Chapter I. Importance of the Subject
Since wise people are in the habit of invoking the divinities at the beginning of any philosophic consideration, this is all the more necessary on studying that one which is justly named after the divine Pythagoras. Inasmuch as it emanated from the divinities it could not be apprehended without their inspiration and assistance. Besides, its beauty and majesty so surpasses human capacity, that it cannot be comprehended in one glance. Gradually only can some details of it be mastered when, under divine guidance we approach the subject with a quiet mind. Having therefore invoked the divine guidance, and adapted ourselves and our style to the divine circumstances, we shall acquiesce in all the suggestions that come to us. Therefore we shall not begin with any excuses for the long neglect of this sect, nor by any explanations about its having been concealed by foreign disciplines, or mystic symbols, nor insist that it has been obscured by false and spurious writings, nor make apologies for any special hindrances to its progress. For us it is sufficient that this is the will of the Gods, which all enable us to undertake tasks even more arduous than these. Having thus acknowledged our primary submission to the divinities, our secondary devotion shall be to the prince and father of this philosophy as a leader. We shall, however have to begin by a study of his descent and nationality.
Chapter II. Youth, Education, Travels
It is reported that Ancaeus, who dwelt in Cephallenian Samos, was descended from Jupiter, the fame of which honorable descent might have been derived from his virtue, or from a certain magnanimity; in any case, he surpassed the remainder of the Cephallenians in wisdom and renown. This Ancaeus was, by the Pythian oracle, bidden form a colony from Arcadia and Thessaly; and besides leading some inhabitants of Athens, Epidaurus, and Chalcis, he was to render habitable an island, which, from the virtue of the soil and vegetation was to be called Blackleaved, while the city was to be called Samos, after Same, in Cephallenia. The oracle ran thus: “I bid you, Ancaeus, to colonise the maritime island of Same, and to call it Phyllas.” That the colony originated from these places is proved first from the divinities, and their sacrifices, which were imported by the inhabitants, second by the relationships of the families, and third by their Samian gatherings.
From the family and alliance of this Ancaeus, founder of the colony, were therefore descended Pythagoras’s parents Mnesarchus and Pythais. That Pythagoras was the son of Apollo is a legend due to a certain Samian poet, who thus described the popular recognition of the nobility of his birth.
“Pythais, the fairest of the Samian race From the embraces of the God Apollo Bore Pythagoras, the friend of Jove.”
It might be worth while to relate the circumstances of the prevalence of this report. Mnesarchus had gone to Delphi on a business trip, leaving his wife without any signs of pregnancy. He enquired of
the oracle about the event of his return voyage to Syria, and he was informed that his trip would be lucrative, and most conformable to his wishes; but that his wife was now with child, and would present him with a son who would surpass all who had ever lived in beauty and wisdom, and that he would be of the greatest benefit to the human race in everything pertaining to human achievements. But when Mnesarchus realized that the God, without waiting for any question about a son, had by an oracle informed him that he would possess an illustrious prerogative, and a truly divine gift, he immediately changed his wife’s former name Parthenis to one reminiscent of the Delphic prophet and her son, naming her Pythais, and the infant, who was soon after born at Sidon in Phoenicia, Pythagoras, by this name commemorating that such an offspring had been promised him by the Pythian Apollo. The assertions of Epimenides, Eudoxus and Xenocrates, that Apollo having at that time already had actual connexion with Parthenis, causing her pregnancy, had regularized that fact by predicting the birth of Pythagoras, are by no means to be admitted. No one will deny that the soul of Pythagoras was sent to mankind from Apollo’s domain, having either been one of his attendants, or more intimate associates, which may be inferred both from his birth, and his versatile wisdom.
After Mnesarchus had returned from Syria to Samos, with great wealth derived from a favorable sea-voyage, he built a temple to Apollo, with the inscription of Pythius. He took care that his son should enjoy the best possible education, studying under Creophilus, then under Phorecydos the Syrian, and then under almost all who presided over sacred concerns, to whom he especially recommended his son, that he might be as expert as possible in divinity. Thus by education and good fortune he became the most beautiful and godlike of all those who have been celebrated in the annals of history.
After his father’s death, though he was still but a youth, his aspect was so venerable, and his habits so temperate that he was honored and even reverenced by elderly men, attracting the attention of all who saw and heard him speak, creating the most profound impression. That is the reason that many plausibly asserted that he was a child of the divinity. Enjoying the privilege of such a renown, of an education so thorough from infancy, and of so impressive a natural appearance he showed that he deserved all these advantages by deserving them, by the adornment of piety and discipline, by exquisite habits, by firmness of soul, and by a body duly subjected to the mandates of reason. An inimitable quiet and serenity marked all his words and actions, soaring above all laughter, emulation, contention, or any other irregularity or eccentricity; his influence at Samos was that of some beneficent divinity. His great renown, while yet a youth, reached not only men as illustrious for their wisdom as Thales at Miletus, and Bias at Prione, but also extended to the neighboring cities. He was celebrated everywhere as the “long-haired Samian,” and by the multitude was given credit for being under divine inspiration.
When he had attained his eighteenth year, there arose the tyranny of Policrates; and Pythagoras foresaw that under such a government his studies might be impeded, as they engrossed the whole of his attention. So by night he privately departed with one Hermodamas, who was surnamed Creophilus, and was the grandson of the host, friend and general preceptor of the poet Homer, going to Phorecydes, to Anaximander the natural philosopher, and to Thales at Miletu. He successively associated with each of those philosophers in a manner such that they all loved him, admired his natural endowments, and admitted him to the best of their doctrines, Thales especially, on gladly admitting him to the intimacies of his confidence, admired the great difference between him and other young men, who were in every accomplishment surpassed by Pythagoras. After increasing the reputation Pythagoras had already acquired, by communicating to him the utmost he was able to impart to him, Thales, laying stress on his advanced age and the infirmities of his body, advised him to go to Egypt, to get in touch with the priests of Memphis and Jupiter. Thales confessed that the instruction of these priests was the source of his own reputation for wisdom, while neither his own endowments nor achievements equaled those which were so evident in Pythagoras. Thales insisted that, in view of all this, if Pythagoras should study with those priests, he was certain of becoming the wisest and most divine of men.
Chapter III. Journey To Egypt
Pythagoras had benefited by the instruction of Thales in many respects, but his greatest lesson had been to learn the value of saving time, which led him to abstain entirely from wine and animal food, avoiding greediness, confining himself to nutriments of easy preparation and digestion. As a result, his sleep was short, his soul pure and vigilant, and the general health of his body was invariable.
Enjoying such advantages, therefore, he sailed to Sidon, which he knew to be his native country, and because it was on his way to Egypt. In Phoenicia he conversed with the prophets who were the descendants of Moschus the physiologist, and with many others, as well as with the local hierephants. He was also initiated into all the mysteries of Byblus and Tyre, and in the sacred functions performed in many parts of Syria. He was led to all this not from any hankering after superstition as might easily be supposed, but rather from a desire of and love for contemplation, and from an anxiety to miss nothing of the mysteries of the divinities which deserved to be learned. After gaining all he could from the Phoenician mysteries, he found that they had originated from the sacred rites of Egypt, forming as it were an Egyptian colony. This led him to hope that in Egypt itself he might find monuments of erudition still more genuine, beautiful, and divine. Therefore following the advice of his teacher Thales, he left, as soon as possible, through the agency of some Egyptian sailors, who very opportunely happened to land on the Phoenician coast under Mount Carmel, in the temple on the peak of which Pythagoras for the most part dwelt in solitude.
He was gladly received by the sailors who intended to make a great profit by selling him into slavery. But they changed their mind in his favor during the voyage, when they perceived the chastened venerability of the mode of life he had undertaken. They began to reflect that there was something supernatural in the youth’s modesty, and in the manner in which he had unexpectedly appeared to them on their landing, when from the summit of Mount Carmel, which they know to be more sacred than other mountains, and quite inaccessible to the vulgar, he had leisurely descended without looking back, avoiding all delay from precipices or difficult rocks and that when he came to the boat, he said nothing more than, “Are you bound for Egypt?” And farther that, on their answering affirmatively, he had got aboard, and had, during the whole trip sat silent where he would be least likely to inconvenience them at their tasks. For two nights and three days Pythagoras had remained in the same unmoved position, without food, drink, or sleep, except that, unnoticed by the sailors, he might have dozed while sitting upright. Moreover the sailors considered that, contrary to their expectations, their voyage had proceeded without interruptions, as if some deity had been on board. From all these circumstances they concluded that a very divinity had passed over with them from Syria into Egypt.
Addressing Pythagoras and each other with a gentleness and propriety that was unwonted, they completed the remainder of their voyage through a halcyon sea, and at length happily landed on the Egyptian coast. Reverently the sailors here assisted him to disembark; and after they had seen him safe onto a firm beach, they raised before him a temporary altar, heaped on it the now abundant fruits of trees, as if these were the first-fruits of their freight, presented then to him and departed hastily to their destination. Pythagoras, however, whose body had become emaciated through the severity of so long a fast, did not refuse the sailors’ help in landing, and as soon as they had left partook of as much of the fruits as was requisite to restore his physical vigor. Then he went inland, in entire safety preserving his wonted tranquillity and modesty.
Chapter IV. Studies In Egypt And Babylonia
Here in Egypt he frequented all the temples with the greatest diligence, and most studious research, during which time he won the esteem and admiration of all the priests and prophets with whom he associated. Having most solicitously familiarized himself with every detail, he did not, nevertheless, neglect any contemporary celebrity, whether sage renowned for wisdom, or peculiarly performed mystery; he did not fail to visit any place where he thought he might discover something worthwhile. That is how he visited all of the Egyptian priests, acquiring all the wisdom each possessed.
He thus passed twenty-two years in the sanctuaries of temples, studying astronomy and geometry, and being initiated in no casual or superficial manner in all the mysteries of the Gods. At length, however, he was taken captive by the soldiers of Cambyses, and carried off to Babylon. Here he was overjoyed to associate with the Magi, who instructed him in their venerable knowledge, and in the most perfect worship of the Gods. Through their assistance, likewise, he studied and completed arithmetic, music, and all the other sciences. After twelve years, about the fifty-sixth year of his age, he returned to Samos.
Chapter V. Travels in Greece; Settlement at Crotona
On his return to Samos he was recognized by some of the older inhabitants, who found that he had gained in beauty and wisdom, and achieved a divine graciousness; wherefore they admired him all the more. He was officially invited to benefit all men by imparting his knowledge publicly. To this he was not averse; but the method of teaching he wished to introduce was the symbolical one, in a manner similar to that in which he had been instructed in Egypt. This mode of teaching, however did not please the Simians, whose attention lacked perseverance. Not one proved genuinely desirous of those mathematical disciplines which he was so anxious to introduce among the Greeks; and soon he was left entirely alone. This however did not embitter him to the point of neglecting or despising Samos. Because it was his home town; he desired to give his fellow-citizens a taste of the sweetness of the mathematical disciplines, in spite of their refusal to learn. To overcome this he devised and executed the following stratagem. In the gymnasium he happened to observe the unusually skillful and masterful ball-playing of a youth who was greatly devoted to physical culture, but impecunious and in difficult circumstances. Pythagoras wondered whether this youth if supplied with the necessaries of life, and freed from the anxiety of supplying them, could be induced to study with him. Pythagoras therefore called the youth, as he was leaving the bath, and made him the proposition to furnish him the means to continue his physical training, on the condition that he would study with him easily and gradually, but continuously so as to avoid confusion and distraction, certain discipline which he claimed to have learned from the Barbarians in his youth, but which were now beginning to desert him in consequence of the inroads of the forgetfulness of old age. Moved by hopes of financial support, the youth took up the proposition without delay. Pythagoras then introduced him to the rudiments of arithmetic and geometry, illustrating them objectively on an abacus, paying him three oboli as fee for the learning of every figure. This was continued for a long time, the youth being incited to the study of geometry by the desire for honor, with diligence, and in the best order. But when the sage observed that the youth had become so captivated by the logic, ingeniousness and style of those demonstrations to which he had been led in an orderly way, that he would no longer neglect their pursuit merely because of the sufferings of poverty, Pythagoras pretended poverty, and consequent inability to continue the payment of the three oboli fee. On hearing this, the youth replied, that even without the fee he could go on learning and receiving this instruction. Then Pythagoras said, “But even I myself am lacking the means to procure food!”As he would have to work to earn his living, he ought not to be distracted by the abacus and other trifling occupations. The youth, however, loath to discontinue his studies, replied, “In the future, it is I who will provide for you, and repay your kindness in a way resembling that of the stork; for in my turn, I will give you three oboli for every figure. From this time on he was so captivated by these disciplines, that, of all the Samians, he alone elected to leave home to follow Pythagoras, being a namesake of his, though differing in patronymie, being the son of Eratocles. It is probably to him that should be ascribed three books on Athletics, in which he recommends a diet of flesh, instead of dry figs, which of course would hardly have been written by the Mnesarchian Pythagoras.
About this time Pythagoras went to Delos where he was much admired as he approached the socalled bloodless altar of Father Apollo, and worshipped it. Then Pythagoras visited all the oracles. He dwelt for some time in Crete and Sparta, to learn their laws; and on acquiring proficiency therein he returned home to complete his former omissions. On his arrival in Samos, he first established a school, which is even now called, the Semicircle of Pythagoras, in which the Samians now consult about public affairs, feeling the fitness of dispensing justice and promoting profit in the place constructed by him who promoted the welfare of all mankind. Outside of the city he formed a cave adapted to the practices of his philosophy, in which he spent the greater part of day and night, ever busied with scientific research, and meditating as did Minos, the son of Jupiter. Indeed he surpassed those who later practised his disciplines chiefly in this, that they advertised themselves for the knowledge of theorems of minute importance, while Pythagoras unfolded a complete science of the celestial orbs, founding it on arithmetical and geometrical demonstrations. Still more than for all this, he is to be admired for what he accomplished later. His philosophy now gained great import ance, and his fame spread to all Greece so that the best students visited Samoa on his account, to share in his erudition. But his fellow-citizens insisted on employing him in all their embassies, and compelled him to take part in the administration of public affairs. Pythagoras began to realise the impossibility of complying with the claims of his country while remaining at home to advance his philosophy; and observing that all earlier philosophers had passed their life in foreign countries, he determined to resign all political occupations. Besides, according to contemporary testimony, he disgusted at the Samarians scorn for education.
Therefore he went to Italy, conceiving that his real fatherland must be the country containing the greatest number of most scholarly men. Such was the success of his journey that on his arrival at Crotona, the noblest city in Italy, that he gathered as many as six-hundred followers, who by his discourses were moved, not only to philosophical study, but to an amicable sharing of their worldly goods, whence they derived the names of Cenobites.
Chapter VI. The Pythagorean Community
The Cenobites were students that philosophized; but the greater part of his followers were called Hearers, of whom, according to Nicomachus there were two thousand that had been captivated by a single oration on his arrival in Italy. These, with their children, gathered into one immense auditory, called Auditorium, which was so great as to resemble a city, thus founding a place universally called Greater Greece. This great multitude of people, receiving from Pythagoras laws and mandates as so many divine precepts, without which they declined to engage in any occupation, dwelt together in the greatest general concord, estimated and celebrated by their neighbors as among the number of the blessed, who, as was already observed, shared all their possessions.
Such was their reverence for Pythagoras, that they ranked him with the Gods, as a genial beneficent divinity, while some celebrated him as the Pythian, others called him the Northern Apollo. Others considered him Paeon, others, one of the divinities that inhabit the moon; yet others considered that he was one of the Olympian Gods, who, in order to correct and improve terrestrial existence appeared to their contemporaries in human form, to extend to them the salutary light of philosophy and felicity. He never indeed came, nor, for that matter of that, ever will come to mankind a greater good than that which was imparted to the Greeks through this Pythagoras. Hence, even now, the nick-name of “long-haired Samian” is still applied to the most venerable among men.
In his treatise on the Pythagoric Philosophy, Aristotle relates that among the principal arcana of the Pythagoreans was preserved this distinction among rational animals: Gods, men, and beings like Pythagoras. Well indeed may they have done so, inasmuch as he introduced so just and apt a generalization as Gods, heroes and demons; of the world, of the manifold notions of the spheres and stars, their oppositions, eclipses, inequalities, eccentricities and epicycles; of all the natures contained in heaven and earth, together with the intermediate ones, whether apparent or occult. Nor was there, in all this variety of information, anything contrary to the phenomena, or to the conceptions of the mind. Besides all this, Pythagoras unfolded to the Greeks all the disciplines, theories and researches that would purify the intellect from the blindness introduced by studies of a different kind, so as to enable it to perceive the true principles and causes of the universe.
In addition, the best polity, popular concord, community of possessions among friends, worship of the Gods, piety to the dead, legislation, erudition, silence, abstinence from eating the flesh of animals, continence, temperance, sagacity, divinity, and in one word, whatever is anxiously desired by the scholarly, was brought to light by Pythagoras. It was, on account of all this, as we have already observed, that Pythagoras was so much admired.
Chapter VII. Italian Political Achievements
Now we must relate how he traveled, what places he first visited, and what discourses he made, on what subjects, and to whom addressed; for this would illustrate his contemporary relations. His first task, on arriving in Italy and Sicily, was to inspire with a love of liberty those cities which he understood had more or less recently oppressed each other with slavery. Then, by means of his auditors, he liberated and restored to independence Crotona, Sybaris, Catanes, Rhegium, Himaera, Agrigentum, Tauromenas and some other cities. Through Charondas the Catanaean, and Zaleucus the Locrian, he established laws which caused the cities to flourish, and become models for others in their proximity. Partisanship, discord and sedition, and that for several generations, he entirely rooted out, as history testifies, from all the Italian and Sicilian lands, which at that time were disturbed by inner and outer contentions. Everywhere, in private and in public, he would repeat, as an epitome of his own opinions, and as a persuasive oracle of divinity, that by any means so ever; stratagem, fire, or sword, we should amputate from the body, disease; from the soul ignorance; from the belly, luxury; from a city, sedition; from a household, discord; and from all things so ever, lack of moderation; through which he brought home to his disciples the quintessence of all teachings, and that with a most paternal affection. For the sake of accuracy, we may state that the year of his arrival in Italy was that one of the Olympic victory in the stadium of Eryxidas of Chalcis, in the sixty-second Olympiad. He became conspicuous and celebrated as soon as he arrived, just as formerly he achieved instant recognition at Delos, when he performed his adorations at the bloodless altar of Father Apollo.
Chapter VIII. Intuition, Reverence, Temperance, and Studiousness
One day, during a trip from Sybaris to Crotona, by the sea-shore, he happened to meet some fishermen engaged in drawing up from the deep their heavily-laden fish-nets. He told them he knew the exact number of the fish they had caught. The surprised fishermen declared that if he was right they would do anything he said. He then ordered them, after counting the fish accurately, to return them alive to the sea, and what is more wonderful, while he stood on the shore, not one of them died, though they had remained out of their natural element quite a little while. Pythagoras then paid the fisher-men the price of their fish, and departed for Crotona. The fishermen divulged the occurrence, and on discovering his name from some children, spread it abroad publicly. Everybody wanted to see the stranger, which was easy enough to do. They were deeply impressed on beholding his countenance, which indeed betrayed his real nature.
A few days later, on entering in the gymnasium, he was surrounded by a crowd of young men, and he embraced this opportunity to address them, exhorting them to attend to their elders, pointing out to them the general preeminence of the early over the late. He instanced that the East was more important than the West, the morning than the evening, the beginning than the end, growth than decay; natives than strangers, city-planners than city-builders; and in general that Gods were more worthy of honor than, divinities, divinities than semi-divinities, and heroes than men; and that among these the authors of birth in importance excelled their progeny. All this, however, he said only to prove by indiction, that children should honor their parents to whom, he asserted, they were as much indebted for gratitude as would be a dead man to him who should bring him back to life, and light. He continued to observe that it was no more than just to avoid paining, and to love preeminently those who had benefited us first and most. Prior to the children’s birth, these are benefited by their parents exclusively, being the springs of their offspring’s righteous conduct. In any case, it is impossible for children to ere by not allowing themselves to be outdistanced in reciprocation of benefits, towards their parents. Besides, since from our parents we learn to honor divinity, no doubt the Gods will pardon those who honor their parents no less than those who honor the Gods, (thus making common cause with them). Homer even applied the paternal name to the King of the Gods, calling lim the father of Gods and men. Many other mythologists informed us that the chiefs of the Gods even were anxious to claim for themselves that superlative affection which, through marriage, binds chil dren to their parents. That is why (the Orphic theologians) introduced among the Gods the terms father and mother, Jupiter begetting Minerva, while Juno produced Vulcan, the nature of which offspring is contrary so as to unite the most remote through friendship. As this argument about the immortals proved convincing to the Crotonians, Pythagoras continued to enforce voluntary obedience to the parental wishes, by the example of Hercules, who had been the founder of the Crotonian colony. Tradition indeed informed us that divinity had undertaken labors so great out of obedience to the commands of a senior, and that after his victories therein, he instituted the Olympic games in honor of his father. Their mutual association should never result in hostility to friends, but in transforming their own hostility into friendship. Their benevolent filial disposition should manifest as modesty, while their universal philanthropy should take the form of fraternal consideration and affection.
