Pythagoras Ways and Wisdom



To talk, or to write, about Pythagoras is not easy. First of all, most of his teaching was done only orally. Second, his teachings date back some 2500 years ago. Third, his teaching was done partly in the secrecy of a very selective school. Forth, most of what was put down in writing was lost. Nonetheless, his influence was so big that he was very famous in all the civilized world at the time of his life and he is still PythagorasGeometryquite famous worldwide even to this day, some 2500 years later. Contrary to other famous historical leaders, like Confucius, or Buddha, Zarathustra, Laozi or Jesus, he was a major figure of world history not only from a spiritual point of view, but also from a philosophical, scientific and a political point of view, and consequently no 'second' to any of these great moral Masters. The only problem is that most of what we know from him, or about him, comes from what others wrote about him (because of his unique fame), and that many of these writings reached us only in a fragmented way, and through a wide variety of antiquated languages still difficult to decipher. In other words, to write a complete biography and compendium of the ideas of Pythagoras, in all the sectors of human activity where he got involved, would require enormous research in assembling all the elements of an incredibly huge puzzle. Consequently, very few biographers have gone through that kind of extenuating job that would have absorbed many long years of their professional life.

Fortunately at least two good such writers have done so in the last century. Unfortunately they are not of easy access. One is Italian (Vincenzo Capparelli) and the other one is Greek (Ippokratis Dakoglou). The first one, Capparelli, wrote four books on Pythagoras but they are still only available in Italian. The second one, Dakoglou, wrote 5 books on Pythagoras but they are still only available in Greek, and even in 'High Greek' (pure Katharevousa) as opposed to current modern Greek. None of these 9 book were ever translated in English. These 9 book are the main source of the following notes on "Pythagoras Ways and Wisdom". Capparelli wrote his first two books with the title: "La Sapienza di Pitagora" (The Wisdom of Pythagoras). Then he followed with two more books called "Il Messaggio di Pitagora" (The Message of Pythagoras). As for Dakoglou, he wrote a series of books in 5 volumes called "Ο ΜΥΣΤΙΚΟΣ ΚΩΔΙΚΑΣ ΤΟΥ ΠΥΘΑΓΟΡΑ" (The Secret Code of Pythagoras). Capparelli died in 1958 after spending about 40 long years studying Pythagoras. His first book was published in 1944. Dakoglou is a very old man, who turned 100 (in 2010), still in perfect physical and mental shape, who spent even more time, some 70 long years so far, studying Pythagoras. These two authors never got to know each other. Between the two of them there are about 110 years of intensive study and meticulous research involved in their writings on Pythagoras, and they are thus the eminent sources of the following notes taken while reading their 9 books.

There are two more authors we want to mention as separate sources as they have not specialized exclusively on Pythagoras like the two previous ones. They both however have spent more than 50 years each studying the philosophy of Ancient-Greece with a lot of emphasis on Pythagoras. The first author is the French philosopher and writer Pierre Hadot. Unfortunately his many books are available only in French. According to the best Greek experts living today, he is 'the one' foreign philosopher who mostly understood the philosophy of Ancient-Greece, much more so than any of the more famous German or English contemporary philosophers. We find in his writings an incredible insight on the real Pythagorean origin of the whole system of philosophy of Ancient-Greece. The second one is the Italian author Claudio Lanzi who wrote many books, among which a huge one on Pythagoras, but only available in Italian: "Ritmi e Riti, Elementi di Geometria e Metafisica Pitagorica" (Rhythms and Rites, Elements of Pythagorean Geometry and Metaphysics).

Between these four authors, who worked completely separately, but nevertheless agree fully on all the essential points of the Pythagorean teachings, there is way over 200 years of research and study dedicated to Pythagoras specifically, in a dozen outstanding books, and these constitute the beautiful and substantial background of the simple following notes. 

In trying to clarify what the Pythagoras phenomenon was, a lot inevitably comes from Plato, and Aristotle. It is clear now, to the best world experts, like the three mentioned above, that Plato founded its Academy, some 150 years after Pythagoras, as a clear emulation of the Hemicycle School of Pythagoras which was seen as 'the' model. In turn Aristotle did something similar half a century after Plato, adding some personal style to his Lycée, but not deviating much from the Pythagorean foundation of his own thinking. Both Plato and Aristotle were real experts, and in many ways emulators, of Pythagoras' thinking. Much more remains from their work than from Pythagoras himself and therefore, studying them helps immensely understanding the Pythagoras phenomenon or confirm some aspects of his thinking. The Metaphysics of Numbers of Pythagoras, the apollonian visionary of Samos in Greece (or Crotone in Italy), clearly contained the seeds of the Theory of Ideas (or Archetypes) of Plato and the Theory of Forms of Aristotle. The seeds of this body of ideas are still very valid today to help improve human life and contemporary society. 


