PART 2 OF 517. Tests of Pythagorean Initiation
AS HE THEREFORE thus prepared his disciples for culture, he did not immediately receive as an associate any who came to him for that purpose until he had tested them and examined them judiciously. To begin with he inquired about their relation to their parents and kinsfolk. Next he surveyed their laughter, speech or silence, as to whether it was unseasonable; further, about their desires, their associates, their conversation, how they employed their leisure, and what were the subjects of their joy or grief. He observed their form, their gait, and the whole motions of their body. He considered their frame's natural indications physiognomically, rating them as visible exponents of the invisible tendencies of the soul.
After subjecting a candidate to such trials, he allowed him to be neglected for three years, still covertly observing his disposition towards stability, and genuine studiousness, and whether he was sufficiently averse to glory, and ready to despise popular honors.
After, this the candidate was compelled to observe silence for five years, so as to have made definite experiments in continence of speech, inasmuch as the subjugation of the tongue is the most difficult of all victories, as has indeed been unfolded by those who have instituted the mysteries.
During this probation, however, the property of each was disposed of in common, being committed to trustees, who were called politicians, economizers or legislators. Of these probationers, after the five-year silence, those who by modest dignity had won his approval as worthy to share in his doctrines, then became esoterics, and within the veil both heard and saw Pythagoras. Prior to this they participated in his words through the hearing alone, without seeing him who remained within the veil, and themselves offering to him a specimen of their manners.
If rejected, they were given the double of the wealth they had brought, but the homacoi raised to them a tomb, as if they were dead; the disciples being generally called Hearers. Should these later happen to meet the rejected candidate, they would treat him as a stranger, declaring that he whom they had by education modelled had died, inasmuch as the object of these disciplines had been to turn out good and honest men.
Those who were slow in the acquisition of knowledge were considered to be badly organized or, we may say, deficient, and sterile.
If, however, after Pythagoras had studied them physiognomically, their gait, motions and state of health, he conceived good hopes of them; and if, after the five years' silence, and the emotions and initiations from so many disciplines together with the ablutions of the soul, and so many and so great purifications produced by such various theorems, through which sagacity and sanctity is ingrained into the soul -- if, after all this even, some one was found to be still sluggish and dull, they would raise to such a candidate within the school a pillar or monument, such as was said to have been done to Perialus the Thurian, and Cylon the prince of the Sybarites, who were rejected. They expelled them from the auditorium, loading them down with silver and gold. This wealth had by them been deposited in common, in the care of certain custodians, aptly called Economics. Should any of the Pythagoreans later meet with the reject, they did not recognize him who they accounted dead. Hence, also Lysis, blaming a certain Hipparchus for having revealed the Pythagorean doctrines to the profane, and to such as accepted them without disciplines or theory, said: "It is reported that you philosophize indiscriminately and publicly, which is opposed to the customs of Pythagoras. With assiduity you did indeed learn them, O Hipparchus; but you have not preserved them. My dear fellow, you have tasted Sicilian tidbits, which you should not have repeated. If you give them up, I shall be delighted; but if you do not, you will to me be dead. For it would be pious to recall the human and divine precepts of Pythagoras, and not to communicate the treasures of wisdom to those who have not purified their souls, even in a dream. It is unlawful to give away things obtained with labors so great, and with assiduity so diligent to the first person you meet, quite as much as to divulge the mysteries of the Eleusinian goddesses to the profane. Either thing would be unjust and impious. We should consider how long a time was needed to efface the stains that had insinuated themselves in our breasts, before we became worthy to receive the doctrines of Pythagoras. Unless the dyers previously purified the garments in which the desired colors were to be fixed, the dye would either fade, or be washed away entirely. Similarly, that divine man prepared the souls of lovers of philosophy, so that they might not disappoint him in any of these beautiful qualities which he hoped they would possess. He did not impart spurious doctrines, nor stratagems, in which most of the Sophists, who are at leisure for no good purpose, entangle young men; but his knowledge of things human and divine was scientific. These Sophists, however, use his doctrines as a mere pretext to commit dreadful atrocities, sweeping the youths away as in a dragnet most disgracefully, making their auditors become rash nuisances. They infuse theorems and divine doctrines into hearts whose manners are confused and agitated, just as if pure, clear water should be poured into a deep well full of mud, which would stir up the sediment and destroy the clearness of the water. Such a mutual misfortune occurs between such teachers and disciples. The intellect and heart of those whose initiation has not proceeded by disciplines, are surrounded by thickets dense and thorny, which obscure the mild, tranquil and reasoning power of the soul, and impede the development and elevation of the intellective part. These thickets are produced by intemperance and avarice, both of which are prolific.
"Intemperance produces lawless marriages, lusts, intoxications, unnatural enjoyments, and passionate impulsions which drive headlong into pits and abysses. The unbridling of desires has removed the barriers against incest with even mothers or daughters, and just as a tyrant would violate city regulations, or a country's laws, with their hands bound behind them, like slaves, they have been dragged to the depths of degradation. On the other hand, avarice produces rapine, robbery, parricide, sacrilege, sorcery, and kindred evils. Such being the case, these surrounding thickets, infested with passions, will have to be cleared out with systematic disciplines, as if with fire and sword; and when the reason will have been liberated from so many and great evils, we are in a position to offer to it, and implant within it something useful and good."