Temperance was the next topic of his discourses. Since the desires are most flourishing during youth, this is the time when control must be effective. While temperance alone is universal in its application to all ages, boy, virgin, woman, or the aged, yet this special virtue is particularly applicable to youth. Moreover, this virtue alone applied universally to all goods, those of body and soul, preserving both the health, and studiousness. This may be proved conversely. When the Greeks and Barbarians warred about Troy, each of them feel into the most dreadful calamities, both during the War, and the return home, and all this through the incontinence of a single individual. Moreover, the divinity ordained that the punishment of this single injustice should last over a thousand and ten years, by an oracle predicting the capture of Troy, and ordering that annually the Locrians should send virgins into the Temple of Minerva in Troy.
Cultivation of learning was the next topic Pythagoras urged upon the young men. He invited them to observe how absurd it would be to rate the reasoning power as the chief of their faculties, and indeed consult about all other things by its means, and yet bestow no time or labor on its exercise. Attention to the body might be compared to unworthy friends, and is liable to rapid failure; while erudition lasts till death, and for some procures post-mortem renown, and may be likened to good, reliable friends. Pythagoras continued to draw illustrations from history and philosophy, demonstrating that erudition enables a naturally excellent disposition to share in the achievements of the leaders of the race. For others share in their discoveries by erudition.
Erudition (possesses four great advantages over all other goods). First, some advantages, such as strength, beauty, health and fortitude, cannot be exercised except by the cooperation of somebody else. Moreover, wealth, dominion, and many other goods do not remain with him who imparts them to somebody else. Third, some kinds of goods cannot be possessed by some men, but all are susceptible of instruction, according to the individual choice. Moreover, an instructed man will naturally, and without any impudence, be led to take part in the administration of the affairs of his home country, (as does not occur with more wealth). One great advantage of erudition is that it may be imparted to another person without in the least diminishing the store of the giver. For it is education which makes the difference between a man and a wild beast, a Greek and a Barbarian, a free man and a slave, and a philosopher from a boor. In short, erudition is so great an advantage over those who do not possess it, that in one whole city and during one whole Olympiad seven men only were found to be eminent winners in racing, and that in the whole habitable globe those that excelled in wisdom amounted to no more than seven. But in subsequent times it was generally agreed that Pythagoras alone surpassed all others in philosophy; for instead of calling himself a sage, he called himself a philosopher.
Chapter IX. Community and Chastity
What Pythagoras said to the youths in the Gymnasium, these reported to their elders. Hereupon these latter, a thousand strong, called him into the senate-house, praised him for what he had said to their sons, and desired him to unfold to the public administration any thoughts advantageous to the Crotonians, which he might have.
His first advice was to build a temple to the Muses, which would preserve the already existing concord. He observed to them that all of these divinities were grouped together by their common name, that they subsisted only in conjunction with each other, that they specially rejoiced in social honors, and that (in spite of all changes) the choir of the Muses subsisted always one and the same. They comprehended symphony, harmony, rhythm, and all things breeding concord. Not only to beautiful theorems does their power extend, but to the general symphonius harmony.
(Justice) was the next desideratum. Their common country was not to be victimized selfishly, but to be received as a common deposit from the multitude of citizens. They should therefore govern it in a manner such that, as an hereditary possession they might transmit it into their posterity. This could best be effected if the members of the administration realised their equality with the citizens, with the only supereminence of justice. It is from the common recognition that justice is required in every place, that were created the fables that Themis seated in the same order with Jupiter, and that Dice, or rightness, is seated by Pluto, and that Law is established in all cities, so that whoever is un just in things required of him by his position in society, may concurrently appear unjust towards the whole world. Moreover, senators should not make use of any of the Gods for the purpose of an oath, inasmuch as their language should be such as to make them credible even without any oaths.
As to their domestic affairs, their government should be the object of deliberate choice. They should show genuine affection to their own offspring, remembering that these, from among all animals, were the only ones who could appreciate this affection. Their associations with their partners in life, their wives, should be such as to be mindful that while other compacts are engraved in tables and pillars, the uxorial ones are incarnated in children. They should moreover make an effort to win the affection of their children, not merely in a natural, involuntary manner, but through deliberate choice, which alone merits beneficence.
He further besought them to avoid connexion with any but their wives; lest, angered by their husbands’ neglect and vice, these should not get even by adulterating the race. They should also consider that they received their wives from the Vestal hearth with libations, and brought them home in the presence of the Gods themselves as suppliants would have done. Also that by orderly conduct and temperance they should become model not only for their family, but also for their community.
Again, they should minimize public vice, lest offenders indulge in secret sins to escape the punishment of the laws, but should, rather be impelled to justice from reverence for beauty and propriety. Procrastination also was to be ended inasmuch as opportuneness was the best part of any deed. The separation of parents from their children Pythagoras considered the greatest of evils. While he who is able to discern what is advantageous to himself may be considered the best man, next to him in excellence should be ranked he who can see the utility in what happens to others; while the worst man was he who waited till he himself was afflicted before under standing where true advantage lies. Seekers of honor might well imitate racers, who do not injure their antagonists, but limit themselves to trying to achieve the victory themselves. Administrators of public affairs should not betray offense at being contradicted, but on the other hand benefit the tractable. Seekers of true glory should strive really to become what they wished to seem; for counsel is not as sacred as praise, the former being useful only among men, while the latter mostly referred to the divinities.
In closing, he reminded those that their city happened to have been founded by Hercules, at a time when, having been injured by Lacinius, he drove the oxen through Italy; when, rendering assistance to Croton by night, mistaking him for an enemy he slew him unintentionally. Wherefore Hercules promised that a city should be built over the sepulchre of Croton and from him derive the name Crotona, thus endowing him with immortality. Therefore, said Pythagoras to the rulers of the city, these should justly render thanks for the benefits they had received.
The Crotonians, on hearing his words built a temple to the Muses, and drove away their concubines, and requested Pythagoras to address the young men in the temple of Pyhian Apollo, and the women in the temple of Juno.
Chapter X. Advice to Youths
To boys Pythagoras, complying with their parents’ request, gave the following advice. They should neither revile any one nor revenge themselves on those who did. They should devote themselves diligently to learning, which in Greek derives its name from their age. A youth who started out modestly would find it easy to preserve probity for the remainder of his life, which would be a difficult task for one who at that age was not well disposed; nay, for one who begins his course from a bad impulse to run well to the end is almost impossible.
Pythagoras pointed out that boys were most dear to the divinities; and he pointed out that, in times of great drought, cities would send boys as ambassadors to implore rain from the Gods, in the persuasion that divinity is especially attentive to children, although such as are permitted to take part in sacred ceremonies continuously hardly ever arrive at perfect purification. That is also the reason why the most philanthropic of the Gods, Apollo and Love, are, in pictures, universally represented as having the ages of boys. It is similarly recognized that some of the games in which conquerors are crowned were instituted for the behoof of boys; the Pythian, in consequence of the serpent Py thon having been slain by a boy, and the Nemean and Istimian, because of the death of Archemerus and Nelicerta.
Moreover, while the city of Crotona, was building, Apollo promised to the founder that he would give him a progeny, if he brought a colony into Italy, inferring therefrom that Apollo presided over their development, and that inasmuch as all the divinities protected their age, it was no more than fair that they should render themselves worthy of their friendship. He added that they should practise hearing, so that they might learn to speak. Further, that as soon as they had entered on the path along which they intended to proceed for the remainder of their existence, they should imitate their predecessors, never contradicting those who were their seniors. For later on, when they themselves will have grown, they will justly expect not to be injured by their future juniors. Because of these moral teachings, Pythagoras deserved no longer to be called by his patronymic, but that all men should call him divine.
Chapter XI. Advice to Women
To the women Pythagoras spoke as follows, about sacrifices. To begin with, inasmuch as it was no more than natural that they would wish that some other person who intended to pray for them should be worthy, nay, excellent, because the Gods attend to those particularly, so also it is advisable that they themselves should most highly esteem equity and modesty, so that the divinities may be the more inclined to grant their requests.
Further, they should offer to the divinities such things as they themselves have with their own hands produced, such as cakes, honey-combs, [to-ers?] and perfumes, and should bring them to the altars without the assistance of servants.
They should not worship divinities with blood and dead bodies, nor offer so many things at one time that it might seem they meant never to sacrifice again.
Concerning their association with men, they, should remember that their female nature had by their parents been granted the license to love their husbands more excessively than even the authors of their existence. Consequently they should take care neither to oppose their husbands, nor consider that they have subjected their husbands should these latter yield to them in any detail.
It was in the same assembly that Pythagoras is said to have made the celebrated suggestion that, after a woman has had connexion with her husband, it is holy for her to perform sacred rites on the same day, which would be inadmissible, had the connection been with any man other than her husband.
He also advised the women that their conversation should always be cheerful, and to endeavor that others may speak good things of them. He further admonished them to care for their good reputation, and to try not to justify the fable-writer who accused three women of using a single eye in common, so great is their mutual willingness to accommodate each other with the loan of garments
and ornaments, without a witness, when some one of them has special need thereof, returning them without arguments or litigation.
Further Pythagoras observed that (Mercury) who is called the wisest of all, who arranged the human voice, and in short, was the inventor of names, whether he was a God (in Jupiter, the supermundane gods, the liberated gods, or the planet Mercury), or a divinity (the Mercurial order of demons), or a certain divine man (the Egyptian Theuth, or in special animals such as the ibis, ape, or dogs), perceiving that the female sex was most given to devotion, gave to each of their ages the name of one divinity. So an unmarried woman was called Core, or Proserpine, a bride Nympha, a matron, Mother; and a grandmother, in the Doric dialect, Maia. Consequently, the oracles at Dodona and Delphi are brought to light by a woman.
By this praise of female piety Pythagoras is said to have effected so great a change in popular female attire, that the women no longer dared to dress up in costly raiment, consecrating thousands of their garments in the temple of Juno.
This discourse had effect also on marital fidelity, to an extent such that in the Crotonan region connubial faithfulness became proverbial; (thus imitating) Ulysses who, rather than abandon Penelope, considered immortality well lost. Pythagoras encouraged the Crotonian women to emulate Ulysses, by exhibiting their probity to their husbands. In short, through these (social) discourses Pythagoras acquired great fame both in Crotona, and in the rest of Italy.
Chapter XII. Why Pythagoras Calls Himself A Philosopher
(From Heraclides Ponticus, vi. 3 Cicero. Tusc. v. 3)
Pythagoras is said to have been the first to call himself a philosopher, a world which heretofore had not been an appellation, but a description. He likened the entrance of men into the present life to the progression of a crowd to some public spectacle. There assemble men of all descriptions and views. One hastens to sell his wares for money and gain; another exhibits his bodily strength for renown; but the most liberal assemble to observe the landscape, the beautiful works of art, the specimens of valor, and the customary literary productions. So also in the present life men of manifold pursuits are assembled. Some are incensed by the desire of riches and luxury; others by the love of power and dominion, or by insane ambition for glory. But the purest and most genuine character is that of the man who devotes himself to the contemplation of the most beautiful things; and he may properly be called a philosopher.
Pythagoras adds that the survey of the whole haven, and of the stars that revolve therein, is indeed beautiful, when we consider their order which is derived from participation in the first and intelligible essence. But that first essence is the nature and number of reasons (or, productive principles), which pervades everything, and according to which all these (celestial) bodies are arranged elegantly, and adorned fittingly. —–veritable wisdom is a science conversant with the first beautiful objects (the intelligible property so called); which subsist in invariable sameness, being undecaying and divine, by the participation in which other things also may well be called beautiful. The desire for something like this is philosophy. Similarly beautiful is devotion to erudition; and this notion Pythagoras extended, order to effect the improvement of the human race.
Chapter XIII. He Shared Orpheus’ Control Over Animals
According to credible historians, his words possessed an admonitory quality that prevailed even with animals, which confirms that, in intelligent men learning tames beasts even wild or irrational. The Daunian bear, who had severely injured the inhabitants, was by Pythagoras detained, long stroking it gently, feeding it on maize and acorns, and after compelling it by an oath to leave alone living beings, he sent it away. It hid itself in the mountains and forest, and was never since known to injure any irrational animal.
At Tarentum he saw an ox feeding in a pasture, where he ate green beans. He advised the herdsman to abstain from this food to tell the ox to abstain from this food. The herdsman laughed at him, remarking he did not know the language of oxen; but that if Pythagoras did, he had better tell him so himself. Pythagoras approached the ox’s ear and whispered into it for a long time, hereafter the ox not only refrained from them, but even never tasted them. This ox lived a long while at Tarentum, near the temple of Juno, and was fed on human food by visitors, till very old, considered sacred.
Once happening to be talking to his intimates about birds, symbols and prodigies, and observed that all these are messengers of the Gods, sent by them to men truly dear to them, when he brought down an eagle flying over Olympia, which he gently stroked and dismissed.
Through such and similar occurrences, Pythagoras demonstrated that he possessed the same dominion as Orpheus over savage animals, and that he allured and detained them by the power of his voice.
Chapter XIV. Pythagoras’s Preexistence
Pythagoras used to make the very best possible approach to men by teaching them what would prepare them to learn the truth in other matters. For by the clearest and surest indications he would remind many of his intimates of the former life lived by their soul before it was bound to their body. He would demonstrate by indubitable arguments that he had once been Eiuphorbus, son of Panthus, conqueror of Patroclus. He would especially praise the following funeral Homeric verses pertaining to himself, which he would sing to the lyre most elegantly, frequently repeating them.
“The shining circlets of his golden hair,
Which even the Graces might be proud to wear,
Instarred with gems and gold, bestrew the shore
With dust dishonored, and deformed with gore.
As the young olive, in some sylvan scene,
Crowned by fresh fountains with eternal green,
Lifts the gay head, in snowy flowerets fair,
And plays and dances to the gentle air;
When lo, a whirlwind from high heaven invades
The tender plant and withers all its shades;
It lies uprooted from its genial bed,
A lovely ruin now defaced and dead;
Thus young, thus beautiful Euphorbus lay,
While the fierce Spartan tore his arms away.”
Homer Iliad, 17, Pope.
We shall however omit the reports about the shield of this Phrygian Euphorbus, which, among other Trojan spoils, was dedicated to the Argive Juno, as being too popular in nature. What Pythagoras, however, wished to indicate by all those particulars was that he knew the former lives he had lived which enabled him to begin providential attention to others, in which he reminded them of their former existences.
Chapter XV. Pythagoras Cured by Medicine and Music
Pythagoras conceived that the first attention that should be given to men should be addressed to the senses, as when one perceives beautiful figures and forms, or hears beautiful rhythms and melodies. Consequently he laid down that the first erudition was that which subsists through music’s melodies and rhythms, and from these he obtained remedies of human manners and passions, and restored the pristine harmony of the faculties of the soul. Moreover, he devised medicines calculated to repress and cure the diseases of both bodies and souls. There is also, by heavens something which deserves to be mentioned above all: namely, that for his disciples he arranged and adjusted what might be called apparatus and massage, divinely contriving mingling of certain diatonic, chromatic and enharmonic melodies through which he easily switched and circulated the passions of the soul in a contrary direction, whenever they had accumulated recently, irrationally or clandestinely such as sorrow, rage, pity, over-emulation, fear, manifold desires, angers, appetites, pride, collapses, or spasms. Each of those he corrected by the use of virtue, attempering them through appropriate melodies, as if through some salutary medicine.
In the evening, likewise, when his disciples were retiring to sleep, he would thus liberate them from the day’s perturbations and tumults, purifying their intellective powers from the influxive and effluxive waves of corporeal nature, quieting their sleep, and rendering their dreams pleasing and prophetic. But when they arose again in the morning, he would free them from the night’s logginess, coma and torpor through certain peculiar chords and modulations, produced by either simply striking the lyre, or adapting the voice. Not through instrument or physical voice organs did Pythagoras effect this; but by the employment of a certain indescribable divinity, difficult of apprehension, through which he extended his power of hearing filing his intellect on the sublime symphonies of the world, he alone apparently hearing and grasping the universal harmony and consonance of the spheres, and the stars that are moved through them, producing a melody fuller and more intense than anything effected by mortal sounds. This melody was also the result of dissimilar and varying sounds, speeds, magnitudes and intervals arranged with reference to each other in a certain musical ratio, producing a convoluted motion most musical if gentle.
Irrigated therefore with this melody, his intellect ordered and exercised thereby, he would, to the best of his ability exhibit certain symbols of these things to his disciples, especially through imitations thereof through instruments or the physical organs of voice. For he conceived that, of all the inhabitants of earth, by him alone were these mundane sounds understood and heard, as if coming from the central spring and root of nature. He therefore thought himself worthy to be taught, and to learn something about the celestial orbs, and to be assimilated to them by desire and imitation, inasmuch as his body alone had been well enough thereto conformed by the divinity who had given birth to him. As to other men, he thought they should be satisfied with looking to him and the gifts he possessed, and in being benefited and corrected through images and examples, in consequence of their inability truly to comprehend the first and genuine archetypes of things. Just as to those who are unable to look intently at the sun we contrive to show its eclipses in either the reflections of still water, or in melted pitch, or some smoked glass, well burnished brazen mirror we spare the weakness of their eyes devising a method of representing light that is reflective, though less intense than its archetype, to those who are interested in this sort of a thing. This peculiar organization of Pythagoras’s body, far finer than that of any other man, seems to be what Empodocles was obscurely driving at in his enigmatical verses:
“Among the Pythagoreans was a man transcendent in knowledge;
Who possessed the most ample stores of intellectual wealth,
And in most eminent degree assisted in the works of the wise.
When he extended all the powers of his intellect,
He easily beheld everything,
As far as ten or twenty ages of the human race!”
These words “transcendent,” he beheld every detail of all beings, “and the wealth of intellect,” and so on, describe as accurately as at all possible his peculiar, and exceptionally accurate method of hearing, seeing and understanding.
Chapter XVI. Pythagorean Asceticism
Music therefore performed this Pythagorean adjustment. But another kind of purification of the discursive reason, and also of the whole soul, through various studies, was effected (by asceticism). He had a general notion that disciplines and studies should imply some form of labor; and therefore, like a legislator, he decreed trials of the most varied nature, punishments, and restraints by fire and sword, for innate intemperance, or an ineradicable desire for possession, which the depraved could neither suffer nor sustain. Moreover, his intimates were ordered to abstain from all animal food, and any other that are hostile to the reasoning power by impeding its genuine energies. On them he likewise enjoined suppression of speech, and perfect silence, exercising them for years at a time in the subjugation of the tongue, while strenuously and assiduously investigating and ruminating over the most difficult theorems. Hence also he ordered them to abstain from wine, to be sparing in the their food, to sleep little, and to cultivate an unstudied contempt of, and hostility to fame, wealth, and the like; unfeignedly to reverence those to whom reverence is due, genuinely to exercise democratic assimilation and heartiness towards their fellows in age, and towards their juniors courtesy, encouragement, without envy.
Moreover Pythagoras is generally acknowledged to have been the inventor and legislator of friendship, under its many various forms, such as universal amity of all towards all, of God towards men through their pity and scientific theories, or the mutual interrelation of teachings, or universally of the soul towards the body and of the rational to the rational part, through philosophy and its underlying theories; or whether it be that of men towards each other, or citizens indeed through sound legislation, but of strangers through a correct physiology; or of the husband to the wife or brothers and kindred, through unperverted communion; or whether, in short, it be of all things towards all, and still farther, of certain irrational animals through justice, and a physical connexion and association; or whether it be the pacification and conciliation of the body which of itself is mortal, and of its latent conflicting powers, through health and a temperate diet conformable to this, in imitation of the salubrious condition of the mundane elements.
