previous next



*Puqago/ras). The authenticated facts in the history of Pythagoras are so few, and the sources from which the greater part of our information respecting him is derived are of so late a date, and so untrustworthy, that it is impossible to lay down more than an outline of his personal history with any approximation to certainty. The total absence of written memorials proceeding from Pythagoras himself, and the paucity of the notices of him by contemporaries, coupled with the secrecy which was thrown around the constitution and actions of the Pythagorean brotherhood, held out strong temptations for invention to supply the place of facts, and the stories which thus originated were eagerly caught up by the Neo-Platonic writers who furnish most of the details respecting Pythagoras, and with whom it was a recognised canon, that nothing should be accounted incredible which related to the gods or what was divine. (Iambl. Adhort. ad Philos. p. 324, ed. Kiessling.) In this way a multitude of the most absurd fictions took their rise -- such as that Apollo was his father; that his person gleamed with a supernatural brightness; that he exhibited a golden thigh; that Abaris came flying to him on a golden arrow; that he was seen in different places at one and the same time. (Comp. Hdt. 4.94, &c.) With the exception of some scanty notices by Xenophanes, Heracleitus, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle, and Isocrates, we are mainly dependent on Diogenes Laertius, Porphyrius, and Iamblichus for the materials out of which to form a biography of Pythagoras. Aristotle had written a separate work on the Pythagoreans, which is unfortunately not extant. (He alludes to it himself, Met. 1.5. p. 986. 12, ed. Bekker.) His disciples Dicaearchus, Aristoxenus, and Heracleides Ponticus had written on the same subject. These writers, late as they are, are among the best from whom Porphyrius and Iamblichus drew: their chief sources besides being legends and their own invention. Hence we are reduced to admit or reject their statements mainly from a consideration of their inherent probability, and even in that point of view it is not enough to look at each separately, for if all the separately credible narratives respecting Pythagoras were supposed true, they would extend the sphere and amount of his activity to an utterly impossible extent. (Krische, de Societatis a Pythagora conditae Scopo politico. Praef.; Brandis, Geschichte des Griech. Röm. Philosophie, p. 440 ; Grote, Hist. of Greece, vol. iv. p. 540.)

That Pythagoras was the son of Mnesarchus, who was either a merchant, or, according to others, an engraver of signets (D. L. 8.1), may be safely affirmed on the authority of Herodotus (4.95); that Samos was his birth-place, on that of Isocrates (Busir. p. 227, ed. Steph.). Others called him a Tyrrhenian or Phliasian, and gave Marmacus, or Demaratus, as the name of his father (Diog. Laert. l.c. ; Porph. Vit. Pyth. 1, 2; Justin, 20.4; Paus. 2.13.) It is quite possible that though born in Samos, he may have been connected in race with those Tyrrhenian Pelasgians who were scattered over various parts of the Aegean Sea. There are but few chronological data, and those for the most part indistinct, for fixing the date of the birth of Pythagoras. Antilochus (ap. Clem. Al. Strom. i. p. 309) reckoned 312 years from the ήλικία of Pythagoras to B. C. 270. This would place the date of his birth at the close of the seventh century B. C. (B. C. 608.) Nearly the same date results from the account of Eratosthenes (ap. D. L. 8.47), and this is the date adopted by Bentley among others. On the other hand, according to Aristoxenus (Porph. l.c. 100.9), Pythagoras quitted Samos in the reign of Polycrates, at the age of 40. According to Iamblichus he was 57 years of age in B. C. 513. This would give B. C. 570 as the date of his birth, and this date coincides better with other statements. All authorities agree that he flourished in the times of Polycrates and Tarquinius Superbus (B. C. 540-510. See Clinton, Fasti Hellen. s. a. B. C. 539, 533, 531, 510). The war between Sybaris and Crotona might furnish some data bearing upon the point, if the connection of Pythagoras with it were matter of certainty.

It was natural that men should be eager to know, or ready to conjecture the sources whence Pythagoras derived the materials which were worked up into his remarkable system. And as, in such cases, in the absence of authentic information, the conjectures of one become the belief of another, the result is, that it would be difficult to find a philosopher to whom such a variety of teachers is assigned as to Pythagoras. Some make his training almost entirely Grecian, others exclusively Egyptian and Oriental. We find mentioned as his instructors Creophilus (Iambl. Vit. Pyth. 9), Hermodamas (Porph. 2., D. L. 8.2), Bias (Iambl. l.c.), Thales (ibid.), Anaximander (ibid. Porph. l.c.), and Pherecydes of Syros (Aristoxenus and others in D. L. 1.118, 119; Cic. de Div. 1.49). The Egyptians are said to have taught him geometry, the Phoenicians arithmetic, the Chaldeans astronomy, the Magians the formulae of religion and practical maxims for the conduct of life (Porph. l.c. 6). Of the statements regarding his Greek instructors, that about Pherecydes comes to us with the most respectable amount of attestation.

It was the current belief in antiquity, that Pythagoras had undertaken extensive travels, and had visited not only Egypt, but Arabia, Phoenicia, Judaea, Babylon, and even India, for the purpose of collecting all the scientific knowledge that was attainable, and especially of deriving from the fountain-heads instruction respecting the less public or mystic cultus of the gods. (D. L. 8.2 ; Porph. l.c. 11, 12; Iambl. l.c. 14, &c.) The journey to Babylon is possible, and not very unlikely. That Pythagoras visited Egypt, may be regarded as more than probable. Enough of Egypt was known to attract the curiosity of an inquiring Greek, and the intercourse of Samos as well as other parts of Greece with that country is mentioned. (Hdt. 2.134, 135, 3.39.) The authorities also on the point are numerous (Antiphon. apud Porph. 7; Isocr. Busir. p. 227; Cic. de Fin. 5.27; Strabo xiv. p.638.) The passages in Herodotus, 2.81, 123, which have been thought to assert or imply the visit of Pythagoras to Egypt, do not, on a more accurate examination, appear to involve any such inference. (Krische, l.c. p. 5 ; Ritter, Gesch. der Pythagorischen Philosophie, p. 27.) According to one account, of no great authority, and mixed up with much that is absurd and incredible, Polycrates gave Pythagoras a letter of introduction to Amasis. (D. L. 8.3.) Still it is not easy to determine how far Pythagoras was indebted to the Egyptian priests, or, indeed, whether he learnt any thing at all from them. That he was initiated into their profoundest mysteries is in the highest degree improbable. Geometry in Egypt seems to have been chiefly of a practical kind, and the propositions which Pythagoras is said to have discovered are such as to show that the science of geometry was still in its infancy. There was nothing in the symbolical mode of representation which the Pythagoreans adopted, which bore the distinct traces of an Egyptian origin. The secret religious usages of the Pythagoreans exhibited nothing (so far as can be traced with any degree of probability) but what might have been adopted, quite in the spirit of the Greek religion, by those who knew nothing of Egyptian mysteries; and what was peculiar to Pythagoras in this respect admits of being referred with greater likelihood to the cultus of the Tyrrhenian Pelasgians, with whom Pythagoras is said to have been connected. (Ritter, Gesch. der Philos. vol. i. p. 363.) Even the doctrine of metempsychosis involves nothing which compels us to look to Egypt or the East for its origin. It is rather one of the most obvious sensualistic modes in which the continued existence of the soul could be conceived. Pythagoras might have derived it quite as easily from Pherecydes as from the Egyptians. Greater stress might be laid upon some external observances, such as the refraining from eating beans and fish, were it not that doubt exists even with regard to these. (Aristoxenus denied the fact of the interdiction of beans; see Gellius, N. A. 4.11.) Nor, in any case, would initiation by the Egyptian priests be necessary to account for it. In short, no foreign influence can be traced, which in any way illustrates or accounts for either the philosophy or the institutions of Pythagoras. These exhibit only what might easily have been developed by a Greek mind exposed to the ordinary influences of the age. Even the ancient authorities point to a similar result in connecting the religious and ascetic peculiarities of Pythagoras with the Orphic or Cretan mysteries (Iambl.100.25; Porph. 100.17; D. L. 8.3), or the Delphic oracle (Ariston. ap. D. L. 8.8, 21; Porph. 41).

