Filosofo greco (Samo tra il 580 e il 570 - Metaponto prov. di Matera ca. 497 aC). Figlio di Mnesarco di Samo, emigrò verso il 535 dalla sua città a Crotone in Calabria. Non scrisse nulla e già dall'antichità la sua vita fu avvolta dalla leggenda; si parlò di lui come di un dio, e di suoi prodigi. Diogene Laerzio, scrittore greco del III secolo dC, ne scrisse la biografia contenuta nella sua celebre opera Le vite, le opinioni, gli apoftegmi dei filosofi celebri e la riportiamo in calce nella traduzione inglese di Yonge (1853).
A Crotone Pitagora fondò un sodalizio in cui religione, scienza e politica si fondevano in un ideale di vita che ebbe molta influenza nella Magna Grecia; appare inoltre assai probabile che Pitagora sia venuto in contatto con le culture egiziana e mesopotamica e forse anche con quella indiana.
Quando una congiura costrinse Pitagora a ritirarsi a Metaponto, la società pitagorica si disperse, per ricostituirsi più tardi a Taranto, dove l'insegnamento pitagorico durò sino al sec. IV aC. I suoi discepoli continuarono soprattutto i suoi studi delle matematiche e dell'astronomia.
Pythagoras (Graece: Πυθαγόρας), philosophus et mathematicus Graecus, vixit circa 582 a.C.n. – 500 a.C.n. Pythagoras sententiam pythagoras facit.
Scripta Pythagorae tributa - Temporibus posterioribus multa praecepta, nonnulla etiam opera in formam librorum reducta, Pythagorae tributa sunt.
Liber de mirabilia plantarum
(aliter Cleemporo tributus) citatur:
Plinius, Naturalis historia 20. 78, 101, 134, 185, 192, 219, 236; 21.109; 24.116, et praecipue 24.156-160; 25.13 (citatur etiam in argumentis octo librorum 20-27).
Geoponica 2.35.6, 8.42.
Liber de scilla:
Plinius, Naturalis historia 19.94.
Liber aut praecepta
Plinius, Naturalis historia 22.20.
Che ne faceva Pitagora del gallo?
da Veterum illustrium philosophorum etc. imagines
di Giovanni Pietro Bellori (Roma 1613-1696)
Come possiamo dedurre dai Symbola Pythagorae tradotti da Marsilio Ficino, è chiaramente sancito da Pitagora che si può benissimo allevare un gallo, ma che non va usato nei sacrifici, essendo sacro al sole e alla luna: Gallum nutrias quidem, ne tamen sacrifices, soli enim, & lunae dicatus est.
Apriamo una parentesi. Tra i precetti di Pitagora compare una massima che sembrerebbe salvaguardare non solo il gallo dallo spiedo e dall'altare, ma qualunque animale. Infatti un symbolum dice: Ab animalibus abstine. Ma è una massima che mi fa pensare non allo spiedo, bensì alla zoofilia. O i Pitagorici non mangiavano carne di animali (smentito dal fatto che il Maestro diceva di non mangiare cuore e cervello, ovviamente degli animali – Cor ne vores – Cerebrum ne edas), oppure i suoi discepoli dovevano astenersi non dal mangiare qualsivoglia animale, bensì dal loro impiego sessuale, una pratica adottata anche nel XXI secolo dai nostri pastori, e non solo. D'accordo che Ficino ha usato abstine anche nel caso delle fave (A fabis abstine) notoriamente sconsigliate a coloro che sono affetti da favismo, ma negli altri casi in cui erano implicate frattaglie di animali ha usato i verbi voro e edo.
E torniamo al gallo. Diogene Laerzio ci manda in confusione. Infatti nel riferire tutto quanto era noto circa il rapporto fra Pitagora e gli animali, non possiamo assolutamente sapere se concedesse di sacrificare e di mangiare i galli, bianchi o di qualunque colore fossero. Yonge suppone addirittura che il testo greco del capitolo XIX sia corrotto. Per cui è quasi inutile scervellarsi. Ecco i brani di Diogene Laerzio tradotti da Yonge, gli unici in cui fa la sua comparsa il gallo:
XVIII: He used to practise divination, as far as auguries and auspices go, but not by means of burnt offerings, except only the burning of frankincense. And all the sacrifices which he offered consisted of inanimate things. But some, however, assert that he did sacrifice animals, limiting himself to cocks, and sucking kids, which are called apalioi, but that he very rarely offered lambs. Aristoxenus, however, affirms that he permitted the eating of all other animals, and only abstained from oxen used in agriculture, and from rams.