In short, Pythagoras procured his disciples the most appropriate converse with the Gods, both waking and sleeping; something which never occurs in a soul disturbed by anger, pain, or pleasure, and surely, all the more, by any base desire, or defiled by ignorance, which is the most noxious and unholy of all the rest. By all these inventions, therefore, he divinely purified and healed the soul, resuscitating and saving it diving part, and directing to the intelligible its divine eye, which, as Plato says, is more worth saving than ten thousand corporeal eyes; for when it is strengthened and clarified by appropriate aids, when we look through this, we perceive the truth about all beings. In this particular respect, therefore, Pythagoras purified the discursive power of the soul. This is the (practical) form that erudition took with him, and such are the objects of his interest.
Chapter XVII. Tests of Pythagorean Initiation
As he therefore thus prepared his disciples for culture, he did not immediately receive as an associate any who came to him for that purpose until he had tested them and examined them judiciously. To begin with he inquired about their relation to their parents and kinsfolk. Next he surveyed their laughter, speech or silence, as to whether it was unreasonable; further, about their desires, their associates, their conversation, how they employed their leisure, and what were the subjects of their joy or grief. He observed their form, their gait, and the whole motions of their body. He considered their frame’s natural indications physiognomically, rating them as visible exponents of the invisible tendencies of the soul. After subjecting a candidate to such trials, he allowed him to be neglected for three years, still covertly observing his disposition towards stability, and genuine studiousness, and whether he was sufficiently averse to glory, and ready to despise popular honors.
After, this the candidate was compelled to observe silence for five years, so as to have made definite experiments in continence of speech, inasmuch as the subjugation of the tongue is the most difficult of all victories, as has indeed been unfolded by those who have instituted the mysteries. During this probation, however, the property of each was disposed of in common, being committed to trustees, who were called politicians, economizers or legislators. Of these probationers, after the quinquennial silence, those who by modest dignity had won his approval as worthy to share in his doctrines, then became esoterics, and within the veil both heard and saw Pythagoras. Prior to this they participated in his words through the hearing alone, without seeing him who remained within the veil, and themselves offering to him a specimen of their manners. If rejected, they were given the double of the wealth they had brought, but the auditors raised to him a tomb, as if they were dead; the disciples being generally called auditors.
Should these later happen to meet the rejected candidate, they would treat him as a stronger, declaring that he whom they had by education modeled had died, inasmuch as the object of these disciplines had been to be turned out good and honest men.
Those who were slow in the acquisition of knowledge were considered to be badly organized or, we may say, deficient, and sterile.
If, however, after Pythagoras had studied them physiognomically, their gait, motions and state of health, he conceived good hopes of them; and if, after the five years’ silence, and the emotions and initiations from so many disciplines together with the ablutions of the soul, and so many and so great purifications produced by such various theorems, through which sagacity and sanctity is ingrained into the soul. . . . . . . . . . . if, after all this even, someone was found to be still sluggish and dull, they would raise to such a candidate within the school a pillar or monument, such as was said to have been done to Perialus the Thurian, and Cylon the prince of the Sybarites, who were rejected, they expelled him from the auditorium, loading him down with silver and gold. This wealth had by them been deposited in common, in the care of certain custodians, aptly called Economics. Should any of the Pythagoreans later meet with the reject, they did not recognize him whom they accounted dead. Hence also Lysis, blaming a certain Hipparchus for having revealed the Pythagorean doctrines to the profane, and to such as accepted them without disciplines or theory, said:
“It is reported that you philosophise indiscriminately and publicly, which is opposed to the customs of Pythagoras. With assiduity you did indeed learn them, O Hipparchus; but you have not preserved them. My dear fellow, you have tasted Sicilian tit-bits, which you should not have repeated. If you give them up, I shall be delighted; but if you do not, you will to me be dead. For it would be pious to recall the human and divine precepts of Pythagoras, and not to communicate the treasures of wisdom to those who have not purified their souls, even in a dream. It is unlawful to give away things obtained with labors so great, and with assiduity so diligent to the first person you meet, quite as much as to divulge the mysteries of the Eleusynian goddesses to the profane. Either thing would be unjust and impious. We should consider how long a time was needed to efface the stains that had insinuated themselves in our breasts, before we became worthy to receive the doctrines of Pythagoras. Unless the dyers previously purified the garments in which they wish the desired colors to be fixed, the dye would either fade, or be washed away entirely. Similarly, that divine man prepared the souls of lovers of philosophy, so that they might not disappoint him in any of those beautiful qualities which he hoped they would possess. He did not impart spurious doctrines, nor stratagems, in which most of the Sophists, who are at leisure for no good purpose, entangle young men; but his knowledge of things human and divine was scientific. These Sophists, however, use his doctrines as a mere pretext commit dreadful atrocities, sweeping the youths away as in a dragnet, most disgracefully, making their auditors become rash nuisances. They infuse theorems and divine doctrines into hearts whose manners are confused and agitated, just as if pure, clear water should be poured into a deep well full of mud, which would stir up the sediment and destroy the clearness of the water.
Such a mutual misfortune occurs between such teachers and disciples. The intellect and heart of those whose initiation has not proceeded by disciplines, are surrounded lay thickets dense and thorny, which obscure the mild, tranquil and reasoning power of the soul, and impede the development and elevation of the intellective part. These thickets are produced by intemperance and avarice, both of which are prolific. Intemperance produces lawless marriages, lusts, intoxications, unnatural enjoyments, and passionate impulsions which drive headlong into pits and abysses. The unbridling of desires has removed the barriers against incest with even mothers or daughters, am just as a tyrant would violate city regulations, or country’s laws, with their hands bound behind them, like slaves, they have been dragged to the depths of degradation. On the other hand, avarice produces rapine, robbery, parricide, sacrilege, sorcery, and kindred evils. Such being the case, these surrounding thickets, infested with passions, will have to be cleared out with systematic disciplines, as if with fire and sword; and when the reason will have been liberated from so many and great evils, we are in a position to offer to it, and implant within it something useful and good.”
So great and necessary was the attention which, according to Pythagoras, should be paid to disciplines as introductions to philosophy.
Moreover, inasmuch as he devoted so much care to the examination of the mental attitudes of prospective disciples, he insisted that the teaching and communication of his doctrines should be distinguished by great honor.
Chapter XVIII. Organization of the Pythagorean School
The next step to set forth how, after admission to discipleship followed distribution into several classes according to individual merit. As the disciples were naturally dissimilar, it was impracticable for them to participate in all things equally, nor would it have been fair for some to share in the deepest revelations, while others might get excluded therefrom, or others from everything; such discriminations, being unjust. While he communicated some suitable of his discourses to all, he sought to benefit everybody, preserving the proportion of justice, by making every man’s merit the index of the extent of his teachings. He carried this method so far as to call some Pythagoreans, and others Pythagorists, just as we discriminate poets from poetasters. According to this distinction of names, some of his disciples he considered genuine, and to be the models of the others. The Pythagoreans’ possessions were to be shared in common inasmuch as they were to live together, while the Pythagorists should continue to manage their own property, though by assembling frequently they might all be at leisure to pursue the same activities. These two modes of life which originated from Pythagoras, was transmitted to his successors. Among the Pythagoreans there were also two forms of philosophy, pursued by two classes, the Hearers and the Students. The latter were universally recognized as Pythagoreans by all the rest, though the Students did not admit as much for the Hearers, insisting that these derived their instructions not from Pythagoras, but from Hippasus, who was variously described as either a Crotonian or Metapontine.
The philosophy of the Hearers consisted in lectures without demonstrations or conferences or arguments merely directing something to be done in a certain way, unquestioningly preserving them as so many divine dogmas, non-discussible, and which they promised not to reveal, esteeming as most wise who more than others retained them. Of the lectures there were three kinds; the first merely announced certain facts; others expressed what it was especially, and the third, what should, or should not be done about it. The objective lectures studied such questions as, What are the islands of the Blessed? What are the sun and moon? What is the oracle at Delphi? What is the Tetractys? What is harmony? What was the real nature of the Sirens? Ñ The subjective lectures studied the especial nature of an object, such as, What is the most just thing? To sacrifice. What is the wisest thing? The next wisest is the naming of power. What is the wisest human thing? Medicine what is the most beautiful? Harmony. What is the most powerful? Mental decision. What is the most excellent? Felicity. Which is the most unquestioned proposition? That all men are depraved. That is why Pythagoras was said to have praised the Salaminian poet Hippodomas, for singing:
“Tell, O ye Gods, the source from whence ye came, And ye, O Men, how evil ye became.”
Such were these subjective lectures, which taught the distinctive nature of everything.
This sort of study really constitutes the wisdom of the so-called seven sages. For these also did not investigate what was good simply, but especially, nor what is difficult, but what is particularly so, namely, for a man to know himself. So also they considered not what was easy, but what was most so, namely, to continue following out your habits Such studies resembled, and followed the sages, who however preceded Pythagoras.
The practice lectures, which studied what should or should not be done, considered questions such as: That it is necessary to beget children, inasmuch as we must leave after us successors who may worship the divinities. Again, that we should put on first the shoe on the right foot. That it is not proper to parade on the public streets, nor to dip into a sprinkling vessel, nor to wash in a public bath. For in all these cases the cleanliness of the agents is uncertain. Other such problems were, Do not assist a man in laying down a burden, which encourages him to loiter, but to assist him in undertaking something. Do not hope to beget children from a woman who is rich. Speak not about Pythagoric affairs without light. Perform libations to the Gods from the handle of the cup, to make the omen auspicious and to avoid drinking from the same part (from which the liquor was poured out?) Wear not the image of a God on a ring, for fear of defiling it, as such resemblances should be protected in a house. Use no woman ill, for she is a suppliant; wherefore, indeed, we bring her from the Vestal hearth, and take her by the right hand. Nor is it proper to sacrifice a white cock, who also is a suppliant, being sacred to the moon and announces the hours.To him who asks for counsel, give none but the best, for counsel is a sacrament. The most laborious path is the test, just as the pleasurable one is mostly the worst, inasmuch as we entered into the present life for the sake of education, which best proceeds by chastening. It is proper to sacrifice, and to take off ones shoes on entering into a temple. In going to a temple, one should not turn out of the way; for divinity should not be worshipped carelessly. It is well to sustain, and show wounds, if they are in the breast, but not if they are behind. The soul of man incarnates in the bodies of all animals, except in those which it is lawful to kill; hence we should eat none but those whom it is proper to slay. Such were subjects of these ethical lectures.
The most extended lectures, however, were those concerning sacrifices, both at the time when migrating from the preset life, and at other times; also about the proper manner of sepulture.
Of some of these propositions the reason is designed; such as for instance that we must beget children to leave successors to worship the Gods. But no justification is assigned for the others, although in some cases they are implied proximately or remotely, such as that bread is not to be broken, because it contributes to the judgment in Hades. Such merely probable reasons, that are additional, are not Pythagoric, but were devised by non-Pythagoreans who wished to add weight to the statement. Thus, for instance, in respect to the last statement, that bread is not to be broken, some add the reason that we should not (unnecessarily) distribute what has been assembled, inasmuch as in barbaric times a whole friendly group would together pounce upon a single piece. Others again explain that precept on the grounds that it is inauspicious, at the beginning of an undertaking, to make an omen of fracture or diminution. Moreover, all these precepts are based on one single underlying principle, the end of divinity, so that the whole of every life may result in following God, which is besides that principle and doctrine of philosophy. For it is absurd to search for good in any direction other than the Gods. Those who do so resemble a man who, in a country governed by a king, should do honor to one of his fellow-citizens who is a magistrate, while neglecting him who is the ruler of all of them. Indeed, this is what the Pythagoreans thought of people who searched for good elsewhere than from God. For since He exists, as the lord of all things, it must be self-evident that good must be requested of Him alone. For even men impart good to those they love and enjoy, and do the opposite to those they dislike. Such indeed was the wisdom of those precepts.
There, was, however, a certain Aegean named Hippomedon, one of the Pythagorean Hearers, who insisted that Pythagoras himself gave the reasons for, and demonstrations of these precepts himself; but that in consequence of their being delivered to many, some of whom were slow, the demonstrations were removed, leaving the bare propositions. The Pythagorean Students, however, insist that the reasons and demonstrations were added by Pythagoras himself, explaining the difference arose as follows. According to them, Pythagoras, hailed from Ionia and Samos, to Italy then flourishing under the tyranny of Polycrates, and he attracted as associates the very most prominent men of the city. But the more elderly of these who were busied with politics, and therefore had no leisure, needed the discourses of Pythagoras dissociated from reasonings, as they would have found it difficult to follow his meanings through disciplines and demonstrations, while nevertheless Pythagoras realized that they would be benefited by knowing what ought to be done, even though lacking the underlying reason, just as physicians’ patients obtain their health without hearing the reasons of every detail of the treatment. But Pythagoras conversed through disciplines and demonstrations with the younger associates, who were able both to act and learn. Such then are the differing explanations of the Hearers and Students.
As to Hippasus, however, they acknowledge that he was one of the Pythagoreans, but that he met the doom of the impious in the sea in consequence of having divulged and explained the method of squaring the circle, by twelve pentagons; but nevertheless he obtained the renown of having made the discovery. In reality, however, this just as everything else pertaining to geometry, was the invention of that man as they referred to Pythagoras. But the Pythagoreans say that geometry was divulged under the following circumstances: A certain Pythagorean happened to lose his fortune to recoup which he was permitted to teach that science, which, by Pythagoras was called History.
So much then concerning the difference of each mode of philosophizing, and the classes of Pythagoras’s disciples. For those who heard him either within or without the veil, and those who heard him accompanied with seeing, or without seeing him, and who are classified as internal or external auditors, were none other than these. Under these can be classified the Political, Economic, and Legislative Pythagoreans.
Chapter XIX. Abaris the Scythian
Generally, however, it should be known, that Pythagoras discovered many paths of erudition, but that he communicated to each only that part of wisdom which was appropriate to the recipient’s nature and power, of which the following is an appropriate striking illustration. When Abaris the Scythian came from the Hyperboreans, he was already of an advanced age, and unskilled and uninitiated in the Greek learning. Pythagoras did not compel him to wade through introductory theorems, the period of silence, and long auscultation, not to mention other trials, but considered him to be fit for an immediate listener to his doctrines, and instructed him in the shortest way, in his treatise on Nature, and one On the God This Hyperborean Abaris was elderly, and most wise in sacred concerns, being a priest of the Apollo there worshipped. At that time he was returning from Greece to his country, in order to consecrate the gold which he had collected to the God in his temple among the Hyperboreans. As therefore he was passing through Italy, he saw Pythagoras, and identified him as the God of whom he was the priest.
Believing that Pythagoras resembled to no man, but was none other than the God himself, Apollo, both from the venerable associations he saw around him, and from those the priest already knew, he paid him homage by giving him a sacred dart. This dart he had taken with him when he had left his temple, as an implement that would stand him in good stead in the difficulties that might befall him in so long a journey. For in passing through inaccessible places, such as rivers, lakes, marshes, mountains and the like, it carried him, and by it he was said to have performed lustrations and expelled winds and pestilences from the cities that requested him to liberate from such evils. For instance, it was said that Lacedemon, after having been by him purified, was no longer infected with pestilence, which formerly had been endemic, through the miasmatic nature of the ground, in the suffocating heat produced by the overhanging mountain Taygetus, just as happens with Cnossus in Crete. Many other similar circumstances were reported of Abaris.
Pythagoras, however, accepted the dart, without expressing any amazement at the novelty of the thing, nor asking why the dart was presented to him, as if he really was a god. Then he took Abaris aside, and showed him his golden thigh, as an indication that he was not wholly mistaken (in his estimate of his real nature). Then Pythagoras described to him several details of his distant Hyperborean temple, as proof of deserving being considered divine. Pythagoras also added that he came (into the regions of mortality) to remedy and improve the condition of the human race, having assumed human form lest men disturbed by the novelty of his transcendency should avoid the discipline he advised. He advised Abaris to stay with him, to aid him in correcting (the manners and morals) of those they might meet, and to share the common resources of himself and associates, whose reason led them to practice the precept that the possessions of friends are common. So Abaris stayed with him, and was compendiously taught physiology and theology; and instead of living by the entrails of beasts, he revea1ed to him the art of prognosticating by numbers conceiving this to be a method purer, more divine and more kindred to the celestial numbers of the Gods. Also he taught Abaris other studies for which he was fit.
Returning however to the purpose of the present treatise, Pythagoras endeavored to correct and amend different persons according to their individual abilities. Unfortunately most of these particulars have neither been publicly transmitted nor is it easy to describe that which has been transmitted to us concerning him.
Chapter XX. Psychological Requirements
We must now set forth a few of the most celebrated points of the Pythagoric discipline, and landmarks of their distinctive studies.
When Pythagoras tested a novice, he considered the latter’s ability to hold his counsel, “ochemuthein” being his technical term for this. Namely, whether they could reserve and preserve what they had heard and learned. Next, he examined their modesty, for he was much more anxious that they should be silent, than that they should speak. Further, he tested every other quality, for instance, whether they were astonished by the energies of any immoderate desire or passion. His examination of their affectability by desire or anger, their contentiousness or ambition, their inclination to friendship or discord, was by no means superficial. If then after an accurate survey these novices were approved as of worthy manners, he then directed his attention to their facility in learning, and their memory. He examined their ability to follow what was said, with rapidity and perspicuity; and then, whether they were impelled to the disciplines taught them by temperance and love. For he laid stress on natural gentleness. This he called culture. Ferocity he considered hostile to such a kind of education. For savage manners are attended by impudence, shamelessness, intemperance, sloth, stupidity, licentiousness, disgrace, and the like, while their opposite attend mildness and gentleness.
These things then he considered in making trial of those that came to him, and in these the Learners were exercised. Those that were adapted to receive the goods of the wisdom he possessed he admitted to discipleship; endeavoring to elevate them to scientific knowledge; but if he perceived that any novice was unadapted to them, he expelled him as a stranger and a barbarian.
(In the original, the XXth chapter continues until after the second next paragraph.)
Chapter XXI. Daily Program
The studies which he delivered to his associates, were as follows; for those who committed themselves to the guidance of his doctrine acted thus. They took solitary morning walks to places which happened to be appropriately quiet, to temples or groves, or other suitable places. They thought it inadvisable to converse with anyone until they had gained inner serenity, focusing their reasoning powers; they considered it turbulent to mingle in a crowd as soon as they rose from bed; and that is the reason why these Pythagoreans always selected the most sacred spots to walk. After their morning walk they associated with each other, especially in temples, or, if this was not possible, in similar places. This time was employed in the discussion of disciplines and doctrines, and in the correction of manners.
(Chapter XX) After an association so holy, they turned their attention to the health of the body. Most of them were rubbed down, and raced; fewer wrestled, in gardens or groves; others in leaping with leaden weights on their hands, or in oratorical gesticulations, with a view to the strengthening of the body, studiously selecting for this purpose opposite exercises. They lunched on bread and honey, or on the honey-comb, avoiding wine. Afterwards, they held receptions to guests and strangers, conformably to the mandates of the laws, which was restricted to this time of day.
In the afternoon, they once more betook themselves to walking, yet not alone, as in the morning walk, but in parties of two or three, rehearsing the disciplines they had learned, and, exercising themselves in attractive studies. After the walk, they patronized the bath; and after whose ablution they gathered in the common dining-room, which accommodated no more than a group of ten. Then were performed libations and sacrifices with fumigations and incense. Then followed supper, which closed before the setting of the sun. They ate herbs, raw and boiled, maize, wine, and every food eatable with bread. Of any animals lawful to immolate, they ate the flesh, but they rarely partook of fish, which was not useful to them for certain causes animals not naturally noxious were, neither to be injured, nor slain. This supper was followed by libations, succeeded by readings. The youngest read what the eldest advised, and as they suggested.
When they were about to depart, the cupbearer poured out a libation for them, after which the eldest would announce precepts, such as the following: That a mild and fruitful plant should neither be injured nor corrupted, nor any harmless animal. Further, that we should speak piously, and form suitable conceptions of divine, tutelary and heroic beings, and similarly of parents and benefactors.
Also, that we should aid, and not obstruct the enforcement of laws. Whereafter, all separated, to go home. They wore a white garment, that was pure. They also lay on white and pure beds, the coverlets of which, were made of linen, not wool. They did not hunt, not undertake any similar exercise. Such were the precepts daily delivered to the disciples of Pythagoras, in respect to eating and living.
