culture, with the idea that groups of things of the same number are related or in sympathy. This idea evidently influenced Hegel in his concept of internal relations.
The ancient Pythagorean pentagram was drawn with two points up and represented the doctrine of Pentemychos. Pentemychos means "five recesses" or "five chambers," also known as the pentagonas — the five-angle, and was the title of a work written by Pythagoras' teacher and friend Pherecydes of Syros.
The Pythagoreans are known for their theory of the transmigration of souls, and also for their theory that numbers constitute the true nature of things. They performed purification rites and followed and developed various rules of living which they believed would enable their souls to achieve a higher rank among the gods. Much of their mysticism concerning the soul seems inseparable from the Orphic tradition. The Orphics included various purifactory rites and practices as well as incubatory rites of descent into the underworld. Apart from being linked with this, Pythagoras is also closely linked with Pherecydes of Syros, the man ancient commentators tend to credit as the first Greek to teach a transmigration of souls. Ancient commentators agree that Pherekydes was Pythagoras's most "intimate" teacher. Pherecydes expounded his teaching on the soul in terms of a pentemychos ("five-nooks," or "five hidden cavities") — the most likely origin of the Pythagorean use of the pentagram, used by them as a symbol of recognition among members and as a symbol of inner health (eugieia Eudaimonia).
Pythagorianism "Wheel of Birth" and scientific contemplation
The Pythagoreans believed that a release from the "wheel of birth" was possible. They followed the Orphic traditions and practices to purify the soul but at the same time they suggested a deeper idea of what such a purification might be. Aristoxenus said that music was used to purify the soul just like medicine was used to purge the body. But in addition to this, Pythagoreans distinguished three kinds of lives: Theoretic, Practical and Apolautic. Pythagoras is said to have used the example of Olympic games to distinguish between these three kind of lives. Pythagoras suggests that the lowest class of people who come to the games are the people who come to buy or sell. The next higher class comprises people who come to participate in the games. And the highest class contains people who simply come to look on. Thus Pythagoras suggests that the highest purification of a life is in pure contemplation. It is the philosopher who contemplates about science and mathematics who is released from the "cycle of birth." The pure mathematician's life is, according to Pythagoras, the life at the highest plane of existence.
Thus the root of mathematics and scientific pursuits in Pythagoreanism is also based on a spiritual desire to free oneself from the cycle of birth and death. It is this contemplation about the world that forms the greatest virtue in Pythagorean philosophy.
Pythagorean beliefs on Vegetarianism
The Pythagoreans were well-known in antiquity for their vegetarianism, which they practised for religious, ethical and ascetic reasons, in particular the idea of metempsychosis - the transmigration of souls into the bodies of other animals. "Pythagorean diet" was a common name for the abstention from eating meat and fish, until the coining of "vegetarian" in the nineteenth century.
The Pythagorean code further restricted the diet of its followers, prohibiting the consumption or even touching of any sort of bean. It is probable that this is due to their belief in the soul, and the fact that beans obviously showed the potential for life. Some, for example Cicero, say perhaps the flatulence beans cause, perhaps as protection from potential favism, perhaps because they resemble the genitalia, but most likely for magico-religious reasons, such as the belief that beans and human beings were created from the same material. Most stories of Pythagoras' murder revolve around his aversion to beans. According to legend, enemies of the Pythagoreans set fire to Pythagoras' house, sending the elderly man running toward a bean field, where he halted, declaring that he would rather die than enter the field - whereupon his pursuers slit his throat.
Pythagorianism views on women
Women were given equal opportunity to study as Pythagoreans, and learned practical domestic skills in addition to philosophy. Women were held to be different from men, but sometimes in good ways. The priestess, philosopher and mathematician Themistoclea is regarded as Pythagoras' teacher; Theano, Damo and Melissa as female disciples. Pythagoras is also said to have preached that men and women ought not to have sex during the summer, holding that winter was the appropriate time.
Neo pythagoreanism history
In the 1st century BCE Cicero's friend Nigidius Figulus (died 45 BCE) made an attempt to revive Pythagorean doctrines, but the most important members of the school were Apollonius of Tyana and Moderatus of Gades in the 1st century. There has been much discussion as to whether the Pythagorean literature which was widely published at the time in Alexandria was the original work of 1st-century writers or merely reproductions of and commentaries on the older Pythagorean writings.
Neopythagoreanism was a revival in the 2nd century BC—2nd century AD period of various ideas traditionally associated with the followers of Pythagoras, the Pythagoreans. Notable Neopythagoreans include first century Apollonius of Tyana and Moderatus of Gades. Middle and Neo-Platonists such as Numenius and Plotinus also showed some Neopythagorean influence. Numenius of Apamea sought to fuse additional elements of Platonism into Neopythagoreanism, prefiguring the rise of Neoplatonism.
