THE PYTHAGOREAN SOURCEBOOK AND LIBRARY
THE LIFE OF PYTHAGORAS
DIOGENES LAERTIUS, who flourished during the third century of the common era, is best known for his remarkable compilation, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, in which this Life of Pythagoras appears.
In compiling his biographical encyclopedia of Greek philosophy, Diogenes drew on a great many sources of varying quality. His work is especially valuable because, like Iamblichus and Porphyry, he quotes many earlier writers, often verbatim.
A convenient edition of the entire Lives of the Eminent Philosophers appears in two volumes, in the Loeb Classical Library, published by Harvard University Press. The divisions of the following text are those of Guthrie.
THE LIFE OF PYTHAGORAS
SINCE 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 the Italian School, which was founded by Pythagoras, the son of Mnesarchus, a gem-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, after they had driven out the Tyrrhenians, had occupied. 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 Phlious; and that Marmacus settled in Samos, and that from this this circumstance Pythagoras was called a Samian. After that, he migrated to Lesbos, having come to Pherecydes, with letters from his uncle Zoilus. Then he made three silver goblets, and carried them to Egypt as a present for each of the three priests. He had brothers, the eldest of whom was named Eunomus, the second one Tyrrhenus, and a slave named Zalmoxis, to whom the Getae sacrifice, believing him to be the same as Kronos, according to the account of Herodotus (iv. 93).
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 already an old man now.
AS HE WAS a youth devoted to learning, he left his country, and had himself initiated into 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 learned the Egyptian language as Antiphon tells us, in his treatise On Those Men Who Have Become Conspicuous for Virtue, and he also associated with the Chaldeans and Magi.
Afterwards he went to Crete, and in company with Epimenides, he descended into the Idaean cave -- and in Egypt too he had entered into the holiest parts of their temples, and learned all the most secret mysteries that relate to their Gods. Then he returned again to Samos, and finding his country under the absolute dominion of Polycrates, he set sail, and fled to Croton in Italy. Having given laws to the Italians, he there gained a very high reputation, together with his followers, who were about three hundred in number, and governed the republic in a most excellent manner, so that the constitution was very nearly an aristocracy.
HERACLEIDES OF PONTUS says that he was accustomed to speak of himself in this manner: that he had formerly been Aethalides, and had been accounted to be the son of Hennes, and that Hennes had desired him to select any gift he pleased except immortality. Accordingly, he had requested that, whether living or dead, he might preserve the memory of what had happened to him. While, therefore, he was alive, he recalled everything, and when he was dead he retained the same memory. At a subsequent period he passed into Euphorbus, and was wounded by Menelaus. While he was Euphorbus, he used to say that he had formerly been Aethalides; and that he had received as a gift from Hermes 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 Hades, and what sufferings too are endured by the rest of the souls.
But after Euphorbus died, he said that his soul had passed into Hermotimus, and when he wished to convince people of this, he went into the territory of the Branchidae, and going into the temple of Apollo, he showed his shield which Menelaus had dedicated there as an offering. For he said that he, when he sailed from Troy, had offered up his shield which was already getting worn out, to Apollo, and that nothing remained but the ivory face which was on it. He said that when Hermotimus died he had become Pyrrhus, a fisherman of Delos, and that he still recollected everything, how he had formerly been Aethalides, then Euphorbus, then Hennotimus, and then Pyrrhus. When Pyrrhus died, he became Pythagoras, and still recollected all the circumstances I have been mentioning.
NOW THEY 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, practiced inquiry beyond all other men, and making selections from these writings he thus formed a wisdom of his own, an extensive learning, and cunning art."  Thus he speaks, because Pythagoras, in the beginning of his treatise On Nature, 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."
There are three volumes extant written by Pythagoras, one On Education, one On Politics, and one On Nature. The treatise which is now extant under the name of Pythagoras is the work of Lysis of Tarentum, a philosopher of the Pythagorean school, who fled to Thebes and became the teacher of Epaminondas. Heracleides, the son of Serapion, in his Abridgement of Sotion, says that he wrote a poem in epic verse On the Universe, and secondly the Sacred Poem which begins thus:
Thirdly he wrote On the Soul; fourthly On Piety; fifthly Helothales, the Father of Epicharmus of Cos; sixthly, Croton, and other works 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 Croton, and attributed to Pythagoras.