  1. Fame - Pythagoras travelled for some 30 years in all the known world at the time, in the 6th century BC, meeting and studying with the most knowledgeable representatives of all countries from a spiritual, philosophical, scientific and political point of view. That included Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, India, Crete and many other countries. He returned to Greece, in his Island of Samos, when he was about 50, where he founded his first school. He then soon moved to Crotone (in southern Italy, Calabria, that was considered the "Magna Grecia" - the 'Grand Greece' - at the time) where he finally established his main school. Because of his fame, he was received there as a kind of superior divine figure and his influence soon became enormous in all the extended Greek world at the time, and even outside. He was seen by local populations as a healer (from both a physical and spiritual point of view), a widely accepted and acclaimed political reformer, a top scientist in all branches of science at that time, and a philosopher with a school that was extremely in demand in spite of its studying severity and strong personal discipline. He addressed regularly, and very successfully, people from all walks of life, reconciled various cities, obtained freedom for others, gave woman a new dignity in society, and he spread ideas that profoundly transformed people and institutions of all kinds and levels. The most amazing thing however is that his philosophy was not only a formulation of concepts capable of making people understand the world, like it is the case with modern philosophy, from both a theoretical and a scientific point of view, but also at the same time the formulation of a personal discipline capable of making people achieve their best self-realization in this world, and thus achieve the most possible happiness available to human beings living on this Earth. This involved the development of the "Human Tetractys" at its 4 levels, as explained briefly in our previous page on the Pythagorean Man Emulation. It involved in fact the development of what became to be called the "Pythagorean Man" (as opposed to the "Faustian Man"), and the maintenance of a life style that the great philosophers Plato and Aristotle later on called beautifully the "Pythagorean Life Mode". Nothing of this nature had been done on that scale before Pythagoras and as such he is considered the real father and inventor of what we call "Education" in the best sense of the word.

  2. Objective - The Pythagoreans were the first to propose to the world the perspective of the possibility of the "Improvement of the Human Being", for the "Improvement of Society", but through a scientific method, that is the through the comprehension of the "Human Tetractys" and the acceptance of the related necessary discipline. Their intention was not however to create a "superman" (with the bad connotation that this word has today, and that is all the contrary of what Pythagoras had in mind), but the formation of kind of 'OverMan', an 'ExcellentMan' ("Aristos": from which Greek word we draw 'Aristocracy', with quite a deformed meaning today), capable of attaining his outmost internal perfection, in his body, in his soul/mind and in his spirit, consequently capable of attaining wisdom, happiness and his best contribution to society during his lifetime. The discipline involved in the attainment of this "Pythagorean Life Mode", as it was called by Aristotle, was not separate from studying things like medicine or mathematics, or politics or whatever, but intrinsically a part of all these studies. In his mind, one could not go without the other, and the harmonious development of all these aspects of a human being led the persons involved to get out of what philosopher Plato called the "Cavern" and to finally be able to contemplate the absolute "Good" of the Cosmos, in preparation for their reunification with the great "One" after a best possible meritocratic earthly life. This kind of Pythagorean Life Mode, or holistic Pythagorean approach to education, is what EthoPlasìn is trying to emulate today.

  3. Formation - Pythagoras was born around B.C. 590. Like Christ after him, there is a similar legend that says he was born from a virgin mother fecundated by God Apollo. When visiting Delphi, the Oracle there, Pizia, certainly predicted to his father he would bear an exceptionally handsome and sage son that would be of the greatest utility to the whole human gender. His father Mnesarcos was a rather well educated seal engraver and Pythagoras grew up in a harmonious environment of music, poetry, design and various other arts. He was given the best tutors in various fields from his tender youth. When he was only 12, he also competed at the Olympics and came out with an exceptional victory that stayed attached to his fame for the rest of his life as a philosopher, scientist and political reformer. He was learning so well and so quickly that, when he was just a teenager, the great philosopher Thales, one of his tutors, became instrumental in arranging extensive travelling for him, under the protection of many important adult travelers, in order for Pythagoras to be properly introduced and get in touch with,  and learn, all possible human knowledge from the best minds of the time. This included Egypt, where he did many trips during a period of some 20 years, and Babylonia where he probably also spent many years over a period of about 10 years. A total of about 30 years of travelling and intensive studying, where he was also initiated to the "Mysteries" of all these countries, including India, and Persia, not to mention the main Greek centers like Delphi, Sparta, Delos, Crete etc. During that period he sort of collected the best world knowledge in all fields of human interest, but he did so not as an ordinary student, but rather as that exceptional mind to whom even Thales, the greatest philosopher and scientist when Pythagoras was only a young adolescent, felt incapable of teaching him anything anymore. This is the Pythagoras who came back to Greece to stay, at about age 50, and established his main school, the Hemicycle, first in his island of Samos (in Greece), then in Crotone (in southern Italy) around B.C. 535.

  4. Life Style - Pythagoras first coined the word 'philosopher', as 'philo-sophos' (friend of wisdom). He was practicing daily meditation in complete isolation in an underground refuge, to better elaborate his ideas and reforms. He chose Crotone for his main school as it was in an environment with a younger population, more receptive to adapt to the type of change he had in mind from a personal and social point of view. The area was called ironically, by some modern writers, the "Hellenic America" of that time, that is a new world with people offering more ethical plasticity (like in 'EthoPlasìn') to receive new ideas. Crotone was also considered the area of the Greek world with the healthiest climate. Crotone was also the city with the greatest number of Olympic champions since their inception. The greatest champion of all times, until then, was Milone, who was trained by Pythagoras personally, and probably also became his son-in-law. The city of Crotone was also famous for the unique beauty of her women, let alone her male athletes. Pythagoras and Crotone were so famous, even for its medical science, that even the newly born republic of Rome sent one representative, Numa, to be formed and trained there. Many of the kings of the cities of Magna Graecia did the same. Pythagoras was tall, handsome, most eloquent and preaching discipline, virtue, simplicity, justice, meritocratic behavior and harmony to all he met, giving good personal example of all these attributes. He was however always refusing positions of importance, except as a background counselor. He never tried to negate, destruct, or punish but rather to transform, improve, and elevate the level of conduct and performance of his disciples. With his diplomatic and negotiating talents, he was able to resolve many political conflicts, internal and external, and reform the constitutions and laws of many cities, obtaining the freedom of other cities on his way. People used to think he was not teaching, but rather healing or curing the human souls involved in the problems he was resolving, like having some kind of divine power.

