by Florence M. Firth
The Golden Verses of Pythagoras and Other Pythagorean
Fragments present a brief glimpse into the mind and the worldview
of Pythagoras and probably formed part of his instructions to his
1. First worship the Immortal Gods, as they are established
and ordained by the Law.
2. Reverence the Oath, and next the Heroes, full of goodness
3. Honour likewise the Terrestrial Dæmons by rendering them
the worship lawfully due to them.
4. Honour likewise thy parents, and those most nearly related
5. Of all the rest of mankind, make him thy friend who distinguishes
himself by his virtue.
6. Always give ear to his mild exhortations, and take example
from his virtuous and useful actions.
7. Avoid as much as possible hating thy friend for a slight
8. [And understand that] power is a near neighbour to necessity.
9. Know that all these things are as I have told thee; and
accustom thyself to overcome and vanquish these passions:--
10. First gluttony, sloth, sensuality, and anger.
11. Do nothing evil, neither in the presence of others, nor
12. But above all things respect thyself.
13. In the next place, observe justice in thy actions and
in thy words.
14. And accustom not thyself to behave thyself in any thing
without rule, and without reason.
15. But always make this reflection, that it is ordained
by destiny that all men shall die.
16. And that the goods of fortune are uncertain; and that
as they may be acquired, so may they likewise be lost.
17. Concerning all the calamities that men suffer by divine
18. Support with patience thy lot, be it what it may, and
never repine at it.
19. But endeavour what thou canst to remedy it.
20. And consider that fate does not send the greatest portion
of these misfortunes to good men.
21. There are among men many sorts of reasonings, good and
22. Admire them not too easily, nor reject them.
23. But if falsehoods be advanced, hear them with mildness,
and arm thyself with patience.
24. Observe well, on every occasion, what I am going to tell
25. Let no man either by his words, or by his deeds, ever
26. Nor entice thee to say or to do what is not profitable
27. Consult and deliberate before thou act, that thou mayest
not commit foolish actions.
28. For it is the part of a miserable man to speak and to
act without reflection.
< 29. But do that which will not afflict thee afterwards,
nor oblige thee to repentance.
30. Never do anything which thou dost not understand.
31. But learn all thou ought'st to know, and by that means
thou wilt lead a very pleasant life.
32. in no wise neglect the health of thy body;
33. But give it drink and meat in due measure, and also the
exercise of which it has need.
34. Now by measure I mean what will not incommode thee.
35. Accustom thyself to a way of living that is neat and
decent without luxury.
36. Avoid all things that will occasion envy.
37. And be not prodigal out of season, like one who knows
not what is decent and honourable.
38. Neither be covetous nor niggardly; a due measure is excellent
in these things.
39. Do only the things that cannot hurt thee, and deliberate
before thou dost them.
40. Never suffer sleep to close thy eyelids, after thy going
41. Till thou hast examined by thy reason all thy actions
of the day.
42. Wherein have I done amiss? What have I done? What have
I omitted that I ought to have done?
43. If in this examination thou find that thou hast done
amiss, reprimand thyself severely for it;
44. And if thou hast done any good, rejoice.
45. Practise thoroughly all these things; meditate on them
well; thou oughtest to love them with all thy heart.
46. 'Tis they that will put thee in the way of divine virtue.
47. I swear it by him who has transmitted into our souls
the Sacred Quaternion, the source of nature, whose cause is
48. But never begin to set thy hand to any work, till thou
hast first prayed the gods to accomplish what thou art going
49. When thou hast made this habit familiar to thee,
50. Thou wilt know the constitution of the Immortal Gods
and of men.
51. Even how far the different beings extend, and what contains
and binds them together.
52. Thou shalt likewise know that according to Law, the nature
of this universe is in all things alike,
53. So that thou shalt not hope what thou ought'st not to
hope; and nothing in this world shall be hid from thee.
54. Thou wilt likewise know, that men draw upon themselves
their own misfortunes voluntarily, and of their own free choice.
55. Unhappy that they are! They neither see nor understand
that their good is near them.
56. Few know how to deliver themselves out of their misfortunes.
57. Such is the fate that blinds mankind, and takes away
58. Like huge cylinders they roll to and fro, and always
oppressed with ills innumerable.
59. For fatal strife, innate, pursues them everywhere, tossing
them up and down; nor do they perceive it.
60. Instead of provoking and stirring it up, they ought,
by yielding, to avoid it.
61. Oh! Jupiter, our Father! if Thou would'st deliver men
from all the evils that oppress them,
62. Show them of what dæmon they make use.
63. But take courage; the race of man is divine.
64. Sacred nature reveals to them the most hidden mysteries.
65. If she impart to thee her secrets, thou wilt easily perform
all the things which I have ordained thee.
66. And by the healing of thy soul, thou wilt deliver it
from all evils, from all afflictions.
67. But abstain thou from the meats, which we have forbidden
in the purifications and in the deliverance of the soul;
68. Make a just distinction of them, and examine all things
69. Leaving thyself always to be guided and directed by the
understanding that comes from above, and that ought to hold
70. And when, after having divested thyself of thy mortal
body, thou arrivest at the most pure Æther,
71. Thou shalt be a God, immortal, incorruptible, and Death
shall have no more dominion over thee.