XIX: He also forbade his disciples to eat white poultry, because a cock of that colour was sacred to Month, and was also a suppliant. He was also accounted a good animal; and he was sacred to the God Month, for he indicates the time. (Nota di Yonge: There is a great variety of suggestions as to the proper reading here. There is evidently some corruption in the text.)
Symbola Pythagorae philosophi
tradotti da Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499)
The lives and opinions of eminent philosophers
Life of Pythagoras
translated by C. D. Yonge
we have now gone through the Ionian philosophy, which was derived from
Thales, and the lives of the several illustrious men who were the
chief ornaments of that school; we will now proceed to treat of the
Italian School, which was founded by Pythagoras, the son of Mnesarchus,
a seal engraver, as he is recorded to have been by Hermippus; a native
of Samos, or as Aristoxenus asserts, a Tyrrhenian, and a native of one
of the islands which the Athenians occupied after they had driven out
the Tyrrhenians. But some authors say that he was the son of Marmacus,
the son of Hippasus, the son of Euthyphron, the son of Cleonymus, who
was an exile from Phlias; and that Marmacus settled in Samos, and that
from this circumstance Pythagoras was called a Samian. After that he
migrated to Lesbos, having come to Pherecydes with letters of
recommendation from Zoilus, his uncle. And having made three silver
goblets, he carried them to Egypt as a present for each of the three
priests. He had brothers, the eldest of whom was named Eunomus, the
middle one Tyrrhenus, and a slave named Zamolxis, to whom the Getae
sacrifice, believing him to be the same as Saturn, according to the
account of Herodotus (Herod. iv. 93.).
II. He was
a pupil, as I have already mentioned, of Pherecydes, the Syrian; and
after his death he came to Samos, and became a pupil of Hermodamas,
the descendant of Creophylus, who was by this time an old man.
III. And as
he was a young man, and devoted to learning, he quitted his country,
and got initiated into all the Grecian and barbarian sacred mysteries.
Accordingly, he went to Egypt, on which occasion Polycrates gave him a
letter of introduction to Amasis; and he learnt the Egyptian language,
as Antipho tells us, in his treatise on those men who have been
conspicuous for virtue, and he associated with the Chaldaeans and with
Heraclides Ponticus says, that he was accustomed to speak of himself
in this manner; that he had formerly been Aethalides, and had been
accounted the son of Mercury; and that Mercury had desired him to
select any gift he pleased except immortality. And that he accordingly
had requested that whether living or dead, he might preserve the
memory of what had happened to him. While, therefore, he was alive, he
recollected everything; and when he was dead, he retained the same
memory. And at a subsequent period he passed into Euphorbus, and was
wounded by Menelaus. And while he was Euphorbus, he used to say that
he had formerly been Aethalides; and that he had received as a gift
from Mercury the perpetual transmigration of his soul, so that it was
constantly transmigrating and passing into whatever plants or animals
it pleased; and he had also received the gift of knowing and
recollecting all that his soul had suffered in hell, and what
sufferings too are endured by the rest of the souls.
some people say that Pythagoras did not leave behind him a single
book; but they talk foolishly; for Heraclitus, the natural philosopher,
speaks plainly enough of him, saying, "Pythagoras, the Son of
Mnesarchus, was the most learned of all men in history; and having
selected from these writings, he thus formed his own wisdom and
extensive learning, and mischievous art." And he speaks thus,
because Pythagoras, in the beginning of his treatise on Natural
Philosophy, writes in the following manner: "By the air which I
breathe, and by the water which I drink, I will not endure to be
blamed on account of this discourse."
youths, I warn you cherish peace divine,
about the Soul; a fourth on Piety; a fifth entitled Helothales, which
was the name of the father of Epicharmus, of Cos; a sixth called
Crotona, and other poems too. But the mystic discourse which is extant
under his name, they say is really the work of Hippasus, having been
composed with a view to bring Pythagoras into disrepute. There were
also many other books composed by Aston, of Crotona, and attributed to
asserts that Pythagoras derived the greater part of his ethical
doctrines from Themistoclea, the priestess at Delphi. And Ion, of
Chios, in his Victories, says that he wrote some poems and attributed
them to Orpheus. They also say that the poem called the Scopeadae is
by him, which begins thus:
not shamelessly to any one.
And Sosicrates, in his Successions, relates that he, having being
asked by Leon, the tyrant of the Phliasians, who he was, replied,
"A philosopher." And adds, that he used to compare life to a
festival. "And as some people came to a festival to contend for
the prizes, and others for the purposes of traffic, and the best as
spectators; so also in life, the men of slavish dispositions,"
said he, "are born hunters after glory and covetousness, but
philosophers are seekers after truth." And thus he spoke on this
subject. But in the three treatises above mentioned, the following
principles are laid down by Pythagoras generally.
