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Life of Pythagoras


By Marguerite dar Boggia

The extraordinary Life of Pythagoras of Samos

Iamblichus was a beloved student of Pythagoras.

Pythagoras was born in about 570 B.C. on the island of Samos. Originally, the parents of Pythagoras came to Delphi for merchandise. His Father inquired of the Delphic prophet concerning his voyage to Syria. He was told that his voyage would be lucrative but that his wife was pregnant and would bring forth a son surpassing in beauty and wisdom all that ever lived and who would be of the greatest advantage to the human race in everything about man's life.2

His Father cared to have his son nourished with various and the best disciplines and by the best teachers. As a lad, the demeanor and aspect of Pythagoras were most venerable so that he was even reverenced and honored by older men. It was reasonably asserted by many that he was the son of a God.3

When the tyranny of Polycrates first made its appearance, Pythagoras, at the age of eighteen, departed from Samos, first, to the great Anaximander and then to Thales at Miletus. Thales increased the reputation Pythagoras had already acquired by communicating to him such disciplines as he could impart. He encouraged him to sail into Egypt and associate with the Memphian and Diospolitan priests, which Pythagoras did.4 He studied in Egypt for twenty-two years. By the time he left Egypt, he was fifty-six years old. Pythagoras returned to Greece.5

Pythagoras did not believe in killing animals. It is said that Pythagoras detained the Daunian bear, which had most severely injured the inhabitants.6. He gently stroked the bear with his hand for a long time, fed it with maize and acorns, and compelled it by an oath no longer to touch any living thing, then he dismissed it. The bear immediately hid in the mountains and woods and was never seen from that time again. In Sybaris, he caught a deadly serpent and dismissed it.7

Pythagoras has given the boys the following advice: They should neither revile anyone nor take vengeance on those denounced. He urged them continuous speech and perfect silence, exercising them for many years in the subjugation of the tongue and a strenuous and assiduous investigation and resumption of the most difficult theorems. He also ordered them to abstain from wine, be sparing in their food, sleep little, and have an unstudied contempt of and hostility to glory, wealth, and the like.8 He said that it is better to learn at a late period, and among these is venery. A boy must be so educated as not to seek after such a connection as this, within the twentieth year of his age;9108' But to the women, he said they should bring to the altars without the assistance of servants such as cakes, honey-combs, and frankincense. But that they should not worship divinity with blood and dead bodies, nor offer many things at one time if they never meant to sacrifice again. He urged them to love their husbands to a greater degree than those who were the sources of their existence.10

He considered many things before making a trial of those that came to him. If he perceived that anyone was unadapted, he expelled him as a stranger. In making aptitude of those that came to him, he considered if they were able to refrain from speaking and if they could preserve what they had learned and heard. He observed if they were modest. He believed how they were affected concerning anger or desire, whether they were contentious or ambitious, or how they were disposed of concerning friendship or strife.11

When philosophy had received a great accession, Pythagoras was admired by all Greece, and the best of those came to Samos on his account so that they might participate in his erudition. He taught physics, mathematics, geometry, ethical philosophy, and logic. He delivered all various disciplines and the most excellent sciences.12The citizens likewise employed him in all their embassies and compelled him to unite with them in the administration of public affairs. However, Pythagoras decided that it was not the best thing for him to do. Instead, he decided that Italy was the place to be, where men well-disposed to learning were found in the greatest number. On his arrival at Crotona, he had many followers, amounting to six hundred.13

He said that what is luxury should by all possible means be excluded from every house and city and that men should be accustomed from their birth to a temperate life. He said that it is requisite to be purified from all maledictions, whether it is lamentable, or that which exits hostility, and whether it is reviling, or insolent, or abusive.14 He said that women should not wear gold.15

He believed their possessions should be shared in common. They lived together as a brotherhood and as a family. If one wanted to leave, he received all that he brought with him, and in addition, he was given more.16

Each of the Greeks who joined the Pythagoreans was ordered to use their native language.17

He rejected all flatulent food. He encouraged his students to abstain from such things as impede to prophesy, or to the chastity of the soul, or the habit of temperance, or of virtue. He ordered them never to sacrifice animals to the Gods, nor by any means to injure animals. He encouraged them to abstain from anything animated, nor drink wine or beans because of many sacred and physical causes, and such reasons pertain to the soul. He ordered those politicians that were legislators to abstain from animals. For as they wished to act in the highest degrees justly, it is certainly necessary that they not injure any kindred animal. Since how could they persuade others to act justly if they were detected in indulging an insatiable avidity by partaking of animals that are allied to us?