  5. Powers Over External Nature - Pythagoras also had special talents that made him look like he was doing miracles. In Olympia, in front of a huge crowd, he was able to call down a wild eagle to stand calmly on his hand while trying to explain the dignity of the human being, meant by God to command nature but also to respect and love the beings of the other kingdoms. He once commanded gently a wild and aggressive bear to obey him and return to the forest. He is claimed to have had the gifts of ubiquity and remote viewing, with powers to stop pestilence, calm tempests, predict important events like earthquakes and to cure sick people with exceptionally fast, sometimes practically instant, recovery. He was thus considered a powerful "Demiurge" ('Demiurgos') capable of what other normal people would consider miracles. This is certainly the way the great philosopher Porphyrios described him in his writings on Pythagoras around 300 A.D. He said that Pythagoras was still famous in his days, some 800 years after is death, for "having been so far, more than any other person on Earth, the author of such an amount of incredible accomplishments, in all fields of human activity, worthy only of a divine nature". Many other historians, like Jamblicus, Justine, Dione, Chrysostom and many others, had similar words regarding Pythagoras.

  6. Powers Over Human Nature - The fully formed Pythagorean disciples however, having developed their Human Tetractys with a spirit capable of attaining and expressing wisdom, had similar powers, even more important, to command not to external elements or wild animals, but to their internal inferior components, body and soul. They could talk to their organs for example, and gently command health. They could talk to their soul and command their passions. One of their objectives, and accomplishments in most cases, waDelphic Tripods to live a long harmonious life and die in good health, not because they were old or ill, but simply because time had come to make a step forward in another dimension. Pythagoras himself has been the best example of this. He died when he was close to 100 years old, still in perfect physical and mental health, and only because he was assassinated. A angry student, who had been rejected from his school, set fire to the house where he was living and Pythagoras died together with some of his closest collaborators. Otherwise he would probably have lived a few more years in good health as he probably felt his earthly mission had not been yet quite completed at that point. The Pythagorean Man was intended to become a demiurge with special powers to dominate himself and the nature, but spiritually, not mechanically, to handle nature from the inside, not from the outside, using his 'word' to co-create, like God, for the benefit of all living beings.

  7. Order Through Meritocratic Justice - As we said in our page on the Pythagorean Man Emulation, Pythagoras considered the worst of evils to be nihilistic irrational chaos, as the source of all violence and injustice. However, the order necessary to avoid chaos, in his mind, could only be based on best meritocratic justice. In turn, the merit system could only be applied correctly with young people being given best care, and their best chance of knowing themselves and their full potentialities. This chance was first given to them at the very time they were still like tender flower buds, in the middle of their adolescence. The formation lasted until they reached the age of at least 30. This meant a total of at least 15 years of basic formation. The ones aspiring to senior government positions, and to political, legislative or judicial functions, had to continue their formation until they were at least 50 year old adults. That formation involved the harmonious development of the "Human Tetractys". This was the purpose of his school. These ideals however were so elevated that they obviously could not be achieved except through a kind of elite, but an elite strictly founded on meritocratic effort and talent, and not on any economic status or family relationship. That elite had to acquire all the sciences taught in the school but, first and foremost, at the same time, the Science of Being of the school, involving the Human Tetractys and the acquisition of philosophical wisdom: an improvement of society and thus of all civic environments through first an improvement of the human being. The acquisition of such wisdom was then the only possible form of real happiness for a human being during a lifetime.

  8. Pythagorean Man - Aristotle reports that one of the most well guarded secrets of the Pythagoreans was that, for them, there were three kinds of rational beings: God, man, and the "Pythagorean Man" as the intermediate between the first two. For the Pythagoreans, the objective of man was to follow God's path, seen as the absolute "GOOD", the "ONE", the God of all gods, and eventually acquire the wisdom to get reunited with him again in due time, even temporarily during this earthly life, as a happy "Pythagorean Man", or eventually for ever, after death, as the fundamental divine creature that man is to start with. This formation process required to be started early on in life, at school time, when the human being still has the necessary plasticity to integrate enthusiastically the necessary ethical formation.

  9. Paradise on Earth - The Pythagoreans however were not aiming at a virtuous life for a recompense after death, in a 'Paradise in Heaven', like most religions offer. They were first and foremost aiming at an improvement of man for a recompense during this lifetime on Earth: a kind of 'Paradise on Earth' through the attainment of wisdom and thus happiness. For them, hell did not exist and the 'Paradise in Heaven', was pretty much guaranteed eventually, soon or later, after a number of incarnations that depended only on the use of goodwill and best meritocratic efforts of each individual. This process of personal Human Tetractys improvement would thus conduct eventually, nearly inevitably, to an eventual final reunification with the great "ONE", after a few or many good lives on this Earth, at the service of oneself and of the rest of the humanity being all pulled in the same direction of progressive perfection. In the worst of cases, if one used his free will entirely negatively, not proceeding with any level of Tetractys development, one would not go to hell but his soul would rather be gradually self-destroyed and eventually disintegrate, loosing its given chance to rise towards light, and its chance to eventually reunite with the Great One. In the meantime, a form of paradise on Earth was possible, as the first immediate Pythagorean preoccupation, through the attainment of philosophical wisdom, and consequently happiness, whatever one's situation may have been, let alone the joy of having contributed to the related improvement of humanity and all civic environments. In other words Pythagoreans believed in reincarnations as given chances of progression instead of regression, to be used for the acquisition of philosophical wisdom, and their number would vary according to the best meritocratic efforts and the talents acquired in the previous lives of each individual. This was the main meaning of life: a progressive perfection and return to the Perfect Source.