So great and necessary was the attention which, according to Pythagoras, should be paid to disciplines as introductions to philosophy.
Moreover, inasmuch as he devoted so much care to the examination of the mental attitudes of prospective disciples, he insisted that the teaching and communication of his doctrines should be distinguished by great honor. 18. Organization of the Pythagorean School
THE NEXT STEP is to set forth how, after admission to discipleship followed distribution into several classes according to individual merit. As the disciples were naturally dissimilar, it was impractical for them to participate in all things equally, nor would it have been fair for some to share in the deepest revelations, while others might get excluded therefrom, or others from everything; such discrimination would be unjust. While he communicated some suitable portion of his discourses to all, he sought to benefit everybody, preserving the proportion of justice. By making every man's merit the index of the extent of his teachings. He carried this method so far as to call some Pythagoreans, and others Pythagorists, just as we discriminate poets from versifiers. According to this distinction of names, some of his disciples he considered genuine, and to be models of the others. The Pythagoreans' possessions were to be shared in common inasmuch as they were to live together, while Pythagorists should continue to manage their own property, though by assembling frequently they might all be at leisure to pursue the same activities. These two modes of life which originated from Pythagoras, were transmitted to his successors.
Among the Pythagoreans there were also two forms of philosophy, pursued by two classes, the Hearers (akousmatikoi) and the Students (mathematikoi). The latter were universally recognized as Pythagoreans by all the rest, though the Students did not admit as much for the Hearers, insisting that these derived their instructions not from Pythagoras, but from Hippasus, who was variously described as either a Crotonian or Metapontine.
The philosophy of the Hearers consisted in lectures without demonstrations or conferences or arguments merely directing something to be done in a certain way, unquestioningly preserving them as so many divine dogmas, non discussable, and which they promised not to reveal, esteeming as most wise those who more than others retained them.
Of the lectures there were three kinds: the first merely announced certain facts, others expressed what it was especially, and the third, what should, or should not be done about it. The objective lectures studied such questions as:
What are the islands of the Blessed?
The sun and moon?
What is the oracle at Delphi?
The Tetraktys, the very thing which is the Harmony of the Sirens.
The subjective lectures studied the special nature of an object, such as:
What is the most just thing?
What is the wisest thing?
Number. The next wisest is the naming power.
What is the wisest human thing?
What is the most beautiful?
What is the most powerful?
What is the most excellent?
Which is the most unquestioned proposition?
That all men are depraved.
That is why Pythagoras was said to have praised the Salaminian poet Hippodomas, for singing:
Tell, O ye Gods, the source from whence ye came,
And ye, O Men, how evil ye became.
Such were these subjective lectures, which taught the distinctive nature of everything.
This sort of study really constitutes the wisdom of the so-called Seven Sages. For these also did not investigate what was simply good, but especially good, nor what is difficult, but what is particularly so -- namely, for a man to know himself. So also they considered not what was easy, but what was most so, namely, to continue following out your habits. Such studies resembled and followed those of the sages who preceded Pythagoras.
The practice lectures, which studied what should or should not be done, considered questions such as the necessity of begetting children, inasmuch as we must leave after us successors who may worship the divinities; or whether we should put the shoe on the right foot first; or whether it is proper or not to parade on the public streets, or to dip into a sprinkling vessel, or to wash in a public bath, for in all these cases the cleanliness of the agents is uncertain.
Other maxims include the following: Do not assist a man in laying down a burden, which encourages him to loiter, but to assist him in undertaking something. Do not hope to beget children from a woman who is rich. Speak not about Pythagoric affairs without light. Perform libations to the Gods from the handle of the cup, to make the omen auspicious and to avoid drinking from the same part [from which the liquor was poured out]. Wear not the image of a God on a ring, for fear of defiling it, as such resemblances should be protected in a house. Use no woman ill, for she is a suppliant; wherefore, indeed, we bring her from the Vestal hearth, and take her by the right hand. Nor is it proper to sacrifice a white cock, who also is a suppliant, being sacred to the moon and announces the hours. To him who asks for counsel, give none but the best, for counsel is a sacrament. The most laborious path is the best, just as the pleasurable one is mostly the worst, inasmuch as we entered into the present life for the sake of education, which best proceeds by chastening. It is proper to sacrifice, and to take off one's shoes on entering into a temple. In going to a temple, one should not turn out of the way; for divinity should not be worshipped carelessly. It is well to sustain, and show wounds, if they are in the breast, but not if they are behind. The soul of man incarnates in the bodies of all animals, except in those which it is lawful to kill; hence we should eat none but those whom it is proper to slay. Such were the subjects of these ethical lectures.
The most extended lectures, however, were those concerning sacrifices, both at the time when migrating from the present life, and at other times; also about the proper manner of sepulture.