Neopythagoreanism was an attempt to introduce a religious element into pagan philosophy in place of what had come to be regarded as an arid formalism. The founders of the school sought to invest their doctrines with the halo of tradition by ascribing them to Pythagoras and Plato, and there is no reason to accuse them of insincerity. They went back to the later period of Plato's thought, the period when Plato endeavoured to combine his doctrine of Ideas with the Pythagorean number-theory, and identified the Good with the One, the source of the duality of the Infinite and the Measured with the resultant scale of realities from the One down to the objects of the material world.
They emphasized the fundamental distinction between the Soul and the Body. God must be worshipped spiritually by prayer and the will to be good, not in outward action. The soul must be freed from its material surrounding, the "muddy vesture of decay," by an ascetic habit of life. Bodily pleasures and all sensuous impulses must be abandoned as detrimental to the spiritual purity of the soul. God is the principle of good; Matter the groundwork of Evil. In this system we distinguish not only the asceticism of Pythagoras and the later mysticism of Plato, but also the influence of the Orphic mysteries. and of Oriental philosophy. The Ideas of Plato are no longer self-subsistent entities; they are the elements which constitute the content of spiritual activity. The non-material universe is regarded as the sphere of mind or spirit..
In 1915, a subterranean basilica where 1st century Neo-Pythagoreans held their meetings was discovered near Porta Maggiore on Via Praenestina, Rome. The groundplan shows a basilica with three naves and an apse similar to early Christian basilicas that did not appear until much later, in the 4th century. The vaults are decorated with white stuccoes symbolizing Neopythagorean beliefs but its exact meaning remains a subject of debate.
Neopythagoreanism (or Neo-Pythagoreanism) was a Graeco-Alexandrian school of philosophy, reviving Pythagorean doctrines, which became prominent in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. The word "Neopythagoreanism" is a modern term, which no one in the ancient world would have used.
Neopythagoreanism is a link in the chain between the old and the new in pagan philosophy. It connects the teaching of Plato with the doctrines of Neoplatonism. Iamblichus, in particular, was especially influenced by Neopythagoreanism.
The Pythagorean idea that whole numbers and harmonic (euphonic) sounds are intimately connected in music, must have been well known to lute-player and maker Vincenzo Galilei, father of Galileo Galilei. While possibly following Pythagorean modes of thinking, Vincenzo is known to have discovered a new mathematical relationship between string tension and pitch, thus suggesting a generalization of the idea that music and musical instruments can be mathematically quantified and described. This may have paved the way to his son's crucial insight that all physical phenomena may be described quantitatively in mathematical language (as physical "laws"), thus beginning and defining the era of modern physics.
Pythagoreanism has had a clear and obvious influence on the texts found in the hermetica corpus and thus flows over into hermeticism, gnosticism and alchemy.
The Pythagorean cosmology also inspired the Arabic gnostic Monoimus to combine this system with monism and other things to form his own cosmology.
The pentagram (five-pointed star) was an important religious symbol used by the Pythagoreans, which is often seen as being related to the elements theorized by Empedocles to comprise all matter.
The Pythagorean school doubtless had a monumental impact on the development of numerology and number mysticism, an influence that still resonates today. For example, it is from the Pythagoreans that the number 3 acquires its modern reputation as the noblest of all digits.
The Pythagoreans were advised to "speak the truth in all situations," which Pythagoras said he learned from the Magi of Babylon.
The Golden Verses of Pythagoras
The Golden Verses of Pythagoras (Greek: Χρύσεα Ἔπη, Chrysea Epê) are a collection of moral exhortations. They comprise 71 lines written in dactyl hexameter verse and are traditionally attributed to Pythagoras. Also known as the secrets of life and ancient knowledge.
The exact origins of the golden verses are unknown and there are varying opinions regarding their dating. It appears that the verses may have been known as early as the third century but their existence as we know them cannot be confirmed prior to the fifth century AD.
The golden verses enjoyed great popularity and were widely distributed in late antiquity being often quoted. Their renown persisted during the medieval ages and into the renaissance.
The Neoplatonists used the golden verses as part of their preparatory program of moral instruction and a number of neoplatonic commentaries on the verses are extant.
1. First worship the Immortal Gods, as they are established and ordained by the Law.
2. Reverence the Oath, and next the Heroes, full of goodness and light.
3. Honour likewise the Terrestrial Dæmons by rendering them the worship lawfully due to them.
4. Honour likewise thy parents, and those most nearly related to thee.
5. Of all the rest of mankind, make him thy friend who distinguishes himself by his virtue.
6. Always give ear to his mild exhortations, and take example from his virtuous and useful actions.
7. Avoid as much as possible hating thy friend for a slight fault.
8. [And understand that] power is a near neighbour to necessity.