Chapter XXII. Friendship
Tradition tells of another kind of teaching by Pythagorean maxims pertaining to human opinions and practices, some examples of which may here be mentioned. It advised to remove strife from untrue friendship. If possible, this was to apply to all friendship; but at all events to that towards parents, elders, and benefactors. Existing friendships with such as these would not be preserved (but destroyed) by rivalry, contention, anger and subsequent graver passions. The scars and ulcers which their advice sometimes cause should be minimized as much as possible, which will be effected if especially the younger of the two should learn how to yield, and subdue his angry emotions. On the other hand, the so-called ‘paedartases,” or corrections and admonitions of the elder towards the younger, should be made with much suavity of manners, and great caution; also with much solicitude and tact, which makes the reproof all the more graceful and useful.
Faith should never be separated from friendship, whether seriously or in jest. Existing friendship cannot survive the insinuation of deceit between professors of friendship.
Nor should friendship be affected by misfortune or other human vicissitude; and the only rejection of friendship which is commendable is that which follows definite and incurable vice.
Such is an example of the Pythagorean hortatory maxims, which extended to all the virtues, and the whole of life.
Chapter XXIII. Use of Parables of Instruction
Pythagoras considered most necessary the use of parables in instruction. Most of the Greeks had adopted it, as the most ancient; and it had been both preferentially and in principle employed by the Egyptians, who had developed it in the most varied manner. In harmony with this it will be found that Pythagoras attended to it sedulously, if from the Pythagoric symbols we unfold their significance and arcane intentions, developing their content of rectitude and truth, liberating them from their enigmatic form. When, according to straightforward and uniform tradition they are accommodated to the sublime intelligence of these philosophers, they deify beyond human conception.
Those who came from this school, not only the most ancient Pythagoreans, but also those who during his old age were still young, such as Philolaos, and Eurytus, Charendas and Zaleucus, Brysson and the elder Archytas, Aristaeus, Lysis and Empdocles, Zamoixis and Epimanides, Milo and Leucippus, Alcmaeon and Hippasus, and Thymaridas were all of that age, a multitude of savants, incomparably excellent,—all these adopted this mode of teaching, both in their conversations, and commentaries and annotations. Their writings also, and all the books which they published, most of which have been preserved, to our times, were not composed in popular or vulgar diction, or in a manner usual to all other writers, so as to be immediately understood, but in a way such as to be not easily apprehended by their readers. For they adopted Pythagoras’s law of reserve, in an arcane manner concealing divine mysteries from the uninitiated, obscuring their writings and mutual conversations.
The result is that they who presents theses symbols without unfolding their meaning by a unsuitable exposition, runs the danger of exposing them to the charge of being ridiculous and inane, trifling and garrulous. When however they expounded according to these symbols, and made clear and ob vious even to the crowds, then they will be found analogous to prophetic sayings such as the oracles of the Pythian Apollo. Their admirable meaning will inspire those who unite intellect and scholarliness.
It might be well to mention a few of them, explain this mode of discipline.
Not negligently enter into a temple or adore carelessly, even if only at the doors.
Sacrifice and adore unshod.
Shunning public roads, walk in unfrequented paths.
Not without light speak about Pythagoric affairs.
Such is a sketch of the symbolic mode of teaching adopted by Pythagoras.
Chapter XXIV. Dietary Suggestions
Since food, used properly and regularly, greatly contributes to the best discipline, it may be interesting to consider Pythagoras’s precepts on the subject. Forbidden was generally all food causing flatulence or indigestion, while he recommended the contrary kind of food, that preserve and are astringent. Wherefore he recommended the nutritious qualities of millet. Rejected was all food foreign to the Gods, as withdrawing us from communion with them. On the other hand, he forbade to his disciples all food that was sacred, as too honorable to subserve common utility. He exhorted his disciples to abstain from such things as were an impediment to prophecy or to the purity and chastity to the soul, or to the habit of temperance, and virtue. Lastly, he rejected all things that were an impediment to sanctity and disturbed or obscured the other purities of the soul, and the phantasms which occur in sleep. Such were the general regulations about food.
Specially, however, the most contemplative of the philosophers, who had arrived at the summit of philosophic attainments, were forbidden superfluous, food such as wine, or unjustifiable food such as was animated; and not to sacrifice animals to the Gods, nor by any means to injure animals, but to observe most solicitous justice towards them. He himself lived after this manner, abstaining from animal food, and adoring altars undefiled with blood. He was likewise careful to prevent others from destroying animals of a nature kindred to ours, and rather corrected and instructed savage animals, than injured them as punishment. Further, he ordered abstaining from animal food even to politicians; for as they desired to act justly to the highest degree, they must certainly not injure any kindred animals. How indeed could they persuade others to act justly, if they themselves were detected in an insatiable avidity in devouring animals allied to us. These are conjoined to us by a fraternal alliance through the communion of life, and the same elements, and the commingling of these.
Eating of the flesh of certain animals was however permitted to those whose life was not entirely purified, philosophic and sacred; but even for these was appointed a definite time of abstinence. Besides, these were not to eat the heart, nor the brain, which entirely forbidden to all Pythagoreans.
For these organs are predominant and as it were ladders and seats of wisdom and life. Food other than animal was by him also considered sacred, on account of the nature of divine reason. Thus his disciples were to abstain from mallows, because this plant is the first messenger and signal of the sympathy of celestial with terrestrial natures. Moreover, the fish melanurus was interdicted because sacred to the terrestrial gods. Likewise, the erythinus. Beans also on account of many causes also were interdicted, physical, psychic and sacred.
Many other similar precepts were enjoined in the attempt to lead men to virtue through their food.
Chapter XXV. Music and Poetry
Pythagoras was likewise of opinion that music, if properly used, greatly contributed to health. For he was wont to use it in no careless way, but as a purification. Indeed, he restricted this word to signify music used as medicine.
About the vernal season he used a melody in this manner. In the middle was placed a person who played on the lyre, and seated around him in a circle were those able to sing. Then the lyrist in the centre struck up and the singers raised certain paeans, through which they were evidently so overjoyed that their manners became elegant and orderly. This music instead of medicines was also used at certain other times.
Certain melodies were devised as remedies against the passions of the soul, as also against despondency and gnashing of the teeth, which were invented by Pythagoras as specifics. Further, he employed other melodies against anger and rage, and all other aberrations of the soul. Another kind of modulation was invented against desires. He likewise used dancing, which was accompanied by the lyre, instead of the pipe, which he conceived to have an influence towards insolence, being theatrical, and by no means liberal. For the purpose of correcting the soul, he also used select verses of Homer and Hesiod.
It is related among the deeds of Pythagoras that once, through a spondaic song, he extinguished the rage of a Tauromanian lad, who after feasting by night, intended to burn the vestibule of the house of his mistress, on seeing her issuing from the house of a rival. (To this rash attempt the lad had been inflamed, by a Phrygian song, which however Pythagoras at once suppressed.) As Pythagoras was astronomizing he happened to meet this Phrygian piper at an unseasonable time of night, and persuaded him to change his Phrygian song for a spondaic one; through which the fury of the lad being immediately repressed, he retired home in an orderly manner, although but a little while since he had stupidly insulted Pythagoras as on meeting him, would bear no admonition, and could not be restrained.
Here is another instance. Anchitus, the host of Empedocles, had as judge, condemned to death the father of a youth, who rushed on Anchitus with drawn sword, intending to slay him. Empedocles changed the youth’s intention by singing, to his lyre, that verse of Homer (Od,4):
“Nepenthe, without gall, o’er every ill Oblivion spreads;—”
thus saving his host Anchitus from death, and the youth from committing murder. It is said that from that time on the youth became one of the most faithful disciples of Pythagoras.
The Pythagoreans distinguished three states of mind, called exartysis, or readiness; synarmoge, or fitness, and epaphe, or contact, which converted the soul to contrary passions, and these could be produced by certain appropriate songs.
When they retired, they purified their reasoning powers from the noises and perturbations to which they had been exposed during the day, by certain odes and hymns which produced tranquil sleep, and few, but good dreams. But when they arose from slumbers, they again liberated themselves from the dazedness and torpor of sleep by songs of another kind. Sometimes the passions of the soul and certain diseases were, as they said, genuinely lured by enchantments, by musical sounds alone, without words. This is indeed probably the origin of the general use of this word epode.
Thus therefore, through music Pythagoras produced the most beneficial correction of manners and lives.
Chapter XXVI. Theoretical Music (from Nicomachus)
While describing Pythagoras’s wisdom in instructing his disciples, we must not fail to note that he invented the harmonic science and ratios. But to explain this we must go a little backwards in time.
Once as he was intently considering music, and reasoning with himself whether it would be possible to devise some instrumental assistance to the sense of hearing, so as to systematize it, as sight is made precise by the compass rule, and [telescope], or touch is made reckonable by balance and measures, so thinking of these things Pythagoras happened to pass by a brazier’s shop, where providentially he heard the hammers beating out a piece of iron on the anvil, producing sounds that harmonized, except one. But he recognized in these sounds, the concord of the octave, the fifth, and the fourth. He saw that the sound between the fourth and the fifth, taken by itself, was a dissonance, and yet completed the greater sound among them. Delighted, therefore, to find that the thing he was anxious to discover had by divine assistance succeeded, he went into the smithy, and by various experiments discovered that the difference of sound arose from the magnitude of the hammers, but not from the force of the strokes, nor from the shape of the hammers, nor from the change of position of the beaten iron. Having then accurately examined the weights and the swing of the hammers, he returned home, and fixed one stake diagonally to the walls, lest some difference should arise from there being several of them, or from some difference in the material of the stakes. From this stake he then suspended four gut-strings, of similar materials, size, thickness and twist. A weight was suspended from the bottom of each. When the strings were equal in length, he struck two of them simultaneously, he reproduced the former intervals, forming different pairs.
He discovered that the string stretched by the greatest weight, when compared with that stretched by the smallest weight, the interval of an octave. The weight of the first was twelve pounds, and that of the latter six. Being therefore in a double ratio, it formed the octave, which was made plain by the weights themselves. Then he found that the string from which the greater weight was suspended compared with that from which was suspended the weight next to the smallest, and which weight was eight pounds, produced the interval known as the fifth. Hence he discovered that this interval is in a ratio of one and a half to one, or three to two, in which ratio the weights also were to each other. The he found that the string stretched by the greatest weight produced, when compared with that which was next to it, in weight, namely, nine pounds, the interval called the fourth, analogous to the weights. This ratio, therefore, he discovered to be in the ratio of one and a third to one, or four to three; while that of the from string from which a weight of nine pounds was suspended to the string which had the smallest weight, again in a ratio of three to two, which is 9 to 6. In like manner, the string next to that from which the small weight was suspended, was to that which had the smallest weight, in the ratio of 4 to 3 (being 8 to 6) but to the string which had the greatest weight, in a ratio of 3 to 2, being 12 to 8. Hence that which is between the fifth and fourth, and by which the fifth exceeds the fourth is proved to be as nine is to eight. But either way it may be proved that the octave is a system consisting of the fifth in conjunction with fourth, just as the double ratio consists of three to two, and four to three; as for instance 12, 8 and 6; or, conversely of the fourth and the fifth, as in the double ratio of four to three and three to two, as for instance, 12, 9 and 6 therefore, and in this order, having confirmed both his hand and hearing to the suspended weights, and having established according to them the ratio of the proportions, by an easy artifice he transferred the common suspension of the strings from the diagonal stake to the head of the instrument which he called “chordotenon,” or string-stretcher. Then by the aid of pegs he produced a tension of the strings analogous to that effected by the weights. Employing this method, therefore, as a basis, and as it were an infallible rule, he afterward extended the experiment to other instruments, namely, the striking of pans, to pipes and [r—-], to monochords, triangles, and the like in all of which he found the same ratio of numbers to obtain. Then he named the sound which participates in the number 6, tonic; that which participates of the number 8, and is four to three, sub-dominant; that which participates of the number 9, and is one tone higher then the sub-dominant, he called, dominant, and 9 to 8; but that which participates of the number 12, octave.
Then he filled up the middle spaces with analogous sounds in diatonic order, and formed an octochord from symmetric numbers; from the double, the three to two, the four to three, and from the difference of these, the 8 to 9. Thus he discovered the harmonic progression, which tends by a certain physical necessity from the lowest to the most acute sound, diatonically. Later, from the diatonic he progressed to the chromatic and enharmonic orders, as we shall later show when we treat of music. This diatonic scale however, seems to have the following progression, a semi-tone, a tone, and a tone; and this is the fourth, being a system consisting of two tones, and of what is called a semi-tone. Afterwards, adding another tone, we produce the fifth, which is a system consisting of three tones and a semi-tone. Next to this is the system of a semi-tone, a tone, and a tone, forming another fourth, that is, another four to three ratio. Thus in the more ancient octave indeed, all the sounds from the lowest pitch which are with respect to each other fourths, produce everywhere with each other fourths; the semi-tone, by transition, receiving the first, middle and third place, according to that tetrachord. Now in the Pythagoric octave, however, which by conjunction is a system of the tetrachord and pentachord, but if disjoined is a system of two tetrachords separated from each other, the progression is from the gravest to the most acute sound. Hence all sounds that by their distance from each other are fifths, with each other produce the interval of the fifth; the semi-tone successively proceeding into four places, the first, second, third, and fourth.
This is the way in which music is said to have been discovered by Pythagoras. Having reduced it to a system, he delivered it to his disciples to utilize it to produce things as beautiful as possible.
(This story of the smithy is an ancient error, as pieces of iron give the same note whether struck by heavy or light hammers. Pythagoras may therefore have brought the discovery with him from Egypt, though he may also have developed the further details mentioned in this chapter.)
Chapter XXVII. Mutual Political Assistance
Many deeds of the Pythagoreans in the political sphere are deservedly praised. At one time the Crotonians were in the habit of making funerals and interments too sumptuous. Thereupon one of them said to the people that once he had heard Pythagoras converse about divine natures, during which he had observed that the Olympian divinities attended to the dispositions of the sacrificers, and not to the multitude of the offerings. The terrestrial gods, on the contrary, as being interested in less important matters, rejoiced in lamentations and banquets, libations, delicacies, and obsequial pomp; and as proof thereof, the divinity of Hades is called Pluto from his wish to receive. Those that honor him slenderly (he does not much care for), and permits to stay quite a little while; but he hastens to draw down those disposed to spend profusely on funeral solemnities, that he may obtain the honors offered in commemoration the dead. The result was that the Crotonians that heard this advice were persuaded that if they conducted themselves moderately in misfortunes, they would be promoting their own salvation, but would die prematurely if immoderate in such expenses. A certain difference arose about an affair in which there was no witness. [Pythagoras on] A Pythagorean was made arbitrator; and he led both litigants to a certain monument, announcing that the man buried was exceedingly equitable. The one prayed that he might receive much reward for this good life, while the other declared that the defunct was no better-off for his opponent’s prayers. The Pythagorean condemned the latter, confirming that he who praised the dead man for his worth had earned credibility.
In a cause of great moment, this Pythagorean decided that one of the two who has agreed to settle that affair by arbitration, should pay four talents, while the other should receive two. Then from him who had received two he took three, and gave them to the other, so that each had been mulcted one talent (the text is confused).
Two persons had fraudulently deposited a garment with a woman who belonged to a court of justice, and told her that she was not to give it to either of them unless both were present. Later, with intent to defraud, one claimed and got the common deposit, saying he had the consent of the other party. The other one turned informer and related the compact made at the beginning to the magistrates. A certain Pythagorean, however, as arbitrator, decided that the woman was guiltless, construing the claimed assent as constructive presence.
Two persons, who had seemed to be great friends, but who had gotten to suspect each other through calumnies of a sycophant, who told the one the other had taken undue liberties with his wife. A Pythagorean happened to enter the smithy where the injured party was finding fault with the blacksmith for not having sufficiently sharpened a sword he had brought him for that purpose. The Pythagorean suspecting the use to which the sword was be put said, “The sword is sharper than all things except calumny.” This caused the prospective avenger to consider that he should not rashly sin against his friend who was within on an invitation (for the purpose of killing him).
A stranger in the temple of Aesculapius accidentally dropped his belt, on which were gold ornaments. When he tried to pick it up, he was informed that the temple-regulations forbade picking up anything on the floor. He was indignant, and a Pythagorean advised him to remove the golden ornaments which were not touching the floor leaving the belt which was. (Text corrupt).
During a public spectacle, some cranes flew over the theatre. One sailor said to his companion, “Do you see the witnesses?” A Pythagorean near by hailed them into a court presided over by a thousand magistrates, where, being examined they confessed to having thrown certain boys into the sea, who, on drowning had called on the cranes, flying above them, to witness to the deed. This story is mistakenly located elsewhere, but it really happened at Crotona.
Certain recent disciples of Pythagoras were at variance with each other, and the junior came to the senior, declaring there was no reason to refer the matter to an arbitrator, inasmuch as all they needed to do was to dismiss their anger. The elder agreed, but regretted he had not been the first to make that proposition. We might relate here the story of Damon and Phinthias, of Plato and Archytas, and of Clinias and Prorus. At present however we shall limit ourselves to that of Eubulus the Messenian, who, when sailing homeward, was taken captive by the Tyrrhenians, where he was recognized by a Pythagorean named Nausithus, who redeemed him from the pirates, and sent him home in safety.
When the Carthaginians were about to send five thousand soldiers into a desert island, the Carthaginian Miltiades saw among them the Argive Pythagorean Possiden. Approaching him, and without revealing his intentions, he advised him to return home with all possible haste. He placed him in a ship then sailing near the shore, supplied him with the travel necessaries, and thus saved him from the impending danger.
He who would try to relate all the fine deeds that beautified the mutual relations of the Pythagoreans would find the task exceeding space and patience. I shall therefore pass on to show that some of the Pythagoreans were competent administrators, adapted to rule. Many were custodians of the laws, and ruled over certain Italian cities, infolding to them, and advising them to adopt the most salutary measures, while themselves refusing all pay. Though greatly calumniated, their prob ity and the desire of the citizens prevailed to make them administrators. At this time the best governed states seem to have been in Italy and Sicily. One of the best legislators, Chatondas the Catanean, was a Pythagorean, and so were the celebrated Locrian legislators Zaleucus and Timares. Pythagoreans also were those Rheginic polities, called the Gymnasiarchic, named after Theocles.
Excelling in studies and manners which were then adopted by their fellow-citizens, were Phytius, Theocles, Elecaon and Aristocrates. Indeed, it is said that Pythagoras was the originator of all political erudition, when he said that nothing existent pure, inasmuch as earth participates of fire, fire of air, and air of water, and water of spirit. Likewise the beautiful participates in the deformed, the just of the unjust, and so on; so that from this principle human impulse may (by proper direction) be turned in either direction. He also said that there were two motions, one of the body which is irrational, and one of the soul, which is the result of deliberate choice. He also said polities might be likened to three lines whose extremities join, forming a (triangle containing) one right angle (the lines being as 4, 3 and 2); so that one of them is as 4 to 3, another as 5 to 2, and the other (3) is the arithmetical medium between 2 and 4. Now when, by reasoning, we study the mutual relations of these lines, and the places under them, we shall find that they represent the best image of a polity.
Plato plagiarized, for in his Republic he clearly says, “That the result of the 4 to 3 ratio, conjoined with the 5 ratio, produce two harmonies.” (This means that) he cultivated the moderation of the passions, and the middle path between extremes, rendering happy the life of his disciples by relating them to ideals of the good.
We are also told that he persuaded the Crotonians to give up associations with courtesans and prostitutes. Crotonian wives came to Deine, the wife of the Pythagorean Brontinus, who was a wise and splendid woman, the author of the maxim that it was proper for women to sacrifice on the same day they had risen from the embraces of their husbands,—(which some ascribe to Pythagoras’ wife Theano),—and entreated to persuade Pythagoras to discourse to them on their continence as due to their husbands. This she did, and Pythagoras accordingly made an address to the Crotonians, which successfully ended the then prevalent incontinence.
When ambassadors came from Sybaris to Crotona to demand the (return of) the exiles, and Pythagoras, seeing one of the ambassadors who with his own hand had slain one of Pythagoras’s friends, made no answer whatever. But when this man insisted on an explanation and addressed Pythagoras, the latter said it was unlawful to converse with murderers. This induced many to believe he was Apollo.
All these stories, together with what we mentioned above about the destruction of tyrants, and the democratization of the cities of Italy and Sicily, and many other circumstances, are eloquent of the benefits conferred on mankind by Pythagoras, in political respects.
