The third century philosopher Iamblichus of Chalcis was a major figure in the school of Neoplatonism and the founder of its Syrian branch. He was also a notable biographer of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras. Aside from Iamblichus’ own philosophical contribution, the ‘Protrepticus’ is of importance for the study of the Sophists, owing to its preservation of several pages of an otherwise unknown Sophist philosopher. Delphi’s Ancient Classics series provides eReaders with the wisdom of the Classical world, with both English translations and the original Greek texts. This comprehensive eBook presents Iamblichus’ complete extant translations, with illustrations, rare works and the usual Delphi bonus material. (Version 1)
* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Iamblichus’ life and works
* Features the complete extant English translations of Iamblichus
* Rare Greek texts
* Provides multiple translations of ‘Life of Pythagoras’
* Excellent formatting of the texts
* Easily locate the sections you want to read with individual contents tables
* Includes rare translations of ‘Protrepticus’ and Iamblichus’ fragments, first time in digital print
* Features a bonus biography — discover Iamblichus’ ancient world
* Ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres
Life of Pythagoras (tr. Thomas Taylor, 1818 and Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, 1919)
Protrepticus (tr. Thomas Moore Johnson, 1909)
De Mysteriis (On the Egyptian Mysteries) (tr. Thomas Taylor, 1818)
Fragments of Iamblichus(tr. Thomas Moore Johnson, 1909)
The Greek Texts
List of Greek Texts
Iamblichus by William Ritchie Sorley
Please visit www.delphiclassics.com to browse through our range of exciting titles
Sie lesen das E-Book in den Legimi-Apps auf:
The Complete Works of
(c. AD 245 – c. 325)
Life of Pythagoras
De Mysteriis (On the Egyptian Mysteries)
Fragments of Iamblichus
The Greek Texts
List of Greek Texts
Iamblichus by William Ritchie Sorley
The Delphi Classics Catalogue
© Delphi Classics 2021
Browse Ancient Classics
Explore Philosophy at Delphi Classics…
The Complete Works of
IAMBLICHUS OF CHALCIS
By Delphi Classics, 2021
Complete Works of Iamblichus
First published in the United Kingdom in 2021 by Delphi Classics.
© Delphi Classics, 2021.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published.
ISBN: 978 1 80170 021 4
is an imprint of
Delphi Publishing Ltd
Hastings, East Sussex
Contact: [email protected]
The ancient Roman road connecting Antioch and Chalcis — Iamblichus was born at Chalcis (modern day Qinnasrin, northern Syria). The town was situated 15 miles south west of Aleppo on the west bank of the Queiq River. Iamblichus was the son of a rich and illustrious family, and he is said to have been the descendant of several priest-kings of the Arab Royal family of Emesa.
Translated by Thomas Taylor, 1818 and Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, 1919
Thomas Taylor Translation, 1818
Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie Translation, 1919
Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – c. 495 BC) was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism – this bust is a Roman copy of a Greek original from the 2nd-1st century BC.
When it is considered that Pythagoras was the father of philosophy, authentic memoirs of his life cannot fail to be uncommonly interesting to every lover of wisdom, and particularly to those who reverence the doctrines of Plato, the most genuine and the best of all his disciples. And that the following memoirs of Pythagoras by Iamblichus are authentic, is acknowledged by all the critics, as they are for the most part obviously derived from sources of very high antiquity; and where the sources are unknown, there is every reason to believe, from the great worth and respectability of the biographer, that the information is perfectly accurate and true.
Of the biographer, indeed, Iamblichus, it is well known to every tyro in Platonism that he was dignified by all the Platonists that succeeded him with the epithet of divine; and after the encomium passed on him by the acute Emperor Julian, “that he was posterior indeed in time, but not in genius, to Plato,”1 all further praise of him would be as unnecessary, as the defamation of him by certain modern critics is contemptible and idle. For these homonculi looking solely to his deficiency in point of style, and not to the magnitude of his intellect, perceive only his little blemishes, but have not even a glimpse of his surpassing excellence. They minutely notice the motes that are scattered in the sunbeams of his genius, but they feel not its invigorating warmth, they see not its dazzling radiance.
Of this very extraordinary man there is a life extant by Eunapius, the substance of which I have given in my History of the Restoration of the Platonic Theology, and to which I refer the English reader. At present I shall only select from that work the following biographical particulars respecting our Iamblichus: He was descended of a family equally illustrious, fortunate, and rich. His country was Chalcis, a city of Syria, which was called Cœle. He associated with Anatolius who was the second to Porphyry, but he far excelled him in his attainments, and ascended to the very summit of philosophy. But after he had been for some time connected with Anatolius, and most probably found him insufficient to satisfy the vast desires of his soul, he applied himself to Porphyry, to whom (says Eunapius) he was in nothing inferior, except in the structure and power of composition. For his writings were not so elegant and graceful as those of Porphyry: they were neither agreeable, nor perspicuous; nor free from impurity of diction. And though they were not entirely involved in obscurity, and perfectly faulty; yet as Plato formerly said of Xenocrates, he did not sacrifice to the Mercurial Graces. Hence he is far from detaining the reader with delight, who merely regards his diction; but will rather avert and dull his attention, and frustrate his expectation. However, though the surface of his conceptions is not covered with the flowers of elocution, yet the depth of them is admirable, and his genius is truly sublime. And admitting his style to abound in general with those defects, which have been noticed by the critics, yet it appears to me that the decision of the anonymous Greek writer respecting his Answer to the Epistle of Porphyry,2 is more or less applicable to all his other works. For he says, ‘that his diction in that Answer is concise and definite, and that his conceptions are full of efficacy, are elegant, and divine.’3
Iamblichus shared in an eminent degree the favor of divinity, on account of his cultivation of justice; and obtained a numerous multitude of associates and disciples, who came from all parts of the world, for the purpose of participating the streams of wisdom, which so plentifully flowed from the sacred fountain of his wonderful mind. Among these was Sopater the Syrian,4 who was most skilful both in speaking and writing; Eustathius the Cappadocian; and of the Greeks, Theodorus and Euphrasius. All these were excellent for their virtues and attainments, as well as many other of his disciples, who were not much inferior to the former in eloquence; so that it seems wonderful how Iamblichus could attend to all of them, with such gentleness of manners and benignity of disposition as he continually displayed.