Aristoxenus asserts that Pythagoras derived the greater part of his ethical doctrines from Themistoclea, the priestess at Delphi. Ion of Chios, in his Triagmi, says that he wrote some poems and attributed them to Orpheus. His also, it is said, is the poem called Scopiads, which begins thus:
SOSICRATES, in his Successions of Philosophers, relates that when asked who he was by Leon, the tyrant of the Phliasians, Pythagoras replied, "A philosopher." He adds that Pythagoras used to compare life to the Greater Games where some people come to contend for the prizes, and others for the purposes of traffic, but the best as spectators. So also in life the men of slavish dispositions are born hunters after glory and covetousness, but philosophers are seekers after the truth. Thus he spoke on this subject.
But in the three treatises above mentioned, the following principles are laid down by Pythagoras. He forbids men to pray for anything in particular for themselves, because they do not know what is good for them. He terms drunkenness an expression identical with ruin, and rejects all superfluity, saying that no one ought to exceed the proper quantity of meat and drink. On the subject of venereal pleasures, he says, "One ought to sacrifice to Aphrodite in the winter, not in the summer, and in autumn and spring in a lesser degree. But the practice is pernicious at every season, and is never good for the health." And once, when he was asked when a man might indulge in the pleasures of love, he replied, "Whenever you wish to be weaker than yourself."
THUS DOES HE divide the ages of life: "A boy for twenty years, a young man for twenty years, a middle aged man for twenty years, and an old man for twenty. These different ages correspond proportionately to the seasons; boyhood answers to the spring, youth to the summer, middle age to autumn, and old age to winter," meaning by youth one not yet grown, and by young man one of mature age.
TIMAEUS says that he was the first person to assert that "The property of friends is common," and that "Friendship is equality. " His disciples used to put all their possessions together into one store, and use them in common. For five years they kept silence, doing nothing but listening 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 Zeus is made of that wood, as Hermippus tells us in the second book of his account On Pythagoras.
HE IS SAID to have been a man of the most dignified appearance, and his disciples adopted an opinion that he was Apollo who had come from the Hyperboreans. It is also said that once when he was stripped naked he was seen to have a golden thigh, and many people affirmed that when he was crossing the river Nessus it addressed him by 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 divinities, being successively called Virgins, Nymphs, and then Mothers.
ALSO it was Pythagoras who carried geometry to perfection, after Moeris had first found out the principles of the elements of that science, as Auticlides tells us in the second book of his History of Alexander, and that the part of that science to which Pythagoras applied himself above all others was arithmetic. He discovered the numerical relation of sounds on the monochord, and he also studied medicine. Apollodorus the logician says of him that he sacrificed a hecatomb, when he had discovered that the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle was equal to the squares of the sides containing the right angle. There is an epigram which is couched in the following terms:
HE is also said to have been the first man who trained athletes on meat. 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 informs us in the eight book of his Miscellaneous 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 as he even forbade men to kill animals at all, much less would he have allowed his disciples to eat them, since they have 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 cook them, and if they drank plain water; for from this diet they would derive health of body and acuteness of intellect.
The only altar at which he worshipped was that of Apollo the Giver of Life, at Delos, which is at the back of the Altar of Horns, because wheat and barley, and cheese cakes are the only offerings laid upon it, as it is not dressed by fire, and no victim is ever slain there, as Aristotle tells us, in his Constitution of the Delians. It is also said that he was the first person who asserted that the soul, revolving around the circle of necessity, is transformed and confined at different times in different bodies.
HE was also the first person who introduced measures and weights among the Greeks, as Aristoxenus the musician informs us.
PARMENIDES assures us too that he was the first person who asserted the identity of Hesperus and Phosphorus [the Evening and Morning Star].
HE was so greatly admired that it used to be said that his disciples looked on all his sayings as the oracles of God. In his writings he himself said that he had come among men after having spent two hundred and seven years among the shades below. Therefore the Lucanians, Peucetians, Messapians and Romans flocked around him, coming with eagerness to hear his discourses. But until the time of Philolaus no doctrines of Pythagoras were ever divulged, and he was the first person who published the three celebrated books which Plato wrote to have purchased from him for a hundred minas. The students who used to come to his nightly lectures were no less than six hundred. Whenever anyone of them was permitted to see him, he wrote of it to his friends, as if they had achieved something wonderful.
The people of Metapontum used to call his house the Temple of Demeter, and the street leading to it was called that of the Muses, as we are informed in the Miscellaneous History of Favorinus.
