Encyclopedia of Southern Italy – P


Paccius (or Pactius): An ancient family name found throughout the Oscan-speaking peoples of southern Italy. Although often written as Pactius, it appears only as Paccius on inscriptions. Paccianus is a derivative of the name.

Paccius and Vibius: (fl. 209 BC). Two brothers who belonged to the high nobility of the ancient Bruttii. Livy (xxvii.15) states that during the 2nd Punic War, they appeared before the Roman consul Q. Fabius to ask for pardon.

Paccius, Ovidius: (fl. 293 BC). A priest in the Samnite army mentioned by Livy (x.38).

Paccius Staius, Lucius:(date uncertain). An ancient Samnite meddix tuticus mentioned in an Oscan inscription on a cylindrical cistern at Pietrabbondante (IS). The inscription states that Paccius oversaw and financed the building of a water canal.

Pachynum: ancient name for the SE promontory of Sicily. According to mythology it was a favorite spot of the gods, who visited it each year.

Pacini, Giovanni: (b. 17 February 1796, Catania. d. 6 December 1867, Pescia). Composer. Having received his earliest musical instruction from his father, a tenor singer, he later received further education at Bologna and Venice. At the age of 17, he produced his first opera in Venice. He later served as ‘maestro di cappella’ to Napoleon’s widow. In 1834, he opened a music school at Viareggio. He wrote some theoretical treatises.

Pactius: See Paccius.

Padrino (pl. Padrini): Godfather.

Paestum: ancient city of Lucania, S Italy. It was a colony of the Greek city of Sybaris (c.600 B.C.) and was first named Poseidonia. It flourished with the rest of Magna Graecia through the 6th Century B.C. The Romans took the city in 273 B.C. renaming it Paestum. The ruins, near the present Pesto, include some of the finest and best-preserved Doric temples in existence.

Paisiello, Giovanni: (b. May 9, 1740, Taranto. d. June 5, 1816, Naples). Composer. After receiving a Jesuit education he entered the Conservatorio di S. Onofrio at Naples in 1754, to study voice under Francesco Durante. After filling the post of assistant master at the Conservatorio, he decided to pursue a career as a composer in 1763. Within a few years he had established himself as a successful operatic composer in Naples. In 1772, he expanded his range by composing sacred music. In that same year he married Cecilia Pallini. In 1776 he was invited to St. Petersburg by the Russian Empress Catherine II. In Russia he produced a number of operas including Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). In 1784 he left Russia and spent a short time in Vienna before returning to Naples, where he entered the service of the Bourbon dynasty. In 1802, he accepted an invitation from Napoleon to come to Paris. He remained there only a short time before returning again to Naples where he was employed by the French kings, Joseph Bonaparte and Joachim Murat. The collapse of the French dynasty in Naples in 1815 brought an unfortunate end to Paisiello’s career, and in same year, he endured the death of his beloved wife. His health and will to live broken, he died at age 76 in Naples.

Palermo (anc. Ziz; Panormos): The principal city and capital of the island and region of Sicily. A commune and provincial capital of the province of Palermo.

History: The city was founded as a trading colony by the ancient Phoenicians who named it Ziz = flowering. The modern name, however, comed from Panormos /Panormus (pan= wide; ormos= gulf/bay), the name by which it was known to the Greeks and Romans.

Palermo, University of: Founded in 1806.

Palermo Anno Uno (Palermo Year One): An anti-mafia organization founded in 1992. Based in Palermo, it serves as a private umbrella organization for various anti-crime groups.

Palici (Grk. Palikoi) (sing. Palicus): Gods who presided over the thermal springs and geysers of Palice (Palakia) in Sicily. This pair of brothers also were said to have the power to avenge any broken oaths which were sworn upon their sacred waters. Their shrine was considered a sanctuary for escaped slaves. The Palici are identified variously as sons of Adranus, a local Sicilian fire-god, Zeus and Thaleia, or Hephaestus and Aetna.

                It is likely that the Palici were already being worshipped by the native Sikels before the arrival of the Greeks on Sicily. Their shrine was already well-established before their worship was Hellenized. There is evidence to suggest that during its early stages, the shrine at Palice was the scene of human sacrifices.

                The Palice shrine centered on a pair of sulfurous thermal springs known as the Deilloi, said to be the “brothers of the Palici.” It was here that men would toss in tablets upon which they had written solemn oaths. If the tablets floated, the oath was considered honest. If they sank, however, it was a sign of dishonesty and perjury. The culprit was said to be instantly struck down with blindness or death.

palma (palm):  a unit of length measure formerly used in the kingdom of Naples. It was the equivalent of 0.861 English foot.

Palomba, Antonio: (b. Dec. 20, 1705, Naples; d. 1764, Naples). Librettist, poet.

Palomba, Giuseppe: (fl. 1769-1792). Librettist, poet. He was active in Puglia.

Panarea: an island of the Isole Eolie (Lipari Islands).

Pandenulf: Prince of Capua (r862-863; 879-882). Deposed by his uncle, Landulf II, in 863, he was reinstated in 879.

Pando: Prince of Capua (r861-862).

Pandosia: A city of ancient Bruttium.

Pandateria: Ancient name for the island of Ventotene.

Pandulf I “Ironhead”: Prince of Capua (943-981).

Pandulf II: Prince of Capua (1007-1022).

Panfilo: Bishop of Capua (r?). It is known that he occupied the see sometime between Vincenzo (r337-365) and S. Rufino (r410-420).

Panormita, Antonio: See Beccadelli, Antonio.

Panormus: ancient Greek name for Palermo. The name derives from the Greek words meaning “All Harbor” and refers to the superior nature of the city’s port.

Pantaros: an athlete of ancient Gela. He was victor in the Tethrippon at the Olympian Games in 508 BC.

Pantelleria: A small Mediterranean island located 55 miles from Capo Granitola (Sicily) and 46 miles from Cape Bon (Tunisia). Despite its small size, the island has several settlements many of which survive from Arabic times: Bugheber, Bukkuram, Gelkhamer, Khamma, Rekhale, and Seba. Under the Saracens, the island was called Bent al-rion, “Daughter of the Winds.”

                The island was first settled by the ancient Phoenicians who terraced hillslopes and dug cisterns in order to make the place productive.

                Pantelleria is known for its capers and sweet wine, grown on the island’s only flat area called the Piana di Ghirlandaia.

Pantocrator (All Powerful): an image of Christ, either painted or mosaic, portrayed with outstretched arms. One of the best examples of a mosaic Christ Pantocrator can be seen in the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily.

Paolino, S.: Bishop of Capua (r835-843).