Neither as to the kind and amount of knowledge which Pythagoras acquired, nor as to his definite philosophical views, have we much trustworthy direct evidence. Every thing of the kind mentioned by Plato and Aristotle is attributed not to Pythagoras, but to the Pythagoreans. We have, however, the testimony of Heracleitus (D. L. 8.6, 9.1, comp. Hdt. 1.29, 2.49, 4.95), that he was a man of extensive acquirements; and that of Xenophanes, that he believed in the transmigration of souls. (D. L. 8.36, comp. Arist. de Anima, 1.3; Hdt. 2.123. Xenophanes mentions the story of his interceding on behalf of a dog that was being beaten, professing to recognise in its cries the voice of a departed friend, comp. Grote, l.c. vol. iv. p. 528, note.) Pythagoras is said to have pretended that he had been Euphorbus, the son of Panthus, in the Trojan war, as well as various other characters, a tradesman, a courtezan, &c. (Porph. 26; Paus. 2.17; D. L. 8.5; Horace, Od. 1.28,1. 10). He is said to have discovered the propositions that the triangle inscribed in a semi-circle is right-angled (D. L. 1.25), that the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the sides (D. L. 8.12; Plut. Non posse suav. vivi sec. Ep. p. 1094). There is a celebrated story of his having discovered the arithmetical relations of the musical scale by observing accidentally the various sounds produced by hammers of different weights striking upon an anvil, and suspending by strings weights equal to those of the different hammers (Porph. in Ptol. Harms. p. 213; D. L. 8.12; Nicom. Harm. 1.2, p. 10, Meib.). The retailers of the story of course never took the trouble to verify the experiment, or they would have discovered that different hammers do not produce different sounds from the same anvil, any more than different clappers do from the same bell. Discoveries in astronomy are also attributed to Pythagoras (D. L. 8.14; Plin. Nat. 2.8). There can be little doubt that he paid great attention to arithmetic, and its application to weights, measures, and the theory of music; medicine also is mentioned as included in the range of his studies (D. L. 8.12, 14, 32). Apart from all direct testimony, however, it might safely have been affirmed, that the very remarkable influence exerted by Pythagoras, and even the fact that he was made the hero of so many marvellous stories, prove him to have been a man both of singular capabilities and of great acquirements. The general tendency of the speculations of the Pythagorean school is evidence that the statements with regard to his mathematical researches are well founded. But whatever weight there may be in the conjecture of Ritter, that through his descent from the Tyrrhenian Pelasgians Pythagoras derived by tradition a peculiar and secret cultus, which he needed not so much to alter, as to develop so as to suit his peculiar aims, there can be little doubt that the above-named author is correct in viewing the religious element as the predominant one in his character, and a religious ascendancy in connection with a certain mystic religious system as that which it was his immediate and chief object to secure. And it was this religious element which made the profoundest impression upon his contemporaries. That they regarded him as standing in a peculiarly close connection with the gods is certain. The Crotoniates even identified him with the Hyperborean Apollo. (Porph. l.c. 20 ; Iambl. l.c. 31, 140; Aelian, Ael. VH 2.26; D. L. 8.36.) And without viewing him as an impostor, we may easily believe that he himself to some extent shared the same views. He is said to have pretended to divination and prophecy. (Cic. de Divin. 1.3, 46; Porph. l.c. 29.) "In his prominent vocation, analogous to that of Epimenides, Orpheus, or Melampus, he appears as the revealer of a mode of life calculated to raise his disciples above the level of mankind, and to recommend them to the favour of the gods." (Grote, vol. iv. p. 529.)

No certainty can be arrived at as to the length of time spent by Pythagoras in Egypt or the East, or as to his residence and efforts in Samos or other Grecian cities, before his removal to Italy. Ritter is inclined to believe from the expressions of Herodotus that the secret cultus or orgies of Pythagoras had gained some footing in Greece or Ionia, even before Crotona became the focus of his influence (Gesch. der Phil. vol. i. p. 364, Gesch. der Pyth. Phil. p. 31). In the visits to various places in Greece--Delos, Sparta, Phlius, Crete, &c. which are ascribed to him, he appears commonly either in his religious or priestly character, or else as a law-giver (Iambl. l.c. 25; Porph. l.c. 17; Diog. Laert, 8.3, 13; Cic.Tusc. Qu. 5.3).

It is in the highest degree probable that the reason why Pythagoras removed to Crotona is to be found in the unfavourable condition of his native country, while under the tyranny of Polycrates, for the realisation of his schemes. Later admirers were content to believe that, from the high estimation in which he was held by his fellow-citizens, he was so overburdened with public duties, as to have no time to bestow upon philosophy, and so withdrew from Samos (Iambl. 28; Porph. 9). The reason why he selected Crotona as the sphere of his operations, it is impossible to ascertain from any existing evidence. All that is adduced on this head by K. O. Müller (Dorians, 3.9.17, vol. ii. p. 189, &c.) is mere conjecture, and is of the most unsatisfactory kind. Grote (vol. iv. p. 538) supposes that the celebrity of Crotona for the cultivation of the art of medicine may possibly have had some influence with him. That on his arrival there he speedily attained extensive influence, and gained over great numbers to enter into his views, is all that can safely be affirmed in the midst of the marvellous stories told by later biographers of the effects of his eloquent discourses in leading the Crotoniates to abandon their luxurious and corrupting manner of life and devote themselves to that purer system which he came to introduce. (Porph. 18; Iambl. 37, &c.) His adherents were chiefly of the noble and wealthy classes. Three hundred of these were formed into a select brotherhood or club, bound by a sort of vow to Pythagoras and each other, for the purpose of cultivating the religious and ascetic observances enjoined by their master, and of studying his religious and philosophical theories. The statement that they threw all their property into a common stock has not sufficient evidence to support it, and was perhaps in the first instance only an inference from certain Pythagorean maxims and practices (comp. Cic. de Leg. 1.12, de Off. 1.7; D. L. 8.10 ; Krische, l.c. p. 27, &c.; Ritter, l.c. p. 39). That there were several women among the adherents of Pythagoras is pretty certain. That any were members of the club of 300 is not so probable. Krische (l.c. p. 45) considers that these female Pythagoreans were only the wives and relations of members of the brotherhood, who were instructed in some of the Pythagorean doctrines. These would doubtless be mainly those connected with the religious part of his system. (Comp. Menage, Hist. de Mul. Philos.