And he divides the life of man thus. A boy for twenty years ; a young
man (neaniskos) for twenty years; a middle-aged man (neanias)
for twenty years; an old man for twenty years. And these different
ages correspond proportionably to the seasons: boyhood answers to
spring; youth to summer; middle age to autumn; and old age to winter.
And he uses neaniskos here as equivalent to meirakion
and neanias as equivalent to anêr.
He was the first person, as Timaeus says, who asserted that the
property of friends is common, and that friendship is equality. And
his disciples used to put all their possessions together into one
store, and use them in common; and for five years they kept silence,
doing nothing but listen to discourses, and never once seeing
Pythagoras, until they were approved; after that time they were
admitted into his house, and allowed to see him. They also abstained
from the use of cypress coffins, because the sceptre of Jupiter was
made of that wood, as Hermippus tells us in the second book of his
account of Pythagoras.
He is said to have been a man of the most dignified appearance, and
his disciples adopted an opinion respecting him, that he was Apollo
who had come from the Hyperboreans; and it is said, that once when he
was stripped naked, he was seen to have a golden thigh. And there were
many people who affirmed, that when he was crossing the river Nessus
it addressed him by his name.
Timaeus, in the tenth book of his Histories, tells us, that he used to
say that women who were married to men had the names of the Gods,
being successively called virgins, then nymphs, and subsequently
It was Pythagoras also who carried geometry to perfection, after
Moeris had first found out the principles of the elements of that
science, as Aristiclides tells us in the second book of his History of
Alexander; and the part of the science to which Pythagoras applied
himself above all others was arithmetic. He also discovered the
numerical relation of sounds on a single string: he also studied
medicine. And Apollodorus, the logician, records of him, that he
sacrified a hecatomb, when he had discovered that the square of the
hypothenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the squares of the
sides containing the right angle. And there is an epigram which is
couched in the following terms:
the great Samian sage his noble problem found,
He is also said to have been the first man who trained athletes on
meat; and Eurymenes was the first man, according to the statement of
Favorinus, in the third book of his commentaries, who ever did submit
to this diet, as before that time men used to train themselves on dry
figs and moist cheese, and wheaten bread; as the same Favorinus infor
s us in the eighth book of his Universal History. But some authors
state that a trainer of the name of Pythagoras certainly did train his
athletes on this system, but that it was not our philosopher; for that
he even forbade men to kill animals at all, much less would have
allowed his disciples to eat then, as having a right to live in common
with mankind. And this was his pretext; but in reality, he prohibited
the eating of animals, because he wished to train and accustom men to
simplicity of life, so that all their food should be easily procurable,
as it would be, if they ate only such things as required no fire to
dress them, and if they drank plain water; for from this diet they
would derive health of body and acuteness of intellect.
He was also the first person who introduced measures and weights among
the Greeks; as Aristoxenus the musician informs us.
Parmenides, too, assures us, that he was the first person who asserted
the identity of Hesperus and Lucifer.
And he was so greatly admired, that they used to say that his friends
looked on all his sayings as the oracles of God.2
And he himself says in his writings, that he had come among men after
having spent two hundred and seven years in the shades below.
Therefore the Lucanians and the Peucetians, and the Messapians, and
the Romans, flocked around him, coming with eagerness to hear his
discourses; but until the time of Philolaus, there were no doctrines
of Pythagoras ever divulged; and he was the first person who published
the three celebrated books which Plato wrote to have purchased for him
for a hundred minae. Nor were the number of his scholars who used to
come to him by night fewer than six hundred. And if any of them had
ever been permitted to see him, they wrote of it to their friends, as
if they had gained some great advantage.
people of Metapontum used to call his house the temple of Ceres; and
the street leading to it they called the street of the Muses, as we
are told by Favorinus in his Universal History.
For he was very eminent for his power of attracting friendships; and
among other things, if ever he heard that any one had any community of
symbols with him, he at once made him a companion and a friend.
Now, what he called his symbols were such as these. "Do not stir
the fire with a sword." "Do not sit down on a bushel."
"Do not devour your heart." "Do not aid men in
discarding a burden, but in increasing one." "Always have
your bed packed up." "Do not bear the image of a God on a
ring." "Efface the traces of a pot in the ashes."
"Do not wipe a seat with a lamp." "Do not make water in
the sunshine." "Do not walk in the main street."