Parco Nazionale del Cilento e Vallo di Diano: A national park situated in the southern part of the province of Salerno (Campania). The second largest park in Italy, it stretches from the Tyrrhenian coast to the foot of the Apennines in Campania and Basilicata, and it includes the peaks of the Alburni Mountains, of the Cervati and of the Gelbison and the coastal buttresses of Mount Bulgheria and Mount Stella.Area: 181,048 ha. It encompasses the communes of: Agropoli, Aquara, Ascea, Auletta, Bellosguardo, Buonabitacolo, Camerota, Campora, Cannalonga, Capaccio, Casalbuono, Casaletto Spartano, Casal Velino, Caselle in Pittari, Castelcivita, Castellabate, Castelnuovo Cilento, Castel San Lorenzo, Celle di Bulgheria, Centola, Ceraso, Cicerale, Controne, Corleto Monforte, Cuccaro Vetere, Feletto.

Parmenides (1): An athlete of ancient Kamarina, in Sicily. He was victor in the stadion at the Olympian Games in 528 BC.

Parmenides (2): An athlete of ancient Poseidonia. He was victor in the diaulos and the stadion at the Olympic Games in 468 BC.

Parodi, Renato: b. 14 Dec. 1900, Naples. d. 16 Mar. 1974, Rome. Composer.

Parthenope: In classical mythology, one of the Sirens. She had cult centers located in the cities of Neapolis (Naples) and Velia, in Magna Graecia.

Parthenopean Republic: [from Parthenope, an ancient name of Naples], state set up in Naples in Jan., 1799, by the French Revolutionary army under General Championnet and by liberal Neapolitans after the flight of King Ferdinand IV (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies). In 1798, Ferdinand had joined the Second Coalition against the French Revolution. His army was unable to halt the French, and Naples was conquered. In February, Cardinal Ruffo, at the head of royalist troops, landed in Calabria and attempted to oust the French. Military reverses in N Italy prompted the evacuation by the French of Naples in May, and in June the republic fell. Admiral Horatio Nelson, whose role in the victory was crucial, ignored Cardinal Ruffo’s generous convention with the surrendering revolutionists and started the brutal reprisals that were continued by the restored king. The executions and imprisonments brought to an end the 18th-century Enlightenment in Naples.

Paschal I: Pope. (rJan 25, 817-Feb 11, 824).

Paschal II: Pope. (rAug 13, 1099-Jan 21, 1118).

Passaro, Andrea: (fl. 1826-1850). Librettist. He was active in Naples.

pastiera napolitana: a pastry of Naples made at Easter time. It consists as a cheesecake with cooked, whole wheat berries (known as grano), diced candied fruit, and orange water in a pastry crust. The pastiera napolitana made in the United States often substitutes barley or rice instead of wheat berries.

Patriarch: Bishop of a patriarchal see.

Patrizio (Patrician): A title often used by influential families in many Italian cities.

Paul I: Pope. (rMay 29, 757-June 28, 767).

Paul II: Pope. (rAug 30, 1464-July 26, 1471). He was the nephew of Pope Eugene IV (r1431-1447).

Paul III: Pope. (rOct 13, 1534-Nov 10, 1549).

Paul IV: Pope. (original name Gian Pietro Carafa). (b. June 28, 1476, in Capriglia; d. Aug. 18, 1559). (rMay 23, 1555-Aug. 18, 1559). In 1505, He became bishop of Chieti and, in 1518 he was raised to the position of archbishop of Brindisi (to 1524). In 1536, he was chosen a Cardinal, and, in 1549 became archbishop of Naples to 1555.

Paul V: Pope. (rMay 16, 1605-Jan. 28, 1621).

Paul VI: Pope. (rJune 21, 1963-Aug 6, 1878).

Paupisi (BN): A commune in the province of Benevento. Population: 1,473 (2006e).

Pausilypum (mod. Posilippo): (=grief-assuaging). Originally the name for a grand villa near ancient Neapolis (Naples), it was willed to Augustus by Vedius Pollio. The name was later attached to the famed grotto/tunnel which was cut between Neapolis and Puteoli. It was created by the architect Cocceius, on the order of Marcus Agrippa. The tomb of Virgil was located near its western mouth.

Pazzano (RC): A commune in the province of Reggio Calabria.

Pedace (CS): A commune (area: 51 km²) in the province of Cosenza. Population: 2,078 (2006e).

Pedara (CT): A commune in the province of Catania. Population: 11,658 (2006e).

Pedivigliano (CS): A commune in the province of Cosenza. Population: 929 (2006e).

Pelagian Islands (Isole Pelagie) (AG): A small group of volcanic islands (Lampedusa, Linosa, and Lampione) situated in the Mediterranean Sea between Malta and Tunisia. Totalling about 25.5 km² in area, they are attached to the province of Agrigento.

Pelagius I: Pope. (rApr. 16, 556-Mar 4, 561).

Pelagius II: Pope. (rNov 26, 579-Feb 7, 590).

Peligni: An ancient people who once inhabited parts of Abruzzo. Related to the Sabines, their principal towns included Corfinium and Sulmo (mod. Sulmona). Among the principal groups who rebelled against Rome during the Social War, they suffered severely from the depredations of Sulla.

Pellegrini, Camillo: (b. 1598, at Capua; d. 1663). Historian and antiquarian. Educated at the Jesuit College at Naples, he entered that order and was sent to Rome. There he began researching documents and other resources related to the history of the kingdom of Naples. He eventually published important works on the antiquities of ancient Capua and the medieval Lombard states.

Pelorus: ancient name for the NE promontory of Sicily, opposite from the toe of Bruttium (mod. Calabria).

Pepe, Guglielmo: (b. Feb. 14, 1783 at Squillace; d. Aug. 9, 1855 at Turin). General and revolutionary leader. In 1799, at the age of 16, he joined the army of the Parthenopean Republic and was taken prisoner by the Bourbon Army. Condemned to death as a traitor his sentence was commuted to exile. Later, in 1802, he attempted to organize a conspiracy against King Ferdinand IV but was arrested and imprisoned. The arrival of the French soon afterwards led to his release and he entered the service of King Joseph Bonaparte. He fought in the French army in Spain and later returned to Italy to serve in the army of Joachim Murat. By 1815, he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant-General. After the return of the Bourbons to power he remained in the army remained devoted to his Liberal principles. Becoming a member of the Carbonari, he came to command the pro-Constitutional forces in the revolt of 1820. On July 6, 1820 he led his forces into Naples and forced King Ferdinand I to agree to accept a new constitution. Within months, however, Pepe found himself facing an Austrian invading army sent to crush the Liberal movement. His attempt to block the Austrians at Rieti resulted in defeat and he was forced to flee into exile at London. In 1848, he returned home to command the Neapolitan troops against Austria. He attempted a gallant, but hopeless, defense of Venice in 1849. After this failure he retired from the army and took up residence in Paris for a short time. In 1851 he returned to Italy, where he spent his last four years, dying in Turin in 1855.

pereko (Lat. pertica): a unit of length used by ancient Oscan people in Italy. It is believed to have been the equivalent of about 5 feet.

