Monday, November 9, 2015

Selections from the Golden Verses of Pythagoras


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1. Every star is a world, or mass of substantial consistency, or assemblage of the natural order of animated, vegetating, and mineral compounds in the infinite ether.

2. In the system of the universe, suns are the masses of greater magnitude, about which the lesser masses in their contiguity, or the planets, revolve.

3. The earth is a globe which admits of antipodes; it is not motionless, nor situated in the centre of the spheres; but it is one of those planets whose orbits of revolution pertain to our particular solar system.

4. The surface of the moon is diversified by mountains and valleys; the moon, as well as suns and primary planets, is habitable.

5. Mankind have ever lived, and the genus man, never had a beginning.

6. Death is the destiny of all men.
"What then is death, but ancient matter drest
In some new figure and a varied vest?
Thus all things are but altered: nothing dies."

"And, as the softened wax new seals receives.
This, face assumes, and that, impression leaves ;
Now called by one, now by another name, —
The form is only changed, the wax is still the same."

7. On the extensive theatre of the world, while many struggle for the glory of a name, and most men pant after the advantages of fortune; there are a few, and indeed but a few, who are neither eager to amass wealth, nor ambitious of fame, but who are sufficiently gratified by being spectators of the interesting scene.

8. It is the province of science to be conversant with those objects that are immutable and eternal in their nature, and wliich, therefore, can alone properly be said to exist.

9. The end of philosophy is — to free the mind from those impediments which hinder its progress in attaining the knowledge of nature, and to raise it to the contemplation of immutable truth.

10. Through philosophy we have this advantage — to be astonished at nothing; for wonder partakes of ignorance, or arises from doubt; both of which are removed by the knowledge of the natural conditions, and by an examination into the properties of every thing.

11. All men acknowledge wisdom to be of the highest importance, and yet few endeavour to obtain it.

12. To conceive and judge aright, can only be the attribute of a few; it can only belong to those who are well-informed, and these are not many.

13. The most important branch of instruction is to inform the mind concerning good and evil.

14. The chief office of the mind is to know and contemplate.

15. It is the fault of a man, devoid of an improved understanding, to adhere to all men's opinions, especially to those which are maintained by the greater number.

16. Do that which you judge to be right, whatever the vulgar may think of you; if you despise their praise, disregard also their censure.

17. Be not intimidated by vain threats; let them not divert you from your laudable purposes.

18. If a man, after having entered mto the ways of wisdom, turns aside, and forsakes them, it is in vain for him to imagine himself living; he is dead.

19. Do you find yourself attacked by lying aspersions? — Have patience; support this unpleasantness with calmness.

20. Let no person, either by his actions or discourse, lead you to say or do a thing that at some day might be prejudicial to you.

21. No enjoyment can be felt where the mind is disturbed by the consciousness of guilt, or by fears about futurity.

22. The most ample and perfect gratification is to be found in the enjoyment of moral and intellectual pleasures.

23. If you have it in your power to do good, you ought to do it; ability is here near akin to necessity: such is the rule you should follow.

24. Various and manifold are the uses of opportunity.

25. Propriety and seasonableness are the first things to be regarded in our conversation, and in our intercourse with the world.

26. In all society a due respect must be had for just subordination.

27. Politeness consists in an evenness of mind, which excludes at the same time both insensibility and too much earnestness; a quick discernment to perceive immediately the different characters of men; and by an agreeable condescension, to adapt ourselves to each man's taste; not to flatter his vanity, but to calm his passions; a forgetting of ourselves in order to seek what may be pleasing to others, yet so delicate a manner, as not to let them perceive that we are so employed: it knows how to contradict a man with respect, and to compliment him without adulation; and it is equally removed from an insipid complaisance, and a low familiarity.

