Chapter 6

The Pythagoreans Icon

September 27, 2015

Most of his disciples were auditors whom they call Acusmatici.

On his first arrival in Italy, according to Nicomachus, being captivated by one popular oration alone, they exceeded two thousand in number.

These, with their wives and children, being collected into one very large and common auditory, called Homacoïon, and which for its magnitude resembled a city, founded a place which was universally called Magna Græcia.

This many people received laws and mandates from Pythagoras as so many divine precepts, and without which they engaged in no occupation, dwelt together with the greatest general concord, celebrated and ranked by their neighbours among the number of the blessed.

They shared their possessions in common. Such also was their reverence for Pythagoras, that they numbered him with the Gods, as a certain beneficent and most philanthropic dæmon.

Some celebrated him as the Pythian, but others as the Hyperborean Apollo.

Some considered him as Pæon, but others as one of the dæmons that inhabit the moon.

Others celebrated him as one of the Olympian Gods, who, in order to benefit and correct the mortal life, appeared to the men of those times in a human form, in order that he might extend to them the salutary light of felicity and philosophy.

A greater good never came, nor ever will come to mankind, than that 20 which was imparted by the Gods through this Pythagoras.

Hence, even now the proverb of the long-haired Samian, is applied to the most venerable man. But Aristotle relates, in his Treatise On the Pythagoric Philosophy, that such a division as the following was preserved by the Pythagoreans among their principal arcana; viz. that of rational animals one kind is a God, another man, and another such as Pythagoras.

They very reasonably apprehended him to be a being of this kind, through whom a right conception and conformable to things themselves was introduced of Gods, heroes, and dæmons; of the world, the all-various motion of the spheres and stars, their oppositions, eclipses, and inequalities, their eccentricities and epicycles; of all the natures contained in the heavens and the earth, together with those that have an intermediate subsistence, whether apparent or occult. Nor was there anything (in all this variety of information) at all contrary to the phenomena, or the conceptions of intellect.

To which we may add, that all such disciplines, theories, and scientific investigations, as truly invigorate the eye of the soul, and 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, were unfolded by Pythagoras to the Greeks.

But besides all this, the best polity, popular concord, community of possessions among 21 friends, the worship of the gods, piety to the dead, legislation, erudition, silence, abstinence from animals, continence, temperance, sagacity, divinity, and in one word, whatever is anxiously sought after by the lovers of learning, was brought to light by Pythagoras.

Chapter 7= Pythagoras in Italy and Sicily

Italy and Sicily were cities which had oppressed each other with slavery, partly in the distant past and recently.

As soon as he came to those places, he inspired the inhabitants with a love of liberty. Through his auditors, he liberated Crotona, Sybaris, Catanes, Rhegium, Himæra, Agrigentum, Tauromenas, and some other cities. He also established laws in those places through:

  • Charondas the Catanæan, and
  • Zaleucus the Locrian.

This led them to become florishing cities, and afforded an example worthy of imitation, for a long time, to the neighbouring kingdoms.

He also entirely subverted sedition, discord, and party zeal, not only from his familiars, and their posterity, for many generations in all the cities in Italy and Sicily, which were back then disturbed with intestine and external contentions.

For was always employed by him in every place, whether in the company of a multitude or a few, which was similar to the persuasive oracle of a God, and was an epitome and summary as it were of his own opinions;

He always used the the following apothegm everywhere= that we should avoid and cut off in any way that we can=

  • disease from the body
  • ignorance from the soul
  • luxury from the belly
  • sedition from a city
  • discord from a house
  • immoderation in all things

He used a most fatherly affection to remind each of his disciples of the most excellent dogmas.

He came to Italy in the 60-second Olympiad, at which time Eryxidas of Chalcis conquered in the stadium. But immediately on his arrival he became conspicuous and illustrious, in the same manner as before, when he sailed to Delos where he was admired when he performed his adorations at the bloodless altar of the father Apollo.