Chapter XXVIII. Divinity of Pythagoras
Henceforward we shall confine ourselves to the works flowing from Pythagoras’s virtues. As usual, we shall begin from the divinities, endeavoring to exhibit his piety, and marvelous deeds. Of his piety, let this be a specimen: that he knew what his soul was, whence it came into the body, and also its former lives, of this giving the most evident indications. Again, once passing over the river Nessus along with many associates, he addressed the river, which, in a distinct and clear voice, in the hearing of all his associates, answered, “Hail, Pythagoras!”
Further, all his biographers insist that during the same day he was present in Metapontum in Italy, and at Tauromenium in Sicily, discoursing with his disciples in both places, although these cities are separate, both by land and sea by many stadia, the traveling over which consumes many days. It is also a matter of common report that showed his golden thigh to the Hyperborean Abaris, who said that he resembled the Apollo worshipped among the Hyperboreans, and of whom Abaris was the priest; and that he had done this so that he was not deceived therein.
A myriad of other more admirable and divine particulars are likewise unanimously and uniformly related of the man, such as infallible predictions of earthquakes, rapid expulsions of pestilences, and hurricanes, instantaneous cessations of hail, tranquilizations of the waves of rivers and seas, in order that his disciples might the more easily pass over them. The power of effecting miracles of this kind was achieved by Empedocles of Agrigentum, Epimenides the Cretan, and Abaris the Hyperborean, and these persons performed them in many places. Their deeds were so manifest that Empedocles was surnamed a wind-stiller, Epimenides an expiator, and Abaris an air-walker, because, carried on the dart given him by the Hyperborean Apollo, he passed over rivers, and seas and inaccessible places like one carried on air. Many think that Pythagoras did the same thing, when in the same day he discoursed with his disciples at Metapontum and Tauromenium. It is also said that he predicted there would be an earthquake from the water of a well which he had tasted; and that a ship was sailing with a prosperous wind, would be submerged in the sea. These are sufficient proofs of his piety.
Pitching my thoughts on a higher key, I wish to exhibit the principle of the worship of the Gods, established by Pythagoras and his disciples: that the mark aimed at by all plans, whether to do or not to do, is consent with the divinity. The principle of their piety, and indeed their whole life is arranged with a view to follow God. Their philosophy explicitly asserts that men act ridiculously in searching for good from any source other than God; and that in respect the conduct of most men resembles that of a man who, in a country governed by a king should reverence one of the city magistrates, neglecting him who is the ruler of all of them. Since God exists as the lord of all things, it is evident and acknowledged that good must be requested of him. All men impart good to those they love, and admire, and the contrary to those they dislike. Evidently we should do those things in which God delights. Not easy, however, is it for a man to know which these are, unless he obtains this knowledge from one who has heard God, or has heard God himself, or procures it through divine art. Hence also the Pythagoreans were studious of divination, which is an interpretation of the benevolence of the Gods. That such an employment is worth while will be admitted by one who believes in the Gods; but he who thinks that either of these is folly will also be of opinion that both are foolish. Many of the precepts of the Pythagoreans derived from the mysteries which were not the fruits of arrogance, in their estimation, but derived from divinity.
Indeed, Pythagoreans give full belief to mythological stories such as are related of Aristeas the Proconesian, and Abaris the Hyperborean, and such like. To them every such thing seems credible, and worthy of being tried out. They also frequently recollect apparently fabulous particulars, not disbelieving anything which may be referred to the divinity. For instance, it is said that the Pythagorean Eurytus, disciple of Philolaus, the Pythagorean, related that a shepherd feeding his flock near Philolaus’s tomb hear someone singing. His interlocutor, instead of disbelieving the story, asked what kind of harmony it was. Again, a certain person told Pythagoras that he once seemed to be conversing with his deceased father, in his dreams, and asked Pythagoras what this might signify. The answer was, Nothing; even though the conversation with his father was genuine. “As therefore, said he, nothing is signified by my conversing with you, neither is anything signified by your conversing with your father.”
In all these matters they considered that the stupidity lay with the sceptics, rather than with themselves; for they do not conceive that some things, and not others, are possible with the Gods, as fancy the Sophists; they thought that with the Gods all things are possible. This very assertion is the beginning of some verses attributed to Linus:
“All things may be the subject of our hopes,
Since nothing hopeless anywhere is found;
All things with ease Divinity effects,
And naught can frustrate his almighty power.”
They thought that their opinions deserved to be believed, because he who first promulgated them was not some change person, but a divinity. This indeed was one of their pet puzzlers: “What was Pythagoras?” For they say that the Hyperborean Apollo, of which this was an indication that rising up, while at the Olympian games, he showed his golden thigh; and also that he received the Hyperborean Abaris as his guest, and by him was presented with te dart on which he rode through the air. But it is said that this Abaris came from the Hyperborean region to collect gold for his temple, and that he predicted a pestilence. He also dwelt in temples, and was never seen to eat or drink. It is likewise said that rites (of his) are performed by the Lacedemonians, and that on this account Lacedemon is never infested with pestilence. Pythagoras therefore caused this Abaris to acknowledge that he was more than man, receiving from him at the same time the golden dart, without which it was not possible for him to find his way. In Metapontum also, certain persons praying that they might obtain what a ship contained that was sailing into port, Pythagoras said to them, you will then have a dead body. In Sybaris, too, he caught a deadly serpent, and a shaggy one too, and drove it away. In Tyrrhenia also he caught a small serpent, whose bite was fatal. In Crotona it is said that a white eagle allowed Pythagoras to stroke it. When a certain person wished to hear him converse, Pythagoras said it was impossible until some sign appeared. Later a white beart was seen in Cauconia, whose death he declared to a person who came to announce to him its death. He likewise reminded Myllias the Crotonian that he had formerly lived as Midas the son of Gordius, and Myllius journeyed to Asia to perform at the sepulchur of Midas such rites as Pythagoras had commanded him. The person who purchased Pythagoras’s residence dug up what had been buried in it, did not dare to tell anyone what he saw (on this occassion). Although he did not suffer (any divine vengence) for this offense, he was seized and executed for the sacrilege of taking a golden beard that had fallen from a statue. These stories and other such are by the Pythagoreans related to lend authority to their opinions. As their veridicity is generally acknowledged, and as they could not possibly have happened to a mere man, they consequently think it is clear that the stories about Pythagoras should be received as referring not to a mere man, but to a super-man. This is also what is meant by their maxim, that man, bird, and another th[–] thing are bipeds, thereby referring to Pythagoras. Such, therefore, on account of his piety, was Pythagoras; and such he was truly thought to be.
Oaths were religiously observed by the Pythagoreans, who were mindful of that precept of theirs,
“As duly by law, thy homage pay first to the immortal Gods;
Then to thy oath, and last to the heroes illustrious.”
For instance: A Pythagorean was in court, and asked to take an oath. Rather than to disobey this principle, although the oath would have been a religiously permitted one, he preferred to pay to the defendant a fine of three talents.
Pythagoras taught that no occurrence happened by chance or luck, but rather conformably to divine Providence, and especially so to good and pious men. This is well illustrated by a story from Androcides’s treatise on Pythagoric symbols about the Tarentine Pythagorean Thymaridas. He was happening to be sailing away from his country, his friends were all present to bid him farewell, and to embrace him. He had already embarked when someone cried to him, “O Thyramidas, I pray that the Gods may shape all your circumstances accord into your wishes!” But he retorted, “Predict me better things; namely, that what may happen to me may be conformable to the will of the Gods !” For he thought it more scientific and prudent not to resist or grumble against divine providence.
If asked about the source whence these men derived so much piety, we must acknowledge that the Pythagorean number-theology was clearly fore-shadowed, to some extent, in the Orphic writings. Nor is it to be doubted that when 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. Now who can judge who it was that delivered what there is said of the Gods from the Sacred Discourse, or Treatise on the Gods, which bears both titles. For we read:
“Pythagoras, the son of Mnesarchus was instructed in what pertains to the Gods when he celebrated orgies in the Thracian Libethra, being therein initiated by Aglaophemus; and that Orpheus, the son of Calliope, having learned wisdom from his mother in the mountain Pangaeus, said that the eternal essence of number is the most providential principle of the universe, of heaven and earth, and of the intermediate nature; and farther still, that it is the root of the permanency of divine natures, of Gods, and divinities.”
From this it is evident that he learned from the Orphic writers that the essence of the Gods is defined by number. “Through the same numbers also, he produced a wonderful prognostication and worship of the Gods, both of which are particularly allied to numbers.”
As conviction is best produced by an objective fact, the above principle may be proved as follows. When Abaris performed sacred rites according to his customs, he procured a foreknowledge of events, which is studiously cultivated by all the Barbarians, by sacrificing animals, especially birds; for they think that the entrails of such animals are particularly adapted to this purpose. Pythagoras, however, not wishing to suppress his ardent pursuit of the truth, but to guide it into a safer way, without blood and slaughter, and also because he thought that a cock was sacred to the sun, “furnished him with a consummate knowledge of all truth, through arithmetical science.” From piety, also, he derived faith concerning the Gods. For Pythagoras always insisted that nothing marvelous concerning Gods or divine teachings should be disbelieved, inasmuch as the Gods are competent to effect anything. But the divine teachings in which we must believe are those delivered by Pythagoras. The Pythagoreans therefore assumed and believed what they taught (on the priori ground that) they were not the offspring of false opinion. Hence Eurytus the Crotonian, the disciple of Philolaus, said that a shepherd feeding his sheep near Philolaus’s tomb had heard someone singing. But the person to whom this was related did not at all question this, merely asking what kind of harmony it was. Pythagoras himself also, being asked by a certain person the significance of the converse with his defunct father in sleep, answered that it meant nothing. For neither is anything portended by your speaking with me, said he.
Pythagoras wore clean white garments, and used clean white coverlets, avoiding the woolen ones. This custom he enjoined on his disciples. In speaking of super-human natures, he used honorable appellations, and words of good omen, on every occasion mentioning and reverencing the Gods; so, while at supper, he performed libations to the divinities, and taught his disciples , daily to celebrate the super-human beings with hymns. He attended likewise to rumors and omens, prophecies and lots, and in short to all unexpected circumstances. Moreover, he sacrificed to the Gods with millet, cakes, honeycombs, and fumigations. But he did not sacrifice animals, nor did any of the contemplative philosophers. His other disciples, however, the Hearers and the Politicians, were by him ordered to sacrifice animals such as cock, or a lamb, or some other young animal, but not frequently; but they were prohibited from sacrificing oxen.
Another indication of the honor he paid the Gods was his teaching that his disciples must never use the names of the divinities uselessly in swearing. For instance, Syllus, one of the Crotonian Pythagoreans, paid a fine rather than swear, though he could have done so without violating the truth. Just as the Pythagoreans abstained from using the names of the Gods, also, through reverence, they were unwilling to name Pythagoras, indicating him whom they meant by the invention of the Tetraktys. Such is the form of an oath ascribed to them:
“I swear by the discoverer of the Tetraktys,
which is the spring of all our wisdom;
The perennial fount and root of Nature.”
In short, Pythagoras imitated the Orphic mode of writing, and (pious) disposition, the way they honored the Gods representing; them images and in brass not resembling our (human form), but the divine receptacle (of the sphere), because they comprehend and provide for all things, being of a nature and form similar to the universe.
But his divine philosophy and worship was compound, having learned much from the Orphic followers, but much also from the Egyptian priests, the Chaldeans and Magi, the mysteries of Eleusis, Imbrus, Samothracia, and Delos and even the Celtic and Iberian. It is also said that Pythagoras’s Sacred Discourse is current among the Latins, not being read to or by all, but only by those who are disposed to learn, the best things, avoiding all that is base.
He ordered that libations should be made thrice, observing that Apollo delivered oracles from the tripod, the triad being the first number. Sacrifices to Venus were to be made on the sixth day, because this number is the first to partake of every number and when divided in every possible way, receives the power of the numbers subtracted, and those that remain. Sacrifices to Hercules, however, should be made on the eighth day, of the month, counting from the beginning, commemorating his birth in the seventh month.
He ordained that those who entered into a temple should be clothed in a clean garment, in which no one had slept; because sleep, just as and brack and brown, indicates sluggishness, while cleanliness is a sign, of equality and justice in reasoning.
If blood should be found unintentionally spilled in a temple, there should be made a lustration, either in a golden vessel, or with sea-water; gold being the most beautiful of all things and the measure of exchange of everything else; while the latter was derived from the principle of moistness, the food of the first and more common matter. Also, children should not be brought forth in a temple; where the divine part of the soul should not be bound to the body. On a festal day neither should the hair be cut, nor the nails pared; as it was unworthy to disturb the worship of the Gods, to attend to our own advantage. Nor should lice be killed in a temple, as divine power should not participate in anything superfluous or degrading.
The Gods should be honored with cedar, laurel, cypress, oak and myrtle; nor should the body be purified with these, nor any of them be cut with the teeth.
He also ordered that what is boiled should not be roasted, signifying hereby that mildness has no need of anger.
The bodies of the dead he did not suffer to be burned, herein following the Magi, being unwilling that anything (so) divine (as fire) should be mingled with mortal nature. He thought it holy for the dead to be carried out in white garments; thereby obscurely prefiguring the simple and first nature, according to number, and the principle of all things.
Above all, he ordained that an oath should be taken religiously; since that which is behind (the futurity of punishment) is long.
He said it was much more holy to be a man injured than to kill a man; for judgment is pronounced in Hades, where the soul and its essence, and the first nature of things is correctly appraised.
He ordered that coffins should not be made of cypress, either because the scepter of Jupiter was made of this wood, or for some other mystic reason. Libations were to be performed before the altar of Jupiter the Savior, of Hercules, and the Dioscuri; thus celebrating Jupiter as the presiding cause and leader of the meal; Hercules as the power of Nature, and the Dioscuri, as the symphony of all things. Libations should not be offered with closed eyes, as nothing beautiful should be undertaken with bashfulness and shame. When it thundered, one ought to touch the earth, in remembrance of the generation of things.
Temples should be entered from places on the right hand; and left from the left hand; for the right hand is the principle of what is called the odd number, and is divine; while the left hand is a symbol of the even number, and of dissolution.
Such are many of the injunctions he is said to have adopted in the pursuance of piety. Other particulars which have been omitted may be inferred from what has been given. Hence the subject be closed.
Chapter XXIX. Sciences and Maxims
The Pythagoreans’ Commentaries best express his wisdom; being accurate, concise, savoring of the ancient elegance of style, and deducing the conclusions exquisitely. They contain the most condensed conceptions, and are diversified in form and matter. The are both accurate and eloquent, full of clear and indubitable arguments, accompanied by scientific demonstration, in syllogistic form; as indeed will be discovered by any careful reader.
In his writings, Pythagoras, from a supernal source, delivers the science of intelligible natures and Gods.
Afterwards, he teaches the whole of physics, completely unfolding ethics and logic. Then come various discipline and other excellent sciences. There is nothing pertaining to human knowledge which is not discussed in these encyclopedic writings. If therefore it is acknowledged that of the (Pythagoric) writings which are now in circulation, some were written by Pythagoras himself, while others consist of what he was heard to say, and on this account are anonymous, though of Pythagoric origin; if all this be so, it is evident that he was abundantly skilled in all wisdom.
It is said that while he was in Egypt he very much applied himself to geometry. For Egyptian life bristles with geometric problem; since, from remote periods, when the Gods were fabulously said to have reigned in Egypt, on account of the rising and falling of the Nile, the skillful have been compelled to measure all the Egyptian land which they cultivated; wherefrom indeed the science’s name, geometry, was derived. Besides, the Egyptians studied the theories of the celestial orbs, in which Pythagoras also was skilled. All theorems about lines seem to have been derived from that country. All that relates to numbers and computation is said to have been discovered in Phoenicia.
The theorems about the heavenly bodies have by some been referred to the Egyptians and Chaldeans in common. Whatever Pythagoras received, however, he developed further, he arranged them for learners, and personally demonstrated them with perspicuity and elegance. He was the first to give a name to philosophy, describing it as a desire for and love of wisdom, which latter he defined as the science of objectified truth. Beings he defined as immaterial and eternal natures, alone possessing a power that is efficacious, as are incorporeal essences. The rest of things are beings only figuratively, and considered such only through the participation of real beings; such are corporeal and material forms, which arise and decay without ever truly existing. Now wisdom is the science of things which are truly beings; but not of the mere figurative entities. Corporeal natures are neither the objects of science, nor admit of a stable knowledge, since they are infinite, and by science incomprehensible, and when compared with universals resemble non-beings, and are in a genuine sense non-definable. Indeed it is impossible to conceive that there should be a science of things not naturally the objects of science; nor could a science of non-existent things prove attractive to anyone. Far more desirable will be things which are genuine beings, existing in invariable permanency, and always answering to their description. For the perception of objects existing only figuratively, never truly being what they seem to be, follows the apprehension of real beings, just as the knowledge of particulars is posterior to the science of universals. For, as said Archytas, he who properly knows universals, will also have a clear perception, of the nature of particulars, That is why beings are not alone, only-begotten, nor simple, but various and multiform. For those genuine beings are intelligible and incorporeal natures, while others are corporeal, falling under the perception of sense, communicate with that which is really existent only by participation. Concerning all these, Pythagoras formed sciences the most apposite, leaving nothing uninvestigated. Besides, he developed the master-sciences of method, common to all of them, such as logic, definitions, and analysis, as may be gathered from the Pythagoric commentaries.
To his intimates he was wont to utter symbolically oracular sentences, wherein the smallest number of words were pregnant with the most multifarious significance, not unlike certain oracles of the Pythian Apollo, or like nature herself in tiny seeds, the former exhibiting conceptions, and the latter effects innumerable in multitude, and difficult to understand. Such was Pythagoras’s own maxim, “The beginning is the half of the whole.” In this and similar utterances the most divine Pythagoras concealed the sparks of truth, as in a treasury, for those capable of being kindled thereby. In this brevity of diction he deposited an extension of theory most ample, and difficult to grasp, as in the maxim, “All things accord in number,” which he frequently repeated to his disciples. Another one was, “Friendship is equality; Equality is friendship.” He even used single words, such as “cosmos,” or, adorned world; or, philosophy!Ó or further, “Tetractys!” All these and many other similar inventions were by Pythagoras devised for the benefit and amendment of his associates; and by those that understood them they were considered to be so worthy of veneration, and so divinely inspired, that those who dwelt in the common auditorium adopted this oath:
“I swear by the discoverer of the Tetraktys,
which is the spring of all our wisdom;
The perennial founts and root of Nature.”
This was the form of his so admirable wisdom.
Of the sciences honored by the Pythagoreans not the least were music, medicine and divination. [May be missing text]. . . .
Of medicine, the most emphasized part was dietetics; and they were most scrupulous in its exercise. First, they sought to understand the physical symptoms of equanimity, labor, eating and repose.
They were nearly the first to make a business of the preparation of food, and to describe its methods. More frequently than their predecessors the Pythagoreans used poultices, however disapproving more of medicated ointments, which they chiefly limited to the cure of ulcerations. Most they disapproved of cuts and cauterizations. Some diseases they cured by incantations. Music, if used in a proper manner, was by Pythagoras supposed to contribute greatly to health. The Pythagoreans likewise employed select sentences of Homer and Hesiod for the amendment of souls.
The Pythagoreans were habitually silent and prompt to hear, and he won praise who listened (most effectively). But that which they had learned and heard was supposed to be retained and preserved in the memory. Indeed, this ability of learning and remembering determined the amount of disciplines and lectures, inasmuch as learning is the power by which knowledge is obtained, and remembering that by which it is preserved. Hence memory was greatly honored, abundantly exercised, and given much attention. In learning also it was understood that they were not to dismiss what they were taught, till its first rudiments had been entirely mastered. This was their method of recalling what they daily heard. No Pythagorean rose from his bed till he had first recollected the transactions of the day before; and he accomplished this by endeavoring to remember what he first said, or heard, or ordered done by his domestics before rising; or what was the second or third thing he had said, heard or commanded. The same method was employed for the remainder of the day. He would try to remember the identity of the first person he had met on leaving home, and who was the second; and with, whom he had discoursed first, second or third. So also he did with everything else, endeavoring to resume in his memory all the events of the whole day, and in the very same order in which each of them had occurred. If however, after rising there was enough leisure to do so, the Pythagoreans reminisced about day before yesterday. Thus they made it a point to exercise their memories systematically; considering that the ability of remembering was most important for experience, science and wisdom.