"Do not offer your right hand lightly." "Do not cherish
swallows under your roof." "Do not cherish birds with
crooked talons." "Do not defile; and do not stand upon the
parings of your nails or the cuttings of your hair." "Avoid
a sharp sword." "When you are travelling abroad, look not
back at your own borders." Now the precept not to stir fire with
a sword meant, not to provoke the anger or swelling pride of powerful
men; not to violate the beam of the balance meant, not to transgress
fairness and justice; not to sit on a bushel is to have an equal care
for the present and for the future, for by the bushel is meant one's
daily food. By not devouring one's heart, he intended to show that we
ought not to waste away our souls with grief and sorrow. In the
precept that a man when travelling abroad should not turn his eyes
back, he recommended those who were departing from life not to be
desirous to live, and not to be too much attracted by the pleasures
here on earth. And the other symbols may be explained in a similar
manner, that we may not be too prolix here.
And above all things, he used to prohibit the eating of the erythinus,
and the melanurus; and also, he enjoined his disciples to abstain from
the hearts of animals, and from beans. And Aristotle informs us, that
he sometimes used also to add to these prohibitions paunches and
mullet. And some authors assert that he himself used to be contented
with honey and honeycomb, and bread, and that he never drank wine in
the day time. And his desert was usually vegetables, either boiled or
raw; and he very rarely ate fish. His dress was white, very clean, and
his bed-clothes were also white, and woollen, for linen had not yet
been introduced into that country. He was never known to have eaten
too much, or to have drunk too much, or to indulge in the pleasures of
love. He abstained wholly from laughter, and from all such indulgences
as jests and idle stories. And when he was angry, he never chastised
any one, whether slave or freeman. He used to call admonishing,
The same author tells us, as I have already mentioned, that he
received his doctrines from Themistoclea, at Delphi. And Hieronymus
says, that when he descended to the shades below, he saw the soul of
Hesiod bound to a brazen pillar, and gnashing its teeth; and that of
Homer suspended from a tree, and snakes around it, as a punishment for
the things that they had said of the Gods. And that those people also
were punished who refrained from commerce with their wives; and that
on account of this he was greatly honoured by the people of Crotona.
Aristippus, of Cyrene, in his Account of Natural Philosophers, says
that Pythagoras derived his name from the fact of his speaking (agoreuein)
truth no less than the God at Delphi (tou pythiou).
what have I transgress'd? What have I done?
that he used to forbid them to offer victims to the Gods, ordering
them to worship only at those altars which were unstained with blood.
He forbade them also to swear by the Gods; saying, "That every
man ought so to exercise himself, as to be worthy of belief without an
oath." He also taught men that it behoved them to honour their
elders, thinking that which was precedent in point of time more
honourable; just as in the world, the rising of the sun was more so
than the setting; in life, the beginning more so than the end; and in
animals, production more so than destruction.
of his rules was that men should honour the Gods above the daemones,
heroes above men; and of all men parents were entitled to the highest
degree of reverence. Another, that people should associate with one
another in such a way as not to make their friends enemies, but to
render their enemies friends. Another was that they should think
nothing exclusively their own. Another was to assist the law, and to
make war upon lawlessness. Not to destroy or injure a cultivated tree,
nor any animal either which does not injure men. That modesty and
decorum consisted in never yielding to laughter, and yet not looking
stern. He taught that men should avoid too much flesh, that they
should in travelling let rest and exertion alternate; that they should
exercise memory; that they should never say or do anything in anger;
that they should not pay respect to every kind of divination; that
they should use songs set to the lyre; and by hymns to the Gods and to
eminent men, display a reasonable gratitude to them.
forbade his disciples to eat beans, because, as they were flatulent,
they greatly partook of animal properties [he also said that men kept
their stomachs in better order by avoiding them]; and that such
abstinence made the visions which appear in one's sleep gentle and
free from agitation. Alexander also says, in his Successions of
Philosophers, that he found the following dogmas also set down in the
Commentaries of Pythagoras:
the monad was the beginning of everything. From the monad proceeds an
indefinite duad, which is subordinate to the monad as to its cause.