He performed some few particulars relative to the veneration of divinity by himself, without his associates and disciples; but was inseparable from his familiars in most of his operations. He imitated in his diet the frugal simplicity of the most ancient times; and during his repast, exhilarated those who were present by his behaviour, and filled them as with nectar by the sweetness of his discourse.
A celebrated philosopher named Alypius, who was deeply skilled in dialectic, was contemporary with Iamblichus, but was of such a diminutive stature, that he exhibited the appearance of a pigmy. However, his great abilities amply compensated for this trifling defect. For his body might be said to be consumed into soul; just as the great Plato says, that divine bodies, unlike those that are mortal, are situated in souls. Thus also it might be asserted of Alypius, that he had migrated into soul, and that he was contained and governed by a nature superior to man. This Alypius had many followers, but his mode of philosophizing was confined to private conference and disputation, without committing any of his dogmas to writing. Hence his disciples gladly applied themselves to Iamblichus, desirous to draw abundantly from the exuberant streams of his inexhaustible mind. The fame therefore of each continually increasing, they once accidentally met like two refulgent stars, and were surrounded by so great a crowd of auditors, that it resembled some mighty musæum. While Iamblichus on this occasion waited rather to be interrogated, than to propose a question himself, Alypius, contrary to the expectation of every one, relinquishing philosophical discussions, and seeing himself surrounded with a theatre of men, turned to Iamblichus, and said to him: “Tell me, O philosopher, is either the rich man unjust, or the heir of the unjust man? For in this case there is no medium.” But Iamblichus hating the acuteness of the question, replied: “O most wonderful of all men, this manner of considering, whether some one excels in externals, is foreign from our method of philosophizing; since we inquire whether a man abounds in the virtue which it is proper for him to possess, and which is adapted to a philosopher.” After he had said this he departed, and at the same time all the surrounding multitude was immediately dispersed. But Iamblichus, when he was alone, admired the acuteness of the question, and often privately resorted to Alypius, whom he very much applauded for his acumen and sagacity; so that after his decease, he wrote his life. This Alypius was an Alexandrian by birth, and died in his own country, worn out with age: and after him Iamblichus,5 leaving behind him many roots and fountains of philosophy; which through the cultivation of succeeding Platonists, produced a fair variety of vigorous branches, and copious streams.
For an account of the theological writings of Iamblichus, I refer the reader to my above-mentioned History of the Restoration of the Platonic Theology; and for accurate critical information concerning all his works, to the Bibliotheca Græca of Fabricius.
Of the following work, the life of Pythagoras, it is necessary to observe that the original has been transmitted to us in a very imperfect state, partly from the numerous verbal errors of the text, partly from the want of connexion in the things that are narrated, and partly from many particulars being related in different places, in the very same words; so that the conjecture of Kuster, one of the German editors of this work is highly probable, that it had not received the last hand of Iamblichus, but that others formed this treatise from the confused materials which they found among his Manuscripts, after his death. Notwithstanding all its defects, however, it is, as I have before observed, a most interesting work; and the benefits are inestimable, which the dissemination of it is calculated to produce. And as two of the most celebrated critics among the Germans, Kuster and Kiessling, have given two splendid editions of this work, it is evident they must have been deeply impressed with a conviction of its value and importance.
As to the Pythagoric Ethical Fragments, all eulogy of them is superfluous, when it is considered that, independently of their being written by very early Pythagoreans, they were some of the sources from which Aristotle himself derived his consummate knowledge of morality, as will be at once evident by comparing his Nicomachean Ethics with these fragments.
With respect to the collection of Pythagoric Sentences in this volume, it is almost needless to observe that they are incomparably excellent; and it is deeply to be regretted that the Greek original of the Sentences of Sextus6 being lost, the fraudulent Latin version of them by the Presbyter Ruffinus alone remains. I call it a fraudulent version, because Ruffinus, wishing to persuade the reader that these Sentences were written by a bishop of the name of Sixtus, has in many places perverted and contaminated the meaning of the original. In the selection, however, which I have made from these Sentences, I have endeavoured, and I trust not in vain, to give the genuine sense of Sextus, unmingled with the barbarous and polluted interpolations of Ruffinus. If the English reader has my translation of the Sentences of Demophilus, and Mr. Bridgman’s translation of the Golden Sentences of Democrates, and the Similitudes of Demophilus,7 he will then be possessed of all the Pythagoric Sentences that are extant, those alone of Sextus excepted, which I have not translated, in consequence of the very impure and spurious state, in which they at present exist.
I deem it also requisite to observe, that the Pythagoric life which is here delineated, is a specimen of the greatest perfection in virtue and wisdom, which can be obtained by man in the present state. Hence, it exhibits piety unadulterated with folly, moral virtue uncontaminated with vice, science unmingled with sophistry, dignity of mind and manners unaccompanied with pride, a sublime magnificence in theory, without any degradation in practice, and a vigor of intellect, which elevates its possessor to the vision of divinity, and thus deifies while it exalts.