  10. Body Care - The perfection of the body, was also extremely important in this Tetractys formation (See our paragraphs on the Human Tetractys in the previous page). Body was the first level. Mind the second. Spirit the third. The Pythagoreans believed that without a harmonious body, as a base, it was difficult to proceed to the higher levels and acquire a harmonious mind (rational intellect and its related passions), and a harmonious spirit (pure intelligence and wisdom). This is why they were frugal vegetarians, practiced daily sports, and even invented special diets for Olympic champions, like the famous "Icco's meal". Body had to be attended perfectly, with regular exercise, physical education, hygiene, proper alimentation, perfect cleanliness and a good balanced life between pleasures and duties. It had to be made stronger, beautiful as much as possible, and more resistant to fatigue and illness. This is one reason why so many beautiful sculptures of the human body marked nicely all their city and home environments. Sex, like food, had to be enjoyed and only kept under good control. All aspects of the body in fact had to be enjoyed with good balance and even an excess of 'virtue' or ascetics, would have been considered an imbalance to get rid of: "A healthy soul in a healthy body", and only in a healthy body! The combination of a healthy body and a healthy soul would lead to, and help, a healthy spirit capable of developing wisdom and thus human happiness.

  11. Model of All Schools - The school of Pythagoras has been an insuperable model for any school in the last 2500 years. The great philosopher Plato, 150 years after Pythagoras, tried to emulate it with his famous Academia. He was of clear Pythagorean culture, but was not able to give his Academia the vitality of the school he was trying to emulate. The same phenomenon happened with other famous schools, like the Lycée of Aristotle, the Stoa of Zeno who founded the stoic movement, the Museum of Alexandria and many other universities of the medieval and modern periods. The main reason of their partially unsuccessful attempts was always the less rigid selection of the candidates to the school. Pythagoras believed that "Not all wood is good to sculpt a Mercury" (Mercury was the messenger of the gods, usually sculpted with the winged feet). The severity of the discipline, along with the vastness of the curriculum of the Pythagorean school required candidates of rather exceptional qualities, from both body and mind points of view. Contrary to most of the schools that followed, admission to Pythagoras' school was very difficult. Many were aspiring to be admitted but very few were in the end. On the other hand, after admission, many were excluded for obvious lack of capacity to cope with the difficulty of the holistic formation. Before admitting a candidate, the school investigated fully the situation of the family of origin in terms of virtuous behavior and educational values inculcated to the children, the aptitude of the youth himself to learn, his drive and love towards learning and improving himself, his ambitions and inclinations, his conduct with friends and society, if he was unduly choleric or aggressive, his sport and music abilities, his main habits and hobbies, if he had a good memory, the neatness of his presentation, even the harmony of his physiognomic aspect from which they could trace the main traits of character. Once admitted, that candidate was kept under very close observation in the school for a minimum of three years, essentially left alone in a testing period, nearly isolated, trying to absorb as silently as possible the lectures and practices of the school. This was followed by another period of 2 to 5 years, depending on the abilities of the candidate, where the students were even submitted to occasional punishments of a rather tough nature that were supposed to increase not only their endurance to pain, but also mainly the strength of their desire to improve themselves. Those who could not resist were gently but firmly expelled from the school. 

  12. School Levels of Formation - Those interested in the "Pythagorean Life Mode" (to use the expression of Aristotle) but not capable of attending the Academia of Pythagoras could still be allowed to participate in some aspects of its life. They were called the Externs. By opposition, those confirmed after the period of admission were called the Interns. The Interns had to go through a series of grades of initiation and formation. At the first grade, there were the Mathematicians involved deeply in the study of the "Four Sister Sciences" : arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. These were considered a basic introduction to the study of Physics at various higher levels. In the meantime all were involved in daily gym and the study of music, the U-shape lyre in particular. The basic 4-sister sciences were aiming at reinforcing the capacity of abstraction of the students, and the comprehension, by analogy, of what the Cosmos ought to be. The higher levels of Physics aimed at studying the phenomena of nature and researching the definition of the abstract principles hidden behind them. Physics included physiology, medicine, psychology, and a vast spectrum of other fields necessary to have a good knowledge of, in order to be able to become a real "Pythagorean Man". Each fully trained "Pythagorean Man" was also considered to be a doctor of some kind, or rather a healer for the soul and/or the body. Higher levels of Physics formation also included the economists, the politicians, the legislators, the magistrates etc. At these higher levels, formation was not usually considered fully completed, as Interns or as Externs, before reaching about age 50...

  13. Harmonics of the Quadrivium - Another way of presenting these 4 areas or sectors of basic study and formation is to talk about the Pythagorean Quadrivium and its Harmonics. 'Quadrivium' means 'four ways'. The four ways were of course the 'Four Sister Sciences' mentioned above: Mathematics, Geometry, Music and Astronomy. All these fields are closely connected, like a perfect Tetrahedron (that Plutarch describes as the shape of the global cosmic world, of Pythagorean conception, containing 183 universes, 61 dancing around each of the 3 edges descending from the main godly vertex of the perfect triangular pyramid with 4 identical triangular surfaces) to a type of harmonics based on the Golden number mentioned in our page on Kallos Beauty. 'Harmonics' basically means 'number of time'. Harmonics (number in time) are found in Mathematics (pure number), Geometry (number in space), Astronomy or Spherics (number in space-time). The Golden Number is common to all of them. Like famous researchers have established, in the Platonic tradition for example, of clear Pythagorean descent, the intention of studying these Harmonics was to raise the human soul above the realm of mere opinion ('doxa'), by attunement with the ratios and the proportions of the Quadrivium. This lifted the soul to the Intelligible realm of real Knowledge ('episteme'), in its progressive ascension to the realms of Pure Mathematical Reasoning ('dianoia') and Direct Intuition ('noesis') of the Platonic world of Archetypes or Pure Forms. Harmony is based upon ratio. The most pleasing ratios, or intervals, like the fifth or the sixth, correspond to the first Fibonacci approximations of the the Golden Number. The same applies to the simple major and minor chords in terms of the sequence of notes in the harmonic scale of music. Many composers have used the golden section in their compositions, from Back to Sibelius. Mr. Sabaneev, a Russian musicologist, has discovered in his extensive research that the golden section appears in particular in the compositions of Beethoven, Hayden, Chopin, Mozart and Schubert. Other aspects of Harmonics are also mentioned in our page on Science Of Being.

