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Pythagoras urged his followers to cultivate the simple life, since extravagance, he maintained, ruins not only the fortunes of men but their bodies as well. For most diseases, he held, come from indigestion, and indigestion, in turn, from extravagance. [2] Many men were also persuaded by him to eat uncooked food and to drink only water all their life long, in order to pursue what is in truth the good. And yet, as for the men of our day, were one to suggest that they refrain for but a few days from one or two of the things which men consider to be pleasant, they would renounce philosophy, asserting that it would be silly, while seeking for the good which is unseen, to let go that which is seen. [3] And whenever it becomes necessary to court the mob or to meddle in affairs which are none of their business, they have the time for it and will let nothing stand in their way; whereas, whenever it becomes necessary to bestir themselves about education and the repairing of character, they reply that the matter is not opportune for them, the result of it all being that they busy themselves when they have no business and show no concern when they are concerned. [4]

We are told that Archytas1 of Tarentum, who was a follower of Pythagoras, once became angry with his slaves because of some serious offences; but when he recovered from his rage, he said to them, "You would not have got off without punishment after such misconduct, had I not lost my temper."2

1 Philosopher, statesman, general, and mathematician of the early fourth century B.C.

2 Cicero Tusc. Disp. 4.36 quotes with warm approval the words of Archytas: "Quo te modo, inquit, accepissem, nisi iratus essem" ("What a visitation you would have got, if I had not been angry"; tr. of King in L.C.L.).

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