For some of these propositions the reason is assigned -- such as for instance that we must beget children to leave successors to worship the Gods. But no justification is assigned for the others, although in some cases they are implied proximately or remotely, such as that bread is not to be broken, because it contributes to the judgment of Hades. Such merely probable reasons, that are additional, are not Pythagoric, but were devised by non-Pythagoreans who wished to add weight to the statement. Thus, for instance, in respect to the last statement, that bread is not to be broken, some add the reason that we should not [unnecessarily] distribute what has been assembled, inasmuch as in barbarian times a whole friendly group would together pounce upon a single piece. Others again explain that precept on the grounds that it is inauspicious, at the beginning of an undertaking, to make an omen of fracture or diminution. Moreover, all these precepts are based on one single underlying principle, the end of divinity, so that the whole of every life may result in following God, which is the principle and doctrine of philosophy. For it is absurd to search for good in any direction other than from the Gods. Those who do so resemble a man who, in a country governed by a king, should do honor to one of his fellow-citizens who is a magistrate, while neglecting him who is the ruler of them all. Indeed, this is what the Pythagoreans thought of people who searched for good elsewhere than from God. For since He exists as the lord of all things, it must be self-evident that good must be requested of Him alone. For even men impart good to those they love and enjoy, and do the opposite to those they dislike. Such indeed was the wisdom of those precepts.
There, was, however, a certain Aegean named Hippomedon, one of the Pythagorean Hearers, who insisted that Pythagoras himself gave the reasons for, and demonstrations of these precepts himself; but that in consequence of their being delivered to many, some of whom were slow, the demonstrations were removed, leaving the bare propositions. The Pythagorean Students, however, insist that the reasons and demonstrations were added by Pythagoras himself, explaining that the difference arose [between the Students and Hearers] as follows. According to them, Pythagoras hailed from Ionia and Samos, to Italy then flourishing under the tyranny of Polycrates, and he attracted as associates the very most prominent men of the city. But the more elderly of these who were busied with politics, and therefore had no leisure, needed the discourses of Pythagoras dissociated from reasonings, as they would have found it difficult to follow his meanings through disciplines and demonstrations, while nevertheless Pythagoras realized that they would be benefited by knowing what ought to be done, even though lacking the underlying reason, just as physicians' patients obtain their health without hearing the reasons of every detail of the treatment. But Pythagoras conversed through disciplines and demonstrations with the younger associates, who were able both to act and learn. Such then are the differing explanations of the Hearers and Students.
As to Hippasus, however, they acknowledge that he was one of the Pythagoreans, but that he met the doom of the impious in the sea in consequence of having divulged and explained the method of forming a sphere from twelve pentagons; but nevertheless he [unjustly] obtained the renown of having made the discovery. In reality, however, this just as everything else pertaining to geometry, was the invention of that man as they referred to Pythagoras. But the Pythagoreans say that geometry was divulged under the following circumstance: A certain Pythagorean happened to lose his fortune to recoup which he was permitted to teach that science which, by Pythagoras, was called historia [or inquiry].
So much then concerning the difference of each mode of philosophizing, and the classes of Pythagoras' disciples. For those who heard him either within or without the veil, and those who heard him accompanied with seeing, or without seeing him, and who are classified as internal or external auditors, were none other than these. Under these can be classified the Political, Economic, and Legislative Pythagoreans.19. Abaris the Hyperborean
GENERALLY, however, it should be known, that Pythagoras discovered many paths of erudition, but that he communicated to each only that part of wisdom which was appropriate to the recipients' nature and power, of which the following is an appropriate striking illustration. When Abaris the Scythian came from the Hyperboreans, he was already of an advanced age, and unskilled and uninitiated in the Greek learning. Pythagoras did not compel him to wade through introductory theorems, the period of silence, and long lectures, not to mention other trials, but considered him to be fit as an immediate listener to his doctrines, and instructed him in the shortest way, in his treatise On Nature, and one On the Gods.
This Hyperborean Abaris was elderly, and most wise in sacred concerns, being a priest of the Apollo there worshipped. At that time he was returning from Greece to his country, in order to consecrate the gold which he had collected to the God in his temple among the Hyperboreans. As therefore he was passing through Italy, he saw Pythagoras, and identified him as the God of whom he was the priest.
Believing that Pythagoras resembled no man, but was none other than the God himself, Apollo, both from the venerable indications he saw around him, and from those the priest already knew, he paid him homage by giving him a sacred dart. This dart he had taken with him when he had left his temple, as an implement that would stand him in good stead in the difficulties that might befall him in so long a journey for in passing through inaccessible places, such as rivers, lakes, marshes, mountains and the like, it carried him, and by it he was said to have performed lustrations and expelled winds and pestilences from the cities that requested him to liberate them from such evils. For instance, it was said that Lacedaemon, after having been by him purified, was no longer infected with pestilence, which formerly had been endemic, through the noxious nature of the ground, in the suffocating heat produced by the overhanging mountain Taygetus, just as happens with Cnossus in Crete. Many other similar circumstances were reported of Abaris.