This Pythagorean school filled Italy with philosophers; and this place which before was unknown, was later, on account of Pythagoras called Greater Greece, which became most famous for is philosophers, poets and legislators. Indeed, the rhetorical arts, demonstrative reasonings and legislation was entirely transferred from Greece. As to physics, we might mention the principal physiologists, Empedocles and the Elean Parmenides. As to ethical maxims, this is Epicharmus, whose conceptions are used by all philosophers.
Thus much concerning the wisdom of Pythagoras, how in a certain respect he very much impelled all his hearers to its pursuit, so far as they were adapted to its participation, and how perfectly he delivered it.
Chapter XXX. Justice and Politics
How he cultivated and delivered justice to humanity we shall best understand if we trace it to its first principle, and ultimate cause. Also we must investigate the ultimate cause of injustice, which will show us how he avoided it, and what methods he adopted to make justice fructify in his soul.
The principle of justice is mutuality and equality, through which, in a way most nearly approximating union of body and soul, all men become cooperative, and distinguish the mine from the thine, as is also testified by Plato, who learned this from Pythagoras. Pythagoras effected this in the best possible manner by erasing from common life every thing private, while increasing everything held in common, so far as ultimate possessions, which after all are the causes of tumult and sedition (Among his disciples[),] everything, was common, and the same to all, no one possessing anything private. He himself indeed, who most approved of this communion, made use of common possessions in the most just manner; but disciples who changed their minds was given back his original contribution, with an addition, and left. Thus Pythagoras established justice in the best possible manner, beginning at its very first principle.
In the next place, justice is introduced by association with other people, while injustice is, produced by unsociability and neglect of other people. Wishing therefore to spread this sociability as far as possibility among men, he ordered his discipled to extend it to the most kindred animal races, considering these as their intimates and friends, which would forbid injuring, slaying, or eating any of them. He who recognizes the community of elements and life between men and animals will in much greater degree establish fellowship with those who share a kindred and rational soul. This also shows that Pythagoras prompted justice beginning from its very root principle. Since lack of money often compels men sometimes to act contrary to justice, he tried to avoid this by practising such economy that his necessary expenses might be liberal, and yet retain a just sufficiency. For as cities are only magnificent households, so the arrangement of domestic concerns is the principle of all good order in cities. For instance, it was said that he himself was the heir to the property of Alceus, who died after completing an embassy to the Lacedemonians; but that in spite of this Pythagoras was admired for his economy no less than for his philosophy. Also when he married, he so educated the daughter that was born to him, and who afterwards married the Crotonian Meno, that while unmarried she was a choir-leader, while as wife she held the first place among those who worshipped at altars. It is also said that the Metapontines preserved PythagorasÕs memory by turning his house into a temple of Ceres, and the street in which he lived into a museum.
Because injustice also frequently results from insolence, luxury, and lawlessness, he daily exhorted his disciples to support laws, and shun lawlessness. He considered luxury the first evil that usually glides into houses and cities; the second insolence, the third destruction.
Luxury therefore should by all possible means be ecluded and expelled; and that from birth men should be accustomed to live temperately, and in a manly manner. He also added the necessity of purification from bad language, whether it be piteous, or provocative, reviling, insolent or scurrilous.
Besides this household justice, he added another and most beautiful kind, the legislative, which both orders what to do and what not to do. Legislative justice is more beautiful that the judicial kind, resembling medicine which heals the diseased, but differs in this that it is preventive, planning the health of the soul from afar.
That is why the best of legislators graduated from the school of Pythagoras: first, Charondas the Catanean, and next Zaleucus and Timaratus, who legislated for the Locrians. Besides these were Theaetetus and Helicaon, Aristocrates and Phytius, who legislated for the Rhegini. All these aroused from the citizens honors comparable to those offered to divinities. For Pythagoras did not act like Heraclitus, who agreed to write laws for the Ephesians, but also petulantly added that in those laws he would order the citizens to hang themselves. What laws Pythagoras endeavored to establish were benevolent and scientific.
Nor need we specially admire those (above mentioned professional) legislators. Pythagoras had a slave by the name of Zamolxis, hailing from Thrace. After hearing Pythagoras’s discourses, and obtaining his freedom, he returned to the Getae, and there, as has already been mentioned at the beginning of this work, exhorted the citizens to fortitude, persuading then that the soul is immortal. So much so is this that even at present all the Galatians and Trallians, and many others of the Barbarians, persuade their children that the soul cannot be destroyed, but survives death, so that the latter is not to be feared, so that (ordinary) danger is to be met with a firm and manly mind. For instructing the Getae in these things, and for having written laws for them, Zamolxis was by them considered as the greatest of the gods.
Further, Pythagoras conceived that the dominion of the divinities was most efficacious for establishing justice; and from this principle he deduced a hole polity, particular laws and a principle of justice. Thus his basic theology was that we should realize God’s existence, and that his disposition towards the human race is such that he inspects and does not neglect it. This theology was very useful: for we require an inspection that we would not be disposed to resist, such as the inspective government of the divinity, for if divine nature is of this nature, it deserves the empire of the universe. For the Pythagoreans rightly taught that (the natural) man is an animal naturally insolent, and changeable in impulse, desire and passions. He therefore requires an extraordinary inspectionary government of this kind, which may produce some chastening and ordering. They therefore thought that any who recognize their changeableness should never be forgetful of piety towards and worship of divinity. Everyone should pay heed, beneath the divine nature, and that of genii, to his parents and the laws, and obey them unfeignedly and faithfully. In general, they thought it necessary to believe that there is no evil greater than anarchy; since the human race is not naturally adapted to salvation without some guidance. The Pythagoreans also considered it advisable to adhere to the customs and laws of their ancestors, even though somewhat inferior to other regulations. For it is unprofitable and not salutary to evade existing laws, or to be studious of innovation. Pythagoras, therefore, to evince that his life was conformable to his doctrines gave many other specimens of piety to the Gods.
It may be quite suitable to mention one of these, as an example of the rest. I will relate what Pythagoras said and did relative to the embassy from Sybaris to Crotona, relative to the return of the exiles. By order of the ambassadors, some of his associates had been slain, a part of them, indeed, by one of the ambassadors himself, while another one of them was the son of one of those who had excited the sedition, and had died of disease. When the Crotonians therefore were deliberating how they should act in this affair, Pythagoras told his disciples he was displeased that the Crotonians should be so much at odds over the matter, and that in his opinion the ambassadors should not even be permitted to lead victims to the altar, let alone drag thence the suppliant exiles. When the Sybarites came to him with their complaints, and the man who had slain some of his disciples with his own hands was defending his conduct, Pythagoras declared he would make no answer to (a murderer). Another (ambassador) accused him of asserting that he was Apollo, because when in the past, some person had asked him about a certain subject, why the thing was so; and he had retorted.
Would he think it sensible, when Apollo was delivering oracles to him, to ask Apollo why he did so? Another one of the ambassadors derided his school, wherein he taught the return of souls to this world saying that, as Pythagoras was about to descend into Hades, the ambassador would give Pythagoras an epistle to his father, and begged him to bring back an answer, when he returned. Pythagoras responded that he was not about to descend into the abode of the impious, where he clearly knew that murderers were punished. As then the rest of the ambassadors reviled him, Pythagoras, followed by many people, went to the seashore, and sprinkled himself with water. After reviling the rest of the ambassadors, one of the Crotonian counselors observed that he understood they had defamed Pythagoras, whom not even a brute would dare to blaspheme, though all animals should again utter the same voice as men, as prehistoric fables relate. Pythagoras discovered another method of restraining men from injustice: the fear of judgment. He knew that this method could be taught, and that fear was often able to suppress justice. He asserted therefore that it is much better to be injured, than to kill a man; for judgment is dispensed in Hades, where the soul and its essence and the first nature of beings, are accurately appraised.
Desiring to exhibit among human unequal, indefinite and unsytemmatical affairs the equality, definiteness and symmetry of justice, and to show how it ought to be exercised, he likened justice to (a right-angled) triangle, the only one among geometrical forms, which, though, having an infinite diversity of adjustments of indeed unequal parts (the length of the sides), yet has equal powers (the square on the hypotenuse is equal to the squares on the other two sides).
Since all associations (imply relations with some other person) and therefore entail justice, the Pythagoreans declared that there were two kinds of associations, that differed: the seasonable, and the unseasonable, according to age, merit, familiarity, philanthropy, and so forth. For instance, the association of a younger person with an elderly one is unseasonable, while that of two young persons is seasonable. No kind of anger, threatening or boldness is becoming in a younger towards an elderly man, all which unseasonable conduct should be cautiously avoided. So also with respect to merit, for, towards a man who has arrived at the true dignity of consummate virtue, neither unrestrained form of speech, nor any other of the above manners of conduct is seasonable.
Not unlike this was what he taught about the relations towards parents and benefactors. He said that the use of the opportune time was various. For of those who are angry or enraged, some are so seasonably, and some unseasonably. The same distinction obtains with desires, impulsions and passions, actions, dispositions, associations and meetings. He further observed that to a certain extent, the opportuneness is to be taught, and that also the unexpected might be analysed artificially; while none of the above qualifications obtain when applied universally, and simply. Nevertheless its results are very similar to those of opportuneness, namely elegance, propriety, congruence, and the like.
Reminding us that unity is the principle of the universe, being its principal element, so also is it in science, experiment, and growth. However two-foldness is most honorable in houses, cities, camps, and such like organizations. For in sciences we learn and judge not by any single hasty glance, but by a thorough examination of every detail. There is therefore grave danger of entire misapprehension of things, when the principle has been mistaken; for while the true principle remains unknown, no consequent conclusions can be final. The same situation obtains in things of another kind.
Neither a city nor a house can be well organized unless each has an effective ruler who governs voluntary servants. For voluntariness is as necessary with the ruler to govern, as in the ruled to obey.
So also must there be a concurrence of will between teacher and learner; for no satisfactory progress can be made while there obtains resistance on either side. Thus he demonstrated the beauty of being persuaded by rulers, and to be obedient to preceptors.
This was the greatest objective illustration of this argument. Pherecydes the Syrian had been his teacher, but now was afflicted with the morbus pedicularis, Pythagoras therefore went from Italy to Delos, to nurse him, tending him until he died, and piously performing whatever funeral rites were due to his former teacher. So diligent was he in discharge of his duties towards those from whom he had received instruction.
Pythagoras insisted strenuously with his disciples on the fulfillment of mutual agreements. (Here is an illustration). Lysis had once completed his worship in the temple of Juno, and was leaving as he met in the vestibule with Euryphamus the Syracusan, one of his fellow disciples, who was then entering into the temple. Euryphamus asked Lysis to wait for him, till he had finished his worship also. So Lysis sat down on a stone seat there situate, and waited. Euryphamus went in, finished his worship, but, having become absorbed in some profound considerations, forgot his appointment, and passed out of the temple by another gate. Lysis however continued to wait, without leaving his seat, the remainder of that day, and the following and also the greater part of the next day.
He might have staid there still longer, perhaps unless, the following day, in the auditorium, Euryphamus had heard that. LysisÕs associates were missing him. Recollecting his appointment, he hastened to Lysis, relieved him of the engagement, telling him the cause of his forgetfulness as follows: “Some God produced this oblivion in me, as a trial of your firmness in keeping your engagements.”
Pythagoras also ordained abstinence from animal food, for many reasons, besides the chief one that it conduced to peaceableness. Those who are trained to abominate the slaughter of animals as iniquitous and unnatural will not think it much more unlawful to kill a man, or engage in war. For war promotes slaughter, and legalizes it, increasing it, and strengthening it. Pythagoras ‘s maxim “not to touch the balance above the beam” is in itself an exhortation to justice, demanding the cultivation of everything that is just, Ñ as will be shown when we study the Pythagorean symbols. In all these particulars, therefore, Pythagoras paid great attention to the practice of justice; and to its preachment to men, both in deeds and words.
Chapter XXXI. Temperance and Self-Control
Temperance is our next topic, cultivated as it was by Pythagoras, and taught to his associates. The common precepts about it have already been detailed, in which we learned that everything irregular should be cut off with fire and sword. A similar precept is the abstaining from animal food, and also from such likely to produce intemperance, and lulling the vigilance and genuine energies of the reasoning powers. A further step in this direction is the precept to introduce, at a banquet, sumptuous fare, which is to be shortly sent away, and given to the servants, having been exhibited merely to chasten the desires. Another one was that none but courtesans should wear gold, not the free women. Further the practice of taciturnity, and even entire silence, for the purpose of governing the tongue. Next, intensive and continuous puzzling out of the most difficult speculations, for the sake of which wine, food and sleep would be minimized. Then would come genuine discrediting of notoriety, wealth, and the like; a sincere reverence towards those to whom reverence is due; joined with an unassumed democratic geniality towards one’s equals in age, and towards the juniors guid ance and counsel, free from envy, and everything similar which is to be deduced from temperance.
The temperance of the Pythagoreans, and how Pythagoras taught this virtue, may be learned from what Hippobotus and Neanthes narrate of Myllias and Timycha, who were Pythagoreans. It seems that Dionysius the tyrant could not obtain the friendship of any one of the Pythagoreans, though he did everything possible to accomplish that purpose; for they had noted, and condemned his monarchical leanings. He therefore sent a troop of thirty soldiers, under the command of Eurymenes the Syracusan, who was the brother of Dion, through (whose) treachery he hoped to take advantage of the Pythagoreans’ usual annual migration to catch some of them; for they were in the habit of changing their abode at different seasons of the year, and they selected places suitable to such a migration. Therefore in Phalae, a rugged part of Tarentum, through which the Pythagoreans were scheduled to pass, Eurymenes insidiously concealed his troop; and when the unsuspecting Pythagoreans reached there about noon, the soldiers rushed upon them with shouts, after the manner of robbers. Disturbed and terrified at an attack so unexpected, at the superior number of their enemies, Ñ the Pythagoreans amounting to no more than ten, Ñ and being unarmed against regularly equipped soldiery, the Pythagoreans saw that they would inevitably be taken captive, so they decided that their only safety lay in flight, which they did not consider inadmissible to virtue. For they knew that according to right reason, fortitude is the art of avoiding as well as enduring. So they would have escaped, and their pursuit would have been given up by Eurymenes’s soldiers, who were heavily armed, had their flight not led them up against a field sown with beans, which were already flowering.
Unwilling to violate their principle not to touch beans, they stood still, and driven to desperation turned, and attacked their pursuers with stones and sticks, and whatever they found to hand, till they had wounded many, and slain some. But (numbers told), and all the Pythagoreans were slain by the spearmen, as none of them would suffer himself to be taken captive, preferring death, according to the Pythagorean teachings.
As Eurymenes and his soldiers had been sent for the express purpose of taking some of the Pythagoreans alive to Dionysius, they were much crest-fallen; and having thrown the corpses in a common sepulchre, and piled earth thereupon, they turned homewards. But as they were returning they met two of the Pythagoreans who had lagged behind. Myllias the Crotonian, and his Lacedemonian wife Timycha, who had not been able to keep up with the others, being in the sixth month of pregnancy. These therefore the soldiers gladly made captive, and led to the tyrant with every precaution, so as to insure their arrival alive. On learning what had happened, the tyrant was very much disheartened, and said to the two Pythagoreans, “You shall obtain from me honors of unusual dignity if you shall be willing to reign in partnership with me.” All his offers, however, were by Myllias and Timycha rejected. Then said he, I will release you with a safe-guard if you will tell me one thing only. On Myllias asking what he wished to learn, Dionysius replied: “Tell me only why your companions chose to die rather than to tread on beans? But Myllis at once answered, “My companions did indeed prefer death to treading on beans; but I had rather do that than tell you the reason.” Astonished at this answer, Dionysius ordered him removed forcibly, and Timycha tortured, for he thought that a pregnant woman, deprived of her husband, would weaken before the torments, and easily tell him all he wanted to know. The heroic woman, however, with her teeth bit her tongue until it was separated and spat it out at the tyrant, thus demonstrating that the offending member should be entirely cut off, even if her sex’s weakness, vanquished by the torments, should be compelled to disclose something that should be reserved in silence. Such difficulties did they make to the admission of outside friendships, even though they happened to be royal.
Similar to these also were the precepts concerning silence, which tended to the practice of temperance; for of all continence, the subjugation of the tongue is the most difficult. The same virtue is illustrated by Pythagoras’s persuading the Crotonians to relinquish all sacrilegious and questionable commerce with courtesans. Moreover Pythagoras restored to temperance a youth who had become wild with amatory passion, through music. Exhortations against lascivious insolence promote the same virtue. Such things were delivered to the Pythagoreans by Pythagoras himself, who was their cause.
They took such care of their bodies that they remained in the same condition, not being at one time lean, and at another stout, which changes they considered anomalous. With respect to their mind also, they managed to remain uniformly mildly joyful, and not at one time hilarious, and at another sad, which could be achieved only by expelling perturbations, despondency or rage.
It was a precept of theirs that no human casualties ought to be unexpected by the intelligent, expecting everything which it is not in their power to prevent. If however at any time any of them fell into a rage, or into despondency, he would withdraw from his associates’ company, and seeking solitude, endeavor to digest and heal the passion.
Of the Pythagoreans it is also reported that none of them punished a servant or admonished a free man during angers but waited until he had recovered his wonted serenity. They used an especial word, paidartan, to signify such (self-controlled) rebukes, effecting this calming by silence and quiet. So Spintharus relates of Archytas the Tarentine that on returning after a certain time from the war against the Hessenians waged by the Tarentines, to inspect some land belonging to him, and finding that the bailiff and the other servants had not properly cultivated it, greatly neglecting it, he became enraged, and was so furious that he told his servants that it was well for them that he was angry, for otherwise, they would not have escaped the punishment due to so great an offense. A similar anecdote is related of Clinias, according to Spintharus; for he also was wont to defer all admonitions and punishments until his mind was restored to tranquillity. Of the Pythagoreans it is further related that they restrained themselves from all lamentation, weeping and the like; and that neither gain, desire, anger or ambition, or anything of the like, ever became the cause of dissension among them; all Pythagoreans being disposed towards each other as parents towards their offspring. Another beautiful trait of theirs was that they gave credit to Pythagoras for everything, naming it after him, not claiming the glory of their own inventions, except very rarely. Few are there who acknowledged their own works.
Admirable too is the careful secrecy with which, they preserved the mystery of their writings. For during so many centuries, prior to the times of Philolaus, none of the Pythagorean commentaries appeared publicly. Philolaus first published those three celebrated books which, at the request of Plato, Dion of Syracuse is said to have bought for a hundred minae. For Philolaus had been overtaken by sudden severe poverty, and he capitalized the writings of which he was partaker through his alliance with the Pythagoreans.
As to the value of opinion, such were their views: A stupid man should defer to the opinion of any one, especially to that of the crowds. Only a very few are qualified to apprehend and opine rightly; for evidently this is limited to the intelligent, who are very few. To the crowds, such a qualification of course does not extend. But to despise the opinion of every one is also stupid; for such a person will remain unlearned and incorrigible. The unscientific should study that of which he is ignorant, or lacks scientific knowledge. A learner should also defer to the opinion of the scientific, and is able to teach. Generally, youths who wish to be saved should attend to the opinions of their elders, or of those who have lived well.
During the course of human life there are certain ages by them called endedasmenae which cannot be connected by the power of any chance person. Unless a man from his very birth is trained in a beautiful end upright manner, these ages antagonize each other. A well educated child, formed to temperance and fortitude, should devote a great part of his education to the stage of adolescence. Similarly, when the adolescent is trained to temperance and fortitude, he should focus his education on the next age of manhood. Nothing could be more absurd than the way in which the general public treats this subject . They fancy that boys should be orderly and temperate, abstaining from everything troublesome or indecorous, but as soon as they have arrived at the age of adolescence, they may do anything they please. In this age, therefore, there is a combination of both kinds of errors, puerile and virile. To speak plainly, they avoid anything that demands diligence and good order, while following anything that has the appearance of sport, intemperance and petulance, being familiar only with boyish affairs. Their desires should be developed from the boyish stage into the next one. In the meanwhile ambition and the rest of the more serious and turbulent inclinations and desires of the virile age prematurely invade adolescence; wherefore this adolescence demands the greatest care. In general, no man ought to be allowed to do whatever he pleases; but there is always need, of a certain inspection, or legal and cultured government, to which each of the citizens is responsible. For animals, when left to themselves, and neglected, rapidly degenerate into vice and depravity.