According to the account given by Aristoxenus in his tenth book of his Rules of Education, the rest of the Pythagoreans used to say that his precepts ought not to be divulged to all the world; and Xenophilus the Pythagorean, when he was asked what was the best way for a man to educate his son, said, "That he must first of all take care that he is born in a city which enjoys good laws."
Pythagoras formed many excellent men in Italy, by his precepts, and among them the lawgivers Zaleucus and Charondas.
PYTHAGORAS was famous for his power of attracting friendships; and among other things, if he ever heard that anyone had adopted his symbolic precepts, he at once made him a companion and a friend.
NOW WHAT HE CALLED his symbols were such as these. Do not poke the fire with a sword. Do not violate the beam of a balance. 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 God on a ring. Efface the traces of a pot in the ashes. Do not wipe a seat with a lamp. Do not urinate towards the sun. Do not walk in the main street. Do not offer your hand lightly. Do not cherish swallows under your roof. Do not cherish birds with crooked talons. Do not urinate or stand upon the parings of your nails, or the cuttings of your hair. Avoid a sharp sword. When travelling abroad, do not look back at your own borders.
Now the precept not to poke the fire with a sword meant not to provoke the anger or swelling pride of powerful men; do not 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 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 this 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 long-winded here.
ABOVE ALL THINGS, he used to prohibit the eating of the red mullet and the blacktail; also the hearts of animals, and beans. Aristotle informs us that to these prohibitions he sometimes added tripe and gurnard. Some authors assert that he himself used to be contented with honey, honey-eomb and bread, and that he never drank wine during the day. He usually ate vegetables, either boiled or raw, and he very rarely ate fish. His dress was white, very clean; his bed-clothes also were white, and woollen, for linen had not yet been introduced in 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. He never chastised anyone, whether slave or free man, while he was angry. Admonishing he used to call "feeding storks."
He used to practice divination, as far as auguries and auspices, but not by means of burnt offerings, except only the burning of frankincense. 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 never offered lambs. Aristoxenus, however, affirms that he permitted the eating of all other animals, and abstained only from oxen used in agriculture, and from rams.
THE SAME AUTHOR tells us, as I have already mentioned, that he received his doctrines from Themistoclea, [the priestess] at Delphi. Hieronymus says, that when he descended into 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, with snakes around it, as a punishment for the things that they said of the Gods. Those who refrained from commerce with their wives also were punished, and that on account of this he was greatly honored at Croton.
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). 
He used to admonish his disciples to repeat these lines to themselves whenever they returned home to their houses:
He used to forbid them to offer sacrificial victims to the Gods, ordering them to worship only at those altars which were unstained with blood. He also forbade them 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 behooves them to honor their elders, thinking that most honorable which is prior in time, just as in the world, the rising of the sun is more so than the setting, in life, the beginning more so than the end, and in animals, production more so than destruction.
Another of his rules was that men should honor the Gods above the daimons, and heroes above men, and that of all men, parents are those entitled to more honor. He held that people should associate with each other in such a way as not to make their friends enemies, but to render their enemies friends. Another rule was that they should not think anything exclusively their own. Another was to assist the law, and to make war upon lawlessness. He said not to destroy or to injure a cultivated tree, nor any animal which does not injure man. Modesty and decorum consist in never yielding to laughter, without looking stem. Men should avoid eating too much flesh, and in travelling should let rest and exertion alternate; that they should exercise memory, nor ever say or do anything in anger; to respect every kind of divination, to sing songs accompanied by the lyre, and to display a reasonable gratitude to the Gods and eminent men by hymns.
His disciples were forbidden to eat beans because, as they are flatulent, they greatly partake of animal properties; and besides, the stomach is kept in much better order by avoiding them, and such abstinence makes the visions that appear in one's sleep gentle and free from agitation.
Alexander, in his Successions of Philosophers, reports the following doctrines as contained in the Pythagorean memoirs. The Monad is the beginning of everything. From this proceeds the Indefinite Dyad, which is subordinate to the Monad, as to its cause. From the Monad and the Indefinite Dyad proceed numbers. From numbers proceed points. From these, lines, of which plane figures consist. From these plane figures are derived solid bodies. From solid bodies are derived sensible bodies, of which there are four elements, fire, water, earth, and air. The world, which is endued with life and intellect, and which is of a spherical figure, in its center containing the earth, which is also spherical, and inhabited allover, results from a combination of these elements, and from them derives its motion. There are also antipodes, and what to us is below, is to them above.