The original of the engraving of the head of Iamblichus in the title-page, is to be found at the end of a little volume consisting of Latin translations of Iamblichus De Mysteriis, Proclus On the First Alcibiades of Plato, &c. &c. &c. 18mo. Genev. 1607. This engraving was added because it appeared to me to be probable that the original was copied from an ancient gem. And as it is not impossible that it was, if it is not genuine, it is at least ornamental.
Since it is usual with all men of sound understandings, to call on divinity, when entering on any philosophic discussion, it is certainly much more appropriate to do this in the consideration of that philosophy which justly receives its denomination from the divine Pythagoras. For as it derives its origin from the Gods, it cannot be apprehended without their inspiring aid. To which we may also add, that the beauty and magnitude of it so greatly surpasses human power, that it is impossible to survey it by a sudden view; but then alone can any one gradually collect some portion of this philosophy, when, the Gods being his leaders, he quietly approaches to it. On all these accounts, therefore, having invoked the Gods as our leaders, and converting both ourselves and our discussion to them, we shall acquiesce in whatever they may command us to do. We shall not, however, make any apology for this sect having been neglected for a long time, nor for its being concealed by foreign disciplines, and certain arcane symbols, nor for having been obscured by false and spurious writings, nor for many other such-like difficulties by which it has been impeded. For the will of the Gods is sufficient for us, in conjunction with which it is possible to sustain things still more arduous than these. But after the Gods, we shall unite ourselves as to a leader, to the prince and father of this divine philosophy; of whose origin and country we must rise a little higher in our investigation.
It is said, therefore, that Ancæus who dwelt in Samos in Cephallenia, was begot by Jupiter, whether he derived the fame of such an honorable descent through virtue, or through a certain greatness of soul. He surpassed, however, the rest of the Cephallenians in wisdom and renown. This Ancæus, therefore, was ordered by the Pythian oracle to form a colony from Arcadia and Thessaly; and that besides this, taking with him some of the inhabitants of Athens, Epidaurus, and Chalcis, and placing himself at their head, he should render an island habitable, which from the virtue of the soil and land should be called Melamphyllos;8 and that he should call the city Samos, on account of Same in Cephallenia. The oracle, therefore, which was given to him, was as follows: “I order you, Ancæus, to colonise the marine island Samos instead of Same, and to call it Phyllas.” But that a colony was collected from these places, is not only indicated by the honors and sacrifices of the Gods, transferred into those regions together with the inhabitants, but also by the kindred families that dwell there, and the associations of the Samians with each other.
It is said, therefore, that Mnesarchus and Pythaïs, who were the parents of Pythagoras, descended from the family and alliance of this Ancæus, who founded the colony. In consequence, however, of this nobility of birth being celebrated by the citizens, a certain Samian poet says, that Pythagoras was the son of Apollo. For thus he sings,
Pythaïs, fairest of the Samian tribe,
Bore from th’embraces of the God of day
Renown’d Pythagoras, the friend of Jove.
It is worth while, however, to relate how this report became so prevalent. The Pythian oracle then had predicted to this Mnesarchus (who came to Delphi for the purposes of merchandize, with his wife not yet apparently pregnant, and who inquired of the God concerning the event of his voyage to Syria) that his voyage would be lucrative and most conformable to his wishes, but that his wife was now pregnant, and would bring forth a son surpassing in beauty and wisdom all that ever lived, and who would be of the greatest advantage to the human race in every thing pertaining to the life of man. But, when Mnesarchus considered with himself, that the God, without being interrogated concerning his son, had informed him by an oracle, that he would possess an illustrious prerogative, and a gift truly divine, he immediately named his wife Pythaïs, from her son and the Delphic prophet, instead of Parthenis, which was her former appellation; and he called the infant, who was soon after born at Sidon in Phœnicia, Pythagoras; signifying by this appellation, that such an offspring was predicted to him by the Pythian Apollo. For we must not regard the assertions of Epimenides, Eudoxus, and Xenocrates, who suspect that Apollo at that time, becoming connected with Parthenis, and causing her to be pregnant from not being so, had in consequence of this predicted concerning Pythagoras, by the Delphic prophet: for this is by no means to be admitted.9 Indeed, no one can doubt that the soul of Pythagoras was sent to mankind from the empire of Apollo, either being an attendant on the God, of co-arranged with him in some other more familiar way: for this may be inferred both from his birth, and the all-various wisdom of his soul. And thus much concerning the nativity of Pythagoras.