With respect to the internal arrangements and discipline of this brotherhood only a few leading features seem to rest upon a basis of evidence and probability sufficient to warrant our bestowing any attention upon them. All accounts agree that what was done and taught among the members was kept a profound secret towards all without its pale. But we are also told that there were gradations among the members themselves. It was an old Pythagorean maxim, that every thing was not to be told to every body (D. L. 8.15; Arist. apud Iamb. 31, ἐν τοῖς πάνυ ἀπορρήτοις). The division of classes is usually described as one into ἐσωτερικοί and ἐξωτερικοί, though these terms themselves are probably of later origin. Other names given to corresponding divisions are, Πυθαγόρειοι and Πυθαγορισταί (Iambl. 80). Other accounts, again, speak of a division into three classes, Πυθαγορικοί, Πυθαγόρειοι, and Πυθαγορισταί, according to the degree of intimacy which they enjoyed with Pythagoras ; the first class being those who held the closest communion with him; or into σεβαστικοί, πολιτικοί, and μαθηματικοί, according as the subject of their studies related mainly to religion, to politics, or to mathematical and physical science (Phot. Bibl. 249). Other authorities speak of ἀκουσματικοί and μαθηματικοί (Iambl. l.c.), or Acustici, Mathematici, and Physici (Gell. N. A. 1.9). Most of these divisions, however, presuppose a more marked separation between the different branches of human knowledge, or between philosophical training and political activity, than existed at that time. In the admission of candidates Pythagoras is said to have placed great reliance on his physiognomical discernment (Gell. l.c.). If admitted, they had to pass through a period of probation, in which their powers of maintaining silence (ἐχεμνθία) were especially tested, as well as their general temper, disposition, and mental capacity (Ariston. apud Iambl. 94). That they had to maintain silence for five years, and during the whole of that period were never allowed to behold the face of Pythagoras, while they were from time to time exposed to various severe ordeals (Iambl. 68), are doubtless the exaggerations of a later age. There is more probability in the statement (Taurus, apud Gell. 1.9) that the period of noviciate varied according to the aptitude which the candidates manifested for the Pythagorean discipline. As regards the nature of the esoteric instruction to which only the most approved members of the fraternity were admitted, some (e. g. Meiners, Gesch. der Wissenschaften) have supposed that it had reference to the political views of Pythagoras. Ritter (l.c. p. 47, &c.), with greater probability, holds that it had reference mainly to the orgies, or secret religious doctrines and usages, which undoubtedly formed a prominent feature in the Pythagorean system, and were peculiarly connected with the worship of Apollo (Aelian, Ael. VH 2.26 ; D. L. 8.13; Iambl. 8. 91, 141; comp. Krische, l.c. p. 37; Brandis, l.c. p. 432; Müller, Dorians, 3.9.17). The admission of women to a knowledge of these (if indeed they were members of the club) is far more intelligible than their initiation into political secrets. And the αὐτὸς ἔφα of the master connects itself most easily with the priestly character of Pythagoras, and the belief which his disciples, and probably he himself also, entertained, that he enjoyed a closer and more direct intercourse with the gods than other men. It is possible enough, however, that some of the more recondite speculations of the philosopher were connected with these religious views, while the ordinary scientific studies--mathematics, music, astronomy, &c.--were open to all the disciples. That there were some outward peculiarities of an ascetic kind (many of which had, perhaps, a symbolical meaning) in the mode of life to which the members of the brotherhood were subjected, seems pretty certain (comp. Porph. 32; Iambl. 96, &c.). Some represent him as forbidding all animal food (as Empedocles did afterwards, Arist. Rhet. 1.14.2; Sext. Emp. 9.127. This was also one of the Orphic precepts, Aristoph. Frogs 1032). This, if to any extent the case, may have had reference to the doctrine of metempsychosis (comp. Plut. de Esu Carn. pp. 993, 996, 997). It is, however, pointed out by Grote (vol. iv. p. 533), that all the members cannot have been subjected to this prohibition ; Milo, for instance, could not possibly have dispensed with animal food. The best authorities contradict the statement. According to Ariston (ap. D. L. 8.20) he allowed the use of all kinds of animal food except the flesh of oxen used for ploughing, and rams (comp. Porph. 7; Iambl. 85, 108). There is a similar discrepancy as to the prohibition of fish and beans (D. L. 8.19. 34; Gel. 4.11; Porph. 34, de Abst. 1.26 ; Iambl. 98). But temperance of all kinds seems to have been strictly enjoined. It is also stated that they had common meals, resembling the Spartan syssitia, at which they met in companies of ten (Iambl. 98; Strabo vi. p.263). Considerable importance seems to have been attached to music and gymnastics in the daily exercises of the disciples. Their whole discipline is represented as tending to produce a lofty serenity and self-possession, regarding the exhibition of which various anecdotes were current in antiquity (Athen. 14.623; Aelian, V.H. 14.18; Iambl. 197; comp. Krische, l.c. p. 42). Iamblichus (96-101, apparently on the authority of Aristoxenus) gives a long description of the daily routine of the members, which suggests many points of comparison with the ordinary life of Spartan citizens. It is not unlikely that many of the regulations of Pythagoras were suggested by what he saw in Crete and Sparta. Among the best ascertained features of the brotherhood are the devoted attachment of the members to each other, and their sovereign contempt for those who did not belong to their ranks (Ariston. apud Iambl. 94, 101, &c., 229, &c.; comp. the story of Damon and Phintias; Porph. 60; Iambl. 233, &c.). It appears that they had some secret conventional symbols, by which members of the fraternity could recognise each other, even if they had never met before (Schol. ad Arist. Nub. 611; Iambl. 237, 238; Krische, pp. 43, 44). Clubs similar to that at Crotona were established at Sybaris, Metapontum, Tarentum, and other cities of Magna Graecia.