Pergolesi, Giovanni Battista: (b. 3 or 4 January 1710 (or 1704), in Jesi, Casoria Naples. d. 16 March 1736 or 1737, Pozzuoli). Composer. He is best known for creating church music. Educated at the De’ Poveri in Giesu Cristo conservatorio at Naples, he later was influenced by the styles of Vinci and Hasse. From 1730 to 1734, he worked at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples, mainly creating comic operas in Neapolitan dialect. After a short stay in Rome, he returned to Naples where he turned his talents towards composing church music. Poor health eventually forced him to take up residence in the cleaner environment of Torre del Greco. There he continued to compose religious music until his death.

Perrotta, Giuseppe: (b. March 19, 1843, Catania. d. Feb. 16, 1910, Catania). Operatic Composer. The son of a lawyer, he originally intended to follow a legal career, but upon graduating from law school at the age of 18, he chose to become a composer.During his career he composed 23 operas.

Persico, Mario: (b. 1892, Naples; d. 1977, Naples). Composer. He wrote several works including three operas, piano music, and vocals.

Pescara (PE): A commune and provincial capital of the province of Pescara. The city’s name derives from that of the nearby river which, in turn, comes from the Latin piscis (= “fish”).

Pescara-Penne, Archdiocese of: A Metropolitan archdiocese in the ecclesiastical region of Abruzzo-Molise.

Suffragans: Teramo-Atri

Conference Region: Abruzzo-Molise.

Area: 1,600 km²/ mi²):

Total Population: 288,207.

Total Priests: 194 (Diocesan: 133; Religious: 61)

Permanent Deacons: 16

Parishes: 126.

Pesce, Nicola (or Cola): (fl. late 14th Century). A famous Sicilian swimmer and diver. His real surname is unknown “Pesce” (= fish) being a nickname given to him because of his athletic aquatic abilities. Part of his accomplishments was the result of his ability to hold his breath for an unusually long length of time. According to one story, Emperor Frederick II tested Pesce by throwing a golden cup into the sea and commanding the athlete to dive off the heights of the Punte di Faro (the NE corner of Sicily) to retreive it. Pesce plunged into the water and, after a long underwater search, successfully retrieved the cup. The impressed Frederick rewarded him not only with the cup but also a purse full of gold. Pesce’s ego now got the better of him at, without being commanded, repeated his great dive. This time, however, his abilities failed him and Pesce never resurfaced. According to legend, Charbydis, the mythical monster whirlpool who was said to live in the waters below Punte di Faro, became angry at Pesce’s arrogance and pulled him down to his death.

Petelia: A city of ancient Bruttium.

Peter, St. (Santo Pietro): (d. AD 64 or 67). The first pope, he was designated as the head of the Church by Jesus in AD 32, shortly before the latter’s crucifixion. He moved to Rome in cAD 40, where he presided as bishop for about 25 years before suffering martyrdom. His tomb is said to be located beneath the great altar of the Basilica named for him in the Vatican. All subsequent bishops of Rome (i.e. Popes) derive their supreme authority over the Roman Catholic Church by their successorship from St. Peter.

Peter: Bishop of Capua (r925-?).

Peter I: King of Sicily (Trinacria) (r1282-1285).

Peter (Pietro) II: (b. 1304, in Catania, Sicily; d. Aug. 15, 1342, Calascibetta, Sicily). King of Sicily (Trinacria) (r1337-1342). He was the son of King Frederick I of Sicily (d. June 25 1337). He married (23 Apr 1322) Elisabeth Princess of Carinthia.

Petraea (Petraia): In ancient Greek mythology, she was one of the Oceanid sea nymphs, a daughter of Oceanus. The name is also connected with the monstrous Scylla who plagued mariners in the Strait of Messina. The latter was said to live in or upon a great rock (Grk. = petra; Latin = petro-), thus giving her the name.

Phalaris “the Cruel”: Ruler of Akragas (r573-554 BC).

Philistides: (b. Syracuse; fl. late 4th century BC). Juggler. A member of Alexander the Great’s court, he was one of the performers at the mass-marriage ceremony at Susa in 324 BC.

Philistis: (fl. 3rd century BC). Queen of Syracuse. Wife of Hieron II. The daughter of an influential Syracusan citizen named Liptines, she married Hieron shortly after he seized power in Syracuse (275 BC). She became the mother of a son, Gelon (d. 216 BC) and 2 daughters, Damarata and Heraclia. She and her daughters were killed by a mob in 214 BC.

Philoctetes: A famous, though mythical, Greek archer from the Trojan War. After the fall of Troy, he immigrated to Campania where he battled against the Lucanians. He was eventually able to found the city of Crimissa, near Croton and Thurii. There he founded a sanctuary to Apollo, to whom he dedicated his famous bow, once welded by Heracles (Hercules).

Phintias: Ruler of Akragas (r286-280 BC).

Phoenician: The ethnic name for a people and their objects coming from the area of the modern Lebanon. Used as a period designation, it normally means c. 800-500 BC.

Phoenicusa: One of the seven principal islands of the Aeoliae Insulae (Aeolian Islands), off the N coast of Sicily.

Piano nobile: the main (usually the first) floor of a palazzo.


Neapolitan: The principal currency used in the mainland portion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was equal in value to the Sicilian piastra but was subdivided differently. The Neapolitan piastra was divided into 120 grana, each of 2 tornese, or 12 cavalli.

Sicilian: The principal currency for the insular portion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. While equal in value to the Neapolitan piastra, it was divided in a different matter. The Sicilian piastra was divided into 12 tari, each of 20 grana, or 120 cavalli.

Two Sicilies: After the Bourbon restoration in 1815, both the Neapolitan and Sicilian versions of the piastra were replaced by the Two Sicilies Piastra as the principal currency for the entire Regno. It remained in use until the kingdom’s fall in 1860. It was subdivided into 120 grana, each of 2 tornese. In 1860, the piastra was replaced by the Sardinian/Italian lira at the rate of 1 piastra = 5.1 lire.

Piazza Armerina (EN): A commune in the province of Enna. Population: 20,768 (2006e).

Piazzi, Giuseppe: (b. Ponte, July 7, 1746; d. Naples, July 22, 1826). Astronomer. Well-educated at Milan, Turin, and Rome, he had already earned an excellent reputation as a mathematician when, in 1780, he was appointed as professor of higher mathematics at the Academy of Palermo. Once established there, he founded a royal observatory. It was there, on Jan. 1, 1801, that he discovered the first asteroid, which he named Ceres Ferdinandea, in honor of his patron, King Ferdinand of Naples. In 1817, he transferred to Naples where he developed the observatory founded there upon Capo di Monte by Murat.

