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Internal Regimen Of The Pythagorean School

‘Pythagoras amongst his pupils in Crotona’. Wood engraving, unsigned, coloured.
From: Hermann Göll, Die Weisen und Gelehrten des Altertums, Leipzig (Otto Spamer) 1876, p.31.
Coll. Archiv für. Kunst und Geschichte.


Another sharing for the day from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, with excerpts from volume V of Sylvain Marechal’s ‘Voyages de Pythagore’, page 348 to 355. English translation from the original French by Via-HYGEIA.


Know that, in order to recognize and gather ourselves, in all events, we are ought to trace at the beginning of all of our letters and other writings, the pentagon of the druids; by this we can let others believe it is only a formula, the common wish of health. The philosopher is the only one who knows its worth.

(the five greek letters ‘υγεία’ of the word Health)

We also engrave on our index finger’s ring a torch behind a veil: This is the symbol of our school. It’s imprint on virgin wax will be solely used for the secrets laws and for the only books credited by us, that I place unto the safekeeping of my daughter Damo.

We take for clothing the long pure white linen robe, girded with a similar pure white linen belt, that we change everyday. White seems to belong to good and black to evil.

We do not allow ourselves to eat the flesh of animals, especially those of us who are devoted to the sublime position of lawmaker; they have to be the purest of us. Our meals are bread and honey, vegetables and fruits, rarely eggs, milk and hydromel (ancestor of beer).

Morning and evening we sing harmonious songs with the lyre and practice a few body exercises and review of what we have done and what needs to be done. In the course of the day and of our studies, we take solemn walks in solitary places then we take our bath and use our perfumes.

May a veil always be hung in the middle of our Musaeum, to divide it in two classes, one devoted to our secret principles and the other open to the rest of our fellow students.

The trial of a few years of silence is one of our mandatory rules for our newcomers. But over all, we ought to have the knowledge of the habits of the candidates and the morals of his family, especially through the science of physiognomy. Their possessions are shared in the new family that adopts them.

We sleep and eat little. Our souls and clothes equally pure and our studies and exercises balanced. We forbid the exclusive work of the hands or of the mind; they are like two extremes equally fatal to the perfectibility of the human race !

Memory is first the only book of our school. He who is guilty of indiscretion, let him take back what he brought in, so to never enter again! Dead to us all, we erect a cenotaph in his memory.

For the external listeners not yet admitted in the school but allowed to assist to the dispensation of the external teachings on the outer side of our Musaeum’s veil, the science is clothed with symbols. In the inner side, the naked truth is displayed for the Akousmatikoi (first degree), the Mathematikoi (second degree), the Sebastikoi (third degree) and the Politikoi (fourth degree), all working active theogonists, moralists, geometers, naturalists and lawmakers and the very few who deal with the first truths.

We wake up with the sun so to contemplate its first rays. The lyre announces the end of the day and of our works, never the flute; music is philosophy. Decent games, serious dances during the interval of the evening meal and the one before sleep.

We leave to the proud the title of ‘wise’; we are eager to merit the one of ‘philosopher’, more modest. The philosopher in our school, only converses and works with his fellows and equals of the degree he is in. Nobody is allowed to go outside and talk to or being approached by outsiders. We are alone while bathing, not more than nine for our meals and no less than three for our long walks. In the morning and evening and before all of our meals, we drink to the nymphs of the fountains and we sacrifice incense to the sun that lights and nourishes.

We do not hunt nor fish while resting, so that no drop of blood is spilled and no cry of pain arises.

We do not take any fees from the foreigner that comes to study with us; do we pay to watch the sun? Philosophy is not for sale. We also practice medicine.

The study of the naked truth by the very few is to be undertaken at night. We will leave the sublime thoughts of the Ether only if we are called by the needs of the City, when it calls us for counseling while its deliberating. Do good and talk the truth.

Before anything, we cultivate our health; without it, no pure day in our life; without her no philosophy. Wisdom consists in the balance of the humors and the harmony of the body’s movements.

Chastity is requested in summer, more in winter and even more in autumn, while spring is a favorable time for Love. We don’t have many children as posterity, but chosen. It is difficult to reach wisdom with the entourage of a crowded family!

Officials try to impress with their rich garments; we command respect through the dignity of our behavior.

Between us, the elders are used a tutors to the young ones.

Let’s offer sacrifices sometimes with the people or in their presence, but not in their manner. In the morning, a worship in admiration of Nature, in the evening, a memorial worship to the famous deceased.

Our classes are to be frequent but short! We fill the Clepsydra, only for the content of an hour. An hour of strong truths is the measure of the human intellect. We allow the crowd of our Listeners to ask us questions or share their doubts, this with decency; we refuse to answer only to insults.

We forgive in advance those who have the intention to offend us. The seers cannot wish harm to the stick of the blind which is hitting them; but may our white veil, always outstretched, hide us to the sight of those who consult us! Perhaps, one day, we would be able to operate with less mystery.

We oblige ourselves to act, as mediators to friends, brothers, to families with discords; as referees to couples in dispute; as guides to the youth, the inexperienced and those seeking repent.

We are all supportive of each other. Suspicion should never reach us. We repudiate the one among us who brings scandal though his deeds. May each one of us be loyal to our school and abstain from others! We are jealous of our independence, so we do not seek the protection of governments. Self-sufficient men need no protection. But we ought to let the officials and our fellow citizens be knowledgeable of our principles and way of conduct.

We seldom use oaths; just a few, in the mature stages of studies.

Earth is our tomb instead of the pyre.

We call world, a masterpiece of perfection, what others call universe, sky and globe. May our school, our adoptive family, be our little world and be as harmonious as the big one!

The first and last law of our school-the law that contains all of the others- is to champion, the image and reality of the original communion of goods and existences, that now only lies as a thin souvenir in the memory of Men.

Each of us renounced his ‘this is mine!’; this is our signature.

Our lawmakers wear to the right hand a ring representing an index finger held upon the mouth, to always remind us to keep our secrets untold ! If we are forced to use lethal weapons in troubled time, we prefer to not use them. During a persecution, the philosopher retreats to the tomb of his ancestors and shrouded in his mantle waits. I may add my dear disciples, when away from your homes, that in a city where you will be persecuted, it is allowed-like the Athenians- to pronounce three sentences before suffering the last torture and say to the crowd:

Citizen! I have fulfilled the great Ternary of human life. I was born, I lived and I die for Truth, Independence and Justice. This is all the Philosophy’.


Original French


More about the much neglected Sylvain Marechal:échal
Internal Regimen Of The Pythagorean School

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