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Headword: Πυθαγόρας
Adler number: pi,3121
Translated headword: Pythagoras
Vetting Status: high
About this man Philostratus says:[1] "the [writers] who praise the Samian Pythagoras say the following of him: he had not yet been Ion[ian], but he had once lived at Troy as Euphorbus and after death he had risen again to life,[2] as Homer's songs [record];[3] and he refused to wear clothing derived from animals' corpses[4] and purified himself by abstaining from any food and any sacrificial offering made from living beings, [saying] that the altars should not be stained with blood;[5] instead, products of the beehive,[6] frankincense and hymns were the offerings this man used to bring to the gods, and [as he used to say], he knew that the gods welcome such offerings more gladly than they do hecatombs and the knife on the basket.[7] He indeed [maintained] that he kept in contact with the gods and was learning from them how they are pleased by humans and how are they displeased. It was from that very source that he used to say about nature that while the others try to fathom the divine on the ground of conjectures and elaborate opinions quite dissimilar to each other, to him Apollo came in person, admitting his identity;[8] moreover, accompanying him -- but not admitting [their identities] -- were Athena and the Muses and other deities, whose aspect and names were still unknown to mankind. And whatever statement Pythagoras uttered was considered as a law by his disciples, and they used to honor him as [a messenger] coming from Zeus, and they endeavoured to keep silence about religious matters,[9] for they heard many divine secrets, which are difficult to keep without previously learning that even silence [is a] language.[10] Furthermore, it is said that even Empedokles of Akragas adhered to this philosophy; and indeed his verse 'hail! I am for you an immortal god, no longer a mortal';[11] and the other, 'For before this I was born a boy and a maiden';[12] and the ox in Olympia, which he is said to have sacrificed after making it from pastry -- [all such things] are typical of someone approving the [teachings] of Pythagoras. And other things about the customs of Pythagoras[13] *** [are said, but it is not the right time to mention them] since I am eager to come to the point...".
Greek Original:
Πυθαγόρας: περὶ τούτου φησὶ Φιλόστρατος: οἱ τὸν Σάμιον Πυθαγόραν ἐπαινοῦντες τάδε ἐπ' αὐτῷ φασιν, ὡς Ἴων μὲν οὔπω εἴη, γένοιτο δὲ ἐν Τροίᾳ ποτὲ Εὔφορβος ἀναβιῴη τε ἀποθανών, ἀποθάνοι δ', ὡς ᾠδαὶ Ὁμήρου: ἐσθῆτά τε τὴν ἀπὸ θνησειδίων παραιτοῖτο καὶ καθαρεύοι βρώσεως, ὁπόση ἐμψύχων, καὶ τοῦ θῦσαι: μὴ γὰρ αἱμάττειν τοὺς βωμούς: ἀλλ' ἡ μελιττοῦτα καὶ ὁ λιβανωτὸς καὶ τὸ ἐφυμνῆσαι, φοιτᾶν ταῦτα τοῖς θεοῖς παρὰ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς τούτου: γινώσκειν τε, ὡς ἀσπάζοιντο τὰ τοιαῦτα οἱ θεοὶ μᾶλλον ἢ τὰς ἑκατόμβας καὶ τὴν μάχαιραν ἐπὶ τοῦ κανοῦ: ξυνεῖναι γὰρ δὴ τοῖς θεοῖς καὶ μανθάνειν παρ' αὐτῶν, ὅπη τοῖς ἀνθρώποις χαίρουσι καὶ ὅπη συνάχθονται. περί τε φύσεως ἐκεῖθεν λέγειν: τοὺς μὲν γὰρ ἄλλους τεκμαίρεσθαι τοῦ θείου καὶ δόξας ἀνομοίας ἀλλήλαις περὶ αὐτοῦ δοξάζειν, ἑαυτῷ δὲ τόν τε Ἀπόλλω ἥκειν, ὁμολογοῦντα ὡς αὐτὸς εἴη: ξυνεῖναι δ' αὖ καὶ μὴ ὁμολογοῦντας τὴν Ἀθηνᾶν καὶ τὰς Μούσας καὶ θεοὺς ἑτέρους, ὧν τὰ εἴδη καὶ τὰ ὀνόματα οὔπω τοὺς ἀνθρώπους γινώσκειν. καὶ ὅ τι ἀποφήναιτο ὁ Πυθαγόρας, νόμον τοῦτο οἱ ὁμιληταὶ ἡγοῦντο καὶ ἐτίμων αὐτὸν ὡς ἐκ Διὸς ἥκοντα, καὶ ἡ σιωπὴ δὲ ὑπὲρ τοῦ θείου σφίσιν ἐπήσκητο: πολλὰ γὰρ θεῖά τε καὶ ἀπόρρητα ἤκουον, ὧν κρατεῖν χαλεπὸν ἦν, μὴ πρῶτον μαθοῦσιν, ὅτι καὶ τὸ σιωπᾶν λόγος. καὶ μὴν τὸν Ἀκραγαντῖνον Ἐμπεδοκλέα βαδίσαι φασὶ τὴν σοφίαν ταύτην. τὸ γάρ, χαίρετ', ἐγὼ ὃ δ' ὔμμιν θεὸς ἄμβροτος, οὐκ ἔτι θνητός: καί, ἤδη γάρ ποτ' ἐγὼ γενόμην κούρη τε κόρος τε: καὶ ὁ ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ βοῦς, ὃν λέγεται πέμμα ποιησάμενος θῦσαι, τὰ Πυθαγόρου ἐπαινοῦντος εἴη ἄν. καὶ πλείω ἕτερα περὶ τῶν Πυθαγόρου τρόπων, σπεύδοντα ἐπὶ τὸν λόγον.