  14. Human Tetractys - Physics constituted the superior levels of study, but not the top level, nor the main objective of the holistic formation involved. The main objective of all these studies was the spiritual refinement of the student as a person, its elevation above the average individual who had not been formed, its progressive acquisition of perfection at all four levels of the "Human Tetractys", and consequently the attainment of Wisdom to be put at the service of the community as a dedicated "Pythagorean Man" (see our previous page for more information on the Tetractys). Without this top aspect of human education, crowning the scientific formation, the rest of the studies was considered rather useless and even quite dangerous. Having for example an overly developed, or cultivated, rational intellect (at the second level of the Tetractys) without a perfect self-control of the related passions of that level, was considered literally dangerous to oneself and to society. For the Pythagoreans, such student would have been better off without having received instruction and, in any case, would not have been allowed to proceed his study at the school. Those able to complete the cycle of holistic formation properly, human and scientific, and thus capable of adopting the "Pythagorean Life Mode"  (as called by Aristotle) in their daily life, became a kind of venerable individuals, finally useful to the community, and with the legitimate pretention, from their personal point of view, of possibly achieving their happy reunification with the big "ONE" at the end of their current earthly life. In short, the school was not aiming at forming erudite intellectuals, or only the best specialists or scientists in various fields, like modern schools do, but specialists and scientists who were also venerable individuals, of high moral standards, capable of putting their knowledge at the service of the community in the best possible way, in order to also help push that community to higher levels of wellbeing and self-realization.

  15. Demiurge and Paniurge - More than just a "Demiurge", the Pythagorean formation was aiming at creating the "Paniurge", but in the good original sense of the word, instead of its modern connotation, that is a man capable of facing correctly all aspects of life and to handle them in the best possible way, on a basis of meritocratic justice, for the benefit of all living beings. The grandiosity of this objective worked most well for quite a while in Ancient-Greece, with incredible achievements in all aspects of human life. It made them the inventors of the Olympics, the inventors of the Meritocracy (rather than just 'democracy', as usually attributed to them), the inventors of the "Social Olympic Spirit", the inventors of the School, the inventors of Education as opposed to only instruction, really the inventors of Civilization. Certainly, no other school in the history of mankind has so far provided better education, and formed better citizens than the Pythagorean school. The only thing the modern world can do now is to try to emulate these achievements.   

  16. Life Periods - The Pythagoreans divided human life in four large periods, just like the four seasons of the year: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Each 'Season' was composed of 21 years, themselves divided in three septennial periods of 7 years each. A full life cycle, if lived properly, was thus completed, for the average person, in about 84 years. The first 7 periods of 7 years, if lived in proper harmony, were meant to finally conduct man to full "Tetractys" maturity, at just about age 50, when he was finally ready to start serving not mainly himself anymore, and his own purposes of self realization and perfection, but also his community. The basic personal Tetractys formation would normally only be completed in the middle septennial of the Summer, at about age 30, between age 29 and 35. The Pythagorean man was then ready to form a family, educate children and start getting involved in the lower levels of the public life. The full personal Tetractys formation would be completed in the last (third) septennial of the Summer, between age 36 and 42. At that point the Pythagorean Man still had not reached a level of formation that could be qualified as "Wisdom" but could nonetheless get involved in serving his community through access to positions of a good level of public administration. Only during the first septennial of Autumn, that is between age 43 and 49, did the Pythagorean Man start acquiring real Tetractys Wisdom. At age 50, if his formation had proceeded correctly, that is in the second septennial of autumn, between age 50 and 56, the Pythagorean Man was finally ready to serve his community with full dedication, with the very best of his abilities, but nevertheless not yet as a senior public figure. Senior officials, like legislators, magistrates or heads of state, could normally only have access to their related positions during the third septennial of autumn, between age 57 and 63. The first septennial of Winter, between age 64 and 70, was a period of full and final public engagement, for the greatest missions, but mostly this time as a counselor or an advisor. The second septennial of Winter was the beginning of a period of personal disengagement, in preparation for the eventual reunification with the Great One during the third and last septennial of Winter, normally happening, for most people, between the age of 78 and 84. But there was also a bigger global cycle for the most advanced souls in Tetractys Development. According to it, the first seven septennial periods, until age 49, constituted sort of complete first grand cycle in itself, a kind of "Pre-Wisdom Cycle". At age 50, the Pythagorean Man was then ready to start the "Wisdom Cycle" proper. The ones who had evolved in the best way, in their Tetractys Formation, could expect to start a new 'Youth of Wisdom', at around age 50, and extend their Winter until the full completion of that second grand cycle of seven new septennials, dying in good health at about age 100 (like Pythagoras did). These persons were few in number and would become the 'Masters of Wisdom', getting seven new septennials of seven levels of wisdom, in order to acquire special demiurge powers to better serve and lead the overall community in the direction of better levels of self-realization from both a personal and a civic point of view. This was certainly the case of Pythagoras, who in fact died closed to 100, still in perfect physical and mental health, and only because he was assassinated by a angry disciple who was rejected from his school and set fire to the house where he was living. 