He also taught that light and darkness, cold and heat, dryness and moisture, are equally divided in the world; and that, while heat is predominant in summer, so when cold prevails, it is winter; when dryness prevails, it is spring; and when moisture preponderates, autumn. The loveliest season of the year is when all these qualities are equally balanced, of which the flourishing spring is the most wholesome, and the autumn the most pernicious. Of day, the most flourishing period is the morning, while the evening is the fading one, and the least healthy.
Another of his theories was that the air around the earth is immovable, and pregnant with disease, and that in it everything is mortal, while the upper air is in perpetual motion, and salubrious; and that in it everything is immortal, and on that account divine. The sun, moon and the stars are all Gods; for in them dominates the principle which is the cause of living things. The moon derives its light from the sun. There is a relationship between men and the Gods, because men partake of the divine principle, on which count, therefore, God exercises his providence for our advantage. Fate is the cause of the arrangement of the world, both in general and in particular. From the sun a ray penetrates both the cold aether, which is the air, aer, and the dense aether, pachun aithera, which is the sea and moisture. This ray descends into the depths and in this way vivifies all things. Everything which partakes of the principle of heat lives, by which account, also, plants are animated beings, but not all living beings necessarily have souls. The soul is something torn off from the aether, both warm and cold, for it partakes of the cold aether too. The soul is something different from life. It is immortal, because of the immortality of that from which it was torn.
Animals are born from one another by seeds [sperm], and it is impossible for there to be any spontaneous generation by the earth. Sperm is a drop from the brain which in itself contains a warm vapor, and when this is applied to the womb, it transmits moisture, virtue, and blood from the brain, from which flesh, sinews, bones and hair, and the whole body are produced. From the vapor is produced the soul and also sensation. The infant first becomes a solid being 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. In itself it contains 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.
In general the senses, and especially sight, are a vapor of intense heat, on which account a man is said to see through air, or through water. For the hot principle is opposed by the cold one; since, if the vapor 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. In a similar manner he speaks of hearing, and of the other senses.
He also says that the soul of man is divided into three parts: into intelligence, reason, and passion; and that the first and last divisions are found also in other animals, but that the middle one, reason, is found in man only. The chief abode of the soul is in those parts of the body which are between the heart and the brain. Passion abides in the heart, while intelligence and reason reside in the brain.
The senses are distillations of these, and the reasoning sense is immortal, while the others are mortal. The soul is nourished by the blood, and the faculties are the winds of the soul. The soul is invisible, and so are its faculties, inasmuch as the aether itself is invisible. The bonds of the soul are the arteries, veins and nerves. When the soul is vigorous, and is by itself in a quiescent state, then its bonds are words and actions. When it is cast forth upon the earth, it wanders about, resembling the body. Hermes is the steward of the souls, and that is the reason he is called Guide, Keeper of the Gate, and Subterranean, since it is he who conducts the souls from their bodies, and from earth, and sea. He conducts the pure souls to the highest region, and he does not allow the impure ones to approach them, nor to come near one another, committing 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 that are accounted daimons or heroes. They are the ones that send down among men dreams, and tokens of disease and health; the latter not being reserved to human beings, but being sent also to sheep and cattle as well. They are concerned with purifications, expiations, and all kinds of divinations, oracular predictions, and the like.
Man's most important privilege is to be able to persuade his soul to be either good or bad. Men are happy when they have a good soul; yet [if bad] they are never quiet, never long retaining the same mind. An oath is justice; and on that account Zeus is God of Oaths. Virtue is harmony, health, universal good and God, on which account everything owes its existence and preservation to harmony. Friendship is a harmonious quality.
Honors to Gods and heroes should not be equal. The Gods should be honored at all times, extolling them with praises, clothed in white garments, and keeping one's body chaste; but, to the heroes, such honors should not be paid till after noon.
A state of purity is brought about by purifications, washings and lustrations, by a man's purifying himself from all deaths and births, or any kind of pollution, by abstaining from all animals that have died, from mullets, from gurnards, from eggs, from such animals as lay eggs, from beans, and from other things that are prohibited by those who have charge of the mysteries in the temples.
In his treatise On the Pythagoreans, Aristotle says that Pythagoras' reason for demanding abstention from beans on the part of his disciples, was that either they resemble genitals, or because they are like the gates of hell [... ] they are the only plants without parts, or because they dry up other plants, or because they are representative 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 to eat moderately, or else because such things belong to the dead. Aristophanes, indeed, said that what fell belonged to the heroes, in his Heroes singing,
He also forbade his disciples to eat white poultry, because a cock of that color was sacred to the Month, and was also a suppliant. Now white is an indication of a good nature, and black of a bad one. He was also accounted a good animal and he was sacred to the Month, for he indicates the time.