Piccinni, Nicolo: (b. January 16, 1728, Bari. d. May 7,1800, Passy ,France). Composer.

Picciotto (pl. Picciotti): literally a Sicilian term meaning “boy.” In 1860, during Garibaldi’s invasion of Sicily, the contingent of his army comprised of Sicilian recruits were known as i picciotti che combatterono con Garibaldi (the boys who fight beside Garibaldi). These troops, drawn from the rural districts of the island, small gangs of brigands, recruited by Mazzini’s cohorts who organized the 1860 anti-Bourbon revolt on Sicily. After the fall of the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, these picciotti continued their assocation with the Palermo-based elements of the rebels, to form the organization that became the modern Mafia. The term picciotti is still used today for the young thugs who comprise the lowest level in the Mafia hierarchy.

Picenum: an ancient region of central Italy. Its territory was bounded on the W by the Apennines, on the E by the Adriatic Sea, on the N by the river Aesis (mod. Esino), and on the S by the river Suinus, although often the southern boundary is extended to the river Aternus (Pescara). Its southern part is partly encompassed within modern Abruzzo. The northern part of region was inhabited by the Piceni, a branch of the Sabines. The southern area, however, was occupied by the Praetutii, more likely of Liburnian origins. Northern Picenum was devoted largely to the growing of apples, while the southern part was famous for its fine wine.

pifara: A Sicilian double-reed musical instrument similar to an oboe, constructed in a single piece. It is comparable to the ancient shawn and to the smaller, Apennine piffaro. It was usually played in connection with drum during ceremonial processions.

piffaro (piffero):  an Italian shawn, a double reed instrument similar to an oboe, commonly found in the Apennines. It is smaller than a Sicilian pifara (bifora), and is often played in duet with the zambogna.

piffero: See piffaro.

Pikler, John: (b. 1734, in Naples; d. 1791 in Rome). Gem-engraver. The son of the Tyrolian gem-cutter, John Anthony Pikler (1700-1779), he was trained in sculpting by Domenico Corvi. He became one of the most notable gem-engravers of his time. In 1769, Emperor Joseph II invited him to Vienna where he was knighted. After a stay in England, he returned to Rome in 1775, remaining there for the remainder of his life.

Pilatus, Leontius (or Leo Pilatus): (fl. mid-14th Century). Monk and scholar. A native of Calabria, he was one of the most important movers in the revival of classical learning in the West. He was the first teacher of Greek in Italy, and numbered Petrarch and Boccaccio among his pupils. He traveled through Greece collecting ancient Greek manuscripts to bring back to Italy for translation into Latin. While returning from one such journey, he was killed by a bolt of lightning.

Pinelli, Gianvincenzo: (b. 1535, in Naples; d. 1601). Patron of literature. Born into a noble family of Genoese ancestry, he moved to Padua in 1535 where he moved in scholarly circles. A poor constitution prevented him from persuing an active life. He became an avid collector of books, scientifical instruments, exotic plants, etc. His library was so famous that, upon his death, the senate of Venice had all of his manuscripts that were related to Venetian topics, some 200 in number, confiscated to become part of that state’s archives. The remainder of the library, packed into 14 chests of manuscripts and 116 chests of books, were loaded into 3 ships which were to bring them to Pinelli’s relative in Naples. One of these ships, unfortunately, was captured by pirates who threw many of the books overboard, tossing the rest onto a nearby beach at Fermo. By a fortunate accident, the local bishop recognized the value of the scattered books and was able to salvage many of them which he sent on to Naples. All of the rest of the library arrived safely and were purchased by Cardinal Frederic Borromeo for 3,400 gold crowns.

Pinne: Ancient name for Penne.

pinoli: pine nuts, particularly those of the Italian stone pine tree. They are often used in Sicily with currants in cuisine on Arab origins or influences.

Pisanelli, Giuseppe Ceva Grimaldi (Marchese di Pietracatella): (b. 1776). Statesman. He served as Minister Secretary of State/President of the Council of Ministers (Ministro Segretari di Stato –  Presidente del Consiglio di Ministri) in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies from 1839 to 1848.

Pisano, Nicola: (fl. AD 1258-1278). Sculptor. Mistakenly thought to have been from Pisa because of his name and that much of his work is found there, reliable evidence shows that he was a native of Apulia. A major figure of his time, he was the founder of his own school of sculpture. His techniques and style in the magnificent pulpits and fountains he created reveal that his initial train occurred in southern Italy. His son, Giovanni Pisano (c1250- after 1314), an accomplished sculptor and architect in his own right, collaborated on many of his projects. Principal Works: Marble Pulpit for the Baptistery in Pisa: 1259.Pulpit for the Cathedral at Siena: 1265-1268.Fonte Maggiore (bronze & marble) at Perugia: 1278.

Pithecusa: Ancient name for Ischia.

pizzica tarantata: An old form of tarantella.

Pizzo (VV): A commune in the province of Vibo Valentia.

Pizzone (IS): A commune in the province of Isernia. Population: 343 (2006e).

Pius I, St.: Pope. (rAD 140/142-155).

Pius II: Pope. (rAug 19, 1458-Aug 6, 1464).

Pius III: Pope. (rSept 22-Oct 18, 1503).

Pius IV: Pope. (rDec 25, 1559-Dec 9, 1565).

Pius V: Pope. (rJan 7, 1566-May 1, 1572).

Pius VI: Pope. (rFeb 15, 1775-Aug 29, 1799).

Pius VII: Pope. (r Mar 14, 1800-Aug 20, 1823).

Pius VIII: Pope. (rMar 31, 1829-Dec 1, 1830).

Pius IX: Pope. (rJune 16, 1846-Feb 7, 1878).

Pius X, St: Pope. (rAug 4, 1903-Aug 20, 1914).

Pius XI: Pope. (rFeb 6, 1922-Feb 10, 1939).

Pius XII (Eugene Pacelli): Pope. (rMar. 2, 1939-Oct. 9, 1958).

Pizza chiena: Neapolitan dialect name for a pizza ripiena (=stuffed pie) traditionally made in Campania and Abruzzo during Easter. It utilizes ricotta, mozzarella, and prosciutto, as well as pork products and seasonings.

Planctai: A possible ancient name for the Lipari Islands.