18 Pythagoras was likewise of the opinion that music contributed greatly to health if it was used appropriately. At another time, he used music in the place of medicine. There are certain melodies devised as remedies against the passion of the soul and against despondency and lamentation, which Pythagoras invented as things that afford the greatest assistance in these maladies. He employed other melodies against rage and anger and every aberration of the soul.19

(62) He invented harmonic science and harmonic ratios. He predicted earthquakes, rapid expulsions of pestilence, violent winds, etc.20

He did not believe in woolen coverlets.21

He was married and had a son and a daughter. Damo was the name of his daughter, and Telauges was the name of his son., 22

The slave of Pythagoras, Zamolxis, being a Thracian, after he had heard the discourses of Pythagoras, having obtained his liberty, and returned to his city, gave laws to them and urged the citizens to fortitude, having persuaded them that the soul is immortal, that it cannot be destroyed, but that it remains after death, and that death is not to be feared, they considered him as the greatest of the Gods.23

Some of the Pythagoreans were political characters and adapted to govern. They were the guardians of the laws and ruled over certain Italian cities, unfolding to them and counseling them to adopt the most extraordinary measures but abstaining from public revenue.24

When Abaris, the Scythian, came from the Hyperboreans, Pythagoras instructed him on the shortest way in his Treatise on Nature and the Gods. Abaris was a priest of the Apollo, who is there worshipped; He is an older man and most wise in sacred concerns. At the time, he was returning from Greece to his own country to consecrate to the God in his temple among the Hyperboreans the gold he had collected. Passing through Italy and seeing Pythagoras, he especially assimilated him to the God of whom he was the priest. And believing that no man resembled him, but that he was truly Apollo, both from the venerable indications, which he saw about him and from those which the priest had known before, he gave Pythagoras a dart which he took with him when he left the temple, as a thing that would be useful to him in the difficulties that would befall him in so long a journey.

He was carried by it, passing through inaccessible places, such as rivers, lakes, marshes, mountains, and the like, and performing through it, lustrations and expelled pestilence and winds from the cities that requested him to liberate them from these evils. Pythagoras took the dart and did not ask why it was given to him, but as if he was, in reality, a god himself. Taking Abaris aside, he showed him his golden thigh, an indication that he was not wholly deceived in the opinion he had formed of him. He said that he came into the region of mortality to remedy and benefit the condition of humankind and on that account, he had assumed a human form, lest men being disturbed by the novelty of his transcendency should avoid the discipline which he possessed.25

Pythagoras learned from the Orphic writers that a number defines the essence of the gods. He also produced an admirable foreknowledge and worship of the Gods through the same numbers, both of which are especially most allied to numbers.26

Pythagoras affected the dissolution of tyranny. He liberated Sicily from the cruelest and most arbitrary power. Epimenides, a student of Pythagoras, when certain persons intended to destroy him, invoked the Furies and the avenging Gods, and by so doing caused all those that attempted his life to destroy each other.27

While Pythagoras was out of the city, Cylon, a wealthy, violent, turbulent man, had the greatest desire of being made a partaker of the Pythagoric life, but he was rejected. So vehement and immoderate was the ambition of Cylon. And those who arranged themselves on his side, that it extended itself to the very last of the Pythagoreans. The Cylonians became so hostile to the Pythagoreans that they set fire to the house of Milo, in which the Pythagoreans were seated. They burnt all but two. The Pythagoreans ceased to pay any further attention to the affairs of government.28

The Tyrant Dionysius could not obtain the friendship of any one of the Pythagoreans. He sent, therefore, to the ten Pythagoreans a troop of thirty soldiers in order by treachery their accustomed migration might be opportunely affected for his purpose. In Phalae, thus, a ragged part of Tarentum, though which the Pythagoreans must necessarily pass in their journey, the troops were concealed. When the Pythagoreans, expecting no such thing, came to that place, the soldiers rushed upon them with shouts, after the manner of robbers. But the Pythagoreans fled. But the Pythagoreans in their flight arrived at a certain field sown with beans and which were in a flourishing condition. Not willing to violate the dogma that ordered them not to touch the beans, they stood still and were slain by the thirty soldiers. Nor would any one of them suffer himself to be taken alive but preferred death to this, conformably to the mandates of their sect. The soldiers were disturbed that they could not bring Pythagorean to Dionysius, which was their purpose.