But after his father Mnesarchus had returned from Syria to Samos, with great wealth, which he had collected from a prosperous navigation, he built a temple to Apollo, with the inscription of Pythius; and took care to have his son nourished with various and the best disciplines, at one time by Creophilus, at another by Pherecydes the Syrian, and at another by almost all those who presided over sacred concerns, to whom he earnestly recommended Pythagoras, that he might be as much as possible sufficiently instructed in divine concerns. He, however, was educated in such a manner, as to be fortunately the most beautiful and godlike of all those that have been celebrated in the annals of history. On the death of his father, likewise, though he was still but a youth, his aspect was most venerable, and his habits most temperate, so that he was even reverenced and honored by elderly men; and converted the attention of all who saw and heard him speak, on himself, and appeared to be an admirable person to every one who beheld him. Hence it was reasonably asserted by many, that he was the son of a God. But he being corroborated by renown of this kind, by the education which he had received from his infancy, and by his natural deiform appearance, in a still greater degree evinced that he deserved his present prerogatives. He was also adorned by piety and disciplines, by a mode of living transcendency good, by firmness of soul, and by a body in due subjection to the mandates of reason. In all his words and actions, he discovered an inimitable quiet and serenity, not being subdued at any time by anger, or laughter, or emulation, or contention, or any other perturbation or precipitation of conduct; but he dwelt at Samos like some beneficent dæmon. Hence, while he was yet a youth, his great renown having reached Thales at Miletus, and Bias at Priene, men illustrious for their wisdom, it also extended to the neighbouring cities. To all which we may add, that the youth was every where celebrated as the long-haired Samian, and was reverenced by the multitude as one under the influence of divine inspiration. But after he had attained the eighteenth year of his age, about the period when the tyranny of Policrates first made its appearance, foreseeing that under such a government he might receive some impediment in his studies, which engrossed the whole of his attention, he departed privately by night with one Hermodamas (whose surname was Creophilus, and who was the grandson of him who had formerly been the host, friend, and preceptor in all things of Homer the poet,) to Pherecydes, to Anaximander the natural philosopher, and to Thales at Miletus. He likewise alternately associated with each of these philosophers, in such a manner, that they all loved him, admired his natural endowments, and made him a partaker of their doctrines. Indeed, after Thales had gladly admitted him to his intimate confidence, he admired the great difference between him and other young men, whom Pythagoras left far behind in every accomplishment. And besides this, Thales increased the reputation Pythagoras had already acquired, by communicating to him such disciplines as he was able to impart: and, apologizing for his old age, and the imbecility of his body, he exhorted him to sail into Egypt, and associate with the Memphian and Diospolitan10 priests. For he confessed that his own reputation for wisdom, was derived from the instructions of these priests; but that he was neither naturally, nor by exercise, endued with those excellent prerogatives, which were so visibly displayed in the person of Pythagoras. Thales, therefore, gladly announced to him, from all these circumstances, that he would become the wisest and most divine of all men, if he associated with these Egyptian priests.
Pythagoras, therefore, having been benefited by Thales in other respects, and especially having learned from him to be sparing of his time; for the sake of this he entirely abstained from wine and animal food, and still prior to these from voracity, and confined himself to such nutriment as was slender and easy of digestion. In consequence of this, his sleep was short, his soul vigilant and pure, and his body confirmed in a state of perfect and invariable health. In possession of such advantages, therefore, he sailed to Sidon, being persuaded that this was his natural country, and also properly conceiving that he might easily pass from thence into Egypt. Here he conversed with the prophets who were the descendants of Mochus the physiologist, and with others, and also with the Phœnician hierophants. He was likewise initiated in all the mysteries of Byblus and Tyre, and in the sacred operations which are performed in many parts of Syria; not engaging in a thing of this kind for the sake of superstition, as some one may be led to suppose, but much rather from a love and desire of contemplation, and from an anxiety that nothing might escape his observation which deserved to be learnt in the arcana or mysteries of the Gods. Having been previously instructed therefore in the mysteries of the Phœnicians, which were derived like a colony and a progeny from the sacred rites in Egypt, and hoping from this circumstance that he should be a partaker of more beautiful, divine, and genuine monuments of erudition in Egypt; joyfully calling to mind also the admonitions of his preceptor Thales, he immediately embarked for Egypt, through the means of some Egyptian sailors, who very opportunely at that time landed on the Phœnician coast under mount Carmelus, in whose temple Pythagoras, separated from all society, for the most part dwelt. But the sailors gladly received him, foreseeing that they should acquire great gain by exposing him to sale. But when, during the voyage, they perceived with what continence and venerable gravity he conducted himself, in conformity to the mode of living he had adopted, they were more benevolently disposed towards him. Observing, likewise, that there was something greater than what pertains to human nature in the modesty of the youth, they called to mind how unexpectedly he had appeared to them on their landing, when from the summit of mount Carmelus, which they knew was more sacred than other mountains, and inaccessible to the vulgar, he leisurely descended without looking back, or suffering any delay from precipices or opposing stones; and that when he came to the boat, he said nothing more than, “Are you bound for Egypt?” And farther, that on their answering in the affirmative, he ascended the ship and sate silent the whole time of the voyage, in that part of the vessel where he was not likely to incommode the occupations of the sailors. But Pythagoras remained in one and the same unmoved state for two nights and three days, neither partaking of food, nor drink, nor sleep, unless perhaps as he sate in that firm and tranquil condition, he might sleep for a short time unobserved by all the sailors. To which we may add, that when the sailors considered how, contrary to their expectations, their voyage had been continued and uninterrupted, as if some deity had been present; putting all these things together, they concluded that a divine dæmon had in reality passed over with them from Syria into Egypt. Hence, speaking both to Pythagoras and to each other with greater decorum and gentleness than before, they completed, through a most tranquil sea, the remainder of their voyage, and at length happily landed on the Egyptian coast. Here the sailors reverently assisted him in descending from the ship; and after they had placed him on the purest sand, they raised a certain temporary altar before him, and heaping on it from their present abundance the fruits of trees, and presenting him as it were with the first fruits of their freight, they departed from thence, and hastened to their destined port. But Pythagoras, whose body through such long fasting was become weaker, did not oppose the sailors in assisting him to descend from the ship, and immediately on their departure eat as much of the fruits as was requisite to restore his decayed strength. From thence also he arrived safe at the neighbouring lands, constantly preserving the same tranquillity and modesty of behaviour.