Pythagoras, however, accepted the dart, without expressing any amazement at the novelty of the thing, nor asking why the dart was presented to him, as if he really was a God. Then he took Abaris aside, and showed him his golden thigh, as an indication that he was not wholly mistaken [in his estimate of his real nature.] Then Pythagoras described to him several details of his distant Hyperborean temple, as proof of deserving being considered divine. Pythagoras also added that he came [into the regions of mortality] to remedy and improve the condition of the human race, having assumed human form lest men, disturbed by the novelty of his transcendency should avoid the discipline he advised. He advised Abaris to stay with him, to aid him in correcting [the manners and morals] of those they might meet, and to share the common resources of himself and his associates, whose reason led them to practice the precept that the possessions of friends are common.
So Abaris stayed with him, and was compendiously taught physiology and theology; and instead of divining by the entrails of beasts, he revealed to him the art of prognosticating by numbers, conceiving this to be a method purer, more divine and more kindred to the celestial numbers of the Gods. Also he taught Abaris other studies for which he was fit.
Returning, however, to the purpose of the present treatise, Pythagoras endeavored to correct and amend different persons according to their individual abilities. Unfortunately most of these particulars have neither been publicly transmitted nor is it easy to describe that which has been transmitted to us concerning him. 20. Psychological Requirements
WE MUST NOW set forth a few of the most celebrated points of the Pythagoric discipline, and landmarks of their distinctive studies.
When Pythagoras tested a novice, he considered the latter's ability to hold his counsel, echemuthein being his technical term for this referring to whether they could reserve and preserve what they had heard and learned. Next, he examined their modesty, for he was much more anxious that they should be silent, than that they should speak. Further, he tested every other quality -- for instance, whether they were astonished by the energies of any immoderate desire or passion. His examination of how they were affected by desire or anger, their contentiousness or ambition, their inclination to friendship or discord, was by no means superficial. If then after an accurate survey these novices were approved as of worthy manners, he then directed his attention to their facility in learning, and their memory. He examined their ability to follow what was said, with rapidity and perspicuity; and then, whether they were impelled to the disciplines taught them by temperance and love. For he laid stress on natural gentleness, and this he called culture. Ferocity he considered hostile to such a kind of education. For savage manners are attended by impudence, shamelessness, intemperance, sloth, stupidity, licentiousness, disgrace, and the like, while the opposite attends mildness and gentleness.
These things then he considered in making trial of those that came to him, and in these the Learners were exercised. Those that were adapted to receive the goods of the wisdom he possessed he admitted to discipleship; endeavoring to elevate them to scientific knowledge; but if he perceived that any novice was unadapted to them, he expelled him as a stranger and a barbarian. 21. The Daily Program
THE STUDIES which he delivered to his associates, were as follows; for those who committed themselves to the guidance of his doctrine acted thus.
They took solitary morning walks to places which happened to be appropriately quiet, to temples or groves, or other suitable places. They thought it inadvisable to converse with anyone until they had gained inner serenity, focusing their reasoning powers. They considered it turbulent to mingle in a crowd as soon as they rose from bed, and that is the reason why these Pythagoreans always selected the most sacred spots to walk.
After their morning walk they associated with each other, especially in temples, or, if this was not possible, in similar places. This time was employed in the discussion of disciplines and doctrines, and in the correction of manners.
After an association so holy, they turned their attention to the health of the body. Most of them were rubbed down, and raced; fewer wrestled, in gardens or groves; others exercised in leaping with leaden weights on their hands, or in oratorical gesticulations, with a view to the strengthening of the body, studiously selecting for this purpose alternating exercises.
They lunched on bread and honey, or on the honey-comb, avoiding wine. Afterwards, they held receptions to guests and strangers, conformably to the mandates of the laws, which receptions were restricted to this time of day.
In the afternoon, they once more betook themselves to walking, yet not alone, as in the morning walk, but in parties of two or three, rehearsing the disciplines they had learned, and, exercising themselves in attractive studies.
After the walk, they patronized the bath; and after ablutions they gathered in the common dining-room, which accommodated no more than a group of ten. Then were performed libations and sacrifices, with fumigations and incense. Then followed supper, which closed before the setting of the sun. They ate herbs, raw and boiled, maize, wine, and every food that is eaten with bread. Of any animals lawful to immolate, they ate the flesh, but they rarely partook of fish, which was not useful to them, for certain causes. Animals not naturally noxious were neither to be injured, nor slain. This supper was followed by libations, succeeded by readings. The youngest read what the eldest advised, and as they suggested.
When they were about to depart, the cupbearer poured out a libation for them, after which the eldest would announce precepts, like the following: that a mild and fruitful plant should neither be injured nor corrupted, nor should any harmless animal. It was further enjoined that we should speak piously, forming suitable conceptions of divine, tutelary and heroic beings, and similarly of parents and benefactor and that we should aid, and not obstruct the enforcement of laws. Whereafter, all separated, to go home.