The institutions of Pythagoras were certainly not intended to withdraw those who adopted them from active exertion and social and political connections, that they might devote themselves exclusively to religious and philosophical contemplations. Rather he aimed at the production of a calm bearing and elevated tone of character, through which those trained in the discipline of the Pythagorean life should exhibit in their personal and social capacities a reflection of the order and harmony of the universe. But the question whether he had any distinct political designs in the foundation of his brotherhood, has been variously answered. It was perfectly natural, even without any express design on his part, that a club such as the Three Hundred of Crotona should gradually come to mingle political with other objects, and by the facilities afforded by their secret and compact organisation should speedily gain extensive political influence, which, moreover, the political condition of Crotona, where the aristocracy was with difficulty holding its ground, rendered more than usually easy. That this influence should be decisively on the side of aristocracy or oligarchy, resulted naturally both from the nature of the Pythagorean institutions, and from the rank and social position of the members of the brotherhood. Through them, of course, Pythagoras himself exercised a large amount of indirect influence over the affairs both of Crotona and of other Italian cities. It does not appear however that he ever held any official rank, though we are told that the senate urged him to accept the office of Prytanis. But we have no evidence that the objects of Pythagoras were (as Krische, Müller, and others believe) from the first predominantly political, or even that he had any definite political designs at all in the formation of his club. That he intended to exhibit in Crotona the model of a pure Dorian aristocracy (Müller, Dorians, 3.9.16), is a mere fancy (comp. Grote, vol. iv. p. 545, note). It is true that the club was in practice at once "a philosophical school, a religious brotherhood, and a political association" (Thirlwall, Hist. of Greece, vol. ii. p. 148), but there is nothing to show that "all these characters appear to have been inseparably united in the founder's mind." Mr. Grote, more in accordance with the earliest and best authority on the subject (Plato, de Rep. x. p. 600, comp. de Leg. vi. p. 782, who contrasts Pythagoras, as the institutor of a peculiar mode of private life, with those who exercised a direct influence upon public life), remarks, "We cannot construe the scheme of Pythagoras as going farther than the formation of a private, select order of brethren, embracing his religious fancies, ethical tone, and germs of scientific idea, and manifesting adhesion by those observances which Herodotus and Plato call the Pythagorean orgies and mode of life. And his private order became politically powerful because he was skilful or fortunate enough to enlist a sufficient number of wealthy Crotoniates, possessing individual influence, which they strengthened immensely by thus regimenting themselves in intimate union" (Hist. of Greece, vol. iv. p. 544). The notion of Müller and Niebuhr, that the 300 Pythagoreans constituted a kind of smaller senate at Crotona, is totally without foundation. On the other hand, it seems quite as unfounded to infer from the account that Pythagoras was the first to apply to himself the epithet φιλόσοφος (Cic. Tusc. 5.3; D. L. 1.12), that philosophical contemplation was the sole end that he had in view. Respecting the Pythagorean life, and its analogy with the Orphic life, see Lobeck, Aglaophamus, Orphica, lib. ii. pp. 247, 698, 900. The resemblance in many respects of the Pythagorean brotherhood or order to that founded by Loyola has been more than once pointed out.

It is easy to understand how this aristocratical and exclusive club would excite the jealousy and hostility not only of the democratical party in Crotona, but also of a considerable number of the opposite faction. The hatred which they had excited speedily led to their destruction. The circumstances attending this event are, however, involved in some uncertainty. In the hostilities which broke out between Sybaris and Crotona on the occasion of the refusal of the Crotoniates (to which, it is said, they had been urged by Pythagoras) to surrender some exiles of Sybaris, the forces of Crotona were headed by the Pythagorean Milo [MILO]; and the other members of the brotherhood doubtless took a prominent part. The decisive victory of the Crotoniates seems to have elated the Pythagoreans beyond measure. A proposal (occasioned, according to the statement in iAMBLICHUS, 100.255, by a refusal on the part of the senate to distribute among the people the newly conquered territory of Sybaris; though this account involves considerable difficulty; see Grote, l.c. c. p. 549) for establishing a more democratical constitution, was unsuccessfully resisted by the Pythagoreans. Their enemies, headed by Cylon and Ninon, the former of whom is said to have been irritated by his exclusion from the brotherhood, excited the populace against them. An attack was made upon them while assembled either in the house of Milo, or in some other place of meeting. The building was set on fire, and many of the assembled members perished; only the younger and more active escaping (Iambl. 255-259 ; Porph. 54-57; D. L. 8.39 ; Diod. x. fragm. vol. iv. p. 56, ed. Wess.; comp. Plut. de Gen. Socr. p. 583). Similar commotions ensued in the other cities of Magna Graecia in which Pythagorean clubs had been formed, and kept them for a considerable time in a state of great disquietude, which was at length pacified by the mediation of the Peloponnesian Achaeans (Plb. 2.39). As an active and organised brotherhood the Pythagorean order was everywhere suppressed, and did not again revive, though it was probably a long time before it was put down in all the Italian cities [LYSIS; PHILOLAUS]. Still the Pythagoreans continued to exist as a sect, the members of which kept up among themselves their religious observances and scientific pursuits, while individuals, as in the case of Archytas, acquired now and then great political influence. Respecting the fate of Pythagoras himself, the accounts varied. Some say that he perished in the temple with his disciples (Arnob. ad v. Genes, i. p. 23), others that he fled first to Tarentum, and that, being driven thence, he escaped to Metapontum, and there starved himself to death (D. L. 8.39, 40; Porph. 56; Iambl. 249; Plut. de Stoic. Rep. 37). His toinb was shown at Metapontum in the time of Cicero (Cic. de Fin. 5.2). According to some accounts Pythagoras married Theano, a lady of Crotona, and had a daughter Damo, and a son Telauges; others say two daughters, Damo and Myia; but other notices seem to imply that he had a wife and a daughter grown up, when he came to Crotona. (D. L. 8.42; Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. i. p. 772.)

For a considerable time after the breaking up of the clubs at Crotona and elsewhere great obscurity hangs over the history of the Pythagoreans. No reliance can be placed on the lists of them which later writers have given, as they have been amplified, partly through mere invention, partly through a confusion between Pythagoreans and Italian philosophers generally. The writings, or fragments of writings, which have come down to us under the names of Archytas, Timaeus, Ocellus, Brontinus, &c., have been shown to be spurious. Pythagorism seems to have established itself by degrees more and more in different parts of Greece. About the time of Socrates, and a little later, we get some trustworthy notices of Philolaus, Lysis, Cleinias, Eurytus, and Archytas. These men, and others who applied themselves to the development of the Pythagorean philosophy, were widely different from the so-called Pythagoreans of a later aee (from the time of Cicero onwards), who were characterised by little except an exaggeration of the religious and ascetic fanaticism of the Pythagorean system [APOLLONIUS TYANAEUS]. This Neo-Pythagorism was gradually merged in the kindred mysticism of the Neo-Platonists.

When we come to inquire what were the philosophical or religious opinions held by Pythagoras himself, we are met at the outset by the difficulty that even the authors from whom we have to draw possessed no authentic records bearing upon the subject of the age of Pythagoras himself. If Pythagoras ever wrote any thing, his writings perished with him, or not long after. The probability is that he wrote nothing. (Comp. Plut. de Alex. fort. p. 329; Porph. l.c. 57; Galen, de Hipp. et Plat. Plac. 5.6.) The statements to the contrary prove worthless on examination. Every thing current under his name in antiquity was spurious. (See Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. i. pp. 779-805; Ritter, Gesch. der Pyth. Phil. p. 56.) It is all but certain that Philolaus was the first who published the Pythagorean doctrines, at any rate in a written form [PHILOLAUS]. Still there was so marked a peculiarity running through the Pythagorean philosophy, by whomsoever of its adherents it was developed, and so much of uniformitycan be traced at the basis even of the diversities which present themselves' here and there in the views expressed by different Pythagoreans, as they have come down to us from authentic sources, that there can be little question as to the germs of the system at any rate having been derived from Pythagoras himself. (Brandis, l.c. p. 442.) The Pythagoreans seem to have striven in the main to keep their doctrine uncorrupted. We even hear of members being expelled from the brotherhood for philosophical or other heterodoxy; and a distinction was already drawn in antiquity between genuine and spurious Pythagorism (Iambl. 81; Villois. Anecd. ii. p. 216; Syrian. in Arist. Met. xii. fol. 71, b., 85, b.; Simplic. in Arist. Phys. fol. 104, b. ; Stob. Ecl. Phys. i. pp. 308, 448, 496). Aristotle manifestly regarded the Pythagorean philosophy as something which in its leading features characterised the school generally. He found it, however, after it had passed through a considerable period of development, in the hands of adherents of varying tendencies. It was to be expected therefore that varieties should make their appearance (comp. Arist. de Caelo, 3.1, at the end, with Met. 1.6). Nearly every thing that can be in any degree depended on seems to have been derived from the writings of Philolaus and Archytas, especially the former (Ritter, l.c. p. 62, &c.). On the philosophy of Archytas Aristotle had composed a treatise in three books, which has unfortunately perished, and had instituted a comparison between his doctrines and those of the Timaeus of Plato (Ath. 12.12 ; D. L. 5.25).