That from the monad and the indefinite duad proceed numbers. And from
numbers signs. And from these last, lines of which plane figures
consist. And from plane figures are derived solid bodies. And from
solid bodies sensible bodies, of which last there are four elements;
fire, water, earth, and air. And that the world, which is endued with
life, and intellect, and which is of a spherical figure, having the
earth, which is also spherical, and inhabited all over in its centre,
results from a combination of these elements, and derives its motion
from them; and also that there are antipodes,5
and that what is below, as respects us, is above in respect of them.
taught that light and darkness, and cold and heat, and dryness and
moisture, were equally divided in the world; and that, while heat was
predominant it was summer; while cold had the mastery it was winter;
when dryness prevailed it was spring; and when moisture preponderated,
winter. And while all these qualities were on a level, then was the
loveliest season of the year; of which the flourishing spring was the
wholesome period, and the season of autumn the most pernicious one. Of
the day, he said that the flourishing period was the morning, and the
fading one the evening; on which account that also was the least
of his theories was, that the air around the earth was immoveable, and
pregnant with disease; and that everything in it was mortal; but that
the upper air was in perpetual motion, and pure and salubrious; and
that everything in that was immortal, and on that account divine. And
that the sun, and the moon, and the stars, were all Gods; for in them
the warm principle predominates which is the cause of life. And that
the moon derives its light from the sun. And that there is a
relationship between men and the Gods, because men partake of the
divine principle; on which account also, God exercises his providence
for our advantage. Also, that fate is the cause of the arrangement of
the world both generally and particularly. Moreover, that a ray from
the sun penetrated both the cold aether and the dense aether; and they
call the air (aêr) the cold aether (psychron aithera),
and the sea and moisture they call the dense aether (pachun
aethera). And this ray descends into the depths, and in this way
vivifies everything. And everything which partakes of the principle of
heat lives, on which account also plants are animated beings; but that
all living things have not necessarily souls. And that the soul is a
something torn off from the aether, both warm and cold, from its
partaking of the cold aether. And that the soul is something different
from life. Also, that it is immortal, because that from which it has
been detached is immortal.
that animals are born from one another by seeds, and that it is
impossible for there to be any spontaneous production by the earth.
And that seed is a drop from the brain which contains in itself a warm
vapour; and that when this is applied to the womb, it transmits virtue,
and moisture, and blood from the brain, from which flesh, and sinews,
and bones, and hair, and the whole body are produced. And from the
vapour is produced the soul, and also sensation. And that the infant
first becomes a solid body at the end of forty days; but, according to
the principles of harmony, it is not perfect till seven, or perhaps
nine, or at most ten months, and then it is brought forth. And that it
contains in itself all the principles of life, which are all connected
together, and by their union and combination form a harmonious whole,
each of them, developing itself at the appointed time.
senses in general, and especially the sight, are a vapour of excessive
warmth, and on this account a man is said to see through air, and
through water. For the hot principle is opposed by the cold one; since,
if the vapour in the eyes were cold, it would have the same
temperature as the air, and so would be dissipated. As it is, in some
passages he calls the eyes the gates of the sun. And he speaks in a
similar manner of hearing, and of the other senses.
says that the soul of man is divided into three parts; into intuition
(nous), and reason (phren) and mind (thymos),
and that the first and last divisions are found also in other animals,
but that the middle one, reason, is only found in man. And that the
chief abode of the soul is in those parts of the body which are
between the heart and the brain. And that that portion of it which is
in the heart is the mind (thymos); but that deliberation (nous),
and reason (phren), reside in the brain:
that the senses are drops from them; and that the reasoning sense is
immortal, but the others are mortal. And that the soul is nourished by
the blood; and that reasons are the winds of the soul. That it is
invisible, and so are its reasons, since the aether itself is
invisible. That the links of the soul are the veins, and the arteries
and the nerves. But that when it is vigorous, and is by itself in a
quiescent state, then its links are words and actions. That when it is
cast forth upon the earth it wanders about, resembling the body.
Moreover, that Mercury is the steward of the souls, and that on this
account he has the name of Conductor, and Commercial, and Infernal,
since it is he who conducts the souls from their bodies, and from
earth, and sea; and that he conducts the pure souls to the highest
region, and that he does not allow the impure ones to approach them,
nor to come near one another; but commits them to be bound in
indissoluble fetters by the Furies. The Pythagoreans also assert, that
the whole air is full of souls, and that these are those which are
accounted daemones, and heroes. Also, that it is by them that dreams
are sent among men, and also the tokens of disease and health; these
last too, being sent not only to men, but to sheep also and other
cattle. Also, that it is they who are concerned with purifications,
and expiations, and all kinds of divination, and oracular predictions,
and things of that kind.
also say, that the most important privilege in man is the being able
to persuade his soul to either good or bad. And that men are happy
when they have a good soul; yet, that they are never quiet, and that
they never retain the same mind long. Also, that an oath is justice;
and that on that account, Jupiter is called Jupiter of Oaths (Orkios).
