Chapter 18b

The Third Audition

by Iamblichus Icon
  1. What should or what should not be done

Examples of what should be done:

  • the necessity to beget children, for it is necessary to leave those that may worship the Gods after us.
  • we should put the shoe on the right foot first

Examples of what should not be done – we should not:

  • walk in the public ways
  • dip in a sprinkling vessel
  • wash vessels in a bath.
  • assist a man in laying a burden down; for it is not proper to be the cause of not laboring; but assist him in taking it up.
  • draw near to a woman for the sake of begetting children, if she has gold.
  • speak about Pythagoric[21] concerns without light
  • perform libations to the Gods from the handle of the cup, for the sake of an auspicious omen, and in order that you may not drink from the same part [from which you poured out the liquor.]
  • wear the image of God in a ring, in order that it may not be defiled. For it is a resemblance which ought to be placed in the house.
  • use a sick woman, for she is a suppliant.
    • In such a case, we bring her from the Vestal hearth, and take her by the right hand.
  • sacrifice a white cock; for this also is a suppliant, and is sacred to the moon. Hence likewise it announces the hours.

To him who asks for counsel, give no other advice than that which is the best= for counsel is a sacred thing.

Labors are good; but pleasures are in every respect bad. For as we came into the present life for the purpose of punishment, it is necessary that we should be punished.

It is proper to sacrifice, and to enter temples unshod. In going to a temple, it is not proper to turn out of the way; for divinity 62 should not be worshipped in a careless manner. It is good to sustain, and to have wounds in the breast; but it is bad to have them behind.

The soul of man alone does not enter into those animals, which it is lawful to kill. Hence it is proper to eat those animals alone which it is fit to slay, but no other animal whatever. And such were the auditions of this kind.

The most extended however were those concerning sacrifices, how they ought to be performed at all other times, and likewise when migrating from the present life; and concerning sepulture, and in what manner it is proper to be buried.

Of some of these therefore the reason is to be assigned why they are ordered; such for instance as, it is necessary to beget children, for the sake of leaving another that may worship the Gods instead of yourself. But of others no reason is to be assigned.

The reasons are assumed proximately; but of others, remotely; such as, that bread is not to be broken, because it contributes to the judgment in Hades. The probable reasons however, which are added about things of this kind, are not Pythagoric, but were devised by some who philosophized differently from the Pythagoreans, and who endeavoured to adapt probability to what was said.

Thus for instance, with respect to what has been just now mentioned, why bread is not to be broken, some say that it is not proper to dissolve that which congregates. For 63 formerly all those that were friends, assembled in a barbaric manner to one piece of bread.

But others say, that it is not proper, in the beginning of an undertaking, to produce an omen of this kind by breaking and diminishing. Moreover, all such precepts as define what is to be done, or what is not to be done, refer to divinity as their end; and every life is co-arranged so as to follow God. This also is the principle and the doctrine of philosophy.

For men act ridiculously in searching for good any where else than from the Gods. And when they do so, it is just as if some one, in a country governed by a king, should reverence one of the citizens who is a magistrate, and neglect him who is the ruler of all of them. For the Pythagoreans thought that such men as we have just mentioned, performed a thing of this kind.

For since God is, and is the lord of all things, it is universally acknowledged that good is to be requested of him. For all men impart good to those whom they love, and to those with whom they are delighted; but they give the contrary to good to those to whom they are contrarily disposed. And such indeed is the wisdom of these precepts.

Hippomedon was an Ægean.

  • He was a Pythagorean and an Acusmatici

He asserted that Pythagoras gave the reasons and demonstrations of all these precepts, but that in consequence of their being delivered to many, and these such as were of a more sluggish genius, the demonstrations were taken away, but the problems themselves were left.

The Pythagorean Mathematici, however, acknowledge that these reasons and demonstrations were added by Pythagoras, and they say still more than this, and contend that their assertions are true, but affirm that the following circumstance was the cause of the dissimilitude.

They say that Pythagoras came from Ionia and Samos during the tyranny of Polycrates. Italy then was florishing.

The first men in the city became his associates.

But, to the more elderly of these, and who were not at leisure [for philosophy], in consequence of being occupied by political affairs, the discourse of Pythagoras was not accompanied with a reasoning process, because it would have been difficult for them to apprehend his meaning through disciplines and demonstrations.

He conceived they would nevertheless be benefited by knowing what ought to be done, though they were destitute of the knowledge of the why= just as those who are under the care of physicians, obtain their health, though they do not hear the reason of every thing which is to be done to them.

But with the younger part of his associates, and who were able both to act and learn,—with these he conversed through demonstration and disciplines.

They say that Hippasus divulged and described the method of forming a sphere from 12 pentagons[22].

As a consequence, he perished in the sea as an impious person, but obtained the renown of discovering them.

In reality, however, this as well as every thing else pertaining to geometry, was the invention of that man; for thus without mentioning his name, they denominate Pythagoras.

But the Pythagoreans say that geometry was divulged when a certain Pythagorean happened to lose his wealth and so he was permitted to enrich himself from geometry.

But geometry was called by Pythagoras Historia.

Thus, there were differences in:

  • each mode of philosophising
  • the classes of the auditors of Pythagoras.

Those who heard Pythagoras either:

  • were within or without the veil
  • with seeing, or without seeing him
  • were interior and exterior auditors

And it is requisite to arrange under these, the political, economic and legislative Pythagoreans.

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