Pythagoras resembled greatly the philosophers of what is termed the Ionic school, who undertook to solve by means of a single primordial principle the vague problem of the origin and constitution of the universe as a whole. But, like Anaximander, he abandoned the physical hypotheses of Thales and Anaximenes, and passed from the province of physics to that of metaphysics, and his predilection for mathematical studies led him to trace the origin of all things to number, this theory being suggested, or at all events confirmed, by the observation of various numerical relations, or analogies to them, in the phenomena of the universe. "Since of all things numbers are by nature the first, in numbers they (the Pythagoreans) thought they perceived many analogies to things that exist and are produced, more than in fire, and earth, and water; as that a certain affection of numbers was justice; a certain other affection, soul and intellect ; another, opportunity; and of the rest, so to say, each in like manner; and moreover, seeing the affections and ratios of what pertains to harmony to consist in numbers, since other things seemed in their entire nature to be formed in the likeness of numbers, and in all nature numbers are the first, they supposed the elements of numbers to be the elements of all things" (Arist. Met. 1.5, comp. especially Met. 13.3). Brandis, who traces in the notices that remain more than one system, developed by different Pythagoreans, according as they recognised in numbers the inherent basis of things, or only the patterns of them, considers that all started from the common conviction that it was in numbers and their relations that they were to find the absolutely certain principles of knowledge (comp. Philolaus, ap. Stob. Ecl. Phys. i. p. 458; Böckh, Philolaos, p. 62; Stob. l.c. i. p. 10 ; Böckh, l.c. p. 145, ψεῦδος οὐδαμῶς ἐς ἀριθμὸν ἐπιπνεῖ ---- δ᾽ ἀλάθεια οἰκεῖον καὶ σύμφυτον τᾷ τῶ ἀριθμῶ γενεᾷ), and of the objects of it, and accordingly regarded the principles of numbers as the absolute principles of things; keeping true to the common maxim of the ancient philosophy, that like takes cognisance of like (καθάπερ ἔλεγε καὶ Φιλόλαος, θεωρητικόν τε ὄντα (τὸν λόγον τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν μαθημάτων περιγενόμενον) τῆς τῶν ἅλων φύσεως ἔχειν τινὰ συγγένειαν πρὸς ταύτην, ἐπείπερ ὑπὸ τοῦ ὁμοίου τὸ ὅμοιον καταλαμβάνεσθαι. Sext. Emp. ad v. Math. 7.92; Brandis, l.c. p. 442). Aristotle states the fundamental maxim of the Pythagoreans in various forms, as, φαίνονται δὴ καὶ οὗτοι τὸν ἀριθμὸν νομίζοντες ἀρχὴν εἶναι καὶ ὡς ὕλην τοῖς οὖσι καὶ ὡς πάθη τε καὶ ἕξεις (Met. 1.5); or, τὸν ἀριθμὸν εἶναι τὴν οὐσίαν ἁπάντων (ibid. p. 987. 19, ed. Bekker); or, τοὺς ἀριθμοὺς αἰτίους εἶναι τοῖς ἄλλοις τῆς οὐσίας (Met. 1.6. p. 987. 24); nay, even that numbers are things themselves (Ibid. p. 987. 28). According to Philolaus (Syrian. in Arist. Met. 12.6. p. 1080b. 16), is the "dominant and self-produced bond of the eternal continuance of things." But number has two forms (as Philolaus terms them, ap. Stob. l.c. p. 456; Böckh, l.c. p. 58), or elements (Arist. Met. 1.5), the even and the odd, and a third, resulting from the mixture of the two, the even-odd (ἀρτιοπέρισσον, Philol. l.c.) This third species is one itself, for it is both even and odd (Arist. l.c. Another explanation of the ἀρτιοπέρισσον, which accords better with other notices, is that it was an even number composed of two uneven numbers. Brandis, l.c. p. 465, &c.). One, or unity, is the essence of number, or absolute number, and so comprises these two opposite species. As absolute number it is the origin of all numbers, and so of all things. (Arist. Met. 13.4. ἓν ἀρχὰ πάντων ; Philol. ap. Böckh, § 19. According to another passage of Aristotle, Aristot. Met. 12.6. p. 1080b. 7. number is produced ἐκ τούτου -- τοῦ ἑνός -- καὶ ἄλλου τινος.) This original unity they also termed God (Ritter, Gesch. der Phil. vol. i. p. 389). These propositions, however, would, taken alone, give but a very partial idea of the Pythagorean system. A most important part is played in it by the ideas of limit, and the unlimited. They are, in fact, the fundamental ideas of the whole. One of the first declarations in the work of Philolaus [PHILOLAUS] was, that all things in the universe result from a combination of the unlimited and the limiting (φύσις δὲ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἁρμόχθη ἐξ ἀπείρων τε καὶ περαινόντων, καὶ ὅλος κόσμος καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ πάντα. D. L. 8.85; Beckh, p. 45) ; for if all things had been unlimited, nothing could have been the object of cognizance (Phil. l.c. ; Böckh, p. 49). From the unlimited were deduced immediately time, space, and motion (Stob. Ecl. Phys. p. 380; Simplic. in Arist. Phys. f. 98, b. ; Brandis, l.c. p. 451). Then again, in some extraordinary manner they connected the ideas of odd and even with the contrasted notions of the limited and the unlimited, the odd being limited, the even unlimited (Arist. Met. 1.5, p. 986a. 18, Bekker, comp. Phys. Ausc. 3.4, p. 203. 10, Bekker). They called the even unlimited, because in itself it is divisible into equal halves ad infinitum, and is only limited by the odd, which, when added to the even, prevents the division (Simpl. ad Arist. Phys. Ausc. 3.4, f. 105; Brandis, p. 450, note). Limit, or the limiting elements, they considered as more akin to the primary unity (Syrian. in Arist. Met. 13.1). In place of the plural expression of Philolaus (τὰ περαίνοντα) Aristotle sometimes uses the singular πέρας, which, in like manner, he connects with the unlimited (τὸ απειρον. Met. 1.8, p. 990, 1. 8, 13.3. p. 1091, 50.18, ed. Bekk.).

But musical principles played almost as important a part in the Pythagorean system as mathematical or numerical ideas. The opposite principia of the unlimited and the limiting are, as Philolaus expresses it (Stob. l.c. p. 458; Böckh, l.c. p. 62), "neither alike, nor of the same race, and so it would have been impossible for them to unite, had not harmony stepped in." This harmony, again, was, in the conception of Philolaus, neither more nor less than the octave (Brandis, l.c. p. 456). On the investigation of the various harmonical nical relations of the octave, and their connection with weight, as the measure of tension, Philolaus bestowed considerable attention, and some important fragments of his on this subject have been prenumber served, which Böckh has carefully examined (l. c, p. 65-89, comp. Brandis, l.c. p. 457, &c.). We find running through the entire Pythagorean system the idea that order, or harmony of relation, is the regulating principle of the whole universe. Some of the Pythagoreans (but by no means all, as it appears) drew out a list of ten pairs of opposites, which they termed the elements of the universe. (Arist. Met. 1.5. Elsewhere he speaks as if the Pythagoreans generally did the same, Eth. Nic. 1.4, 2.5.) These pairs were --

Limit and the Unlimited.
Odd and Even.
One and Multitude.
Right and Left.
Male and Female.
Stationary and Moved.
Straight and Curved.
Light and Darkness.
Good and Bad.
Square and Oblong.