Also, that virtue is harmony, and health, and universal good, and God;
on which account everything owes its existence and consistency to
harmony. Also, that friendship is a harmonious equality.
they teach that one ought not to pay equal honours to Gods and to
heroes; but that one ought to honour the Gods at all times, extolling
them with praises, clothed in white garments, and keeping one's body
chaste; but that one ought not to pay such honour to the heroes till
after midday. Also, that a state of purity is brought about by
purifications, and washings, and sprinklings, and by a man's purifying
himself from all funerals, or concubinage, or pollution of every kind,
and by abstaining from all flesh that has either been killed or died
of itself, and from mullets, and from melanuri, and from eggs, and
from such animals as lay eggs, and from beans, and from other things
which are prohibited by those who have the charge of the mysteries in
Aristotle says, in his treatise on Beans, that Pythagoras enjoined his
disciples to abstain from beans, either because they resemble some
part of the human body, or because they are like the gates of hell (for
they are the only plants without parts); or because they dry up other
plants, or because they are representatives of universal nature, or
because they are used in elections in oligarchical governments. He
also forbade his disciples to pick up what fell from the table, for
the sake of accustoming them not to eat immoderately, or else because
such things belong to the dead.
Aristophanes says, that what falls belongs to the heroes; saying, in
taste the things which fall
forbade his disciples to eat white poultry, because a cock of
that colour was sacred to Month, and was also a suppliant. He was also
accounted a good animal;7
and he was sacred to the God Month, for he indicates the time.
Pythagoreans were also forbidden to eat of all fish that were sacred;
on the ground that the same animals ought not to be served up before
both Gods and men just as the same things do not belong to freemen and
to slaves. Now, white is an indication of a good nature, and black of
a bad one. Another of the precepts of Pythagoras was, that men ought
not to break bread; because in ancient times friends used to assemble
around one loaf, as they even now do among the barbarians. Nor would
he allow men to divide bread which unites them. Some think that he
laid down this rule in reference to the judgment which takes place in
hell; some because this practice engenders timidity in war. According
to others, what is alluded to is the Union, which presides over the
government of the universe.
of his doctrines was, that of all solid figures the sphere was the
most beautiful; and of all plane figures, the circle. That old age and
all diminution were similar, and also increase and youth were
identical. That health was the permanence of form, and disease the
destruction of it. Of salt his opinion was, that it ought to be set
before people as a reminder of justice; for salt preserves everything
which it touches, and it is composed of the purest particles of water
are the doctrines which Alexander asserts that he discovered in the
Pythagorean treatises; and Aristotle gives a similar account of them.
Timon, in his Silli, has not left unnoticed the dignified
appearance of Pythagoras, when he attacks him on other points. And his
words are these:
who often teaches
respecting his having been different people at different times,
Xenophanes adds his evidence in an elegiac poem which commences thus:
I will on another subject touch,
passage in which he mentions Pythagoras is as follows ;
say that once as passing by he saw
are the words of Xenophanes.
also ridiculed him in his Pythagorean Woman; but in his Tarentines, he
are accustomed, if by chance they see
Innesimachus says in his Alcmaeon:
we do sacrifice to the Phoebus whom
says in his Pythagorean:
He said that when he did descend below
again, in the same play he says:
Pythagoras died in this manner. When he was sitting with some of his
companions in Milo's house, some one of those whom he did not think
worthy of admission into it, was excited by envy to set fire to it.
But some say that the people of Crotona themselves did this, being
afraid lest he might aspire to the tyranny. And that Pythagoras was
caught as he was trying to escape; and coming to a place full of beans,
he stopped there, saying that it was better to be caught than to
trample on the beans, and better to be slain than to speak; and so he
was murdered by those who were pursuing him. And in this way, also,
most of his companions were slain; being in number about forty; but
that a very few did escape, among whom were Archippus, of Tarentum,
and Lysis, whom I have mentioned before.
Dicaearchus relates that Pythagoras died afterwards, having escaped as
far as the temple of the Muses, at Metapontum, and that he died there
of starvation, having abstained from food for forty days. And
Heraclides says, in his abridgment of the life of Satyrus, that after
he had buried Pherecydes in Delos, he returned to Italy, and finding
there a superb banquet prepared at the house of Milo, of Cortona, he
left Crotona, and went to Metapontum, and there put an end to his life
by starvation, not wishing to live any longer. But Hermippus says,
that when there was war between the people of Agrigentum and the
Syracusans, Pythagoras went out with his usual companions, and took
the part of the Agrigentines; and as they were put to flight, he ran
all round a field of beans, instead of crossing it, and so was slain
by the Syracusans; and that the rest, being about five-and-thirty in
number, were burnt at Tarentum, when they were trying to excite a
sedition in the state against the principal magistrates.