They wore a white garment, that was pure. They also lay on white and pure beds, the coverlets of which, were made of linen, not wool. They did not hunt, nor undertake any similar exercise. Such were the precepts delivered daily to the disciples of Pythagoras, in respect to eating and living. 22. On Pythagorean Friendship
TRADITION tells of another kind of teaching by Pythagorean maxims pertaining to human opinions and practices, some examples of which may here be mentioned. It is advised to remove strife from true friendship. If possible, this should apply to all friendship; but at all events to that towards parents, elders, and benefactors. Existing friendships with such as these would not be preserved [but destroyed] by rivalry, contention, anger and subsequent graver passions. The scars and ulcers which their advice sometimes cause should be minimized as much as possible, which will be effected if especially the younger of the two should learn how to yield, and subdue his angry emotions. On the other hand, the so-called paedartases, or corrections and admonitions of the elder towards the younger, should be made with much suavity of manners, and great caution; also with much solicitude and tact, which makes the reproof all the more graceful and useful.
Faith should never be separated from friendship, whether seriously or in jest. Existing friendship cannot survive the insinuation of deceit between professors of friendship.
Nor should friendship be affected by misfortune or other human vicissitude, and the only rejection of friendship which is commendable is that which follows definite and incurable vice.
Such is an example of the Pythagorean exhortatory maxims, which extended to all the virtues, and to the whole of life. 23. The Use of Symbols in Instruction
PYTHAGORAS considered most necessary the use of symbols in instruction. Most of the Greeks had adopted it, as the most ancient; and it had been both preferentially and in principle employed by the Egyptians, who had developed it in the most varied manner. In harmony with this it will be found that Pythagoras attended to it sedulously, if from the Pythagoric symbols we unfold their significance and arcane intentions, developing their content of rectitude and truth, liberating them from their enigmatic form. When, according to straightforward and uniform tradition, they are accommodated to the sublime intelligence of these philosophers, they deify beyond human conception.
Those who came from this school, not only the most ancient Pythagoreans, but also those who during his old age were still young, such as Philolaus, and Eurytus, Charondas and Zaleucus, Brysson and the elder Archytas, Aristaeus, Lysis and Empedocles, Zalmoixis and Epimenides, Milo and Leucippus, Alcmaeon and Hippasus, and Thymaridas were all of that age, a multitude of savants, incomparably excellent all these adopted this mode of teaching, both in their conversations, commentaries and annotations. Their writings also, and all the books which they published, most of which have been preserved, to our times, were not composed in popular or vulgar diction, or in a manner usual to all other writers, so as to be immediately understood, but in a way not to be easily apprehended by their readers. For they adopted Pythagoras' law of reserve, in an arcane manner concealing divine mysteries from the uninitiated, obscuring their writings and mutual conversations.
The result is that they who present these symbols without unfolding their meaning by a suitable exposition, run the danger of exposing them to the charge of being ridiculous and inane, trifling and garrulous. When, however, the meanings are expounded according to these symbols, and made clear and obvious even to the crowds, then they will be found analogous to prophetic sayings such as the oracles of the Pythian Apollo. Their admirable meaning will inspire those who unite intellect and scholarliness.
It might be well to mention a few of them, in order to explain this mode of discipline. Do not negligently enter into a temple, nor adore carelessly, even if only at the doors. Sacrifice and adore unshod. Shunning public roads, walk in unfrequented paths. Do not without light speak about Pythagoric affairs.
Such is a sketch of the symbolic mode of teaching adopted by Pythagoras. 24. Dietary Suggestions
SINCE FOOD, used properly and regularly, greatly contributes to the best discipline, it may be interesting to consider Pythagoras' precepts on the subject. Forbidden was generally all food causing flatulence or indigestion, while he recommended the contrary kinds of food, that preserve and are astringent. Wherefore he recommended the nutritious qualities of millet. Rejected was all food foreign to the Gods, as withdrawing us from communion with them. On the other hand, he forbade to his disciples all food that was sacred, as too honorable to subserve common utility. He exhorted his disciples to abstain from such things as are an impediment to prophecy or to the purity and chastity of the soul, or to the habit of temperance, and virtue. Lastly, he rejected all things that are an impediment to sanctity and disturb or obscure the other purities of the soul, and the phantasms which occur in sleep. Such were the general regulations about food.
Specially, however, the most contemplative of the philosophers, who had arrived at the summit of philosophic attainments, were forbidden superfluous, food such as wine, or unjustifiable food such as was animated; and not to sacrifice animals to the Gods, nor by any means to injure animals, but to observe most solicitous justice towards them. He himself lived after this manner, abstaining from animal food, and adoring altars undefiled with blood. He was likewise careful to prevent others from destroying animals of a nature kindred to ours, and rather corrected and instructed savage animals, than injuring them as punishment. Further, he ordered abstaining from animal food even to politicians; for as they desired to act justly to the highest degree, they must certainly not injure any kindred animals. How indeed could they persuade others to act justly, if they themselves were detected in an insatiable avidity in devouring animals allied to us. These are conjoined to us by a fraternal alliance through the communion of life, and the same elements, and the co-mingling of these. Eating of the flesh of certain animals was however permitted to those whose lives were not entirely purified, philosophic and sacred; but even for these was appointed a definite time of abstinence. Besides, these were not to eat the heart, nor the brain, which entirely forbidden to all Pythagoreans. For these organs are predominant, and are as it were ladders and seats of wisdom and life.