28. Esteem it no small part of a good education, to be able to bear with the want of it in others.

29. Seek not to shine by launching out into ill-judged expenses, as if you were ignorant of what was suitable and becoming; neither pride yourself on excessive economy: nothing is preferable to the just medium which should be adhered to in all things.

30. Comprehend many things in few words, and not few things in many words.

31. We ought either to be silent, or to say what is better than silence.

32. To deprive wormwood of its bitterness, and to take away liberty from speech, are both alike.

33. There is less danger in throwing a stone at random than an idle word.

34. Reflect well before acting ; avoid having to blush for your folly through too great precipitation: imprudent acts or words are the province of a fool.

35. Engage in no projects that may turn to your disadvantage; beware of entering on an affair which you will not be able to carry through; and begin by acquring the information necessary for your

36. Let uprightness influence you in all your actions, and be sincere in whatever you say; let reason be your guide even in the smallest matters.

37. Rather than attempt to cover your faults with words, endeavour to amend them.

38. Do nothing mean in the presence of others, nor in secret; let it be your chief law to respect yourself.

39. Shun ambition and vain glory, because these chiefly excite envy.

40. Avoid doing any thing that might excite envy or malice against you.

41. The desire of superfluity is foolish, because it knows no limits.

42. It is better that those with whom you are allied should respect you rather than they should fear you; for esteem accompanies respect, but fear is attended by hatred.

43. Much discretion is necessary in the breeding and education of children: reproof and correction are only useful when they are accompanied, on the part of the parent or teacher, with evident marks of affection.

44. Let youth be trained in the best course of life, and habit will render it the most pleasant.

45. Young persons should be accustomed to restraint, in order that they may learn to submit to the authority of reason.

46. We should avoid, with our utmost rare, and use our utmost endeavours to remove, sickness from the body, ignorance from the mind, predominance from the appetites, discord from our families,
and excess from all things.

47. Many things, especially love, are best learned late.

48. Neglect not your health; indulge with moderation in eating, drinking, and exercise: the quantity to be prescribed is that beyond which you cannot partake with impunity.

49. Sobriety is the strength of the mind; for it preserves reason unclouded by passion.

50. No man is free who has not the command over himself, but suffers his passions to controul him.

51. The faculty of continence is better than the greatest wealth.

52. Drunkenness is the canker-worm which consumes the powers of the mind.

53. Acquire the habit of controlling your appetites, your rest, your indulgences, and your anger.

54. Let your table be frugal; banish from it all luxuries.

55. Choose that person for your friend whom you know to be the most worthy; turn not away from the justness of his counsels, and follow his useful example.

56. Between friends, mutual confidence is never for a moment to be interrupted, whether in jest or earnest; for nothing can heal the wounds occasioned by deceit.

57. Beware of losing your friend on account of a trifling fault.

58. Prefer even reproaches to flattery; fly from the flatterer as from the worst of enemies.

59. In encountering those reverses which happen to men, learn to support their unpleasantness with patience and fortitude.

60. You will find that men are themselves the cause of their sufferings. Wretches! they are blind to the good that lies before them, and they are deaf to the truths that are addressed to them.
How few perceive the true remedies for their evils.

"Let not soft slumbers close your eyes,
Before you've recollected thrice
Your train of actions through the day: —
'Where have my feet traced out their way?
What have I learnt, where'er I've been;
From all I've heard, from all I've seen?
What know I more, that's worth the knowing?
What have I done, that's worth the doing?
What have 1 sought that 1 should shun?
What duty have I left undone?
Or into what new follies run?
These self-inquiries aid the mind,
To shun the ill—toward virtue's paths inclined."

61. Pythagoras, according to Ovid, taught the doctrine of constant destruction and renovation of the surface of the globe; and he illustrated this doctrine by an appeal to the great physical changes obviously in operation — such as the conversion of land into sea, and sea into land, the excavations of valleys by rivers and floods, the alluvial depositions, and the effects of earthquakes and volcanoes in convulsing and elevating the strata of the earth.

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