9. Know that all these things are as I have told thee; and accustom thyself to overcome and vanquish these passions:--
10. First gluttony, sloth, sensuality, and anger.
11. Do nothing evil, neither in the presence of others, nor privately;
12. But above all things respect thyself.
13. In the next place, observe justice in thy actions and in thy words.
14. And accustom not thyself to behave thyself in any thing without rule, and without reason.
15. But always make this reflection, that it is ordained by destiny that all men shall die.
16. And that the goods of fortune are uncertain; and that as they may be acquired, so may they likewise be lost.
17. Concerning all the calamities that men suffer by divine fortune,
18. Support with patience thy lot, be it what it may, and never repine at it.
19. But endeavour what thou canst to remedy it.
20. And consider that fate does not send the greatest portion of these misfortunes to good men.
21. There are among men many sorts of reasonings, good and bad;
22. Admire them not too easily, nor reject them.
23. But if falsehoods be advanced, hear them with mildness, and arm thyself with patience.
24. Observe well, on every occasion, what I am going to tell thee:--
25. Let no man either by his words, or by his deeds, ever seduce thee.
26. Nor entice thee to say or to do what is not profitable for thyself.
27. Consult and deliberate before thou act, that thou mayest not commit foolish actions.
28. For it is the part of a miserable man to speak and to act without reflection.
29. But do that which will not afflict thee afterwards, nor oblige thee to repentance.
30. Never do anything which thou dost not understand.
31. But learn all thou ought'st to know, and by that means thou wilt lead a very pleasant life.
32. in no wise neglect the health of thy body;
33. But give it drink and meat in due measure, and also the exercise of which it has need.
34. Now by measure I mean what will not incommode thee.
35. Accustom thyself to a way of living that is neat and decent without luxury.
36. Avoid all things that will occasion envy.
37. And be not prodigal out of season, like one who knows not what is decent and honourable.
38. Neither be covetous nor niggardly; a due measure is excellent in these things.
39. Do only the things that cannot hurt thee, and deliberate before thou dost them.
40. Never suffer sleep to close thy eyelids, after thy going to bed,
41. Till thou hast examined by thy reason all thy actions of the day.
42. Wherein have I done amiss? What have I done? What have I omitted that I ought to have done?
43. If in this examination thou find that thou hast done amiss, reprimand thyself severely for it;
44. And if thou hast done any good, rejoice.
45. Practise thoroughly all these things; meditate on them well; thou oughtest to love them with all thy heart.
46. 'Tis they that will put thee in the way of divine virtue.
47. I swear it by him who has transmitted into our souls the Sacred Quaternion, the source of nature, whose cause is eternal.
48. But never begin to set thy hand to any work, till thou hast first prayed the gods to accomplish what thou art going to begin.
49. When thou hast made this habit familiar to thee,
50. Thou wilt know the constitution of the Immortal Gods and of men.
51. Even how far the different beings extend, and what contains and binds them together.
52. Thou shalt likewise know that according to Law, the nature of this universe is in all things alike,
53. So that thou shalt not hope what thou ought'st not to hope; and nothing in this world shall be hid from thee.
54. Thou wilt likewise know, that men draw upon themselves their own misfortunes voluntarily, and of their own free choice.
55. Unhappy that they are! They neither see nor understand that their good is near them.
56. Few know how to deliver themselves out of their misfortunes.
57. Such is the fate that blinds mankind, and takes away his senses.
58. Like huge cylinders they roll to and fro, and always oppressed with ills innumerable.
59. For fatal strife, innate, pursues them everywhere, tossing them up and down; nor do they perceive it.
60. Instead of provoking and stirring it up, they ought, by yielding, to avoid it.
61. Oh! Jupiter, our Father! if Thou would'st deliver men from all the evils that oppress them,
62. Show them of what dæmon they make use.
63. But take courage; the race of man is divine.
64. Sacred nature reveals to them the most hidden mysteries.
65. If she impart to thee her secrets, thou wilt easily perform all the things which I have ordained thee.
66. And by the healing of thy soul, thou wilt deliver it from all evils, from all afflictions.
67. But abstain thou from the meats, which we have forbidden in the purifications and in the deliverance of the soul;
68. Make a just distinction of them, and examine all things well.
69. Leaving thyself always to be guided and directed by the understanding that comes from above, and that ought to hold the reins.
70. And when, after having divested thyself of thy mortal body, thou arrivest at the most pure Æther,
71. Thou shalt be a God, immortal, incorruptible, and Death shall have no more dominion over thee.