  17. Daily Discipline - The Pythagorean code of behavior contained rules and norms for all aspects of human life. The code for the school was the strictest and regulated practically each aspect and hour of the day. This code however was not essentially negative, but rather positive, including good norms for the just appreciation of the natural pleasures of life. It was also marked by a strong HoneyBeespirit of fraternity, love and mutual help in achieving perfection. In brief, at wake-up time in the morning, each student had to spend few minutes of meditation in self examination, reviewing all aspects, and every single action and thought, of his previous day, looking at them in a very critical way, in order to decide how to attempt to do better 'today'. Then, before breakfast, one of the students in turn read parts of the code of behavior, loud voice, to all the others, while another one was softly playing the lyre, in order to well inculcate their memory with the best rules of conduct they should always try to apply in various aspects of their lives. Then, still before breakfast, the students were involved first in a walk in nature, most of the time in complete silence, reflecting on their achievements so far and their next objectives in the development of their Human Tetractys. A similar walk took place in the afternoon, but in small groups this time, discussing and reviewing together their achievements and objectives, clarifying to each other the elements of the lessons attended during the day, and criticizing positively each other on whatever they felt was necessary. After the morning walk, and still before breakfast, there was a series of basic physical exercise to go through, including some running, followed by mutual massages and a cold shower. Only then did they deserve breakfast, and a very frugal one, essentially with bread, honey, and a variety of fresh or dry fruits. The main part of the day included a series of lessons and sports. After the evening walk in groups, there was a second shower of cold water followed by another frugal vegetarian dinner but including a glass of wine. After dinner, there were regular group lectures on various  subjects chosen by a senior student and read loud voice by a junior one, followed by an open group discussion. The last few minutes usually included exhortations of various kinds, including regarding their duties to respect all beings of all kingdoms. Bedtime in a dormitory included a few minutes of lyre played by a student before all would fall to sleep. During that music pause, while falling asleep, students were supposed to go through a second short period of meditation, reviewing critically their day, preparing for the more thorough examination to take place during the morning one, at wakeup time.

  18. Memory - The two daily sessions of meditation to examine oneself were not only useful as a critical exercise of good conscience, but also as an exercise of memory. Exercising memory was most important to the Pythagoreans. First of all, nearly all their teaching was done orally and with periods of intensive dialogue with the master. The written texts were usually only a guiding structure for the exposition or the oral lessons by the master. Students were expected to remember perfectly all the oral teachings they were receiving, without taking any written notes during the lessons. The afternoon walks in small groups for example were also a memory test of the lessons received during the day. Students were expected to first be able to repeat the lessons as orally received, then make comments, even critical, on their interpretation and their comprehension. For the Pythagoreans, good memory, not to say outstanding memory, was always considered an essential attribute of the formation of the students. In fact, many were excluded from the school because they were too weak on memory. Exercises of memory were a constant practice in the life of the school.

  19. Alimentation - Like for Hippocrates, the founder of medicine, who lived about 125 years later, and probably followed their traces, the alimentation of the PythFruitBasketagoreans was very frugal, and considered an important element of purification of the body, really a daily therapeutic tool. Their vegetarian food was chosen very carefully, usually freshly picked from a garden whenever possible, and was eminently part of what became to be called the "Pythagorean Life Mode" by Aristotle. They were essentially vegetarians, eating fruits and vegetables, and also cereals, mainly in the form of freshly cooked bread on a daily basis. They also consumed seeds in various ways, often with honey and olive oil, like seeds of poppy, sesame, flax etc (supposedly to facilitate purification of the body through a good and easy expulsion of bowels at least twice a day). They however would allow meat in certain cases for a while or at some special occasions, or for the training of special athletes. A good glass of wine was always allowed with dinner. They had restrictions on certain types of beans. They consumed a lot of dry figs all year round, like the soldiers of Alexander the Great would do on a daily basis, some 150 years later, carrying big provisions of them in all their military excursions. The most advanced students were all, and always, strictly vegetarians, like Pythagoras himself.   

  20. Clothing - Their clothing was also considered an element of purification for both the body and the soul. They did not allow wool products, only pure flax linen and cotton. They wore a basic kind of robe uniform, rather loose and white in color (sometimes with some discrete vertical red lines), parts of which had to be washed practically on a daily basis, and kept always perfectly clean. The top part of the robe was often without sleeves for  the younger students, but the older the person, usually the longer the robe. They usually always wore open sandals but they also did a lot of their exercising and some of their sports bare feet. Some of it also took place completely in the nude, even in the presence of an occasional public. 

  21. Sex - Sexual pleasure was considered legitimate and essential, but any excess was considered debilitating. There was no sin connotation attached to it, nor any prohibition, only a strong request to use it moderately, and under full self-control. It had to be enjoyed, as an attribute of divine nature, but in moderation. Even the moments of retention had to be enjoyed in expectation of the next best occasion. Self-control and moderation in everything were major marks of the Pythagorean discipline, and this eminently included sex. Because procreation was considered a duty of the highest responsibility, sex also had to be considered a pleasure to be enjoyed with a good sense of responsibility, and never in a state of drunkenness, or for a quick satisfaction that would only constitute a loss of important vital energy. In periods of retention, sex energy had to be enjoyed as a power of transmutation to be used for the attainment of other important objectives on the road to perfection. Sex before marriage was not prohibited, but contained as much as possible, in conservation of vital energies to be transmuted to other noble objectives of personal development. Sex was essentially for them a kind of divine power, and divine pleasure, to be considered sacred, and used accordingly. Only legal marriage was accepted, as opposed to a free union of convenience, and once celebrated, fidelity of the spouses to each other was also considered an essential requirement for the stability of the family and the best growth of the eventual children. Only the students of the highest levels of the "Human Tetractys", when already at a high level of wisdom acquisition, were usually practicing near complete sexual abstinence, in order to be better able to acquire the powers that would make them a "Demiurge". On the other hand, many of the most important Olympic athletes were also practicing chastity for long periods, in order to preserve their vital energies for a better performance at the competitions.