Hermippus also relates another story about Pythagoras. For he says that when he was in Italy, he made a subterraneous apartment, and charged his mother to write an account of everything that took place, marking the time of each on a tablet, and then to send them down to him, until he came up again; and that his mother did so; and that Pythagoras came up again after a certain time, lean, and reduced to a skeleton; and that he came into the public assembly, and said that he had arrived from the shades below, and then he recited to them all that had happened during his absence. And they, being charmed by what he told them, wept and lamented, and believed that Pythagoras was a divine being; so that they even entrusted their wives to him, as likely to learn some good from him; and that they too were called Pythagoreans. And this is the story of Hermippus.
And Pythagoras had a wife, whose name was Theano; the daughter of
Brontinus, of Crotona. But some say that she was the wife of Brontinus,
and only a pupil of Pythagoras. And he had a daughter named Damo, as
Lysis mentions in his letter to Hipparchus; where he speaks thus of
Pythagoras: "And many say that you philosophize in public, as
Pythagoras also used to do; who, when he had entrusted his
Commentaries to Damo, his daughter, charged her to divulge them to no
person out of the house. And she, though she might have sold his
discourses for much money, would not abandon them, for she thought
poverty and obedience to her father's injunctions more valuable than
gold; and that too, though she was a woman."
also a son, named Telauges, who was the successor of his father in his
school, and who, according to some authors, was the teacher of
Empedocles. At least Hippobotus relates that Empedocles said
noble youth, whom in due time,
there is no book extant, which is the work of Telauges, though there
are some extant, which are attributed to his mother Theano. And they
tell a story of her, that once, when she was asked how long a woman
ought to be absent from her husband to be pure, she said, the moment
she leaves her own husband, she is pure; but she is never pure at all,
after she leaves any one else. And she recommended a woman, who was
going to her husband, to put off her modesty with her clothes, and
when she left him, to resume it again with her clothes; and when she
was asked, "What clothes?" she said, "Those which cause
you to be called a woman."
Now Pythagoras, as Heraclides, the son of Sarapian, relates, died when
he was eighty years of age; according to his own account of his age,
but according to the common account, he was more than ninety. And we
have written a sportive epigram on him, which is couched in the
not the only man who has abstained
another, which runs thus:
was so wise a man, that he
another, as follows:
you Phythagoras' doctrine wish to know,
this one too:
alas! why did Pythagoras hold
And he flourished about the sixtieth Olympiad and his system lasted
for nine or ten generations. And the last of the Pythagoreans, whom
Aristoxenus knew, were Xenophilus, the Chalcidean, from Thrace; and
Phanton, the Phliasian, and Echurates, and Diodes, and Polymnestus,
who were also Phliasians, and they were disciples of Philolaus and
Eurytus, of Tarentum.
And there were four men of the name of Pythagoras, about the same
time, at no great distance from one another. One was a native of
Crotona, a man who attained tyrannical power; the second was a
Phliasian, a trainer of wrestlers, as some say; the third was a native
of Zacynthus; the fourth was this our philosopher, to whom they say
the mysteries of philosophy belong, in whose time that proverbial
phrase, "Ipse dixit," was introduced into ordinary
life. Some also affirm, that there was another man of the name of
Pythagoras, a statuary of Rhodes; who is believed to have been the
first discoverer of rhythm and proportion; and another was a Samian
statuary; and another an orator, of no reputation; and another was a
physician, who wrote a treatise on Squills; and also some essays on
Homer; and another was a man, who wrote a history of the affairs of
the Dorians, as we are told by Dionysius.
Eratosthenes says, as Favorinus quotes him, in the eighth book of his
Universal History, that this philosopher, of whom we are speaking, was
the first man who ever practised boxing in a scientific manner, in the
forty-eighth Olympiad, having his hair long, and being clothed in a
purple robe; and that he was rejected from the competition among boys,
and being ridiculed for his application, he immediately entered among
the men, and came off victorious. And this statement is confirmed
among other things, by the epigram which Theaetetus composed:
if e'er you knew Pythagoras,
says, that he employed definitions, on account of the mathematical
subjects to which he applied himself. And that Socrates and those who
were his pupils, did so still more; and that they were subsequently
followed in this by Aristotle and the Stoics.
was the first person, who ever gave the name of kosmos to the
universe, and the first who called the earth round; though
Theophrastus attributes this to Parmenides, and Zeno to Hesiod. They
say too, that Cylon used to be a constant adversary of his, as
Antidicus was of Socrates. And this epigram also used to be repeated,
concerning Pythagoras the athlete:
of Samos, son of Crates,
There is a letter of this philosopher extant, which is couched in the
too, my most excellent friend, if you were not superior to Pythagoras,
in birth and reputation, would have migrated from Miletus and gone
elsewhere. But now the reputation of your father keeps you back, which
perhaps would have restrained me too, if I had been like Anaximenes.
