek women: Mathematicians and Philosophers
Perhaps the writings--and this is pure speculation--were hidden under the daughter's clothing or in a secret compartment known only to a servant. A fatal illness took her in the night and the writings were stolen . . .

I sometimes imagine the archive boxes I have saved for my children will one day be carted off to a dump or an antique store. Not all history can be saved or deserves to be saved.  Do you ever wonder about this?


Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing


  1. Have not heard of Damo before... So some knowledge gained last earlier records of history were on paper.... The future generations would have a lot of digital equipment and data to deal with :)

    D for dog

  2. Ooh, you have a great theme!

    I get pained hearing about writing that's been lost. I wish we could find all such writings someday...

  3. i love your theme- very interesting to hear about
    My A to Z:
    the lorax

    1. @Jaish. Nice to meet you :) I think digital storage is both a solution and a problem. I guess time will tell.

      @Deniz. Thanks! They still find things out there. So exciting when they do.

      @Blikachuka. Thank you. Nice to meet you :)

  4. Another new name for me. I guess that, deserving or not, most things have been lost than preserved in history. It couldn't be otherwise!

    Eva - Mail Adventures
    D is for Degollado.

  5. Yes, so much has been lost. Wouldn't that trove of Pythagorean writings be an amazing find. On papyrus, I assume, so the likelihood of survival without an airtight storage system is remote, but what a wonderful story plot that could be!

    I've always been interested in the intersection of the so-called soft (philosophy) and hard (alchemy, math) sciences back in the day. Over the millennia we have artificially separated the heart of humanity from explorations in how to help humanity.

    Angelica French

  6. Pythagoras' daughter Damo? Well, I'll be - thank you Sharon, so so interesting. I do think that many learnings and teachings have been lost to us, some never to surface but some do - eg the extraordinary findings of papyrus in Egypt (Gospel of Mark).

  7. Another one to add to the list of women from history that none of the books I read ever mentioned, thank you :).

    So much is lost over time and some of the things that aren't are no longer understood. It's sad, but human beings seem really good at reinventing things :)

    Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves

  8. I know the Pythagorean Theorem, but never heard of the daughter. Years ago I dumped all of my notes and lectures from my teaching days in the hospital.

    1. @Eva. I suppose that's true. We would all like to be remembered though in some way.

      @Sharon. Yes, exciting. I'm not sure I understand the difference between soft and hard science. It's all Greek to me :) But I like where you're headed with this.

      @Susan. Yes, probably more than we realize. It's a puzzle. Makes life interesting when something new turns up!

      @Natasha. Good point. History does tend to repeat, good and bad.

      @Denise. Good for you. I have a large file I should seriously think about dumping.

  9. Maybe one day someone will find them in the piles of papyri waiting to be deciphered...

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

  10. LOL! Since all my unfinished manuscripts are on the computer, it would be awfully hard to cart them in a box. =)

    Love the tid bit of history. Super fun theme!

    1. Hi, Crystal. Thanks for popping over. Most of us are in the same boat with our computers :)

  11. Great post. I didnt' know Pythagorean phylosophy has such importnat impact to everyday life.
    Thanks for sharing :-)

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

  12. This was quite new to me too. I haven't studied philosophy in years, since college. Thanks, Sarah!

  13. Hi Sharon - what a fascinating post - I didn't know where Crotone was - obvious that it's a stopping off point centuries ago en route to other parts of the Med. Also I didn't know the extras about Pythagoras life ... or that he lived on Italy ...

    Secrets - I'm amazed at what we still find, and what we can ascertain from our improved science ... but these are great -pity about Damo's lost writings ... cheers Hilary

    1. It's pretty incredible to me as well. Alas, those long lost writings may show up yet. Thanks, Hilary!

  14. Look at all these women who are known even today for the intelligence and for what they accomplished. I did not hear about her but this was an excellent read. Love your artistic take:)

    1. Thank you! It's always been my wish that stories such as these are an inspiration to women, and that there is also a place for women in science. We should not let obstacles keep us from accomplishing our dreams.

  15. Not all history can be saved or deserves to be saved? Good question.
    The world changes...evolves...and do we really learn from history and avoid making the same mistakes of the past? Humans are strange. They do the same thing over again, knowing how destructive these actions may have been in the past...
    Just my rambling thoughts.

    1. No, I get your point. We do tend to repeat, if not out of boredom, but out of complete ignorance I suppose. Thanks, Michelle!


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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.