The Pythagoreans were also forbidden to eat of all fish that were sacred, on the grounds that the same animals should not be served up before both Gods and men, just as the same things do not belong to both freemen and slaves.
Another of the precepts of Pythagoras was never to break bread because in ancient times friends used to gather around the same loaf, as they even now do among the barbarians. Nor would he allow men to divide bread which united them. Some think that he laid down this rule in reference to the judgment which takes place in Hades, some because this practice engenders timidity in war. According to others, the reference is to the union which presides over the government of the universe.
Another one of his doctrines was that, of all solid figures, the sphere is the most beautiful, and of all plane figures, the circle. He held that old age and all diminution is similar, as is all increase and youth. Health, he said, is the permanence of form, and disease, its destruction. He thought salt should be set before people as a reminder of things just, for salt preserves everything which it touches, and comes from the purest sources, the sun and the sea.
These are the doctrines which Alexander asserts that he discovered in the Pythagorean treatises; what follows is Aristotle's.
TIMON, in his Silli, has not left unnoticed the dignified appearance of Pythagoras, though he attacks him on other points. Thus he speaks of:
Referring to his having been different people at different times, Xenophanes says in an elegiac poem, that begins thus:
Cratinus also ridiculed him in his Pythagorean Woman, and in his Tarentines he speaks thus:
In his Alcmaeon, Mnesimachus says:
And Austophon says in his Pythagorean:
And 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 of those whom he did not think worthy of admission into it, were by envy excited to set fire to it. But some say that the people of Croton themselves did this, being afraid lest he might aspire to the tyranny. 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. In this way also, most of his companions were slain, being about forty in number, but a very few did escape, among whom were Archippus of Tarentum, and Lysis, whom I have mentioned before.
But Dicaearchus states that Pythagoras died later, having escaped as far as the temple of the Muses at Metapontum, where he died of [self-imposed] starvation after forty days. Heracleides, in his Epitome of the Lives of Satyrus, says that after he had buried Pherecydes at Delos, he returned to Italy, and there finding a superb banquet prepared at the house of Milo of Croton, he left that city, for Metapontum, where, not wishing any longer to live, he put an end to his life by starvation. But Hermippus says that when there was war between the Agrigentines and the Syracusans, Pythagoras, with his usual companions, joined the Agrigentine army, which was put to flight. Coming up against a field of beans, instead of crossing it, he ran around it, and so was slain by the Syracusans, and the rest, about thirty-five in number, were burned at the stake in Tarentum, where they were trying to set up a new government against the prevailing magistrates.
Hermippus also relates another story about Pythagoras. When in Italy, he made a subterranean apartment, and charged his mother to write an account of everything that took place, marking the time of each on a tablet, then sending them down to him until he should ascend. His mother did so. Then after a certain time Pythagoras came up again, lean, and looking like a skeleton, he came into the public assembly, and said that he had arrived from Hades below, and then he recited to them all that had happened to them in the meanwhile. Being charmed with what he told them, they believed that Pythagoras was a divine being, so they wept and lamented, and even entrusted to him their wives, as likely to learn some good from him, and they took upon themselves the name of Pythagorean women. Thus far Hermippus.
PYTHAGORAS had a wife whose name was Theano, the daughter of Brontinus of Croton. Some say that she was the wife of Brontinus, and only Pythagoras' pupil. As Lysis mentions in his letter to Hipparchus, he had a daughter named Damo. Lysis' letter speaks of Pythagoras thus: "And many say that you philosophize in public, as Pythagoras deemed unworthy; for, when he had entrusted his commentaries to his daughter Damo, he charged her not to divulge them to anyone outside of the house. Though she might have sold his discourses for much money, she did not abandon them; for she thought that obedience to her father's injunctions, even though this entailed poverty, was better than gold, and for all that she was a woman."
He had also a son, named Telauges, who was his father's successor in his school, and who, according to some authors, was the teacher of Empedocles. At least Hippobotus relates that Empedocles said,
There is no book extant which is the work of Telauges, though there are some extant that are attributed to his mother Theano. Of her is told a story, that once, when asked how long it was before a woman becomes pure after intercourse, she said, "The moment she leaves her own husband, she is pure; but she is never pure at all, after she leaves anyone else." A woman who was going to her husband was by her told to put off her modesty with her clothes, and when she left him, to resume it therewith. When she was asked, "What clothes?" she replied, "Those which cause you to be called a woman."