But here, while he frequented all the Egyptian temples with the greatest diligence and with accurate investigation, he was both admired and loved by the priests and prophets with whom he associated. And having learnt with the greatest solicitude every particular, he did not neglect to hear of any transaction that was celebrated in his own time, or of any man famous for his wisdom, or any mystery in whatever manner it might be performed; nor did he omit to visit any place in which he thought something more excellent might be found. On this account he went to all the priests, by whom he was furnished with the wisdom which each possessed. He spent therefore two and twenty years in Egypt, in the adyta of temples, astronomizing and geometrizing, and was initiated, not in a superficial or casual manner, in all the mysteries of the Gods, till at length being taken captive by the soldiers of Cambyses, he was brought to Babylon. Here he gladly associated with the Magi, was instructed by them in their venerable knowledge, and learnt from them the most perfect worship of the Gods. Through their assistance likewise, he arrived at the summit of arithmetic, music, and other disciplines; and after associating with them twelve years, he returned to Samos about the fifty-sixth year of his age.
On his return to Samos, however, being known by some of the more aged inhabitants, he was not less admired than before. For he appeared to them to be more beautiful and wise, and to possess a divine gracefulness in a more eminent degree. Hence, he was publicly called upon by his country to benefit all men, by imparting to them what he knew. Nor was he averse to this request, but endeavoured to introduce the symbolical mode of teaching, in a way perfectly similar to the documents by which he had been instructed in Egypt; though the Samians did not very much admit this mode of tuition, and did not adhere to him with that according aptitude which was requisite. Though no one therefore attended to him, and no one was genuinely desirous of those disciplines which he endeavoured by all means to introduce among the Greeks, yet he neither despised nor neglected Samos, because it was his country, and therefore wished to give his fellow-citizens a taste of the sweetness of the mathematical disciplines, though they were unwilling to be instructed in them. With a view to this, therefore, he employed the following method and artifice. Happening to observe a certain youth, who was a great lover of gymnastic and other corporeal exercises, but otherwise poor and in difficult circumstances, playing at ball in the Gymnasium with great aptness and facility, he thought the young man might easily be persuaded to attend to him, if he was sufficiently supplied with the necessaries of life, and freed from the care of procuring them. As soon as the youth, therefore, left the bath, Pythagoras called him to him, and promised that he would furnish him with every thing requisite to the support of his bodily exercise, on condition that he would receive from him gradually and easily, but continually, so that he might not be burthened by receiving them at once, certain disciplines, which he said he had learnt from the Barbarians in his youth, but which now began to desert him through forgetfulness and the incursions of old age. But the young man immediately acceded to the conditions, through the hope of having necessary support. Pythagoras, therefore, endeavoured to instruct him in the disciplines of arithmetic and geometry, forming each of his demonstrations in an abacus, and giving the youth three oboli as a reward for every figure which he learnt. This also he continued to do for a long time, exciting him to the geometrical theory by the desire of honour; diligently, and in the best order, giving him (as we have said) three oboli for every figure which he apprehended. But when the wise man observed that the elegance, sweetness, and connexion of these disciplines, to which the youth had been led in a certain orderly path, had so captivated him that he would not neglect their pursuit though he should suffer the extremity of want, he pretended poverty, and an inability of giving him three oboli any longer. But the youth on hearing this replied, “I am able without these to learn and receive your disciplines.” Pythagoras then said, “But I have not the means of procuring sufficient nutriment for myself.” As it is requisite, therefore, to labour in order to procure daily necessaries and mortal food, it would not be proper that his attention should be distracted by the abacus, and by stupid and vain pursuits. The youth, however, vehemently abhorring the thought of discontinuing his studies, replied: “I will in future provide for you, and repay your kindness in a way resembling that of the stork: for I in my turn will give you three oboli for every figure.” And from this time he was so captivated by these disciplines, that he alone, of all the Samians, migrated from his country with Pythagoras, having the same name with him, but being the son of Eratocles. There are said to be three books of this Samian On Athletics, in which he orders the Athletæ to feed on flesh instead of dry figs; which books are very improperly ascribed by some to Pythagoras the son of Mnesarchus. It is likewise said, that about the same time Pythagoras was admired at Delos, when he approached to the bloodless altar, as it is called, of the father Apollo, and worshipped it. After which he went to all the oracles. He likewise dwelt for some time in Crete and Sparta, for the purpose of becoming acquainted with their laws; and, having been an auditor and learner of all these, he returned home in order to investigate what he had omitted. And in the first place, indeed, he established a school in the city, which is even now called the semicircle of Pythagoras; and in which the Samians now consult about public affairs, conceiving it right to investigate things just and advantageous in that place which he had constructed who paid attention to the welfare of all men. He also formed a cavern out of the city, adapted to his philosophy, in which he spent the greatest part both of the day and night; employing himself in the investigation of things useful in disciplines, framing intellectual conceptions after the same manner as Minos the son of Jupiter. Indeed, he so much surpassed those who afterwards employed his disciplines, that they conceived magnificently of themselves, from the knowledge of theorems of small importance; but Pythagoras gave completion to the science of the celestial orbs, and unfolded the whole of it by arithmetical and geometrical demonstrations. He is, however, to be admired in a still greater degree for what he afterwards accomplished. For when now philosophy had received a great accession, he was admired by all Greece, and the best of those who philosophized came to Samos on his account, in order that they might participate of his erudition. The citizens likewise employed him in all their embassies, and compelled him to unite with them in the administration of public affairs. However, as he easily saw the difficulty of complying with the laws of his country, and at the same time remaining at home and philosophizing, and considered that all philosophers before him had passed their life in foreign countries, he determined to neglect all political occupations; induced to this, according to the testimony of others, by the negligence of the Samians in what relates to education, and went into Italy, conceiving that place to be his proper country, in which men well disposed towards learning were to be found in the greatest abundance. And such was the success of his journey, that on his arrival at Crotona, which was the noblest city in Italy, he had many followers, amounting, as it is said, to the number of six hundred, who were not only excited by his discourses to the study of philosophy, but also to an amicable division of the goods of life in common; from whence they acquired the appellation of Cœnobitæ.