For Pythagoras see already pi 3120; and for the final part of the present entry's material see already epsilon 1003.
[1] Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 1.1.
[2] On the claimed incarnations of Pythagoras as Aithalides, Euphorbus, Hermotimus and Pyrrhus, see Heraclides Ponticus fr. 89 Wehrli (= Diogenes Laertius 8.4.); eta 88. On the transmigration of souls in Pythagoras' thought, cf. among others Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 19.
[3] cf. Homer, Iliad 17.51-60.
[4] No other sources support this detail.
[5] On this and other features of Pythagoras' way of life, cf. pi 3124. There is no complete agreement about the vegetarianism of the philosopher. A fragment from Eudoxus (in Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 7) accounts for his repulsion from blood, butchers and hunters, considered impure.
[6] The bee is frequently associated with pureness and chastity in Orphic and Pythagorean doctrines, because this insect was believed to reproduce by a sort of parthenogenesis (as also appears in the story of Aristeus in Vergil, Georgics IV). For the mystic role played by bees also cf. Porphyry's De antro nympharum.
[7] The basket containing the head of the sacrificial victim also contained the knife used for slaughtering it.
[8] The Hyperborean Apollo (according to a fragment of Aristotle in Aelian, Varia historia 2.26). The idea of Pythagoras being an incarnation of the Hyperborean Apollo is expressed in Diogenes Laertius 8.21 as an interpretation offered by Aristippus the Younger; a saying stating that the philosopher would himself have been Apollo is also attested by Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras 140. Some sources seem to explain the very name of the philosopher as related to the god, as "the voice speaking (ἀγορεύο ) for the sake of Apollo Pythios".
[9] The practice of keeping silence on the school's doctrines, which seems to have gradually weakened after the Pythagoreans left their communities in Magna Graecia, is generally recorded as one of the main features of this school and related to its mystical character. This also influenced the peculiar style of the teachings attributed to the Master, whose style is obscure and enigmatic (the so-called ἀκούσματα or σύμβολα ; cf. pi 3124 and Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras 23.103ff.).
[10] cf. Claudian, Panegyric, 90-91 quidquid Democritus risit dixitque tacendo Pythagoras. Different interpretation in Gaisford's commentary (ipsi silentio rationem inesse).
[11] Empedocles fr. 112 Diels, from the Purifications; cf. Diogenes Laertius 8.62; Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 19.
[12] Empedocles fr. 117 Diels, also from the Purifications; cf. Diogenes Laertius 8.77.
[13] A lacuna in the text of the Suda's source is evident. The original text of the Life of Apollonius reads περὶ τῶν τὸν Πυθαγόρου τρόπον φιλοσοφησάντων "about those who elaborated doctrines in the same way as Pythagoras"; the word φιλοσοφησάντων being lost, τρόπον has been referred to τῶν and changed into the genitive, with the consequent --conscious or unconscious -- suppression of τόν . The lost part read ἱστοροῦσιν, ὧν οὐ προσήκει με νῦν ἅπτεσθαι "much more information about those who elaborated doctrines in the same way as Pythagoras is recorded, which it is not the right time to treat".
Keywords: biography; children; clothing; epic; ethics; food; gender and sexuality; geography; philosophy; poetry; religion; rhetoric; women; zoology
Translated by: Antonella Ippolito on 6 December 2005@19:29:40.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (modified translation, other cosmetics) on 7 December 2005@22:29:43.
David Whitehead (further changes to tr; added introductory note and more keywords; cosmetics) on 8 December 2005@03:53:06.
David Whitehead (x-ref for n.2) on 8 December 2005@08:52:21.
David Whitehead (augmented introductory note) on 8 December 2005@10:18:25.
David Whitehead on 9 December 2005@05:20:58.
Antonella Ippolito (augmented note 8; typo) on 9 December 2005@13:45:53.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics; raised status) on 23 October 2013@07:55:18.


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