Food other than animal was by him also considered sacred, due to the nature of divine reason. Thus his disciples were to abstain from mallows, because this plant is the first messenger and signal of the sympathy of celestial with terrestrial Gods. Moreover, the fish melanurus was interdicted because it was sacred to the terrestrial gods. Likewise, the erythinus. Beans also were interdicted, due to many causes, physical, psychic and sacred.
Many other similar precepts were enjoined in the attempt to lead men to virtue through their food. 25. Music and Poetry
PYTHAGORAS was likewise of the opinion that music, if properly used, greatly contributed to health. For he was wont to use it in no careless way, but as a purification. Indeed, he restricted this word to signify music used as medicine.
About the vernal season he used a melody in this manner. In the middle was placed a person who played on the lyre, and seated around him in a circle were those able to sing. Then the lyrist in the center struck up and the singers raised certain paeans, through which they were evidently so overjoyed that their manners became elegant and orderly. This music instead of medicines was also used at certain other times.
Certain melodies were devised as remedies against the passions of the soul, as also against despondency and lamentation, which were invented by Pythagoras specifically for this. Further, he employed other melodies against anger and rage, and all other aberrations of the soul. Another kind of modulation was invented against desires. He likewise used dancing, which was accompanied by the lyre, instead of the pipe, which he conceived to have an influence towards insolence, being theatrical, and by no means liberal. For the purpose of correcting the soul, he also used select verses of Homer and Hesiod.
It is related among the deeds of Pythagoras that once, through a spondaic song, he extinguished the rage of a Tauromenian lad who after feasting by night, intended to burn the vestibule of the house of his mistress, on seeing her issuing from the house of a rival. [To this rash attempt the lad had been inflamed, by a Phrygian song, which however Pythagoras at once suppressed.] As Pythagoras was astronomizing he happened to meet this Phrygian piper at an unseasonable time of night, and persuaded him to change his Phrygian song for a spondaic one. Through this the fury of the lad was immediately repressed, and he returned home in an orderly manner, although but a little while before he had stupidly insulted Pythagoras on meeting him, and would bear no admonition, and could not be restrained.
Here is another instance. Anchitus, the host of Empedocles, had as judge, condemned to death the father of a youth, who rushed on Anchitus with drawn sword, intending to slay him. Empedocles changed the youth's intention by singing, to his lyre, that verse of Homer (Odyssey, 4):
Nepenthe, without gall, o'er every ill
Oblivion spreads, --
thus saving his host Anchitus from death, and the youth from committing murder. It is said that from that time on the youth became one of the most faithful disciples of Pythagoras.
The Pythagoreans distinguished three states of mind, called exartysis, or readiness; synarmoge, or fitness, and epaphe, or contact, which converted souls to contrary passions, and these could be produced by certain appropriate songs.
When they retired, they purified their reasoning powers from the noises and perturbations to which they had been exposed during the day, by certain odes and hymns which produced tranquil sleep, and few, but good dreams. But when they arose from slumbers, they again liberated themselves from the dazedness and torpor of sleep by songs of another kind. Sometimes the passions of the soul and certain diseases were, as they said, genuinely lured by enchantments, by musical sounds alone, without words. This is indeed probably the origin of the general use of this word epode or enchantment.
Thus through music Pythagoras produced the most beneficial correction of manners and lives. 26. Theoretical Music 
WHILE DESCRIBING PYTHAGORAS' WISDOM in instructing his disciples, we must not fail to note that he discovered the harmonic science and ratios. But to explain this we must go a little backwards in time. Once as he was intently considering music, and reasoning with himself whether it would be possible to devise some instrumental assistance to the sense of hearing, so as to systematize it, as sight is made precise by the compass, rule, and telescope, or touch is made reckonable by balance and measures -- so thinking of these things Pythagoras happened to pass by a brazier's shop where he heard the hammers beating out a piece of iron on anvil, producing sounds that harmonized, except one. But he recognized in these sounds, the concord of the octave, the fifth, and the fourth. He saw that the sound between the fourth and the fifth, taken by itself, was a dissonance, and yet completed the greater sound among them.
Delighted, therefore, to find that the thing he was anxious to discover had by divine assistance succeeded, he went into the smithy, and by various experiments discovered that the difference of sound arose from the magnitude of the hammers, but not from the force of the strokes, nor from the shape of the hammers, nor from the change of position of the beaten iron. Having then accurately examined the weights and the swing of the hammers, he returned home, and fixed one stake diagonally to the walls, lest some difference should arise from there being several of them, or from some difference in the material of the stakes.