And these indeed were such as philosophized. But the greatest part of his disciples consisted of auditors whom they call Acusmatici, who on his first arrival in Italy, according to Nicomachus, being captivated by one popular oration alone, 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 great multitude of people likewise, receiving 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. At the same time, as we have already observed, 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. And some indeed celebrated him as the Pythian, but others as the Hyperborean Apollo. Some again considered him as Pæon, but others as one of the dæmons that inhabit the moon; and others celebrated him as one of the Olympian Gods,11 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. And indeed a greater good never came, nor ever will come to mankind, than that 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. And indeed 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 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. On all these accounts, therefore, as I have just now said, he was (every where) so transcendently admired.
It remains therefore after this, that we should relate how he travelled, what places he first visited, what discourses he made, on what subjects, and to whom they were addressed; for thus we shall easily apprehend the nature of his association with the men of that time. It is said then, that as soon as he came to Italy and Sicily, which cities he understood had oppressed each other with slavery, partly at some distant period of past time, and partly at a recent period, he inspired the inhabitants with a love of liberty, and through the means of his auditors, restored to independence and liberated Crotona, Sybaris, Catanes, Rhegium, Himæra, Agrigentum, Tauromenas, and some other cities, for whom also he established laws, through Charondas the Catanæan, and Zaleucus the Locrian, by whom they became 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, as we are informed by history, but, in short, from all the cities in Italy and Sicily, which were at that time disturbed with intestine and external contentions. For the following apothegm 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; that we should avoid and amputate by every possible artifice, by fire and sword, and all-various contrivances, from the body, disease; from the soul, ignorance; from the belly, luxury; from a city, sedition; from a house, discord; and at the same time, from all things, immoderation: through which, with a most fatherly affection, he reminded each of his disciples of the most excellent dogmas. Such therefore was the common form of his life at that time, both in words and actions. If, however, it be requisite to make a more particular relation of what he did and said, it must be observed, that he came to Italy in the sixty-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. For there, when he performed his adorations at the bloodless altar of the father Apollo, he was admired by the inhabitants of the island.
At that time also, when he was journeying from Sybaris to Crotona, he met near the shore with some fishermen, who were then drawing their nets heavily laden with fishes from the deep, and told them he knew the exact number of the fish they had caught. But the fishermen promising they would perform whatever he should order them to do, if the event corresponded with his prediction, he ordered them, after they had accurately numbered the fish, to return them alive to the sea: and what is yet more wonderful, not one of the fish died while he stood on the shore, though they had been detained from the water a considerable time. Having therefore paid the fishermen the price of their fish, he departed for Crotona. But they every where divulged the fact, and having learnt his name from some children, they told it to all men. Hence those that heard of this affair were desirous of seeing the stranger, and what they desired was easily obtained. But they were astonished on surveying his countenance, and conjectured him to be such a man as he was in reality. A few days also after this, he entered the Gymnasium, and being surrounded with a crowd of young men, he is said to have delivered an oration to them, in which he incited them to pay attention to their elders, evincing that in the world, in life, in cities, and in nature, that which has a precedency is more honorable than that which is consequent in time. As for instance, that the east is more honorable than the west; the morning than the evening; the beginning than the end; and generation than corruption. In a similar manner he observed, that natives were more honorable than strangers, and the leaders of colonies than the builders of cities: and universally Gods than dæmons; dæmons than demigods; and heroes than men. Of these likewise he observed, that the authors of generation are more honorable than their progeny. He said these things, however, for the sake of proving by induction, that children should very much esteem their parents, to whom he asserted they owed as many thanks as a dead man would owe to him who should be able to bring him back again into light. Afterwards, he observed, that it was indeed just to love those above all others, and never to give them pain, who first benefited us, and in the greatest degree. But parents alone benefit their children prior to their birth, and are the causes to their offspring of all their upright conduct; and that when children show themselves to be in no respect inferior to their parents in beneficence towards them, it is not possible for them in this respect to err. For it is reasonable to suppose, that the Gods will pardon those who honor their parent in no less a degree than the divinities themselves; since we learnt from our parents to honor divinity. Hence Homer also added the same appellation to the king of the Gods; for he denominates him the father of Gods and mortals. Many other mythologists also have delivered to us, that the kings of the Gods have been ambitious to vindicate to themselves that excessive love which subsists through marriage, in children towards their parents. And that on this account, they have at the same time introduced the hypothesis of father and mother among the Gods,12 the former indeed generating Minerva, but the latter Vulcan, who are of a nature contrary to each other, in order that what is most remote may participate of friendship.
All his auditors likewise having granted that the judgment of the immortals is most valid, he said he would demonstrate to the Crotonians, by the example of Hercules the founder of the colony brought to Crotona, that it is necessary to be voluntarily obedient to the mandates of parents, as they knew from tradition that the God himself had undertaken such great labors in consequence of obeying the commands of one older than himself, and being victorious in what he had undertaken to accomplish, had instituted in honor of his father the Olympic games. He also showed them that they should associate with each other in such a manner, as never to be in a state of hostility to their friends, but to become most rapidly friends to their enemies; and that they should exhibit in modesty of behaviour to their elders, the benevolent disposition of children towards their parents; but in their philanthropy to others, fraternal love and regard.