The Pythagoreans (who did not approve of men being intemperate), would often compel answers from, and puzzle (such intemperate people) by asking them why boys are generally trained to take food in an orderly and moderate manner, being compelled to learn that order and decency are beautiful, and their contraries, disorder and intemperance base, while drunkards and gormandizers are held in great disgrace. For if none of (these temperate) habits are to be continued on into the virile age, to accustom us, as boys, to such (temperate) habits, was useless. The same argument holds good in respect to other good habits to which children are trained, a reversal of training is not seen in the case of the education of other lower animals. From the very first a whelp and a colt are trained to, and learn those tricks which they are to exercise when they arrived at maturity. (The more liberal standard for man in the matter of morals is therefore not sustained by the common sense that trains children to temperance). The Pythagoreans are generally reported to have exhorted not only their intimates; but also whomsoever they happened to meet, to avoid pleasure as a danger demanding the utmost caution. More than anything else does this passion deceive us, and mislead us into error. They contended that it was wiser never to do anything whose end was pleasure, whose results are usually shameful and harmful. They asserted we should adopt as an end the beautiful, and fair, and do our duty. Only secondarily should we consider the useful and advantageous. In these matters there is no need to consider considerations of chance.
Of desire, the Pythagoreans said: That desire itself is a certain tendency, impulse and appetite of the soul, wishing to be filled with something or to enjoy the presence of something or to be disposed according to some sense-enjoyment. There are also contrary desires, of evacuation and repulsion, and to terminate some sensation. This passion is manifold, and is al most the most Protean of human experiences. However, many human desires are artificially acquired, and self-prepared. That is why this passion demands the utmost care and watchfulness, and physical exercise that is more than casual. That when the body is empty it should desire food is no more than natural; and then it is just as natural that when it is full it should desire appropriate evacuation. But to desire superfluous food, or luxurious garment or coverlets, or residences, is artificial. The Pythagoreans applied this argument also to furniture, dishes, servants and cattle raised for butchering. Besides, human passions are never permanent, but are ever changing, even to infinity. That is why education of the youth should begin at the earliest moment possible, that the aspirations may be directed towards ends that are proper, avoiding those that are vain and unnecessary, so as to be undisturbed by, and remain pure from such undesirable passions; and may despise such as are objects of contempt because subjected to changeable desires. Yet it must be observed that senseless, harmful superfluous and insolent desires subsist in the souls of such individuals who are the most powerful; for there is nothing so absurd that soul of such boys, men and women would not lead them to perform.
Indeed, the variety of food eaten is beyond description. The kinds of fruits and roots which the human race eats is nothing less than infinite. The kinds of flesh eaten are innumerable; there is no terrestrial, aerial, or aquatic animal which has not been partaken of. Besides, in the preparation of these, the contrivances used are innumerable and they are seasoned with manifold mixtures of juices. Hence, according to the motions of the human soul, it is no more than natural that the human race should be so various as to be actually insane; for each kind of food that is introduced into the human body becomes the cause of a certain peculiar disposition.
(Quantity) is as important as quality, for sometimes a slight change in quantity produces a great change in quality, as with wine. First making men more cheerful, later it undermines morals and sanity. This difference is generally ignored in things in which the result is not so pronounced, although everything eaten is the cause of a certain peculiar disposition. Hence it requires great wisdom to know and perceive which quality and quantity of food to eat. This science, first unfolded by Apollo and Phaon, was later developed by Aesculapius and his followers.
About propagation, the Pythagoreans taught as follows. First, they prevented untimely birth. Not even among plants or animals is prematurity good. To produce good fruit there is need of maturation for a certain time to give strong and perfect bodies to fruits and seeds. Boys and girls should therefore be trained to work and exercise, with endurance, and that they should eat foods adapted to a life of labor and temperance, with endurance. There are many things in human life which it is better to learn at a late period in life, and this sex-life is one of them. It is therefore advisable that a boy should be educated so as not to begin sex-connection before the twentieth year, and even then rarely. This will take place if he holds high ideals of a good habit for the body. Body-hygiene and intemperance are not likely to subsist in the same individual. The Pythagoreans, praised the earlier Greek laws forbidding intercourse with a woman who is a mother, daughter or sister in a temple or other public place. It is advisable that there be many impediments to the practice of this energy. The Pythagoreans forbade entirely intercourse that was unnatural, or resulting from wanton insolence, allowing only the natural, the temperate, which occur in the course of chaste and recognized procreation of children.
Parents should make circumstantial provision for their offspring. The first precaution is a healthful and temperate life, not unseasonably filling himself with food, nor using foods which create bad body-habits, above all avoiding intoxication. The Pythagoreans thought that an evil, discordant, trouble-making character produced depraved sperma. They insisted that none but an indolent or inconsiderate person would attempt to produce an animal, and introduce it to existence, without most diligently providing for it a pleasing and even elegant ingress into his world. Lovers of dogs pay the utmost possible attention to the breeding of their puppies, knowing that goodness of the offspring depends on goodness of parents, at the right season, and in proper surroundings. Lovers of birds pay no less attention to the matter; procreators of generous animals therefore should by all possible means manage that their efforts be fruitful. It is therefore absurd for men to pay no attention to their own offspring, begetting casually and carelessly, and after birth, feed, and educate them negligently. This is the most powerful and manifest cause of the vice and depravity of the greater part of mankind, for the generality undertake procreation on impulse, like beasts.
Such were the Pythagoreans teachings about temperance, which they defended by word and practised in deed. They had originally received them from Pythagoras himself, as if they had been oracles delivered by the Pythian Apollo himself.
Chapter XXXII. Fortitude
Fortitude, the subject of this chapter, has already been illustrated, by the heroism of Timycha, and those Pythagoreans who preferred death, to transgression of Pythagoras’s prohibition to touch beans, and other instances. Pythagoras himself showed it in the generous deeds he performed when traveling everywhere alone, undergoing heart-breaking labors and serious dangers, and in choosing to leave his country and living among strangers. Likewise when he dissolved tyrannies, ordered confused commonwealths, and emancipated cities. He ended illegalities, and impeded the activities of insolent and tyrannical men. As a leader, he showed himself benignant to the just and mild, but expelled rough and licentious men from his society, refusing even to answer them, resisting them with all his might, although he assisted the former.
Of these courageous deeds, as well as of many upright actions, many instances could be adduced; but the greatest of these is the prevailing freedom of speech he employed towards the tyrant Phalaris, the most cruel of them, who detained him in captivity. A Hyperborean sage named Abaris visited him, to convers with him on many topics, especially sacred ones, respecting statues and worship, the divine providence, natures terrestrial and celestial, and the like. Pythagoras, under divine inspiration, answered him boldly, sincerely and persuasively, so that he converted all listeners. This roused Phalaris’s anger against Abaris, for praising Pythagoras and increased the tyrant’s resentment against Pythagoras. Phalaris swore proudly as was his wont, and uttered blasphemies against the Gods themselves. Abaris however was grateful to him, and learned from him that all things are suspended from, and governed by the heavens; which he proved from many considerations, but especially from the potency of sacred rites. For teaching him these things, so far was Abaris from thinking Pythagoras an enchanter, that his reverence for him increased till he considered him a God. Phalaris tried to counteract this by discrediting divination, and publicly denying there was any efficacy of the sacraments performed in sacred rites. Abaris, however, guided the controversy towards such things as are granted by all men, seeking to persuade him of the existence of a divine providence, from circumstances that lie above human influence, such as immense wars, incurable diseases, the decay of fruits, incursions of pestilence, or the like, which are hard to endure, and are deplorable, arising from the beneficent (purifying) energy of the powers celestial and divine. Shamelessly and boldly Phalaris opposed all this. Then Pythagoras, suspecting that Phalaris intended to put him to death, but knowing he was not destined to die through Phalaris, retorted with great freedom of speech. Looking at Abaris, he said that from the heavens to aerial and terrestrial beings there was a certain descending communication. Then from instances generally known he showed that all things follow the heavens. Then he demonstrated the existence of an indisputable power of freedom of will, in the soul; proceeding further amply to discuss the perfect energy of reason and intellect. With his (usual) freedom of will he even (dared to) discuss tyranny, and all the prerogatives of fortune, concerning injustice and human avarice, solidly teaching that all these are of no value. Further, he gave Phalaris a divine admonition concerning the most excellent life, earnestly comparing it with the most depraved. He likewise clearly unfolded the manner of subsistence of the soul, its powers and passions; and, what was the most beautiful of all, demonstrated to him that the Gods are not the authors of evils, and that diseases and bodily calamities are the results of intemperance, at the same time finding fault with the poets and mythologists for the unadvisedness of many of their fables. Then he directly confuted Phalaris, and admonished him, experimentally demonstrating to him the power and magnitude of heaven, and by many arguments demonstrated to him that reason dictates that punishments should be legal. He demonstrated to him the difference between men and other animals, scientifically demonstrating the difference between internal and external speech. Then he expounded the nature of intellect, and the knowledge that is derived therefrom; with its ethical corollaries. Then he discoursed about the most beneficial of useful things adding the mildest possible implied admonitions, adding prohibitions of what ought not to be done. Most important of all, he unfolded to him the distinction between the productions of fate and intellect, and the difference between the results of destiny and fate. Then he reasoned about the divinities, and the immortality of the soul. All this, really, belongs to some other chapter, the present one’s topic being the development of fortitude. For if, when situated in the midst of the most dreadful circumstances, Pythagoras philosophised with firmness of decision, if on all sides he resisted fortune, and repelled it, enduring its attacks strenuously, if he employed the greatest boldness of speech towards him who threatened his life, it must be evident that he entirely despised those things generally considered dreadful, rating them as unworthy of attention. If also he despised execution, when this appeared imminent, and was not moved by its imminence, it is evident that he was perfectly free from the fear of death, (and all possible torments).
But he did something still more generous, effecting the dissolution of the tyranny, restraining the tyrant when he was about to bring the most deplorable calamities on mankind, and liberating Sicily from the most cruel and imperious power. That it was Pythagoras who accomplished this, is evident from the oracles of Apollo, which had predicted that the dominion of Philaris would come to an end when his subjects would become better men, and cooperate; which also happened through the presence of Pythagoras, and his imparting to them instruction and good principles. The best proof of this may be found in the time when it happened. For on the very day that Phalaris condemned Pythagoras and Abaris to death, he himself by stratagem slain. Another argument for the truth of this are the adventures of Epimenides. He was a disciple of Pythagoras; and when certain persons planned to destroy him, he invoked the Furies and the avenging divinities, and thereby caused those who had attempted his life to destroy each other. In the same way Pythagoras, who assisted mankind, imitating both the manner and fortitude of Hercules for the benefit of men punished and occasioned the death of him who had behaved insolently and in a disorderly manner towards others; and this through the very oracles of Apollo, in the class of which divinity both he and Epimenides had naturally since birth belonged. This admirable and strenuous deed was the effect of his fortitude.
We shall present another example of preservation of lawful opinion; for following it out he did what to him seemed just and dictated by right reason without permitting himself to be diverted from his intention by pleasure, labor passion or danger. His disciples also preferred death to transgression of any precept of his. They preserved their manners unchanged under the most varying fortunes. Being involved in a myriad of calamities could not cause them to deviate from his rules. They never ceased exhorting each other to support the laws, to oppose lawlessness from birth to train themselves to a life of temperance and fortitude, so as to restrain and oppose luxury. They also used certain original melodies as remedies against the passions of the soul; against lamentation and despondency, which Pythagoras had invented, as affording the greatest relief in these maladies. Other melodies they employed against anger and rage, through which they could increase or diminish those passions, till they reduced them to moderation, and compatability with fortitude. The thought which afforded them the greatest support in generous endurance was the conviction that no human casualty should be unexpected by men of intellect, but that they must resign themselves to all vicissitudes beyond human control. Moreover, whenever overwhelmed by grief or anger, they immediately forsook the company of their associates, and in solitude endeavored to digest and heal the oppressing passion. They took it for granted that studies and disciplines implied labor, and that they must expect severe tests of different kinds and be restrained and punished even by fire and sword, so as to exorcise innate intemperance and greediness; for which purpose no labor or endurance should be spared. Further, to accomplish they un-selfishly abstained from animal food, and also some other kinds. This also was the cause of their slowing of speech and complete silence, as means to the entire subjugation of the tongue, which demanded year-long exercise of fortitude. In addition, their strenuous and. assiduous investigation and resolution of the most difficult theorems, their abstinence from wine, food and sleep, and their contempt of wealth and glory. Thus by many different means they trained themselves to fortitude.
But this is not all. They restrained themselves from lamentations and tears. They abstained from entreaty, supplication, and adulation as effeminate and abject (or humble). To the same practice of fortitude must be referred their peculiarity of absolute reserve among their arcana of the principal principles of their discipline, preserving them from being divulged to strangers, committing them unwritten to memory, and transmitting them orally to their successors as if they were the mysteries of the Gods. That is why nothing worth mentioning of their philosophy was ever made public and though it had been taught and learned for a long while, it was not known beyond their walls. Those outside who might call the profane, sometimes happened to be present; and under such circumstances the Pythagoreans would communicate only obscurely, though symbols, a vestige of which is retained by the celebrated precepts still in circulation, such as fire should not be poked with a sword, and other like ones, which taken literally, resemble old-wives’ tales; but which, when properly unfolded, are to the recipients admirable and venerable.
That precept which, of all others, was of the greatest efficacy in the achievement of fortitude is that one which helps defend and liberate from the life-long bonds that retain the intellect in captivity, and without which no one can perceive or learn anything rational or genuine, whatever be the sense in activity. They said:
“Tis mind that sees all things, and hears them all;
All else is deaf and blind.”
The next most efficacious precept is that one which exhorts excessively to be studious of purifying the intellect, and by various methods adapting it through mathematical disciplines to receive something divinely beneficial, so as neither to fear a separation from the body, nor, when directed towards incorporeal natures, through their most refulgent splendor to be compelled to turn away the eyes, nor to be converted to those passions which fasten and even nail the soul to the body, and makes her rebellious to all those passions which are the progeny of procreation, degrading her to a lower level. The training of ascent through all these is the study of the most perfect fortitude. Such are important instances of the fortitude of Pythagoras and his followers.
Chapter XXXIII. Universal Friendship
Friendship of all things towards all was most clearly enforced by Pythagoras, God’s friendship towards men he explained through piety and scientific cultivation; but that of teachings towards each other, and generally the soul to the body, of the rational towards the irrational part, through philosophy and its teachings. That of men towards each other; and of citizens, he justified through proper legislation; that of strangers, through the common possession of a body; that between man and wife, children brothers or kindred through the imperverted ties of nature. In short, he taught the friendship of all for all, and still further, of certain animals, through justice, and common physical experiences. But the pacification and conciliation of the body, which is mortal by itself, and of its latent immortal powers, he enforced through health, and a temperate diet suitable thereto, in imitation of the ever-healthy condition of the mundane elements. In all these, Pythagoras is recognized as the inventor and summarizer of them in a single name, that of friendship. So admirable was his friendship to his associates, that even now when people are extremely benevolent mutually people call them Pythagoreans, we should therefore narrate Pythagoras’s discipline thereto related, and the precepts he taught, his disciples.
Pythagoreans therefore on the effacing of all rivalry and contention from true friendship, if not from all friendship; at least from parental friendship, and generally from all gratitude towards seniors and benefactors. To strive or contend with such, out of anger or some other passion, is not the way to preserve existing friendship. Scars and ulcers in friendship should be the least possible; and this will be the case if those that are friends know how to subdue their anger. If indeed both of them know this, or rather, the younger of the two, and who ranks in some of the above mentioned orders, (their friendship will be the more easily preserved). They also taught that corrections and admonitions, which they called “paedartases” should take place from the elder to the younger, and with much sumarity and caution; and likewise, that much careful and considerate attention should be manifested in admonitions. For thus they will be persuasive and helpful. They also said that confidence should never be separated from friendship whether in earnest, or in jest. Existing friendship cannot survive, when once falsehood insinuates itself into the habits of professed friends. According to them, friendship should not be abandoned en account of misfortune, or any other human vicissitude; the only permissible rejection of friend or friendship is the result of great and incorrigible vice.
Hatred should not be entertained voluntarily against those who not perfectly bad, but when once formed, it should be strenuously and firmly maintained, unless its object should change his morals, so as to become a better man. Hostility should not consist in words, but in deeds. War is commendable and legitimate, when conducted in a manly manner.
No one should ever permit himself to become the cause of contention, and we should as far as possible avoid its source. In a friendship which is intended to be pure, the greater part of the things pertaining to it should be definite and legitimate. These should be properly distinguished and not be casual; and moreover our conversation should never grow casual or negligent, but remain orderly, modest and benevolent. So also with the remaining passions and dispositions.
We should not decline foreign friendships carelessly, but accept and guard them with the greatest care.
That the Pythagoreans preserved friendship towards each other for many ages may be inferred from what Aristoxenus in his treatise on the Pythagoric Life says he heard from Dionysius the tyrant of Sicily, when having been deposed he taught language at Corinth. Here in the words of Aristoxenus: “So far as they could these men avoided lamentations and tears, and the like; also adulation, entreaty, supplication and other emotions. Dionysius therefore, having fallen from his tyranny and come to Corinth, told us the detailed story about the Pythagoreans, Phintias and Damon, who were sponsors for each other’s death. This is how it was: Certain intimates of his had often mentioned the Pythagoreans, defaming and reviling them, calling them arrogant and asserting that their gravity, their pretended fidelity, and stoicism, would disappear on falling in some calamity. Others contradicted this; and as contention arose on the subject, it was decided to settle the matter by an experiment. One man accused Phintias, before Dionysius, of having conspired with others against his life. Others corroborated the charges, which looked probable though Phintias was astonished at the accusation .When Dionysius had unequivocally said that he had verified the charges, and that Phintias must die, the latter replied that if Dionysius thought that this was necessary, he requested the delay of the remainder of the day, to settle the affairs of himself and Damon, as these two men lived together; and had all things in common; but as Phintias was the elder, he mostly undertook the management of the household affairs. He therefore requested that Dionysius allow him to depart for this purpose, and that he would appoint Damon a his surety. Dionysius claimed surprise at such a request, and asked him if any man existed who would stand surety for the death of another. Phintias asserted that there was, and Damon was sent for; and on hearing what had happened, agreed to become the sponsor, and that he would remain there till Phintias’s return. Dionysius declared astonishment at these circumstances, and they who had proposed the experiment derided Damon as the one who would be caught, sneering at him as the “vicarious stag;” when however sunset approached, Phintias came to die; at which all present were astonished and subdued. Dionysius, having embraced and kissed the men, requested that they would receive him as a third into their friendship. They however would by no means consent to anything of the kind, though he entreated them to comply with his request.” These words are related by Aristoxenus who received them from Dionysius himself.
It is also said, that the Pythagoreans endeavored to perform the offices of friendship to those of their sect, though they were unknown, and had never seen each other; on receiving a sure indication of participation in the same doctrines; so that, judging from such friendly offices, it may be believed, as is generally reported, that worthy men, even though they should dwell in the remotest parts of the earth, are mutually friends, and this before they became known to, and salute each other.
The story runs that a certain Pythagorean, traveling through a long and solitary road on foot, came to an inn; and there from over-exertion, or other causes fell into a long and severe disease, as at length to want the necessaries of life. The inn-keeper however, whether from amity or benevolence, supplied him with everything requisite, sparing neither personal service, or expense. Feeling the end near, the Pythagorean wrote a certain symbol on a tablet, and desired the innkeeper, in event of his death, to hang the tablet near the road, and observe whether any traveler read the symbol. For that person, said he, will repay you what you have spent on me and will also thank you for your kindness. After the Pythagorean’s death the innkeeper buried him and attended to the obsequies, without any expectation of being repaid, nor of receiving remuneration from anybody who might read the tablet. However, struck with the Pythagorean’s request, he was induced to expose the writing in the public road. A long time thereafter a Pythagorean passed that way, and on understanding the symbol, found out who had placed the tablet there, and having also investigated every particular, paid the inn-keeper a much greater sum than he had disbursed.
It is also related that Clinias the Tarent when he Learned that the Cyranian Prorus, who was a zealous Pythagorean, was in danger of losing all his property, sailed to Cyrene, and having collected a sum of money, restored the affairs of Prorus to a better condition, though thereby diminished his own estate and risked the peril of the sea-voyage.
Similarly, Thestor Posidomiates, having from mere report heard that the Pythagorean Thymaridas Parius had fallen into poverty, from great wealth into abject poverty, is said to have sailed to Paros, and after having collected a large sum of money, and reinstated Thymaridas in affluence. These are beautiful instances of friendship.
