Life of Pythagoras


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Iamblichus’┬áLife of Pythagoras, or Pythagoric Life

Accompanied by fragments of the Ethical Writings of certain Pythagoreans in the Doric Dialect; and a collection of Pythagoric Sentences from Stobaeus and others, which are omitted by Gale in his Opuscula Mythologica, and have not been noticed by any editor.

The oldest extant biography of Pythagoras. Translated with notes by the eminent English Platonist, Thomas Taylor. First published 1818.

“Conceiving, however, that the first attention which should be paid to men, is that which takes place through the senses; as when some one perceives beautiful figures and forms, or hears beautiful rhythms and melodies, he established that to be the first erudition which subsists through music… he arranged and adapted for his disciples what are called apparatus and contrectations, divinely contriving mixtures of certain diatonic, chromatic, and euharmonic melodies, through which he easily transferred and circularly led the passions of the soul into a contrary direction. . .

“Pythagoras, however, did not procure for himself a thing of this kind through instruments or the voice, but employing a certain ineffable divinity, and which it is difficult to apprehend, he extended his ears, and fixed his intellect in the sublime symphonies of the world, he alone hearing and understanding, as it appears, the universal harmony and consonance of the spheres, and the stars that are moved through them, and which produce a fuller and more intense melody than any thing effected by mortal sounds. . .

“he determined to exhibit certain images of these things to his disciples as much as possible, especially producing an imitation of them through instruments, and through the mere voice alone… But he apprehended that other men ought to be satisfied in looking to him. . .

“in consequence of their inability to comprehend truly the first and genuine archetypes of things. Just, indeed, as to those who are incapable of looking intently at the sun, through the transcendent splendour of his rays, we contrive to exhibit the eclipses of that luminary, either in the profundity of still water, or through melted pitch, or through some darkly-splendid mirror. . .”

Life of Pythagoras, Iamblichus, John M. Watkins, 1926

First edition. Ex-library, formerly belonging to the Theosophical Society, Manchester City Lodge. Usual markings.