In the next place, he spoke concerning temperance, and said, that the juvenile age should make trial of its nature, this being the period in which the desires are in the most florishing state. Afterwards, he exhorted them to consider, that this alone among the virtues was adapted to a boy and a virgin, to a woman, and to the order of those of a more advanced age; and that it was especially accommodated to the younger part of the community. He also added, that this virtue alone comprehended the goods both of body and soul, as it preserved the health and also the desire of the most excellent studies. But this is evident from the opposite. For when the Barbarians and Greeks warred on each other about Troy, each of them fell into the most dreadful calamities, through the incontinence of one man, partly in the war itself, and partly in returning to their native land. And divinity ordained that the punishment of injustice alone should endure for a thousand and ten years, predicting by an oracle the capture of Troy, and ordering that virgins should be annually sent by the Locrians into the temple of Trojan Minerva. Pythagoras also exhorted young men to the cultivation of learning, calling on them to observe how absurd it would be that they should judge the reasoning power to be the most laudable of all things, and should consult about other things through this, and yet bestow no time nor labour in the exercise of it; though the attention which is paid to the body, resembles depraved friends, and rapidly fails; but erudition, like worthy and good men, endures till death, and for some persons procures immortal renown after death. These and other observations of the like kind, were made by Pythagoras, partly from history, and partly from [philosophic] dogmas, in which he showed that erudition is a natural excellence of disposition common to those in each genus, who rank in the first class of human nature. For the discoveries of these, become erudition to others. But this is naturally so worthy of pursuit, that with respect to other laudable objects of attainment, it is not possible to partake of some of them through another person, such as strength, beauty, health, and fortitude; and others are no longer possessed by him who imparts them to another, such as wealth, dominion, and many other things which we shall omit to mention. It is possible, however, for erudition to be received by another, without in the least diminishing that which the giver possesses. In a similar manner also, some goods cannot be possessed by men; but we are capable of being instructed, according to our own proper and deliberate choice. And in the next place, he who being thus instructed, engages in the administration of the affairs of his country, does not do this from impudence, but from erudition. For by education nearly men differ from wild beasts, the Greeks from the Barbarians, those that are free from slaves, and philosophers from the vulgar. And in short, those that have erudition possess such a transcendency with respect to those that have not, that seven men have been found from one city, and in one Olympiad, that were swifter than others in the course; and in the whole of the habitable part of the globe, those that excelled in wisdom were also seven in number. But in the following times in which Pythagoras lived, he alone surpassed all others in philosophy. For he called himself by this name [viz. a philosopher], instead of a wise man.
And this indeed is what he said to the young men in the Gymnasium. But when they had told their parents what they had heard, a thousand men having called Pythagoras into the senate-house, and praised him for what he had said to their sons, desired him, if he had any thing advantageous to say to the Crotonians, to unfold it to those who were the leaders of the administration. He was also the first that advised them to build a temple to the Muses, in order that they might preserve the existing concord. For he observed that all these divinities were called by one common name, [the Muses,] that they subsisted in conjunction with each other, especially rejoiced in common honors, and in short, that there was always one and the same choir of the Muses. He likewise farther observed, that they comprehended in themselves symphony, harmony, rythm, and all things which procure concord. They also evince that their power does not alone extend to the most beautiful theorems, but likewise to the symphony and harmony of things. In the next place, he said it was necessary they should apprehend that they received their country from the multitude of the citizens, as a common deposit. Hence, it was requisite they should so govern it, that they might faithfully transmit it to their posterity, as an hereditary possession. And that this would firmly be effected, if they were equal in all things to the citizens, and surpassed them in nothing else than justice. For men knowing that every place requires justice, have asserted in fables that Themis has the same order with Jupiter, that Dice, i. e. justice, is seated by Pluto, and that Law is established in cities; in order that he who does not act justly in things which his rank in society requires him to perform, may at the same time appear to be unjust towards the whole world. He added, it was proper that the senators should not make use of any of the Gods for the purpose of an oath, but that their language should be such as to render them worthy of belief even without oaths. And likewise, that they should so manage their own domestic affairs, as to make the government of them the object of their deliberate choice. That they should also be genuinely disposed towards their own offspring, as being the only animals that have a sensation of this conception. And that they should so associate with a wife the companion of life, as to be mindful that other compacts are engraved in tables and pillars, but those with wives are inserted in children. That they should likewise endeavour to be beloved by their offspring, not through nature, of which they were not the causes, but through deliberate choice: for this is voluntary beneficence.
He further observed, that they should be careful not to have connexion with any but their wives, in order that the wives may not bastardize the race through the neglect and vicious conduct of the husbands. That they should also consider, that they received their wives from the Vestal hearth with libations, and brought them home as if they were suppliants, in the presence of the Gods themselves. And that by orderly conduct and temperance, they should become examples both to their own families, and to the city in which they live. That besides this, they should take care to prevent every one from acting viciously, lest offenders not fearing the punishment of the laws, should be concealed; and reverencing beautiful and worthy manners, they should be impelled to justice. He also exhorted them to expel sluggishness from all their actions; for he said that opportunity was the only good in every action. But he defined the divulsion of parents and children from each other, to be the greatest of injuries. And said, that he ought to be considered as the most excellent man, who is able to foresee what will be advantageous to himself; but that he ranks as the next in excellence, who understands what is useful from things which happen to others. But that he is the worst of men who waits for the perception of what is best, till he is himself afflicted. He likewise said, that those who wish to be honored, will not err if they imitate those that are crowned in the course: for these do not injure their antagonists, but are alone desirous that they themselves may obtain the victory. Thus also it is fit that those who engage in the administration of public affairs, should not be offended with those that contradict them, but should benefit such as are obedient to them. He likewise exhorted every one who aspired after true glory, to be such in reality as he wished to appear to be to others: for counsel is not so sacred a thing as praise; since the former is only useful among men, but the latter is for the most part referred to the Gods. And after all this he added, that their city happened to be founded by Hercules, at that time when he drove the oxen through Italy, having been injured by Lacinius; and when giving assistance by night to Croton, he slew him through ignorance, conceiving him to be an enemy. After which, Hercules promised that a city should be built about the sepulchre of Croton, and should be called from him Crotona, when he himself became a partaker of immortality. Hence Pythagoras said, it was fit that they should justly return thanks for the benefit they had received. But the Crotonians, on hearing this, built a temple to the Muses, and dismissed the harlots which they were accustomed to have. They also requested Pythagoras to discourse to the boys in the temple of Pythian Apollo, and to the women in the temple of Juno.