From this stake he then suspended four gut-strings, of similar materials, size, thickness and twist. A weight was suspended from the bottom of each. When the strings were equal in length, he struck two of them simultaneously, he reproduced the former intervals, forming different pairs. He discovered that the string stretched by the greatest weight, when compared with that stretched by the smallest weight, had the interval of an octave. The weight of the first was twelve pounds, and that of the latter six. Being therefore in a double ratio, it formed the octave, which was made plain by the weights themselves. Then he found that the string from which the greatest weight was suspended compared with that from which was suspended the weight next to the smallest, and which weight was eight pounds, produced the interval known as the fifth. Hence he discovered that this interval is in a ratio of one and a half to one, or three to two, in which ratio the weights also were to each other. Then he found that the string stretched by the greatest weight produced, when compared with that which was next to it, in weight, namely, nine pounds, the interval called the fourth, analogous to the weights. This ratio, therefore, he discovered to be in the ratio of one and a third to one, or four to three; while that of the string from which a weight of nine pounds was suspended to the string which had the smallest weight, was again in a ratio of three to two, which is 9 to 6. In like manner, the string next to that from which the smallest weight was suspended, was to that which had the smallest weight, in the ratio of 4 to 3 (being 8 to 6), but to the string which had the greatest weight, in a ratio of 3 to 2, being 12 to 8. Hence that which is between the fifth and the fourth, and by which the fifth exceeds the fourth, is proved to be as nine is to eight. But either way it may be proved that the octave is a system consisting of the fifth in conjunction with the fourth, just as the double ratio consists of three to two, and four to three; as for instance 12, 8 and 6; or, conversely of the fourth and the fifth, as in the double ratio of four to three and three to two, as for instance, 12, 9 and 6.
Thus therefore, and in this order, having conformed both his hand and hearing to the suspended weights, and having established according to them the ratio of the proportions, by an easy artifice he transferred the common suspension of the strings from the diagonal stake to the head of the instrument which he called chordotonon, or string-stretcher. Then by the aid of pegs he produced a tension of the strings analogous to that effected by the weights.
Employing this method, therefore, as a basis, and as it were an infallible rule, he afterward extended the experiment to other instruments, namely, the striking of pans, to pipes and to monochords, triangles, and the like in all of which he found the same ratio of numbers to obtain. Then he named the sound which participates in the number 6, tonic; that which participates in the number 8, and is four to three, subdominant; that which participates in the number 9, and is one tone higher than the subdominant, he called dominant, and 9 to 8; but that which participates of the number 12, octave.
Then he filled up the middle spaces with analogous sounds in diatonic order, and formed an octochord from symmetric numbers; from the double, the three to two, the four to three, and from the difference of these, the 8 to 9. Thus he discovered the harmonic progression, which tends by a certain physical necessity from the lowest to the most acute sound, diatonically.
Later, from the diatonic he progressed to the chromatic and enharmonic orders, as we shall later show when we treat of music. This diatonic scale however, seems to have the following progression, a semi-tone, a tone, and a tone; and this is the fourth, being a system consisting of two tones, and of what is called a semi-tone. Afterwards, adding another tone, we produce the fifth, which is a system consisting of three tones and a semi-tone. Next to this is the system of a semi-tone, a tone, and a tone, forming another fourth, that is, another four to three ratio. Thus in the more ancient octave indeed, all the sounds from the lowest pitch which are with respect to each other fourths, produce everywhere with each other fourths; the semi-tone, by transition, receives the first, middle and third place, according to that tetrachord. Now in the Pythagoric octave, however, which by conjunction is a system of the tetrachord and pentachord, but if disjoined is a system of two tetrachords separated from each other, the progression is from the gravest to the most acute sound. Hence all sounds that by their distance from each other are fifths, with each other produce the interval of the fifth. The semi-tone successively proceeds into four places, the first, second, third, and fourth. This is the way in which music was said to have been discovered by Pythagoras. Having reduced it to a system, he delivered it to his disciples as being subservient to everything that is most beautiful.27. Mutual Political Assistance
MANY DEEDS OF THE PYTHAGOREANS in the political sphere are deservedly praised. At one time the Crotonians were in the habit of making funerals and internments too sumptuous. Thereupon one of them said to the people that once he had heard Pythagoras converse about divine natures, during which he had observed that the Olympian divinities attended to the dispositions of the sacrificers, and not to the multitude of the offerings. The terrestrial Gods, on the contrary, as being interested in less important matters, rejoiced in lamentations and banquets, libations, delicacies, and luxurioius expense; and as proof thereof, the divinity of Hades is called Pluto (plutos = wealth), from his wish to receive. Those that honor him slenderly [he does not much care for], and permits to stay quite a little while in the upper world; but he hastens to draw down those disposed to spend profusely on funeral solemnities, that he may obtain the honors offered in commemoration of the dead. The result was that the Crotonians who heard this advice were persuaded that if they conducted themselves moderately in misfortunes, they would be promoting their own salvation, but would die prematurely if immoderate in such expenses.
A certain difference arose about an affair in which there was no witness. Pythagoras was made arbitrator, and he led both litigants to a certain monument, announcing that the man buried was exceedingly equitable. The one prayed that he might receive much reward for his good life, while the other declared that the defunct was no better-off for his opponent's prayers. Pythagoras condemned the latter, confirming that he who praised the dead man for his worth had earned credibility.
At another time, in a case of great moment, he decided that one of the two who had agreed to settle the affair by arbitration, should pay four talents, but that the other should receive two. Afterwards, he condemned the defendant to pay three talents, and thus he appeared to have given a talent to each of them. 
Two persons had fraudulently deposited a garment with a woman who belonged to a court of justice, and told her that she was not to give it to either of them unless both were present. Later, with intent to defraud, one claimed and got the common deposit, saying he had the consent of the other party. The other one turned informer and related the compact made at the beginning to the magistrates. A certain Pythagorean, however, as arbitrator, decided that the woman was guiltless, construing the claimed assent as constructive presence.