The first column was that of the good elements (Arist. Eth. Nic. 1.4); the second, the row of the bad. Those in the second series were also regarded as having the character of negation (Arist. Phys. 3.2). These, however, are hardly to be looked upon as ten pairs of distinct principles. They are rather various modes of conceiving one and the same opposition. One, Limit and the Odd, are spoken of as though they were synonymous (comp. Arist. Met. 1.5, 7, 13.4, Phys. 3.5).

To explain the production of material objects out of the union of the unlimited and the limiting, Ritter (Gesch. der Pyth. Phil. and Gesch. der Phil. vol. i. p. 403, &c.) has propounded a theory which has great plausibility, and is undoubtedly much the same as the view held by later Pythagorizing mathematicians; namely, that the ἄπειρον is neither more nor less than void space, and the περαίνοντα points in space which bound or define it (which points he affirms the Pythagoreans called monads or units, appealing to Arist. de Caelo, 3.1; comp. Alexand. Aphrod. quoted below), the point being the ἀρχή or principium of the line, the line of the surface, the surface of the solid. Points, or monads, therefore are the source of material existence; and as points are monads, and monads numbers, it follows that numbers are at the base of material existence. (This is the view of the matter set forth by Alexander Aphrodisiensis in Arist. de prim. Phil. i. fol. 10, b.; Ritter, l.c. p. 404, note 3.) Ecphantus of Syracuse was the first who made the Pythagorean monads to be corporeal, and set down indivisible particles and void space as the principia of material existence. (See Stob. Ecl. Phys. p. 308.) Two geometrical points in themselves would have no magnitude; it is only when they are combined with the intervening space that a line can be produced. The union of space and lines makes surfaces; the union of surfaces and space makes solids. Of course this does not explain very well how corporeal substance is formed, and Ritter thinks that the Pythagoreans perceived that this was the weak point of their system, and so spoke of the ἄπειρον, as mere void space, as little as they could help, and strove to represent it as something positive, or almost substantial.

But however plausible this view of the matter may be, we cannot understand how any one who compares the very numerous passages in which Aristotle speaks of the Pythagoreans, can suppose that his notices have reference to any such system. The theory which Ritter sets down as that of the Pythagoreans is one which Aristotle mentions several times, and shows to be inadequate to account for the physical existence of the world, but he nowhere speaks of it as the doctrine of the Pythagoreans. Some of the passages, where Ritter tries to make this out to be the case, go to prove the very reverse. For instance, in De Caelo, 3.1, after an elaborate discussion of the theory in question, Aristotle concludes by remarking that the number-theory of the Pythagoreans will no more account for the production of corporeal magnitude, than the point-line-and-space-theory which he has just described, for no addition of units can produce either body or weight (comp. Met. 13.3). Aristotle nowhere identifies the Pythagorean monads with mathematical points; on the contrary, he affirms that in the Pythagorean system, the monads, in some way or other which they could not explain, got magnitude and extension (Mct. 12.6, p. 1080, ed. Bekker). The κενόν again, which Aristotle mentions as recognised by the Pythagoreans, is never spoken of as synonymous with their ἄπειρον; on the contrary we find (Stob. Eel. Phys. i. p. 380) that from the ἄπειρον they deduced time, breath, and void space. The frequent use of the term πέρας, too, by Aristotle, instead of περαίνοντα, hardly comports with Ritter's theory.

There can be little doubt that the Pythagorean system should be viewed in connection with that of Anaximander, with whose doctrines Pythagoras was doubtless conversant. Anaximander, in his attempt to solve the problem of the universe, passed from the region of physics to that of metaphysics. He supposed "a primaeval principle without any actual determining qualities whatever ; but including all qualities potentially, and manifesting them in an infinite variety from its continually self-changing nature; a principle which was nothing in itself, yet had the capacity of producing any and all manifestations, however contrary to each other-a primaeval something, whose essence it was to be eternally productive of different phaenomena" (Grote, l.c. p. 518; comp. Brandis, l.c. p. 123, &c.). This he termed the ἄπειρον; and he was also the first to introduce the term ἀρχή (Simplic. in Arist. Phys. fol. 6, 32). Both these terms hold a prominent position in the Pythagorean system, and we think there can be but little doubt as to their parentage. The Pythagorean ἄπειρον seems to have been very nearly the same as that of Anaximander, an undefined and infinite something. Only instead of investing it with the property of spontaneously developing itself in the various forms of actual material existence, they regarded all its definite manifestations as the determination of its indefiniteness by the definiteness of number, which thus became the cause of all actual and positive existence (τοὺς ἀριθμοὺς αἰτίους εἶναι τοῖς ἄλλοις τῆς οὐσίας, Arist. Met. 1.6). It is by numbers alone, in their view, that the objective becomes cognisable to the subject; by numbers that extension is originated, and attains to that definiteness by which it becomes a concrete body. As the ground of all quantitative and qualitative definiteness in existing things, therefore, number is represented as their inherent element, or even as the matter (ὅλη), as well as the passive and active condition of things (Arist. Met. 1.5). But both the περαίνοντα and the ἄπειρον are referred to a higher unity, the absolute or divine unity. And in this aspect of the matter Aristotle speaks of unity as the principium and essence and element of all things (Met. 12.6, 1.6, p. 987b. 22); the divine unity being the first principle and cause, and one, as the first of the limiting numbers and the element of all, being the basis of positive existence, and when itself become possessed of extension (Met. 12.3, p. 1091a. 15) the element of all that possesses extension (comp. Brandis, l.c. p. 511, &c.). In its development, however, the Pythagorean system seems to have taken a twofold direction, one school of Pythagoreans regarding numbers as the inherent, fundamental elements of things (Arist. de Caelo, 3.1); another section, of which Hippasus seems to have been the head, regarding numbers as the patterns merely, but not as entering into the essence of things (Arist. Met. 1.6. Though Aristotle speaks of the Pythagoreans generally here, there can be no doubt that the assertion, in which the Greek commentators found a difficulty, should be restricted to a section of the Pythagoreans. Comp. Iambl. in Nicom. Arithm. p. 11; Syrian. in Arist. Met. xii. p. 1080b. 18; Simplic. in Phys. f. 104, b.; Iambl. Pyth. 81; Stob. Ecl. Phys. p. 302; Brandis, l.c. p. 444).

