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the one must have been early taught in the city which the other ruled, or there would have been no connection between the two in the legend. So many points in the Pythagorean doctrine illustrate the Roman spirit, in its infancy, that the philosophy may be taken to illustrate the state, almost as confidently as if it had been formed under purely Roman inspiration. Pythagoras left Samos, it was said,” because his native island was governed by a tyrant, and came to Crotona, a Greek city in Italy, where he soon collected a large number of followers from the most distinguished families;” of whom he selected three hundred to receive his instructions more familiarly, and to obey them more consistently. His objects can only be imagined, so little remains of any trustworthiness concerning them; but it is sufficiently ascertained, that, whatever he may have made the subject of information or exhortation to his disciples, he was himself free from all political ambition. His authority, however, increased, as his influence extended over all the higher classes of Crotona; and it may then have entered into his schemes to make such a reform in the manners, and, as is barely possible, the laws, also, of the state, as should prove his desire and his ability to be useful amongst his adopted countrymen. So far as any vestiges exist of his achievements as a reformer.” Pythagoras appears to have confirmed the 19 Diog. Laert., VIII.3. * Justin gives a glowing descrip* Tots trporečow 'Iraxtorów. tion of his authority and his works,
aristocracy which must have previously existed in Crotona, by forming its principal men into a society, the conditions of initiation to which were carefully designed in support of the discipline and the knowledge imparted to its members. It was especially enjoined upon them to exclude the uninitiated from their own privileges; and the story is still to be read of one who, at some time, was expelled, and to whom a column was then erected, as if he had been dead, because he explained to others the precepts he had received.” The same spirit hardened the Patrician, at Rome, against the Plebeian. Nor was Crotona the only place where the policy of Pythagoras appears to have been established with his doctrines; it spread with them through various cities of Southern Italy, and advancing north,” perhaps in his lifetime, arrived at Rome. It would be easier to sketch the Pythagorean philosophy, though the means of doing so are not derived directly from its author, but from his successors; yet a few points will be sufficient to illustrate the higher aspirations of the Romans. Pythagoras was the first, or among the first, to make metaphysics the basis of his doctrines; and though it were insecure as the physical principles which had been the groundwork of other systems, it was able to bear some forms, at least, of higher wisdom. He spoke * Airway oxovra ypayáoréal rà rod of Pythagoras in the beginning of IIv6ayópov oraqos. Clem. Alex., the fourth century, mentions ispós Strom., W. 9. Cf. Diog. Laert., Aéyos, “a sacred book,” circulated
VIII. 15. amongst the Latins. Cap. XXVIII. * Jamblichus, who wrote a life
of the gods, not as being indifferent to, but as being interested in, the affairs of men;” and exhorted his more intimate disciples to raise themselves as near as possible to the immortals, above the level of their fellow-creatures.” The leading feature in his metaphysics was the Harmony by which the world, as a whole and in its various parts, was kept together and preserved; but Harmony itself grew out of Number, the single and the mighty principle of the universe.” It is true that these were ideas straightway terminating in mysticism; and that the mysteries to which they led, however fair outwardly, were wanting in all inward energies.” But the philosophy is all the more capable of being compared with the principles we are seeking to explain in Rome. The Patrician clung to his order as the Pythagorean did to Number, and made it the single principle of the Commonwealth, which, again, may be likened to the Harmony of Pythagoras; yet he fell into errors we have already witnessed or are to witness hereafter. We may follow farther both the philosopher and the Patrician. With the one, the world was unchangeable and indestructible; * with the other, his world of Rome was as imperishable. To Pythagoras, the Number of which he discoursed was not only a human, but a Divine Unity, breathing in the soul of man and in the petals of the flower, for ever One, for ever Equal and Steadfast.” To the Roman, there was a holiness in his Commonwealth that he adored, because there was no other object on earth or in his heathen heaven on which his affections could have any similar hold. Yet the heart of such as Numa dreamed of Egeria, and many a thought which none could know save He who gave it bore up the human spirit towards the then transitory effulgence of Truth.” Centuries after the times of which we have been reading, Cicero went to see the place at Metapontum where Pythagoras died.” The authority of the sage and his followers, having lasted in Crotona near twenty years, was finally overthrown, and all the most distinguished of their number were either put to flight or slain. The downfall of the institutions which the philosopher had established, as well as his own exile, was caused by the stubbornness with
* Diog. Laert., VIII. 22, 23, 32,
herd was one day watching his
30 So Keble, in the Christian Year: — “As little children lisp, and tell of heaven,
So thoughts beyond their thoughts to those high bards were given.” So Cowper, in the Task : — “Men that, if now alive, would sit content And humble learners of a Saviour's worth,” etc.
I have quoted these lines because they contain the principles by which I think the men of heathen times are justly to be judged.
31 He writes of his eagerness to see the spot, — “Scis me Metapontum venisse, nec ad hospitem ante devertisse quam Pythagorae ipsum illum locum, ubi vitam ediderat, sedemque viderim.” De Fin. Bon. et Mal., W. 2.