Universally, Pythagoras discovered many paths of learning.
He delivered an appropriate portion of wisdom conformable to the proper nature and power of each. The following is an example.
Abaris, an old Scythian, came from the Hyperboreans, unskilled and uninitiated in the Grecian learning. Pythagoras put him through trials and immediately considered him adapted to be an auditor of his dogmas.
He instructed him in the shortest way in his:
- treatise On Nature, and
- treatise On the Gods.
Abaris came from the Hyperboreans. He was a priest of Apollo. He was returning from Greece to his own country to consecrate the gold to Apollo in his temple among the Hyperboreans.
He passed through Italy and saw Pythagoras. He believed that Pythagoras was truly Apollo.
He gave Pythagoras a dart which he took with him when he left the temple, as a thing that would be useful to him in the difficulties that would befal him in so long a journey. For he was carried by it, in passing through inaccessible places, such as rivers, lakes, marshes, mountains, and the like, and performed through it, as it is said, lustrations, and expelled pestilence and winds from the cities that requested him to liberate them from these evils.
After Sparta was purified by him, it was no longer infested with pestilence which it frequently had because of the nature of where it was built. The mountains of Taygetus produced a suffocating heat in the same way as Cnossus in Crete.
And many other similar particulars are related of the power of Abaris.
Pythagoras, however, receiving the dart, and neither being astonished at the novelty of the thing, nor asking the reason why it was given to him, but as if he was in reality a God himself, taking Abaris aside, he showed him his golden thigh, as an indication that he was not [wholly] deceived [in the opinion he had formed of him;] and having enumerated to him the several particulars that were deposited in the temple, he gave him sufficient reason to believe that he had not badly conjectured [in assimilating him to Apollo].
Pythagoras added that he came to those pestilential places to remedy them. This is why he had assumed a human form, lest men being disturbed by the novelty of his transcendency, should avoid the discipline which he possessed.
He likewise exhorted Abaris to remain in that place, and to unite with him in correcting the lives and manners of those who they might meet. but to share the gold which he had collected, in common with his associates, who were led by reason to confirm by their deeds the dogma, that the possessions of friends are common.
Thus, Pythagoras unfolded to Abaris, who remained with him physiology and theology in a compendious way. Instead of divination by the entrails of beasts, he delivered to him the art of prognosticating through numbers, conceiving that this was purer, more divine, and more adapted to the celestial numbers of the Gods.
He delivered also to Abaris other studies which were adapted to him. That we may return, however, to that for the sake of which the present treatise was written, Pythagoras endeavoured to correct and amend different persons, according to the nature and power of each.
All such particulars therefore as these, have neither been transmitted to the knowledge of men, nor is it easy to narrate all that has been transmitted to us concerning him.