Two other persons, who had seemed to be great friends, had gotten to suspect each other through calumnies of a flatterer, who told one that other had taken undue liberties with his wife. A Pythagorean, however, happened to enter the smithy where the injured party was finding fault with the blacksmith for not having sufficiently sharpened a sword he had brought him for that purpose. The Pythagorean suspecting the use to which the sword was to be put said, "The sword is sharper than all things except calumny." This caused the prospective avenger to consider that he should not rashly sin against a friend who was within an invitation.
A stranger in the temple of Asklepius accidentally dropped his belt, on which were gold ornaments. When he tried to pick it up, he was informed that the temple-regulations forbade picking up anything on the floor. He was indignant, and a Pythagorean advised him to remove the golden ornaments which were not touching the floor, leaving the belt which was.
During a public spectacle, some cranes flew over the theatre. One sailor said to his companion, "Do you see the witnesses?" A Pythagorean nearby summoned the sailors into a court presided over by a thousand magistrates, where, being examined, they confessed to having thrown certain boys into the sea, who on drowning had called on the cranes, flying above them, to witness the deed. This story is mistakenly located elsewhere, but it really happened at Croton.
Certain recent disciples of Pythagoras were at variance with each other, and the junior came to the senior, declaring there was no reason to refer the matter to an arbitrator, inasmuch as all they needed to do was to dismiss their anger. The elder agreed, but regretted he had not been the first to make that proposition.
We might relate here the story of Damon and Phintias, of Plato and Archytas, and of Clinias and Prorus.  At present, however, we shall limit ourselves to that of Eubulus the Messenian, who, when sailing homeward, was taken captive by the Tyrrhenians, where he was recognized by a Pythagorean named Nausithus, who redeemed him from the pirates, and sent him home in safety.
When the Carthaginians were about to send five thousand soldiers into a desert island, the Carthaginian Miltiades saw among them the Argive Possiden, [both of whom were Pythagoreans]. Approaching him, and without revealing his intentions, he advised him to return home with all possible haste. He placed him in a ship then sailing near the shore, supplied him with the travel necessities, and thus saved him from the impending danger.
He who would try to relate all the fine deeds that beautified the mutual relations of the Pythagoreans would find the task exceeding space and patience. I shall therefore pass on to show that some of the Pythagoreans were competent administrators, adapted to rule. Many were custodians of the laws, and ruled over certain Italian cities, unfolding to them, and advising them to adopt the most salutary measures, while themselves refusing all pay. Though greatly calumniated, their probity and the desire of the citizens prevailed to make them administrators. At this time the best governed states seem to have been in Italy and Sicily. One of the best legislators, Charondas the Catanean, was a Pythagorean, and so were the celebrated Locrian legislators Zaleucus and Timares. Pythagoreans also established those Rheginic polities, called the Gymnasiarchic, named after Theocles. Excelling in studies and manners which were then adopted by their fellow-citizens, were Phytius, Theocles, Elecaon and Aristocrates. Indeed, it is said that Pythagoras was the originator of all political erudition, when he said that nothing existent is pure, inasmuch as earth participates of fire, fire of air, and air of water, and water of spirit. Likewise the beautiful participates in the deformed, the just of the unjust, and so on; so that from this principle human impulse may (by proper direction) be turned in either direction. He also said that there were two motions, one of the body which is irrational, and one of the soul, which is the result of deliberate choice. He also said polities might be likened to three lines whose extremities join, forming a right angle the lines being 4, 3, 2, so that one of them is as 4 to 3, another as 3 to 2, and the other 3 is the arithmetical medium between 2 and 4. Now when, by reasoning, we study the mutual relations of these lines, and the places under them, we shall find that they represent the best image of a polity. Plato plagiarized, for in his Republic he clearly says, "That the result of the 4 to 3 ratio, conjoined with the 5 ratio, produces two harmonies." [This means that] he cultivated the moderation of the passions, and the middle path between extremes, rendering happy the life of his disciples by relating them to ideals of the good.
We are also told that he persuaded the Crotonians to give up associations with courtesans and prostitutes. Crotonian wives came to the wife of the Pythagorean Brontinus, who was a wise and splendid woman, the author of the maxim that "It is proper for women to sacrifice on the same day they have risen from the embraces of their husbands" -- which some ascribe to Pythagoras' wife Theano -- and entreated her to persuade Pythagoras to discourse to them on their continence as due to their husbands. This she did, and Pythagoras accordingly made an address to the Crotonians, which successfully ended the then prevalent incontinence.
When ambassadors came from Sybaris to Croton to demand the return of the exiles, Pythagoras, seeing one of the ambassadors who with his own hand had slain one of Pythagoras' friends, made no answer whatever. But when this man insisted on an explanation and addressed Pythagoras, the latter said it was unlawful to converse with murderers. This induced many to believe he was Apollo.
All these stories, together with what we mentioned above about the destruction of tyrants, and the democratization of the cities of Italy and Sicily, and many other circumstances, are eloquent of the benefits conferred on mankind by Pythagoras, in political respects.