Plotinus: b. AD 204, Lycopolis, Egypt; d. AD 270 in Campania. Neo-Platonist philosopher. Having traveled extensively throughout Persia and India, he developed a philosophy which united elements of Plato’s teachings with elements of eastern beliefs. He became attached to the army of Emperor Gordian III during the latter’s expedition into Persia in AD 243. After Gordian’s assassination, Plotinus was forced to flee and safely reached Antioch. From there he continued on to Rome. There he became a noted lecturer and writer. He moved in the upper circles of Roman society and eventually won the friendship of Emperor Gallienus and Empress Salonina. He submitted a plan to Gallienus to have a ruined and deserted city in Campania rebuilt as a home for philosophers to be governed under the ideals laid down in Plato’s teachings. Gallienus showed great interest in building this city of Platonopolis, but was ultimately convinced by others that such a state could eventually threaten the empire’s political status quo. Plotinus eventually left Rome and traveled into Campania where he died at the age of 69.

Poli, Giuseppe Saverio: b. 1746, Molfetta; d. 1825. Physiologist. Educated at the University of Padua, he joined the army and, in 1776, was appointed professor of military geography at Naples by King Ferdinand I. Under that king’s direction, he was sent to various military academies in France, Germany, England and Holland, to study the different techniques. While visiting London, he became a member of the Royal Society. Upon his return to Naples, Poli took the post of professor of experimental philosophy at the university. He later became tutor to the crown prince and served as director of the military academy at Naples. He published an excellent illustrated work on anatomy, as well as others on geography and poetry.

polis: an ancient Greek city-state.

Polyphemus (Polphemos): one of the lawless race of cannibal Cyclopes said to have inhabited eastern Sicily in mythological times. He was the son of the sea-god Poseidon and the nymph Thoosa. According to one myth, he loved the beautiful sea nymph Galatia who was repulsed by his monstrous appearance and savage ways. When he learned that Galatea loved the youth Acis, he slew the boy in a jealous rage, crushing him beneath a great stone.

                Polyphemus is best-known for the part he plays in Homer’s Odyssey. When Odysseus and his companions raid Polyphemus’s cave, discovers and traps them inside. After Polyphemus kills and devours some of the Greeks, Odysseus succeeds in getting him drunk on wine. As Polyphemus falls asleep, the surviving Greeks blind him with a burning stake. The enraged, and now blinded, Cyclops rolls away the stone blocking the entrance to his cave, allowing the Greeks to escaped. Polyphemus attempted to sink the ships of the departing Greeks by hurling great stones at them but, unable to see, he is unable to hit them. At last the wounded giant called out to his father Poseidon to avenge him.

                Polyphemus’s name means “many-worded”, deriving from the Greek words poly (many) and phêmê (words).

                Polyphemus is strongly associated which the the area around Mt. Etna. He and the other cyclopes are usually described as shepherds and may have been modeled on the early pastorial population who dwelt there prior to the time of Greek colonization.

polyptych (Ital. polittico): a painting executed on several attached wooden panels.

Polystephanos Theo: An ancient Sicilian goddess similar in her aspects to the Greek Artemis. She had an important sanctuary near Butera [CL] which was in use from the archaic era to Roman imperial times.

Pomperio: Name of an ancient Oscan festival.

Pontano (Pontanus), Giovanni-Gioviano: (b. 1426, Cerreto, Umbria; d. 1503). Writer and scholar. While a student in Perugia, his studies were interrupted by political unrest and he turned to a military career. In 1447, he served in the army of King Alfonso I of Naples in the latter’s war against Florence. He returned with the army to Naples where he became the pupil, and later successor to Antonio Panormita, secretary to Ferdinand I. Pontano went on to serve in the same office under Alfonso the II and Ferdinand II. In 1486, he served as Ferdinand I’s ambassador to Pope Innocent VIII in arranging a treaty of peace. He impressed the pope who awarded him honors. Pontano was thwarted in his hopes of receiving high office under Alfonso II, for which he developed a great resentment towards the king. The most significant contributions of Pontano were in his connection to the Academy founded at Naples by Panormita. He helped promote it into one of Italy’s great Renaissance institutions. He produced some of that era’s finest Latin works of poetry, science, philosophy and several other topics. As an historian, he composed works on the wars between Ferdinand I of Naples and John, Duke of Anjou.

Ponti delle Valle: an aqueduct built by the 18th century architect Vanvitelli to carry water to the gardens of the Palazzo Reale at Caserta. Rising 200 feet in height, this 3-tiered structure measures a length of 24 miles.

Pontine Marshes: A large tract of marshy ground in the southern portion of Latium (Campagna di Roma). Extending inland from the coast of the Sea of Tuscany for about 25 miles, from Cisterna on the N to Terracina on the S, it marked part of the former frontier between the Papal States and kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Pontian, St.: Pope. (rJuly 21, 230-Sept 28, 235).

population of southern Italy, ancient: Throughout ancient times most the southern Italian mainland was thinly population. At the end of the Second Punic War, much of what had existed in many areas was wiped out during Hannibal’s depredations and the Roman efforts to stop him. Campania was the only area which enjoyed a free population of any size. Prior to the Samnite Wars, the Italic Samnites did experience significant spurts in their population. These were usually dealt through emigration to new areas. The Samnite Wars, however, caused profound change. The loss of fertile agricultural lands to the Romans meant the need for a smaller population.

Porcellio, Pietro: b. c1400, at Naples. Historian and poet. His surname is said to derive from the fact that he worked as a swineherd in his youth. Whatever his background, he was sufficiently educated and cultured to earn the position of secretary to Alfonso, king of Naples. He also won the admiration of the noted general Frederic, duke of Urbino. Leaving Naples, he was with the Venetian army in 1452, wrote a history of the Venetian Count Piccinino against Francesco Sforza.

Porphyry (orig. Melech): b. AD 233 in Tyre, Phoenicia; d. cAD 304 in Rome. Neo-Platonist philosopher. He was a follower of Plotinus and was a bitter enemy of Christianity. Having received a fine education from Origen at Caesarea and from Longinus at Athens, he came to Rome in AD 253 and became a follower of Plotinus. Much of what is known about the life and teachings of Plotinus is thanks to the writings of Porphyry. In AD 268, Porphyry moved to Lilybaeum in Sicily, remaining on the island for many years. His attachment to Sicily was so great that he was often referred to Siculus. During these years, he composed 15 books in which he condemned Christianity. These writings were considered so dangerous that the Christian Emperor Theodosius I later ordered them to be burned. Porphyry later returned to Rome where he died.

Porpora, Nicola: (b. August 17, 1685 or 1686, Naples. d. March 3, 1767 or 1768, Naples). Composer. He was sometimes called the “Patriarch of Harmony.” Having studied under Alessandro Scarlatti, he traveled through Germany and Austria. In 1717, he produced his first opera, Arianna e Tesio, in Vienna. From there he began a successful career throughout Europe. Porpora eventually served as the master of the Incurabili Conservatorio at Venice. He retired to his native Naples remaining there until his death.

portico: a covered entrance to a building, or a porch.

Postumius Albinus Paullulus, Sp.: (fl. 1st part of the 2nd century BC). Roman statesman. He was given the name Paullulus (little Paullus) because of his short stature. In 183 BC he served as praetor in Sicily, and was elected consul in 174 BC.

Potenza (PZ): A commune and provincial capital of the province of Potenza. Regional Capital of Basilicata.

Potenza, Province of: A province in the region of Basilicata.

Potenza-Muro Lucano-Marsico Nuovo, Archdiocese of: A Metropolitan archdiocese in the Ecclesiastical Region of Basilicata.

Conference Region: Basilicata

Area: 1,634 km²/ mi²

Total Population: 159,194.

Total Priests: 119 (Diocesan: 83; Religious: 36)

Permanent Deacons: 19.

Parishes: 59.

Pozzallo (RG): A commune in the province of Ragusa.

Pozzilli (IS): A commune in the province of Isernia. Population: 2,262 (2006e).

Pozzuoli (NA): A commune in the province of Napoli.

Praetutii: An ancient people who inhabited the area of Picenum south of the river Salinello (anc. Helvinus), near the Adriatic coast. It is believed that the name of Abruzzo is derived from their name.

Presepio: a manger scene, also known as a crib or crèche. These presepe have been a favorite Christmas tradition since medieval times. Among the most famous are those created by the craftsmen of Naples. These tend to be the most detailed and elaborate manger scenes and often include characters having nothing to do with the original nativity story. Presepe might also vary according to the particular region where the craftsmen live. For example, in the coastal towns of Sicily, many materials drawn from the sea (e.g. coral, alabaster, mother-of-pearl) are added to the scenes.

Preti, Cavalier Mattia (called Il Calabrese): b. 1613, at Taverna, Calabria; d. 1699, Malta. Painter. Having traveled through several cities in north and central Italy (Parma, Modena, Rome, Venice, and Bologna), he produced several religious works. The quality of his work earned him an invitation from the Grand Master to come to Malta to decorate the Cathedral. Preti created several frescoes on the life of St. John the Baptist. As part of his reward he was inducted as a knight into the order. Preti returned to Italy, residing for a time at Naples, producing a number of works. He developed a deep resentment towards Luca Giordano, whose success at Naples disgusted him so much that he returned to Malta, remaining there for the rest of his life.

Primaldi, St. Anthony: See St. Anthony Primaldi.

Primate: Bishop of a primatial see. He holds the honorific of “First among equals” among the bishops of a country. Not every country has a primate.

Principato (= Principality): Name for a territory of the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (Naples). It was subdivided into Principato Citeriore and Principato Ulteriore. Its territory comprised parts of ancient Campania and Lucania

Principato Citeriore (sometimes Principato Citra): A former province of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It is roughly equivalent to the Campanian province of Salerno. The name means “the Near Principality”, so-called “near” for being the closer of the two “Principato” provinces to Naples. The capital was located at Salerno.

Principato Citra: See Principato Citeriore.

Principato Ulteriore (sometimes Principato Ultra): A former province of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It is roughly equivalent to the Campanian provinces of Avellino and Benevento. The name means “the Far Principality”, so-called “far” for being the farther of the two “Principato” provinces from Naples. Its territory encompassed parts of ancient Samnium and Apulia. The capital was located at Avellino.

Principato Ultra: See Principato Ulteriore.

Prisco I, St.: Bishop of Capua (rAD 42-66).

Prisco II, St.: Bishop of Capua (r440-460).

Probino, St.: Bishop of Capua (r570-572).

Procida (John of Procida), Giovanni di: (b. Salerno. d. 1295.) Nobleman. “Lord of Procida.” Having been an important counselor to both Frederick II and Manfred, he was distrusted by the succeeding king Charles I of Anjou. Charles accused Giovanni of treason, stripping him of his properties but allowing him to remain free. Giovanni’s animosity towards the new French regime in Naples remained latent until his wife was assaulted by one of the king’s companions. This crime prompted Giovanni to leave Naples and seek sanctuary at the court of Queen Constance of Aragon, the daughter of the late Manfred. There he was well-received for his loyalty and was made a baron by Constance’s husband King Peter III. Giovanni’s contacts in Apulia and Sicily proved useful in stirring up hostility towards the Angevins and gathering useful intelligence. Giovanni secretly visited Sicily disguised as a Franciscan, visiting several local leaders and making plans for a revolt. He then moved on eastward to Constantinople where he met with the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus. Michael, fearing an impending invasion of his empire from Charles I of Anjou, willingly agreed to finance a revolt. Giovanni then traveled to Rome where he won the support of Pope Nicholas III against Charles. Giovanni, having now succeeded in effectively surrounding Charles with enemies, returned to Aragon. There he convinced Peter to act on his claim to the Sicilian throne which he held through his marriage to Constance. Before the plans could be put into action, however, there was a serious setback when Pope Nicholas III died. His successor, Martin IV, was a Frenchman like Charles and could not be trusted to join the conspiracy. The plans had to be altered which required Giovanni to return in his Franciscan disguise to Sicily. Finally, everything fell into place and, on March 30, 1282, Giovanni went to Palermo. On the same day, the famous Sicilian Vespers broke out. There is some debate as to whether the uprising was spontaneous with Giovanni and the other conspirators simply taking advantage of it, or whether the outbreak had been preplanned. There is much circumstantial evidence to suggest that the uprising was the work of Giovanni and his cohorts. Giovanni’s presence in Palermo at the time of the outbreak is probably more than a coincidence. The violence only began when the Vespers bells in the city’s churches began to sound as though they were chosen as a prearranged signal. There is also the fact that the revolt was able to spread so quickly throughout the other cities of Sicily, another indication that the Vespers revolt was the result of preplanning.

                After the successful conquest of Sicily by Peter of Aragon, Giovanni served him as loyally as he had the earlier Swabian kings. In 1289, he served as an ambassador to James, Peter’s successor, on an unsuccessful embassy to the pope. Later, in 1295, he accompanied the Dowager Queen Constance in a new attempt to win recognition from Pope Boniface VIII for the new Aragonese dynasty in Sicily. It was during this trip that Giovanni died in Rome.

Procida, Canale di: An arm of the Tyrrhenian Sea connecting it with the Bay of Naples on the latter’s NW point. It runs in an E-W direction for a length of about 7km. At its narrowest point it is about 3.3 km in width.

Protasius: Bishop of Capua (r313 – ?). The first bishop of Capua whose name has survived, he attended the council at Rome called by Pope Melchiades in AD 313. 

Protus Vincentius: Bishop of Capua (fl. Mid-4th Century). He attended 1st Council of Nicaea (AD 325), the Council of Sardica (AD 343), and the conciliabulum of Arles (AD 353).

Provvidenti (CB): A commune in the province of Campobasso. Population: 145 (2006e).

Psaumios: an athlete of ancient Kamerina in Sicily. He was victor in the apene (456 BC) and in the Tethrippon (452 BC) at the Olympian Games.

Puglia (Apulia):

Location: A region in southern Italy.

Capital: Bari.

Area: 19,363 km² (mi²) ().

Number of Provinces: 5 (Bari; Brindisi; Foggia; Lecce; Taranto).

Number of Communes (Municipalities): 258.

Population: 4,069,869

Population Density:  210.2/km² (2007).

Historical Population: 1,949,423 (1901); 3,871,617 (1981); 4,031,885 (1991); 4,020,707 (2001); 4,071,518 (2006e).

Puglia, Communes of:

Province of Bari:

Acquaviva delle Fonti, Adelfia, Alberobello, Altamura, Andria, Bari, Barletta, Binetto, Bisceglie, Bitetto, Bitonto, Bitritto, Canosa di Puglia, Capurso, Casamassima, Cassano delle Murge, Castellana Grotte, Cellamare, Conversano, Corato, Gioia del Colle, Giovinazzo, Gravina in Puglia, Grumo Appula, Locorotondo, Minervino Murge, Modugno, Mola di Bari, Molfetta, Monopoli, Noci, Noicattaro, Palo del Colle, Poggiorsini, Polignano A Mare, Putignano, Rutigliano, Ruvo di Puglia, Sammichele di Bari, Sannicandro di Bari, Santeramo in Colle, Spinazzola, Terlizzi, Toritto, Trani, Triggiano, Turi, Valenzano.

Province of Brindisi:

Brindisi, Carovigno, Ceglie Messapica, Cellino San Marco, Cisternino, Erchie, Fasano, Francavilla Fontana, Latiano, Mesagne, Oria, Ostuni, San Donaci, San Michele Salentino, San Pancrazio Salentino, San Pietro Vernotico, San Vito dei Normanni, Torchiarolo, Torre Santa Susanna, Villa Castelli.

Province of Foggia:

Accadia, Alberona, Anzano di Puglia, Apricena, Ascoli Satriano, Biccari, Bovino, Cagnano Varano, Candela, Carapelle, Carlantino, Carpino, Casalnuovo Monterotaro, Casalvecchio di Puglia, Castelluccio dei Sauri, Castelluccio Valmaggiore, Castelnuovo della Daunia, Celenza Valfortore, Celle di San Vito, Cerignola, Chieuti, Deliceto, Faeto, Foggia, Ischitella, Isole Tremiti, Lesina, Lucera, Manfredonia, Margherita di Savoia, Mattinata, Monte Sant`Angelo, Monteleone di Puglia, Motta Montecorvino, Ordona, Orsara di Puglia, Orta Nova, Panni, Peschici, Pietramontecorvino, Poggio Imperiale, Rignano Garganico, Rocchetta Sant`Antonio, Rodi Garganico, Roseto Valfortore, San Ferdinando di Puglia, San Giovanni Rotondo, San Marco in Lamis, San Marco la Catola, San Paolo di Civitate, San Severo, Sannicandro Garganico, Sant`Agata di Puglia, Serracapriola, Stornara, Stornarella, Torremaggiore, Trinitapoli, Troia, Vico del Gargano, Vieste, Volturara Appula, Volturino, Zapponeta.

Province of Lecce:

Acquarica del Capo, Alessano, Alezio, Alliste, Andrano, Aradeo, Arnesano, Bagnolo del Salento, Botrugno, Calimera, Campi Salentina, Cannole, Caprarica di Lecce, Carmiano, Carpignano Salentino, Casarano, Castrignano dei Greci, Castrignano del Capo, Castri` di Lecce, Castro, Cavallino, Collepasso, Copertino, Corigliano d`Otranto, Corsano, Cursi, Cutrofiano, Diso, Gagliano del Capo, Galatina, Galatone, Gallipoli, Giuggianello, Giurdignano, Guagnano, Lecce, Lequile, Leverano, Lizzanello, Maglie, Martano, Martignano, Matino, Melendugno, Melissano, Melpignano, Miggiano, Minervino di Lecce, Monteroni di Lecce, Montesano Salentino, Morciano di Leuca, Muro Leccese, Nardo`, Neviano, Nociglia, Novoli, Ortelle, Otranto, Palmariggi, Parabita, Patu`, Poggiardo, Porto Cesareo, Presicce, Racale, Ruffano, Salice Salentino, Salve, San Cassiano, San Cesario di Lecce, San Donato di Lecce, San Pietro in Lama, Sanarica, Sannicola, Santa Cesarea Terme, Scorrano, Secli`, Sogliano Cavour, Soleto, Specchia, Spongano, Squinzano, Sternatia, Supersano, Surano, Surbo, Taurisano, Taviano, Tiggiano, Trepuzzi, Tricase, Tuglie, Ugento, Uggiano La Chiesa, Veglie, Vernole, Zollino.

Province of Taranto:

Avetrana, Carosino, Castellaneta, Crispiano, Faggiano, Fragagnano, Ginosa, Grottaglie, Laterza, Leporano, Lizzano, Manduria, Martina Franca, Maruggio, Massafra, Monteiasi, Montemesola, Monteparano, Mottola, Palagianello, Palagiano, Pulsano, Roccaforzata, San Giorgio Ionico, San Marzano di San Giuseppe, Sava, Statte, Taranto, Torricella.

Puglianello (BN): A commune in the province of Benevento. Population: 1,402 (2006e).

Punic: an ethnic term derived from the Latin word Poenus for Phoenician; refers to Phoenician or Carthaginian material in the west Mediterranean. When used as a period designation, it normally refers to the years c. 500-146 BC.

Puteolanum: A country villa in Campania that belonged to Cicero. It received its name from the nearby town of Puteoli (mod. Pozzuoli). It was here that Cicero wrote his Questiones Academicae and was the site for Emperor Hadrian’s burial.

Puteolanus sinus: An ancient Roman name for the Bay of Naples along the coast of Campania. It derived its name from the important sea-port of Puteoli.

Puteoli (mod. Pozzuoli): ancient city of Campania, S Italy, 8 mi (13 km) W of Naples. Founded as Dicaearchia in c.520 B.C. by Samian Greeks from nearby Cumae, it came under Roman control by the end of the 4th cent. B.C. and was made a citizen colony in 194 BC. Further colonists were added during the reigns of Augustus, Nero, and Vespasian. It became famous as Rome’s principal port of entry for Eastern trade, handling notably mosaics, pottery, and perfumes. The shops were rich, and the city was surrounded by handsome villas. Puteoli owed its prosperity and importance to its excellent harbor, protected by a mole. It lost a certain amount of significance after the development of the port facilities at Ostia, but continued to thrive until the early 5th century. In AD 410, it was attacked and destroyed by the Visigoths under Alaric. It suffered similar attacks in 455 from the Vandals and in 545 from the Ostrogoths under Totila. After each destruction the city was rebuilt.

                In Christian history, Puteoli is remembered as the port where St. Paul disembarked and remained for seven days during his journey to Rome.

Putignano (BA): A commune in the province of Bari: Population: 27,770 (2006e).

putto (pl. putti): a cherub. Putti are a common feature found in religious paintings and sculpture since the time of the Renaissance. Depictions of these little, winged, boys actually predate Christianity, appeared in Roman sculpted motifs as early as the 2nd Century BC. They are particularly common in the Baroque decorations of churchs in Naples, Palermo, and elsewhere.

Pythagoras: Ruler of Akragas (r?-510 BC).

Pythagoras of Rhegium: (b. Rhegium; fl. 480-430 BC). Sculptor. A contemporary of Myron and Polyclitus, he also specialized in depicting athletic champions. Among his subjects was Euthymus of Locri, whose statue he created after the latter’s third boxing victory at the Olympics in 472 BC.

Pythagoras of Samos: (b. c569 BC-475 BC). Mathematician and mystical philosopher. Born on the Aegean island of Samos in c569 BC, Pythagoras was the son of Mnesarchus, a Phoenician merchant from the city of Tyre, and Pythais, a Greek woman of Samos. According to Porphyry, Mnesarchus had brought much needed grain to Samos during a time of famine and was rewarded with a grant of citizenship. As soon as Pythagoras was old enough, he began to accompany his father on voyages and visited many of the land of the eastern Mediterranean. Some accounts say that Mnesarchus brought him back to Tyre where Pythagoras received instruction from the Chaldaeans, the foremost astrologers of their time, and other teachers. For three years he studied at Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos, receiving initiation into secret mystery rites (c548 BC), which included the revelation of higher mathematics. He also continued his voyages with his father and in believed to have made his first visit to Greek Italy during this time.

                Most of the details of Pythagoras’s early life are uncertain, dating to writers of much later date. Some things, however, seem to have a certain degree of reliability. There is no genuine description of his appearance although he is though to have had an unusual birthmark on his thigh. He probably had siblings, but the sources differ whether he had two or three brothers. It seems certain that his education was extensive. Besides the “mystical” Chaldaeans, he also was educated in Greek philosophy. Sources name Pherekydes, Thales, and Anaximander as his tutors. These last two lived at Miletus would have furthered Pythagoras’ education in mathematics (especially geometry) and astronomy.

                Pythagoras returned home to Samos where he became friends with Polycrates, who had seized power at tyrant on the island. Carrying letters of introduction from Polycrates, Pythagoras visited Egypt in c535 BC, where he was allowed to visit a number of temples and be familiarized with many of the Egyptian mysteries. These seem to have brought him even greater enlightenment into the mysteries of mathematics.

                In 525 BC, Pythagoras was still in Egypt when he was caught up in the Persian invasion under Cambysis II. Taken prisoner by the Persians, he was taken as a captive to Babylon. While there he made the best of his situation by learning all that he could about the religion, mysticism, arts and sciences of the Babylonians. It was here that he discovered much about the relationships of mathematics and music.

                Having regained his freedom, Pythagoras returned to Samos in c520 BC. There is some conflict in the sources as to whether the island was still under the rule of Polycrates at this time or under Persian control. Soon after this Pythagoras visited Crete, where spent time studying law. Upon returning to Samos, he founded his first school, known as the Semicircle, in which he began to reveal some of the knowledge that he gained over the years.

                The date and the reason for Pythagoras’s final departure from Samos are much debated. According to Iamblichus, his teachings were not well received by the Samians and he found himself constantly being imposed upon for civic duties. Whatever the causes, Pythagoras abandoned his school at Samos and relocated himself at Croton (modern Crotone) in Magna Graecia. There are a wide range of dates as to when Pythagoras moved to Italy. Sources put it as early as c530 BC to as late as c518 BC.

                Pythagoras found Croton a most welcoming place and he was given unrestricted license in establishing his school there. Thanks to his influence, Croton was to enter a period of great economical prosperity and political dominance, and military strength. The Pythagorean School will spread throughout much of the Greek world and have a long-lasting effect on western thought for centuries thereafter. The school centered on an inner circle of male and female initiates known as mathematikoi. This group lived permanently within the Society under the direct control of Pythagoras, renouncing all personal possessions and subsisting on a strict vegetarian diet. The majority of the Society consisted of an outer circle known as the akousmatics. Members of the outer group lived in their own homes and had access to the Society only at in the daytime. Unlike the mathematikoi, the akousmatics had no restrictions on their diet or behavior and could own personal possessions.

Pythagoreanism was based particular principles:

1.             True reality is based on mathematics.

2.             Spiritual purification was attainable through the study of philosophy.

3.             The soul can rise to union with the divine.

4.             Certain symbols have hidden mystical meanings.

5.             The mathematikoi must observe strict loyalty and obedience to the Society.

The Society was devoted to the religious, political, moral and social reform of all society.

                Pythagoras appears to have made only one extended voyage after settling at Croton. In 513 BC, he went to Delos to visit his old tutor Pherekydes, who was close to death.

                The success which Pythagoras brought to Croton proved to ultimately be his downfall. In 510 BC, Croton went to war with its neighbor, Sybaris. Victorious on the battlefield, the Crotoniates finalized their triumph with the complete destruction of Sybaris and the near-total massacre of its people. Much of the credit for Croton’s success was given to Pythagoras and the members of his school. Croton now controlled a large portion of southern Italy, and Pythagoras was the spiritual leader of Croton.

                For the next few years, the Pythagoreans enjoyed great success and power. Membership in the school was a mark of highest status and sought by many. One such hopeful was Cylon, a man of Croton, of great wealth and high birth, but low character. Pythagoras refused to admit Cylon, who promised revenge on the philosopher and his followers.

                Cylon was able to rouse resentment in Croton up against the Pythagoreans.  Forced to flee from Croton, Pythagoras went to Metapontum. As with so much about his life, the details of Pythagoras death are much debated. His passing is dated between 490 BC and 475 BC. His school, however, survived him, though its exact fate it also uncertain. Pythagoreanism certainly played a strong role in influencing later Greek philosophy and science.