Antoine Fabre d’Olivet- Pythagoras & The Practice Of Virtue
Tittle page of the ‘Golden Verses of Pythagoras, Explained’ by Antoine Fabre d’Olivet.
We close our little Pythagorean cycle (for now) with this sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, two excerpts from Antoine Fabre d’Olivet ‘s ‘The Golden Verses of Pythagoras, Explained‘, 1817, with his commentaries. Treuttel & Wurtz, Paris and Strasbourg. English translation by NAYÁN LOUISE REDFIELD. Published in New York and London by G.P. Putnam’s sons in 1917.
‘…The goal of the doctrine of Pythagoras is to enlighten humanity, to purify it from its vices, to deliver it from errors, to bring it back to the virtues, to the truth; then after having it passing every degrees of understanding and intelligence, to make it alike the immortal gods.
This philosopher, for this purpose, had divided his doctrine into two parts: The first one is the cleansing part and the second one the unitive part.
In the first one, humanity is purifying itself from its filth, coming out of the darkness of ignorance, and reaches virtue.
Through the second part, it uses its acquired virtue to unite with the Divinity, through which it reaches perfection.’
‘…And here is, says Hieroclès ending his ‘Commentaries’, the blissful aim of all the efforts. Here is, according to Plato, the hope that ignites, that upholds the eagerness of the person who struggle in the path of virtue. Here is the priceless gift that awaits him. It was the great object of the Mysteries, and so to say, the great work of Initiation.
As Sophocles used to say, the initiate is not only happy during his life, but also after his death he can presume for himself an eternal bliss. His soul, purified by virtue, as stated by Pindar, rises towards these blissful regions where an eternal spring rules.
It goes, as Socrates said, attracted by the celestial element its nature is the most in affinity with, to reunite with the immortal gods, to partake into their glory and their immortality. This deification, according to Pythagoras, was the work of divine love; it was reserved to the person who had acquired truth through his intellectual faculties, virtue through his animistic faculties and purity through his instinctive faculties.
This purity, after the fall of his mortal body, was shining and was manifesting in the shape of the body of Glory that the soul gave to itself during its seclusion within the Stygian body; because, and I grasp here the opportunity, while closing these commentaries, to be able to say that this philosopher was teaching that the soul has a body which is given, according to its good or bad nature, by interior work of his faculties; he calls it the subtle chariot of the soul, and says that the mortal body is only a rough envelope.
And he was adding: ‘by practicing virtue, we embrace truth, by with-holding everything impure, we foster the soul and its body of glory.’ Here lies the aim of the symbolic abstinences that he was prescribing, as Lysis is hinting at rather clearly in the verses that were the focus of my preceding commentary, when he was stating that we must abstain from the things that would deprive us from the development of our soul, and to clearly perceive such things.
Moreover, Pythagoras believed that there are heavenly goods that are proportional to each degree of virtue, and there are for the souls different ranks according to the body of glory that they are wrapped in. The supreme happiness belongs, according to him to the soul that had managed to recover by its intimate union with the Intelligence, and that its essence in changing its nature has become entirely spiritual. It must be elevated to the knowledge of the universal truths, and that it must have found, for as much it is in it, the Principle and the end of everything.
Then, having reached this high degree of perfection, attracted in this immutable region where its ethereal element are not bound to the descending movement of generation, it can re-unite, thanks to its knowledge, to the Universal Whole, and ponder in all its being about the unfathomable light that the Being of beings, God Himself, fills ceaselessly the immensity with.’