Pythagoras, therefore, complying with their wish, is said to have given the boys the following advice: That they should neither revile any one, nor take vengeance on those that reviled. He likewise exhorted them to pay diligent attention to learning, which derives its appellation from their age. He added, that it was easy for a modest youth to preserve probity through the whole of life; but that it was difficult for one to accomplish this, who was not naturally well disposed at that age; or rather it is impossible that he who begins his course from a bad impulse, should run well to the end. Besides this, he observed that boys were most dear to divinity, and hence in times of great drought, they were sent by cities to implore rain from the Gods, in consequence of the persuasion that divinity is especially attentive to children; though such as are permitted to be continually conversant with sacred ceremonies, scarcely obtain purification in perfection. From this cause also, the most philanthropic of the Gods, Apollo and Love, are universally represented in pictures as having the age of boys. It is likewise acknowledged, that some of the games in which the conquerors are crowned, were instituted on account of boys; the Pythian, indeed, in consequence of the serpent Python being slain by a boy; but the Nemean and Isthmian, on account of the death of Archemorus and Melicerta. Besides what has been said likewise, 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; from which inferring that Apollo providentially attended to the propagation of them, and that all the Gods paid attention to every age, they ought to render themselves worthy of their friendship. He added, that they should exercise themselves in hearing, in order that they may be able to speak. And farther still, that as soon as they have entered into the path in which they intend to proceed to old age, they should follow the steps of those that preceded them, and never contradict those that are older than themselves. For thus hereafter, they will justly think it right that neither should they be injured by their juniors. On account of these exhortations, it must be confessed that he deserved not to be called by his own name, but that all men should denominate him divine.
But to the women he is said to have discoursed concerning sacrifices as follows: In the first place indeed, as they would wish that another person who intended to pray for them, should be worthy and good, because the Gods attend to such as these; thus also it is requisite that they should in the highest degree esteem equity and modesty, in order that the Gods may be readily disposed to hear their prayers. In the next place, they should offer to the Gods such things as they have produced with their own hands, and should bring them to the altars without the assistance of servants, such as cakes, honey-combs, and frankincense. But that they should not worship divinity with blood and dead bodies, nor offer many things at one time, as if they never meant to sacrifice again. With respect also to their association with men, he exhorted them to consider that their parents granted to the female nature, that they should love their husbands in a greater degree than those who were the sources of their existence. That in consequence of this, they would do well either not to oppose their husbands, or to think that they have then vanquished, when they submit to them. Farther still, in the same assembly also, Pythagoras is said to have made that celebrated observation, that it is holy for a woman, after having been connected with her husband, to perform sacred rites on the same day; but that this is never holy, after she has been connected with any other man. He also exhorted the women to use words of good omen through the whole of life, and to endeavor that others may predict good things of them. He likewise admonished them not to destroy popular renown, nor to blame the writers of fables, who surveying the justice of women, from their accommodating others with garments and ornaments, without a witness, when it is necessary for some other person to use them, and that neither litigation nor contradiction are produced from this confidence, — have feigned, that three women used but one eye in common, on account of the facility of their communion with each other. He farther observed, that he who is called the wisest of all others, and who gave arrangement to the human voice, and in short, was the inventor of names, whether he was a God or a dæmon, or a certain divine man,13 perceiving that the genus of women is most adapted to piety, gave to each of their ages the appellation of some God. Hence he called an unmarried woman Core, i. e. Proserpine; but a bride, Nympha; the woman who has brought forth children, Mater
„Ich bin wirklich begeistert. Auch die Möglichkeit des zusätzlichen eReaders im Abo finde ich persönlich toll.”
„Die Auswahl von Legimi ist großartig.”
„Der Leser findet seine E-Books/Hörbücher sehr schnell und sie lassen sich, ob mit oder ohne Internetverbindung problemlos öffnen.”
Wurm sucht Buch
„Ich finde das Angebot von Legimi richtig toll.”
„Besonders schön finde ich die große Auswahl an möglichen Abo-Modellen und besonders die Abos mit eReader.”
Miss Foxy Reads
„Ich muss sagen, dass ich von dem E-Reader mehr als positiv überrascht bin.”
„Das ist wirklich eine großartige Idee und mal was ganz Anderes.”
Mikka liest das Leben...
Tausende von E-Books und Hörbücher
Ihre Zahl wächst ständig und Sie haben eine Fixpreisgarantie.
Sie haben über uns geschrieben:
Dabei gewährt der E-Book-Anbieter größtmögliche Freiheiten
Größter Vorteil die Möglichkeit, in der aktuellen App komfortabel zwischen E-Book und Hörbuchversion eines Titels
Spotify for E-Books