But much more admirable than the above are examples were the Pythagorean’s teachings respecting the communion of divine goods, the agreement of intellect, and their doctrines about the divine soul, . . . . . They were ever exhorting each other not to tear apart the divine soul within them. The significance of their friendship both in words and deeds was effort to achieve a certain divine union, (or union with the divinity), or communion with the divine soul. Better than this, either what is uttered in words, or performed by, it is not possible to find. For I am of opinion that in this all the goods of friendship are united. In this, as a climax we have collected all the blessings of Pythagorean friendship; there is nothing left to say.
Chapter XXXIV. Non-Mercenary Secrecy
Having thus, according to plan discussed Pythagoras and Pythagoreanism, we may be interested in scattered points which do not fall under any of the former topics.
(First, as to language). It is said that each Greek novice was ordered to use his native language, as they did not approve of the use of a foreign language. Foreigners joined the Pythagoreans: Messenians, Lucani, Picentini, and Romans. Metrodorus, the son of Thyrsus, who was the father of Epicharmus, who specialised in medicine, in explaining his father’s writings to his brother, says that Epicharmus, and prior to him Pythagoras, conceived that the best dialect, and the most musical, was the Doric. The Ionic and Aeolic remind of chromatic progression, which however is still more evident in the Attic. The Doric, consisting of pronounced letters, is enharmonic.
The myths also bear witness to the antiquity of this dialect. Nereus was said to have married Doris, the daughter of Ocean; by whom he had fifty daughters, one of whom was the mother of Achilles. Metrodorus also says that some insist that Helen was the offspring of Deucalion, who was the son of Prometheus and Pyrrha the daughter of Epimetheus; and from him descended Dorus and Aeolus. Further he observes that from the Babylonian sacred rites he had learned that Helen was the offspring of Jupiter, and that the sons of Hellen were Dorus, Xuthus, and Aeolus; with which Herodotus also agrees. Accuracy in particulars so ancient is difficult for moderns, to enable them to decide which of the accounts is most trustworthy. But either of them claim that the Doric dialect is the most ancient, that the Aeolic, whose name derives it from Aeolus, is the next age, and that the third is the Ionic, derived from Ion, the son of Xuthus. Fourth is the Attic, formed from Creusa, the daughter of Erechtheus, who is three generations younger than the others; as it existed about the time of the Thracians and the rape of Orithyia, as is evident from the testimony of most histories.
The Doric dialect was also used by the most ancient of the poets, Orpheus. . . . . (repetition).
The Pythagoreans objected to those who offered disciplines for sale, who open their souls like the gates of an inn to every man that approaches them; and who, if they do not thus [have] buyers, diffuse themselves through cities, [so] in short, hire gymnasia, and require a reward from young men for those things that are without price. Pythagoras indeed hid the meaning of much that was said by him, in order that those who were genuinely instructed might clearly partakers of it; but that others, as Homer says of Tantalus, might be pained in the midst of what they heard, in consequence of receiving no delight therefrom.
The Pythagoreans thought that those who teach for the sake of reward, that they show themselves worse than sculptors, or artists who perform [the] work sitting. For these, when someone orders [wood] to make a statue of Hermes, search for wood suited to receive the proper form; while those pretend that they can readily produce the works of virtue from every nature. The Pythagoreans likewise said that it is more necessary to pay attention to philosophy than to parents or agriculture; for no doubt it is owing to the latter that we live, but philosophers and preceptors are the causes of our living well, and becoming wise, on discovering the right mode of discipline and instruction.
Nor did they think fit either to speak or write in such a way such that their conceptions might be obvious to the first comer; for the very first thing Pythagoras is said to have taught is that, being purified from all intemperance, his disciples should preserve the doctrines they have heard in silence. It is accordingly reported that he who first divulged the theory of commensurable and incommensurable quantities to those unworthy to receive it was by the Pythagoreans so hated that they not only expelled him from their common association, and from living with him, but also for him constructed a tomb, as for one who had migrated from the human into another life. It is also reported that the Divine Power was so indignant with those who divulged the teachings of Pythagoras, that he perished at sea, as an impious person who divulged the method of inscribing in a sphere the dodecahedron, one of the five so-called solid figures, the composition of the icostagonus. But according to others, this is what happened to him who revealed the doctrine of rational and incommensurable quantities.
All Pythagoric discipline was symbolic, resembling riddles and puzzles, and consisting of maxims, in the style of the ancients. Likewise the truly divine Pythian oracles seem to be somewhat difficult of understanding and explanation; to those who carelessly receive the answers given. These are the indications about Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans collected from tradition.
Chapter XXXV. Attack on Pythagoreanism
There were however certain persons who were hostile to the Pythagoreans, and who rose against them. That stratagems were employed to destroy them, during Pythagoras’s absence, is universally acknowledged; but the historians differ in their account of the journey which he then undertook.
Some say that he went to Pherecydes the Syrian, and others, to Metapontum. Many causes of the stratagems are assigned. One of then, which is said to have originated from the men called Cylonians, is as follows: Cylon of Crotona was one of the most prominent citizens, in birth, renown and wealth, but in manners he was severe, turbulent, violent, tyrannical. His greatest desire was to become partner of the Pythagoric life, and he made application to Pythagoras who was no now advanced in age, but was rejected for the above causes. Consequently, he and his friends became violent enemies of the brotherhood. CeylonÕs ambition was so vehement and immoderate that with his associates, he persecuted the very last of the Pythagoreans. That is why Pythagoras moved to Metapontum, where he closed his existence.
Those who were called Cylonians continued to plot against the Pythagoreans, and to exhibit the most virulent malevolence. Nevertheless for a time this enmity was subdued by the Pythagoreans’ probity, and also by the vote of the citizens, who entrusted the whole of the city affairs to their management.
At length, however, the Cylonians became so hostile to “the men,” as they were called, that they set fire to Milo’s residence, where were assembled all the Pythagoreans, holding a council of war. All were burnt, except two, Archippus and Lysis, who escaped through their bodily vigor. As no public notice was taken of this calamity, the Pythagoreans ceased to pay any further attention to public affairs, which was due to two causes: the cities’s negligence, and through the loss of those men most qualified to govern. Both of the saved Pythagoreans were Tarentines, and Archippus returned home. Lysis resenting the public neglect went into Greece, residing in the Achian Peloponnesus. Stimulated by an ardent desire, he migrated to Thebes, where he had as disciple Epaminondas, who spoke of his teacher as his father. There Lysis died.
Except Archytas of Tarentum, the rest of the Pythagoreans departed from Italy, and dwelt together in Rhegium. The most celebrated were Phantos, Echecrates, Polymnastus, and Diocrates, who were Phlyasians; and Xenophilus Chalcidensis of Thrace. But in course of time, as the administration of public affairs went from bad to worse, these Pythagoreans nevertheless preserved their pristine manners and disciplines; yet soon the sect began to fail, till they nobly perished. This is the account by Aristoxenus.
Nichomachus agrees with Aristoxenus, except that he dates the plot against the Pythagoreans during Pythagoras’s journey to Delos, to nurse his preceptor Pherecydes the Syrian, who was then afflicted with the morbus pedicularis, and after his death performed the funeral rites. Then those who had been rejected by the Pythagoreans, and to whom monuments had been raised, as if they were dead, attacked them, and committed them all to the flames. Afterwards they were overwhelmed by the Italians with stones, and thrown out of the house unburied. Then science died in the breasts of its possessors, having by them been preserved as something mystic and incommunicable. Only such things as were difficult to be understood, and which were not expounded, were preserved in the memory of those who were outside of the sect, except a few things, which certain Pythagoreans, who at that time happened to be in foreign, lands, preserved as sparks of science very obscure, and of difficult investigation. These men being solitary, and dejected at this calamity, were scattered in different places retaining no longer public influence. They lived alone in solitary places, wherever they found any; each preferred association with himself to that with any other person.
Fearing however lest the name of philosophy should be entirely exterminated from among mankind, and that they should, on this account incur the indignation of the Gods, by suffering so great a gift of theirs to perish, they made an arrangement of certain commentaries and symbols, gathered the writings of the more ancient Pythagoreans, and of such things as they remembered. These relics each left at his death to his son, or daughter, or wife, with a strict injunction not to alienate from the family. This was carried out for some time and the relics were transmitted in succession to their posterity.
Since Apollonius dissents in a certain place regarding these particulars, and adds many things that we have not mentioned, we must record his account of the plot against the Pythagoreans. He says that from childhood Pythagoras had aroused envy. So long as he conversed with all that came to him, he was pleasing to all; but when he restricted his intercourse to his disciples the general peoples’ good opinion of him was altered. They did indeed permit him to pay more attention to strangers than to themselves; but they were indignant at preferring some of their fellow-citizens before others; and they suspected that his disciples assembled with intentions hostile to themselves. In the next place, as the young men that were indignant with him were of high rank, and surpassed others in wealth, and, when they arrived at the proper age, not only, held the first honors in their own families, but also managed the affairs of the city in common, they, being more than three hundred in number, formed a large body, so that there remained but a small part of the city which was not devoted to their habits and pursuits.
Moreover so long as the Crotonians confined themselves to their own country, and Pythagoras dwelt among them, the original form of government continued; but the people had changed, and they were no longer satisfied with it; and were therefore seeking a pretext for a change. When they captured Sybaris, and the land was not divided by lot, according to the desire of the multitude, and Pythagoras gone, this veiled hatred against the Pythagoreans burst forth, and the populace forsook them. The leaders of this dissension were those that were nearest to the Pythagoreans, both by kindred and intercourse. These leaders, as well as the common folk were offended by the Pythagoreans’ actions, which were unusual, and the people interpreted that peculiarity as a reflection on theirs. The Pythagoreans’ kindred were indignant that they associated with none, their parents excepted; that they shared in common their possessions to the exclusion of their kindred, whom they treated as strangers. These personal motives turned the general opposition into active hostility. Hippasus, Diodorus and Theages united in insisting that the assembly and the magistracy should be opened to every citizen, and that the rulers should be responsible to elected representatives of the people. This was opposed by the Pythagoreans Alcimachus, Dimachus, Meton and Democides, and opposed changes in the inherited constitution. They were however defeated, and were formally accused in a popular as assembly by two orators, the aristocrat Cylon, and the plebeian Ninon. These two planned their speeches together, the first and longer one being made by Cylon, while Nino concluded by pretending that he had penetrated the Pythagorean mysteries, and that he had gathered and written out such particular as were calculated to criminate the Pythagoreans, and a scribe he gave to read a book which was entitled the Sacred Discourse.
Here is a specimen of what it contained: (This next paragraph is misplaced, but is put here as more suitable here than where it is the text, in front of the last one).
None of the Pythagoreans called Pythagoras by his name. While alive, they referred to him as the divine one; after his death, as “that man” just as Homer makes Eumaeus refer to Ulysses thus:
“Thou absent he may be, O guest, I fear
To name him; so great is my love and care.”
Such were some of his precepts: They were to get up before sunrise, and never to wear a ring on which the image of God was engraved, lest that image be defiled by being worn at funerals, or other impure place. They were to adore the rising sun. Pythagoras ordered them never to do anything without previous deliberation and discussion; in the morning forming a plan of what was to be done later, and at night to review the day’s actions, which served the double purpose of strengthening the memory, and considering their conduct. If any of their associates appointed them to meet them at some particular place and time they should stay there till he came, regardless of the length of time, for Pythagoreans should not speak carelessly, but remember what was said and regard order and method. At death they were not to blaspheme, but to die uttering propitious words, such as are used by those who sail out of the port into the Adriatic Sea. Friends are to be venerated in the same manner as Gods; but others are to be treated as brutes. This very sentiment is ascribed to Pythagoreans themselves, but in verse form such as:
“Like blessed Gods, his friends he e’er revered
But reckoned others as of no account.”
Pythagoras considered that Homer deserved to be praised for calling a king the shepherd of the people which implied approval of aristocracy, in which the rulers are few, while the implication is that the rest of men are like cattle. Enmity was required to beans, because they were used in voting; inasmuch as the Pythagoreans selected office holders by appointment. To rule should be an object of desire, for it is better to be a bull for one day only, than for all one’s life to be an ox. While other states’ constitutions might be laudable, yet it would be advisable to use only that which is known to oneself.
In short, Ninon showed that their philosophy was a conspiracy against democracy: and advised the people to listen to the defendants, that they would never have been admitted into the assembly if the Pythagoreans’ council had to depend for admission on the Session of a thousand men, that they should not allow speech to those who, had used their utmost to prevent speech by others.
The people must remember that when they raised their right hands to vote, or even count their votes, this their right hand was constructively rejected by the Pythagoreans, who were Aristocrats. It was also disgraceful that the Crotonian masses who had conquered thirty myriads of men at the river Tracis should be outweighed by a thousandth part of the same number through sedition in the city itself.
Through these calumnies Ninon so exasperated his hearers that a few days after a multitude assembled intending to attack the Pythagoreans as they were sacrificing to the Muses in a house near the temple of Apollo. Foreseeing this, the Pythagoreans fled to an inn, while Democedes with the youths retired to Plataea. The partisans of the new constitution decreed an accusation against Democedes of inciting the to capture power, putting a price of thirty talents on his head, dead or alive. A battle ensued, and the victor, Theages was given the talents promised by the city. The city’s evils spread to the whole region, and the exiles were arrested even in Tarentum, Metapontum and Caulonia. The envoys from these cities that came to Crotona to get the charges were, according to the Crotonian record, bribed, with the result that the exiles were condemned as guilty, and driven out further. The Crotonians then expelled from the city all who were dissatisfied with the existing regime; banishing along with them all their families, on the two-fold pretext that impiety was unbearable, and that the children should not be separated from their parents. They then repudiated the debts, and redistributed the lands.
Many years after, when Dinarchus and his associates had been slain in another battle, and when Litagus, the chief leader of the sedition were dead, pity and repentance induced the citizens to recall from exile what remained of the Pythagoreans. They therefore sent for from messengers from Achaia who were to come to an agreement with the exiles, and file their oaths (of loyalty to the existing Crotonian regime?) at Delphi. The Pythagoreans who returned from exile were about sixty in number, not to mention the aged among whom were some physicians and dieticians on original lines. When these Pythagoreans returned, they were welcomed by the crowds, who silenced dissenters by announcing that the regime was ended. Then the Thurians invaded the country, and the Pythagoreans were sent to procure assistance but they perished in battle, mutually defending each other. So thoroughly had the city become Pythagoreanized that beside the public praise, they performed a public sacrifice in the temple of the Muses which had originally been built at the instigation of Pythagoras.
That is all of the attack on the Pythagoreans.
Chapter XXXVI. The Pythagorean Succession
Pythagoras’s acknowledged successor was Aristaeus, the son the Crotonian Damophon, who was Pythagoras’s contemporary, and lived seven ages before Plato. Being exceedingly skillful in Pythagoric dogmas, he succeeded to the school, educated Pythagoras’s children, and married his wife Theano. Pythagoras was said to have taught his school 39 years, and to have lived a century.
Aristaeus growing old, he relinquished the school to Pythagoras’s son Mnesarchus. He was followed by Bulagoras, in whose time Crotona was plundered. After the war, Gartydas the Crotonian, who has been absent on a journey, returned, and took up the school; but he so grieved about his country’s calamity the he died prematurely. Pythagoreans who became very old were accustomed to liberate themselves from the body, as a prisoner.
Later, being saved through certain strangers, Aresas Lucanus undertook the school; and to him came Diodorus Aspendius, who was received into the school because of the small number of genuine Pythagoreans. Clinias and Philelaus were at Heraclea; Theorides and Eurytus at Metapontum, and at Tarentum, Archytas, Epicharmus was also said to have been one of the foreign Hearers, but he was not one of the school. However, having arrived at Syracuse he refrained form public philosophizing, in consideration of the tyranny of Hiero. But he wrote the Pythagoren views in metre, and published the occult Pythagorean dogmas in comedies.
It is probable that the majority of the Pythagoreans were anonymous, and remain unknown. But the following names are known and celebrated:
Of the Crotonians, Hippostratus, Dymas, Aegon, Armon, Sillus, Cleosthenes, Agelas, Episylus, Phyciades, Echpntus, Timaeus, Buthius, Eratus, Itmaeus, Rhodippus, Bryas, Evandrus, Myllias, Antimedon, Ageas, Leophron, Agylus, Onatus, Hipposthenes, Cleophron, Alcmaecsi, Damocles, Milon, Menon.
At Metapontum resided Brontinus, Parmiseus, Crestadas, Leon, Damarmenus, Aeneas, Chilas, Melisias, Aristeas, Laphion, Evandrus, Agesarchus, Thrasus, Euryphemus, Aristomenes, Agesarchus, Alceas, Xenophantes, Thraseus, Arytus, Epiphron, Eriscus, Megistisas, Leocydes, Thrasymedes, Euphemus, Proclos, Antimenes, Lacritus, Demotages, Pyrrho, Rhexbius, Alopecus, Astylus, Dacidas, Aliochus, Lacrates and Glycinus,
Of the Agrigentines was Empedocles, Of the Eleatae, was Parmanides.
Of the Tarentines were Philolaus, Euzytus, Arcytas, Theodorus, Aristippus, Lycon, Hestiyacus, Polemarchus, Asteas, Clinias, Cleon, Eurymedon, Arceas, Clinagoras, Archippus, Zopyrus, Euthynus, Dicearchus, Philonidas, Phrontidas, LYSIS, Lysibius, Dinocrates, Echecrates, Paction, Acusalidas, Iomus, Pisicrates, and Clearatus.
Of the Leontines were Phrynichus, Smichias, Aristoclidinas, Clinias, Abroteles, Pisyrrhydus, Bryas, Evandrus, Archemachus, Mimnomachus, Achmonidas, Dicas and Cariphantidas.
Of the Sybarites were Metopus, Hippasus, Proxenus, Evanor, Deanax, Menestor, Diodes, Empedus, Timasius, Polemaeus, Evaeus, and Tyrsenus.
Of the Carthaginians was Miltiades, Anthen, Odius and Leocritus.
Of the Parians, Aetius, Phaenecles, Dexitheus, Alchimachus, Dinarchus, Meton, TIMAEUS, Timesianax, Amaerus, and Thymarides.
Of the Locrians,. Gyptius, Xenon, Philodamus, Evetes, Adicus, Athenonidas, Sosistratus, Euthynus, Zaleucus, Timares.
Of the Posidonians, Athamas, Simus, Proxenus, Cranous, Myes, Bathylaus, Phaedon.
Of the Lucani, Ocellus, and his brother Occillus, Oresandrus, Cerambus, Dardaneus, and Malion. Of the Aegeans, Hippomedon, Timosthenes, Euelthus, Thrasydamus, Crito, and Polyctor.
Of the Hyperboreans, Abaris.
Of the Lacones, Autocharidas, Cleanor, Eurycrates.
Of the Rheginenses, Aristides, Demosthenes, Aristocrates, Phytius, Helicaon, Mnesibulus, Hipparchides, Athosion, Euthycles, Opsimus.
Of the Selinuntians, Calais.
Of the Syracusans, Leptines, Phintias, and Damon.
Of the Samians, Melissus, Lacon, Archippus, Glorippus, Helcris, Hippon. Of the Caulonienses, Callibrotus, Dicon, Nastas, Drymon and Xentas.
Of the Phliasians, Diocles, Echecrates,Phanton and Polymnastus. Of the Sicyonians, Poliades, Demon, Sostratius, and Sosthenese.
Of the Cyrenians, Prorus, Melanippus, Aristangelus and Theodorus. Of the Cyriceni Pythodorus, Hipposthenes,Butherus and Xenophilus. Of the Catanaei, Charondas; and Lysiades.
Of the Corinthians, Chrysippus. Of the Tyrrhenians, Nausitheus. Of the Athenians, Neocritus.
Of the Pontians, Lyramnus.
In all, two hundred and eighteen.
The most illustrious Pythagorean women are Timycha, the wife of Myllias the Crotonian; Phyltis, the daughter of Theophrius the Crotonian. Byndacis, the sister of Ocellus ml Ocillus, Lucanians. Chilonis,the daughter of Chilon the Lacedenonian. Cratesiclea, the Lacedemonian, the wife of the Lacedemonian Cleanor. Theane, the wife of Brontinus of Metapontum. Mya, the wife of Milon the Crotonian. Lasthenia the Arcadian, Abrotelia, the daughter of Abroteles the Tarentine. Echecratia the Phliasian. Tyrsenis the Sybarite; Pisirrhonde, the Tarentine. Nisleadusa, the Lacedemonian. Byro, the Argive. Babelyma the Argive, and Cleaechma, the sister of Autocharidas the Lacedemonia. In all, seventeen.