As in the octave and its different harmonical relations, the Pythagoreans found the ground of connection between the opposed primary elements, and the mutual relations of existing things, so in the properties of particular numbers, and their relation to the principia, did they attempt to find the explanation of the particular properties of different things, and therefore addressed themselves to the investigation of the properties of numbers, dividing them into various species. Thus they had three kinds of even, according as the number was a power of two (ἀπτιάκις ἄρτιον), or a multiple of two, or of some power of two, not itself a power of two (περισσάρτιον), or the sum of an odd and an even number (ἀπτιοπέριττον--a word which seems to have been used in more than one sense. Nicom. Arithm. 1.7, 8). In like manner they had three kinds of odd. It was probably the use of the decimal system of notation which led to the number ten being supposed to be possessed of extraordinary powers. "One must contemplate the works and essential nature of number according to the power which is in the number ten; for it is great, and perfect, and all-working, and the first principle (ἀρχά) and guide of divine and heavenly and human life." (Philolaus ap. Stob. Ed. Phys. p. 8; Böckh, p. 139.) This, doubtless, had to do with the formation of the list of ten pairs of opposite principles, which was drawn out by some Pythagoreans (Arist. Met. 1.5). In like manner the tetractys (possibly the sum of the first four numbers, or 10) was described as containing the source and root of ever-flowing nature (Carm. Aur. 1. 48). The number three was spoken of as defining or limiting the universe and all things, having end, middle, and beginning, and so being the number of the whole (Arist. de Caelo, 1.1). This part of their system they seem to have helped out by considerations as to the connection of numbers with lines, surfaces, and solids, especially the regular geometrical figures (Theolog. Arithm. 10, p. 61, &c.), and to have connected the relations of things with various geometrical relations, among which angles played an important part. Thus, according to Philolaus, the angle of a triangle was consecrated to four deities, Kronos, Hades, Pan, and Dionysus; the angle of a square to Rhea, Demeter, and Hestia; the angle of a dodecagon to Zeus ; apparently to shadow forth the sphere of their operations (Procl. in Euclid. Elern. i. p. 36 ; Böckh, l.c. p. 152, &c.). As we learn that he connected solid extension with the number four (Theol. Arithm. p. 56), it is not unlikely that, as others did (Nicom. Arithm. 2.6), he connected the number one with a point, two with a line, three with a surface (χροιά). To the number five he appropriated quality and colour; to six life; to seven intelligence, health, and light; to eight love, friendship, understanding, insight (Theol. Arithin. l.c.). Others connected marriage, justice, &c. with different numbers (Alex. Aphr. in Arist. Met. 1.5, 13). Guided by similar fanciful analogies they assumed the existence of five elements, connected with geometrical figures, the cube being earth; the pyramid, fire; the octaedron, air; the eikosaedron, water; the dodecaedron, the fifth element, to which Philolaus gives the curious appellation of τᾶς σφαίρας ὁλκὰς (Stob. l.c. i. p. 10; Böckh, l.c. p. 161; comp. Plut. de Plac. Phil. 2.6).

In the Pythagorean system the element fire was the most dignified and important. It accordingly occupied the most honourable position in the universe -- the extreme (πέρας), rather than intermediate positions; and by extreme they understood both the centre and the remotest region (τὸ δ̓ ἔσχατον καὶ τὸ μέσον πέρας, Arist. de Caelo, 2.13). The central fire Philolaus terms the hearth of the universe, the house or watch-tower of Zeus, the mother of the gods, the altar and bond and measure of nature (Stob. l.c. p. 488; Böckh, l.c. p. 94, &c.). It was the enlivening principle of the universe. By this fire they probably understood something purer and more ethereal than the common element fire (Brandis, l.c. p. 491). Round this central fire the heavenly bodies performed their circling dance (χορεύειν is the expression of Philolaus); -- farthest off, the sphere of the fixed stars; then, in order, the five planets, the sun, the moon, the earth and the counter-earth (ἀντίχθων) -- a sort of other half of the earth, a distinct body from it, but always moving parallel to it, which they seem to have introduced merely to make up the number ten. The most distant region, which was at the same time the purest, was termed Olympus (Brandis, l.c. p. 476). The space between the heaven of the fixed stars and the moon was termed κόσμος; the space between the moon and the earth οὐρανός (Stob. l.c.). Philolaus assumed a daily revolution of the earth round the central fire, but not round its own axis. The revolution of the earth round its axis was taught (after Hicetas of Syracuse; see Cic. Ac. 4.39) by the Pythagorean Ecphantus and Heracleides Ponticus (Plut. Plac. 3.13; Procl. in Tim. p. 281 ) : a combined motion round the central fire and round its own axis, by Aristarchus of Samos (Plut. de Fac. Lun. p. 933). The infinite (ἄπειρον) beyond the mundane sphere was, at least according to Archytas (Simpl. in Phys. f. 108), not void space, but corporeal. The physical existence of the universe, which in the view of the Pythagoreans was a huge sphere (Stob. l.c. p. 452, 468), was represented as a sort of vital process, time, space, and breath (πνοή) being, as it were, inhaled out of the ἄπειρον (ἐπεισάγεσθαι δ᾽ ἐκ τοῦ δπείρου χρόνεν τε καὶ πνοὴν καὶ τὸ κενόν, Stob. l.c. p. 380; see especially Arist. Phys. Ausc. 4.6; Brandis, l.c. p. 476).

The intervals between the heavenly bodies were supposed to be determined according to the laws and relations of musical harmony (Nicom. Harm. i. p. 6, 2.33; Plin. Nat. 2.20; Simpl. in Arist. de Caelo Schol. p. 496b. 9, 497. 11). Hence arose the celebrated doctrine of the harmony of the spheres; for the heavenly bodies in their motion could not but occasion a certain sound or note, depending on their distances and velocities; and as these were determined by the laws of harmonical intervals, the notes altogether formed a regular musical scale or harmony. This harmony, however, we do not hear, either because we have been accustomed to it from the first, and have never had an opportunity of contrasting it with stillness, or because the sound is so powerful as to exceed our capacities for hearing (Arist. de Caelo, 2.9; Porph. in Harm. Ptol. 4. p. 257). With all this fanciful hypothesis, however, they do not seem to have neglected the observation of astronomical phaenomena (Brandis, l.c. p. 481).