But if you, who are the most eminent man, abandon the cities, all
their ornaments will be taken from them; and the Median power will be
more dangerous to them. Nor is it always seasonable to be studying
astronomy, but it is more honourable to exhibit a regard for one's
country. And I myself am not always occupied about speculations of my
own fancy, but I am busied also with the wars which the Italians are
waging against one another."
since we have now finished our account of Pythagoras, we must also
speak of the most eminent of the Pythagoreans. After whom, we must
mention those who are spoken of more promiscuously in connection with
no particular school; and then we will connect the whole series of
philosophers worth speaking of, till we arrive at Epicurus, as we have
Jelanges and Theano we have mentioned; and we must now speak of
Empedocles, in the first place, for, according to some accounts, he
was a pupil of Pythagoras.
resembles the account which Ovid puts into the mouth of Pythagoras, in
the last book of his Metamorphoses, where he makes him say:
carent animae, semperque priore relicta
may be translated:
has no pow'r th' immortal soul to slay;
passage has been interpreted in more ways than one. Casaubon thinks
with great probability that there is a hiatus in the text. I have
endeavoured to extract a meaning out of what remains. Compare Samuel
ii. 16, 23. "And the counsel of Ahitophel, which he counselled in
those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God; so was
all the counsel of Ahitophel both with David and with Absalum."
Zaleucus was the celebrated lawgiver of the Epizephyrian Locrians, and
is said to have been originally a slave employed by a shepherd, and to
have been set free and appointed lawgiver by the direction of an
oracle, in consequence of his announcing some excellent laws, which he
represented Minerva as having communicated to him in a dream. Diogenes,
is wrong however, in calling him a disciple of Pythagoras (see Bentley
on Phalaris), as he lived about a hundred years before his time; his
true date being 660 B.C. The code of Zaleucus is stated to have been
the first collection of written laws that the Greeks possessed. Their
character was that of great severity. They have not come down to us.
His death is said to have occurred thus. Among his laws was one
forbidding any citizen to enter the senate house in arms, under the
penalty of death. But in a sudden emergency, Zaleucus himself, in a
moment of forgetfulness, transgressed his own law: on which he slew
himself, declaring that he would vindicate his law. (Eustath. ad. Il.
i. p. 60). Diodorus, however, tells the same story of Charondas.
Charondas was a lawgiver of Catana, who legislated for his own city
and the other towns of Challidian origin in Magna Grecia, such as
Zancle, Naxos, Leontini, Eubaea, Mylae, Himera, Callipolis, and
Rhegium. His laws have not been preserved to us, with the exception of
a few judgments. They were probably in verse, for Athenaeus says that
they were sung in Athens at banquets. Aristotle tells us that they
were adapted to an aristocracy. It is much doubted whether it is
really true that he was a disciple of Pythagoras, though we are not
sure of his exact time, so that we cannot pronounce it as impossible
as in the preceding case. He must have lived before the time of
Anaxilaus, tyrant of Rhegium, who reigned from B.C. 494 to B.C. 476,
because he abolished the laws of Charondas, which had previously been
in force in that city. Diodorus gives a code of laws which he states
that Charondas gave to the city of Thurii, which was not founded till
B.C. 443, when he must certainly have been dead a long time. There is
one law of his preserved by Stobaeus, which is probably authentic,
since it is found in a fragment of Theophrastus; enacting that all
buying and selling shall be transacted by ready money only.
doctrine is alluded to doubtfully by Virgil, Georg. i. 247.
ut perhibent, aut intempesta silet nox
translated by Dryden, 1. 338:
as they say, perpetual night is found,
appears in a division like this to be the deliberative part of the
mind; phren, the rational part of the intellect: thymos,
that part with which the passions are concerned.
is a great variety of suggestions as to the proper reading here. There
is evidently some corruption in the text.
Scanned and edited for Peithô's Web from The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, by Diogenes Laertius, Literally translated by C.D. Yonge. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853. Footnotes have been converted to endnotes. Some, but not all, of Yonge's spellings of ancient names have been updated.
All of the materials at Peithô's Web are provided for your enjoyment, as is, without any warranty of any kind or for any purpose.
de la médecine ancienne et moderne
par Nicolas François Joseph Eloy
Mons – 1778