NOW PYTHAGORAS, according to Heracleides, the son of Serapion, died when he was eighty years of age, according to his own account; by that of others, he was over ninety. On him we have written a sportive epigram, as follows:
Another, which runs thus:
Another, which follows:
Another one follows:
HE FLOURISHED about the sixtieth Olympiad (532-528 B.C.E.) and his system lasted for about nine or ten generations. The last Pythagoreans known to Aristoxenus were Xenophilus the Chalcidean, from Thrace, Phanton the Philiasian with his countrymen Echecrates, Diocles and Polymnastus, disciples of Philolaus and Eurytus of Tarentum.
PYTHAGORAS was the name of four men, almost contemporaneous, and living close to each other. One was a native of Croton, a man with a tyrant's leanings; the second was a Phliasian, and as some say, a trainer of athletes. The third was a native of Zacynthus; the fourth was this our philosopher, to whom the mysteries of philosophy are said to belong, and in whose time the proverbial phrase, ipse dixit ("the Master said"), arose generally. Some also claim the existence of a fifth Pythagoras, a sculptor of Rhegium, who is believed to have been the first discoverer of rhythm and proportion. Another was a Samian sculptor. Another, an orator of small reputation. Another was a physician, who wrote a treatise on hernias, and some essays on Homer. Dionysius tells us there was another who wrote a history of the affairs of the Dorians.
Eratosthenes, quoted by Favorinus in the eighth book of his Miscellaneous History, tells us that this philosopher, of whom we are speaking, was the first man who ever practiced boxing in a scientific manner, in the forty-eighth Olympiad (588-584 B.C.E.), having long hair, and being robed in purple. From competition with boys he was rejected; but being ridiculed for his application for this, he immediately entered among the men, and was victorious. Among other things, this statement is confirmed by an epigram of Theaetetus:
Favorinus says that he employed definitions on account of the mathematical subjects to which he applied himself. Socrates and his pupils did still more, and in this they were later followed by Aristotle and the Stoics.
He too was the first man who applied to the universe the name kosmos, and who first called the earth round, though Theophrastus attributes this to Parmenides, and Zeno to Hesiod. It is also said that he had a constant adversary, named Cylon, as Socrates' was Antilochus. This epigram was formerly repeated concerning Pythagoras the athlete:
EXTANT is a letter of our philosopher's, which follows:
But 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. Now Telauges and Theano we have mentioned, so we must now speak of Empedocles, in the first place, for according to some accounts, he was a pupil of Pythagoras.
[Guthrie has omitted some genealogical material here.]
TIMAEUS, in the ninth book of his Histories, relates that Empedocles was a pupil of Pythagoras, saying that he was afterwards convicted of having divulged his doctrines, in the same way as Plato was, and that he was therefore henceforth forbidden from attending his school. It is said that Empedocles had Pythagoras in mind when he said:
But some say the philosopher was here referring to Parmenides.
Neanthes relates that until the time of Philolaus and Empedocles the Pythagoreans used to admit all persons indiscriminately into their schools; but when Empedocles by means of his poems publicized the doctrines, then they made a law to admit no epic poet. They said that the same thing happened to Plato, for that he too was excluded from the school. Empedocles' Pythagorean teacher is not mentioned; and as for the letter of Telauges, in which he is stated to have been a pupil of Hippasus and Brontinus, that is not worthy of belief. But Theophrastus says that he was an imitator and rival of Parmenides in his poems, for that he too had delivered his opinions on natural philosophy in epic verse.
Hermippus, however, says that he was an imitator not of Parmenides, but of Xenophanes with whom he lived; and that he imitated his epic style, and that it was at a later period that he fell in with the Pythagoreans. But Alcimadas, in his Physics, says that Zeno and Empedocles were pupils of Pannenides, about the same time, and that they subsequently left him. Zeno was said to have adopted a philosophical system peculiar to himself, but Empedocles became a pupil of Anaxagoras and Pythagoras, and he imitated the demeanor and way of life and gestures of the latter, and the natural philosophy of the other...
1. Heraclitus didn't care very much for polymaths, hence his disapproval of Pythagoras.
2. Pythios is the name of Apollo at Delphi. Iamblichus also alludes in chapter 1 of his biography to the etymological connection between the name Pythagoras and the Delphic Apollo.