Perfection they seemed to have considered to exist in direct ratio to the distance from the central fire. Thus the moon was supposed to be inhabited by more perfect and beautiful beings than the earth (Plut. de Plac. Phil. 2.30; Stob. l.c. i. p. 562; Böckh, l.c. p. 131). Similarly imperfect virtue belongs to the region of the earth, perfect wisdom to the κόσμος ; the bond or symbol of connection again being certain numerical relations (comp. Arist. Met. 1.8; Alex. Aphrod. in Arist. Met. 1.7, fol. 14, a.). The light and heat of the central fire are received by us mediately through the sun (which, according to Philolaus, is of a glassy nature, acting as a kind of lens, or sieve, as he terms it, Böckh, l.c. p. 124; Stob. l.c. 1.26 ; Euseb. Praep. Evang. 15.23), and the other heavenly bodies. All things partake of life, of which Philolaus distinguishes four grades, united in man and connected with successive parts of the body, -- the life of mere seminal production, which is common to all things; vegetable life; animal life; and intellect or reason (Theol. Arithm. 4, p. 22; Böckh, p. 159.) It was only in reference to the principia, and not absolutely in point of time, that the universe is a production ; the development of its existence, which was perhaps regarded as an unintermitting process, commencing from the centre (Phil. ap. Stob. l.c. p. 360; Böckh, p. 90, &c. ; Brandis, p. 483); for. the universe is "imperishable and unwearied; it subsists for ever; from eternity did it exist and to eternity does it last, one, controlled by one akin to it, the mightiest and the highest." (Phil. ap. Stob. Ecl. Phys. p. 418, &c. ; Böckh, p. 164, &c.) This Deity Philolaus elsewhere also speaks of as one, eternal, abiding, unmoved, like himself (Bockh, p. 151 ). He is described as having established both limit and the infinite, and was 'often spoken of as the absolute unity; always represented as pervading, though distinct from, and presiding over the universe : not therefore a mere germ of vital development, or a principium of which the universe was itself a manifestation or development; sometimes termed the absolute good (Arist. Met. 13.4, p. 1091b. 13, Bekker), while, according to others, good could belong only to concrete existences (Met. 11.7, p. 1072b. 31). The origin of evil was to be looked for not in the deity, but in matter, which prevented the deity from conducting every thing to the best end (Theophr. Met. 9. p. 322, 14). With the popular superstition they do not seem to have interfered, except in so far as they may have reduced the objects of it, as well as all other existing beings, to numerical elements. (Plut. de Is. et Os. 10; Arist. Met. 13.5.) It is not clear whether the all-pervading soul of the universe, which they spoke of, was regarded as identical with the Deity or not (Cic. de Nat. Deor. 1.11). It was perhaps nothing more than the ever-working energy of the Deity (Stob. p. 422; Brandis, p. 487, note n). It was from it that human souls were derived (Cic. de Nat. Deor. 1.11, de Sen. 21). The soul was also frequently described as a number or harmony (Plut. de Plac. 4.2; Stob. Ecl. Phys. p. 862 ; Arist. de An. 1.2, 4); hardly, however, in the same sense as that unfolded by Simmias, who had heard Philolaus, in the Phaedo of Plato (p. 85, &c.), with which the doctrine of metempsychosis would have been totally inconsistent. Some held the curious idea, that the particles floating as motes in the sunbeams were souls (Arist. de An. 1.2). In so far as the soul was a principle of life, it was supposed to partake of the nature of the central fire (D. L. 8.27, &c.). There is, however, some want of uniformity in separating or identifying the soul and the principle of life, as also in the division of the faculties of the soul itself. Philolaus distinguished soul (ψυχά) from spirit or reason (νοῦς, Theol. Arith. p. 22; Böckh, p. 149; D. L. 8.30, where φρένες is the term applied to that which distinguishes men from animals, νοῦς and θυμός residing in the latter likewise). The division of the soul into two elements, a rational and an irrational one (Cic. Tusc. 4.5), comes to much the same point. Even animals, however, have a germ of reason, only the defective organisation of their body, and their want of language, prevents its development (Plut. de Plac. 5.20). The Pythagoreans connected the five senses with their five elements (Theol. Arith. p. 27; Stob. l.c. p. 1104). In the senses the soul found the necessary instruments for its activity; though the certainty of knowledge was derived exclusively from number and its relations. (Stob. p. 8; Sext. Emp. ad v. Math. 7.92.)

The ethics of the Pythagoreans consisted more in ascetic practice, and maxims for the restraint of the passions, especially of anger, and the cultivation of the power of endurance, than in scientific theory. What of the latter they had was, as might be expected, intimately connected with their number-theory (Arist. Eth. Magn. 1.1, Eth. Nic. 1.4, 2.5). The contemplation of what belonged to the pure and elevated region termed λόσμος, was wisdom, which was superior to virtue, the latter having to do only with the inferior, sublunary region (Philol. ap. Stob. Ecl. Phys. pp. 490, 488). Happiness consisted in the science of the perfection of the virtues of the soul, or in the perfect science of numbers (Clem. Al. Strom. ii. p. 417; Theodoret. Serm. xi. p. 165). Likeness to the Deity was to be the object of all our endeavours (Stob. Eel. Eth. p. 64), man becoming better as he approaches the gods, who are the guardians and guides of men (Plut. de Def. Or. p. 413; Plat. Phacd. p. 62, with Heindorf's note), exercising a direct influence upon them, guiding the mind or reason, as well as influencing external circumstances γενέσθαι γὰρ ἐπίπνοιάν τινα παρὰ τοῦ δαιμονίον, Stob. Ecl. Phys. p. 206; ὥστε καὶ διάνοιαί τινες καὶ πάλθη οὐκ ἐφ᾽ ἡμῖν εἰσιν, Arist. Eth. Eud. 2.8); man's soul being a possession of the gods, confined at present, by way of chastisement, in the body, as a species of prison, from which he has no right to free himself by suicide (Plat. Phaed. p. 61; Cic. de Sen. 20). With the idea of divine influence was closely connected that of the influence of daemons and heroes (D. L. 8.32). Great importance was attached to the ilnfhence of music in controlling the force of the passions (Plut. de Is. et Os. p. 384; Porph. Vit. Pyth. 30; Iambl. 64). Self-examination was strongly insisted on (Cic. de Sen. 11). Virtue was regarded as a kind of harmony or health of the soul (D. L. 8.33). Precepts for the practice of virtue were expressed in various obscure, symbolical forms, many of which, though with the admixture of much that is of later origin, have come down to us in the so-called Ἔπη χρυσᾶ and elsewhere (Brandis, l.c. p. 498, note 9). The transmigration of souls was viewed apparently in the light of a process of purification. Souls under the dominion of sensuality either passed into the bodies of animals, or, if incurable, were thrust down into Tartarus, to meet with expiation, or condign punishment. The pure were exalted to higher modes of life, and at last attained to incorporeal existence (Arist. de An. 1.2, 3; Hdt. 2.123; D. L. 8.31; Lobeck, Aglaoph. p. 893. What we find in Plato, Phaedr. p. 248b., and in Pindar, Thren. fr. 4, Olymp. 2.68, is probably in the main Pythagorean). As regards the fruits of this system of training or belief, it is interesting to remark, that wherever we have notices of distinguished Pythagoreans, we usually hear of them as men of great uprightness, conscientiousness, and self-restraint, and as capable of devoted and enduring friendship. [See ARCHYTAS; CLEINIAS; DAMON; PHINTIAS.]

Further Information

For some account of the very extensive literature connected with Pythagoras, &c., the reader is referred to Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. i. pp. 750-804. The best of the modern authorities have been already repeatedly referred to.


Other figures named Pythagoras: Besides a Samian pugilist of the name of Pythagoras, who gained a victory in Ol. 48, and who has been frequently identified with the philosopher, Fabricius (l.c. p. 776, &c.) enumerates about twenty more individuals of the same name, who are, however, not worth inserting.


hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
608 BC (2)
570 BC (2)
540 BC (2)
539 BC (2)
513 BC (2)
510 BC (2)
270 BC (2)
hide References (27 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (27):
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 1032
    • Aristotle, Metaphysics, 12.1071b
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.29
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.123
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.134
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.135
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.49
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.81
    • Herodotus, Histories, 3.39
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.94
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.95
    • Homer, Odyssey, 1.28
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.13
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.17
    • Polybius, Histories, 2.39
    • Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, 8.1
    • Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, 8.2
    • Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, 8.3
    • Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, 8.5
    • Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, 8.6
    • Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, 8.8
    • Diogenes Laertius, Vitae philosophorum, 9.1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.20
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.8
    • Cicero, Lucullus, 123
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 4.11
    • Aelian, Varia Historia, 2.26
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: