In Simon Critchley's The Book of Dead Philosophers
, he writes, "Sadly, it is now almost universally assumed by classical scholars that Pythagoras never existed. It seems that there was a group of people in southern Italy called Pythagoreans who invented a "Founder" for their beliefs who, accordingly, lived and died in a manner consistent with those beliefs." I have never heard this. Is this true? (There are two questions here: is it true that Pythagoras probably didn't exist? And: is it true that this is almost universally assumed by classical scholars?)
Annoyingly, Critchley doesn't provide a citation. He writes in the introduction, "I have decided not to clutter the text with footnotes. The reader will have to trust me." If he's wrong about this, which I fear he is, he's lost my trust entirely. And that would be unhappy, because there are a lot of cute little "facts" about philosophers in this book that I'd like to hand on to. So I hope that I'm wrong.
BTW, here's a really interesting article about Pythagoras, by M. F. Burnyeat, that I found when looking for information on this topic. Burnyeat doesn't mention anything about Pythagoras being a myth, even though it seems like the sort of thing that would be mentioned in this article were it an acceptable hypothesis.