As they were returning, they met the Crotonian, Myllias, and his wife Timycha, whom the other Pythagoreans had left behind because Timycha was pregnant. She was now in her sixth month was walking leisurely. These, therefore, the soldiers gladly made captive and led them to the tyrant.

But the tyrant, having learned what happened, was greatly discouraged and said to the two Pythagoreans, "You shall obtain from me honors transcending all others in dignity if you will consent to reign in conjunction with me." However, all his offers were rejected by Mylias and Timycha. "If then," said he, "you will only teach me one thing, I will dismiss you with a sufficient safeguard." Millais, therefore, asked him what it was he wished.

"To learn," Dionysius replied, "Why your companions submitted to death so that they might not tread upon beans." But Myllias immediately answered, "My companions indeed submitted to death, so that they might not tread upon beans, but I would rather tread on them than tell you the cause of this." Dionysis, being astonished at this answer, ordered him to be forcibly taken away, but commanded Timycha to be tortured, for he thought that as she was a woman, pregnant, and deprived of her husband, she would easily tell him what he wanted to know, through fear of the torments. The heroic woman, however, grinding her tongue with her teeth, bit it off, and spit it at the tyrant; evincing by this, that though her sex being vanquished by the torments might be compelled to disclose something, which ought to be concealed in silence, yet the member subservient to the development of it, should be entirely cut off. So much difficulty did they make in admitting foreign friendships, even though they should happen to be royal. 29

They were not to divulge the teachings to others. If one did so, he was treated as being dead. A tomb would be raised to him.30

He reminded many of his familiars, by evident indications, of the former life which their soul lived, before it was bound to this body, and that he had been Euphorbus, the son of Panthus, who conquered Patroclus.31

It is said that as soon as he came to Italy and Sicily, which cities he understood had oppressed each other with slavery, partly at some distant period of past time, and partly at a recent period, he inspired the inhabitants with a love of liberty, and through the means of his auditors, restored to independence and liberated Crotona, Sybaris, Catanese, Rhegium, Himaera, Agrigentum, Tauromenas, and some other cities, for whom also he established laws, through Charondas, and others, by whom they became flourishing cities, and afforded an example worthy of imitation, for a long time, to the neighboring kingdoms.32

He said that the principle and doctrine of philosophy are that every life is co-arranged to follow God.33 To all those who read this, MAY YOUR NUMBER INCREASE, YOUR SOUND BECOME SWEETER, YOUR COLOR MORE REFINED SO THAT YOU MAY EVENTUALLY BECOME ONE WITH YOUR DIVINE FATHER WITHIN YOU!

Marguerite dar Boggia is the former Secretary, Membership Secretary, and Director for ISAR, the International Society for Astrological Research. She is the former Publisher of Kosmos, the ISAR journal. She is a co-founder of UAC and its past Secretary and Director. Her goal is to serve humanity and the spiritual Hierarchy of our planet. To that end, she offers FREE, online, three pages weekly of the Ageless Wisdom Teachings known by Pythagoras. These teachings include information that Albert Einstein received. To receive these studies, she can be contacted through her website, which she created at the age of 90. These teachings prepare us for discipleship.


Iamblichus' Life of Pythagoras Translated from the Greek by Thomas Taylor; Inner Traditions International, Ltd. 1986

2. (Ibid) p.3

3. (Ibid) p.4

4. (Ibid) p.5

5. (Ibid) p.9

6. (Ibid) pp.29-30

7 (Ibid) p. 75

8 (Ibid) p. 36

9(Ibid) p. 108

10 (Ibid) pp.25-26

11 (Ibid) p. 51

12 (Ibid) p. 84

13 (Ibid) p. 13

14 (Ibid) p. 91

15 (Ibid) p. 99

16 (Ibid) p. 42

(Ibid) p. 123

18 (Ibid) p.p. 57-58

19 (Ibid) p. 59

20 (Ibid) p. 62

21 (Ibid) p. 54

22 (Ibid) p. 77

23 (Ibid) p. 92

24 (Ibid) p. 69

25 (Ibid) pp.49-50

26 (Ibid) p.79

27 (Ibid) p.114

28 (Ibid) p.128

29 (Ibid) pp. 101-102

30 (Ibid) p. 39

31 (Ibid) p. 30

32 (Ibid) p. 16

33 (Ibid) p. 46

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