  22. Sharing - Pythagoreans were sharing duties, goods and properties. In the school, there was a group that Jamblicus called the "Economists", like there was one called "Legislators", and another one called "Politicians". The students entering the school full time, with the intention of reaching the highest levels of formation, had to abandon the administration of their properties in order to concentrate on their studies. By the same token, the group studying as Economists could well take charge of the correct administration of the shared properties in order to make experience in the field of their specialization. The Academia of Plato had also similar practices. Taking care of properties, or doing commercial work, was not considered worthy of the members of the higher levels of the school. Even the famous Spartan soldiers, who were always ready for the worst chores of all kinds, would not have got involved with manual work for the purpose of earning money, as this would have been considered a degradation of their noble role as soldiers. The ambition of making money for the sake of money was considered vulgar and not worthy of a Pythagorean Man, while the desire of administering well one's properties was considered noble, in particular if left to the ones specializing in this field.

  23. Woman - In the Greek-Latin world in general, women were considered 'inferior' to man, or rather of a less primordial role and importance in administering public affairs. A woman had to concentrate her life on reproducing the race and taking care of administering private home affairs, as opposed to public affairs, albeit with the help of slaves. Even from that point of view Pythagoras was quite different from most of his co-citizens of the time, and acted in ways that were quite in contrast with the dominant mentality. Certainly he did not admit women in his school for living-in purposes, but he did admit quite a few of them as external students. This sole practice was quite revolutionary at that time. For Pythagoras women were not considered slaves or domestics anymore but real 'companions' of their men, assisting them with the help of slaves. Sure enough, when there was a conflict to resolve, she in the end was always forced to obey the man's final decision, but the Pythagoreans elevated her to a new dignity, as worthy of widening her horizon out of the domestic environment, worthy of studying when she had the desire to do so, and the capacity to do so, and worthy of spiritual growth in order to be closer to her man in his search for wisdom. Pythagoreans even admitted the possibility of the superiority of some women in their capacity to pursue Tetractys development and in fact, all famous women of the Ancient Greek world were of clear Pythagorean (and thus Platonic) culture, like the most famous Hypatia, who was assassinated around 415 AD in Alexandria, when its famous library was burnt down by people of Jewish and Christian culture, that is by members of the growing new dominant culture that attempted to destroy the 'old pagan' Greek culture, and could certainly not accept the new dignity that had been given to woman by the Pythagorean culture in particular. After the death of Hypatia, the new dignity given to woman in the best period of the Magna Graecia quickly vanished for the best part of the following 1500 years.

  24. Secrecy - The secrecy related to the teachings of the school was rather a kind of mixture of natural discretion and difficulty of access, more than a real secrecy. First of all, Pythagoreans did all, or most of, their teaching orally. This was quite normal at the time as learning was not, like it is mainly today unfortunately, only a way of acquiring notions, but rather a way of being and growing  (a Science Of Being) through human exchange and communication. Pure book-studying was just out of their culture. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle followed this same old tradition. Consequently, outsiders had little chance of becoming acquainted with the teachings of the school and this led to an exaggerated prejudice of secrecy. On the other hand, many of their theories or discoveries were not easy of access for common people and consequently they were kept out of the public domain because of the level of culture of the general population, more than because of a refusal to make the public know about them. That included for example their discoveries on difficult concepts and subjects, like the incommensurable numbers, the golden section, the harmony of the spheres, the geometry of the dodecahedron with 12 pentagonal flat faces fitting in a sphere, the famous Human Tetractys (explained in our preceding page), the dodecahedron as the symbol of the universe, their advanced geometry and trigonometry etc. Certainly, the main thing that probably deserved to be kept quite secret, was their conception of what we now call the "Pythagorean Man", as a kind of 'superior' human being, in order not to attract too much jealousy or opposition. If their main purpose was to improve man, from all points of view, they could not afford to make too many enemies from the mass unwilling to change. In fact, in their attempts to do so, they never tried to oppose, proceed too drastically, or destroy, but rather to gradually transform and elevate, giving good example of the Science Of Being they were imposing to themselves and proposing to the rest of society. By the same token, most of their internal teachings were too advanced for the easy appreciation of the wide public and their most touchy or difficult elements had to be kept in a state of good discretion, if not under some degree of inevitable and profitable secrecy.

  25. Body and Soul - The body, for the Pythagoreans, was a kind of prison of the soul, and potentially its tomb. In turn the human soul was a reflection of the cosmic soul, as pure harmony. All the passions related to the body had thus to be dominated by the soul and, in dominating them, the soul was building its path to Tetractys Perfection and an eventual reunification with its divine Source. Body had nevertheless to be attended perfectly, and kept in its best shape at all times, in order to ensure it could 'transport' the soul in the best possible way in its march of return to its divine source.

  26. Authority, Influence and Opposition - The principle of authority of the master in the school, and the obedience of the pupil, was quite strong. This certainly did not prevent constant exchange and constructive discussion between the master and the students, and between the students themselves, rather the opposite. Drastic contestation of the master was however impossible, unthinkable. This strong principle of teaching "in verba magistri" was nevertheless relaxed progressively as the student was reaching higher levels of instruction and education. Listening and learning from those who had acquired Tetractys Wisdom and superior knowledge was essential, and only those who had submitted to such a regime for many long years had the right to become a government leader, a magistrate or a legislator. Plato followed with the same line of thinking in his Academia. Jamblicus (around 300 AD) describes the Pythagorean school as the mother and model of all other schools and the one that produced the greatest number of politicians, administrators and legislators in history until then, some 800 years after the death of Pythagoras. In fact, the Pythagorean school was often considered not just a school of formation of the best scientists, but mainly a school of the formation of the best government leaders (what we call Civitas Management: the additional qualification all students at the Academy, of whatever faculty, must acquire over and above their normal professional qualifications). Through the formation of such leaders, the Pythagoreans hoped to bring back some divine order onto the Earth and prepare the advent of a new era with a better humanity (which could be seen as an advanced intuition of what we dare call EthoCracy). The school was composed of about 300 members, and their most senior ones were viewed as a kind of civic council ('Synedrio') of special men tied by the same oath of Tetractys Perfection, with incredible political power over what was going on in all of Magna Graecia. They faced quite a bit of opposition on the part of those who viewed them aCastorAndPolluxs idealistic, or those who had been excluded from the school, but they nevertheless produced the best leaders of the time, and their influence, with constant ups and downs, would go on lasting with great benefits for the populations of the area for quite a few more centuries. The Pythagoreans did not believe in equalitarian democracy, but only in Meritocracy, and only the most meritocratic persons having gone through a long and tough Tetractys Formation would have the right to become leaders, administrators, magistrates and in particular government leaders. At lower levels, men had to become Dioscures of best human and civic behavior.

  27. Symbols - The five-point star of the pentagram, drawn in an uninterrupted movement of the hand, was one of their symbols of mutual recognition. The reason was that, doing so, they were creating lines divided according to the golden section of perfect proportions, as a symbol of the Tetractys Perfection. This symbol also had a meaning of good health, and was also used as a seal for their letters. The Apollonian Tripod (or: Delphic Tripod, shown above, to the right of the paragraph 6), symbol of perfect vertical balance and equilibrium of the Tetractys, and the Eagle who obeyed Pythagoras, as a symbol of nature obeying a man of 'perfect wisdom', were also important to them. 

  28. Divine Nature of Man - For the Pythagoreans, man is essentially created of a divine nature, created at the image of God, as a divine entity, and, after having fallen to a non-divine level, because of the misuse of his freewill, must make all possible efforts to return to the best possible level of resemblance of his divine Source, and then reunite with him. The way to go is the path of progressive perfection defined by the two fundamental concepts of the "Know Thyself" and the "Human Tetractys". This requires purification and the dominance of all the passions of the body and the soul. This may require reincarnation in a few lives. Whoever succeeds, will also dominate nature lovingly as a demiurge, like Pythagoras did with wild animals and general health conditions. This is in clear contrast with what the modern Faustian Man tries to do today, since the beginning of Renaissance, that is to dominate nature mechanically, externally, instead of internally, from a process of self-dominance and oneness with nature and the whole cosmic world.

  29. Influence on the Future, including Jesus - The Epicureans and Stoics, as philosophical movements, have both their origin in the Pythagorean Life Mode, and all three movements are at the origin of the original life style of the early Christian church. Most of the legendary facts related to the birth and life of Pythagoras and Jesus match perfectly. This include the legend of the virginity of their mothers, the announcement of their pregnancy from an angel and an oracle, their prodigious capacity of doing things like miracles, the new dignity given to women etc. On the other hand, most of the moral values of the early Christian church were extremely similar to the virtues and ethical values defined by Pythagoras for his ideal of the Pythagorean Man. The stoic life style, of clear Pythagorean origin, is very similar to the life style wanted by the early Christian church.  

  30. Improving Civic Environments - The Pythagoreans fought the bad sides of democracy, like equality of rights independently of conduct, and promoted instead the democracy of merit, or Meritocracy. They helped bring down tyrannical regimes but also promoted a behavior of respect of authority, of order, of established law and social and political hierarchy. They proposed a clear spirit of abnegation and sacrifice, but also of generosity and love of one's co-citizens and of all living beings of all kingdoms. From this point of view, the Pythagorean school is the only school of the Ancient World that exercised an absolute preponderant political influence for a certain period of time, mixing very successfully, and directly, with the current political life of the time, forming politicians and legislators, elaborating new constitutions, forming new governments, and thus preparing the way to the formulation of the theory of the Ideal State of Plato some 150 years later. By the same token, it was a very scientific school that laid the foundations of mathematics, geometry, astronomy, physics, medicine etc. It was thus a perfect marriage between philosophy and science, between being and learning. Most of its students were also considered as some kind of doctors, or healers, for both the body and the soul. Their system was one of clear "Polymathia" (a multi-layer and holistic learning system) with a complexity and completeness that was never to be equaled to this day. But there was not only the learning of a conception of man, nature, and the cosmos but also at the same time the learning of an ethical life style, a kind of a Science of Being leading to wisdom, more happiness of citizens, and better civic environments. From this point of view, it has been a unique school of holistic formation like there was probably never any other one of similar importance in the last 2500 years. This is what the EthoPlasìn Academy is trying to emulate.

In Short, EthoPlasìn Pursues Heart and Mind Radiations Enhancement, for the Benefit of All Living Beings, and All Environments, through the

'Pythagorean Man Emulation'



Έρρωσθε και ευδαιμονείτε!

(Erotically Pursue Philosophical Wisdom and Enjoy Undisturbed Bliss!)