Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James, , at sacred-texts.com
According to history, Pythagoras after receiving his training in Egypt, returned to his native island, Samos, where he established his order for a short time, after which he migrated to Croton (540 B.C.) in Southern Italy, where his order grew to enormous proportions, until his final expulsion from that country. We are also told that Thales (640 B.C.) who had also received his education in Egypt, and his associates: Anaximander, and Anaximenes, were natives of Ionia in Asia Minor, which was a stronghold of the Egyptian Mystery schools, which they carried on. (Sandford's The Mediterranean World, p. 195–205). Similarly, we are told that Xenophanes (576 B.C.), Parmenides, Zeno and Melissus were also natives of Ionia and that they migrated to Elea in Italy and established themselves and spread the teachings of the Mysteries.
In like manner we are informed that Heraclitus (530 B.C.), Empedocles, Anaxagoras and Democritus were also natives of Ionia who were interested in physics. Hence in tracing the course of the so-called Greek philosophy, we find that Ionian students after obtaining their education from the Egyptian priests returned to their native land, while some of them migrated to different parts of Italy, where they established themselves.
Consequently, history makes it clear that the surrounding neighbours of Egypt had all become familiar with the teachings of Egyptian Mysteries many centuries before the Athenians,
who in 399 B.C. sentenced Socrates to death (Zeller's Hist. of Phil., p. 112; 127; 170–172) and subsequently caused Plato and Aristotle to flee for their lives from Athens, because philosophy was something foreign and unknown to them. For this same reason, we would expect either the Ionians or the Italians to exert their prior claim to philosophy, since it made contact with them long before it did with the Athenians, who were always its greatest enemies, until Alexander's conquest of Egypt, which provided for Aristotle free access to the Library of Alexandria.
The Ionians and Italians made no attempt to claim the authorship of philosophy, because they were well aware that the Egyptians were the true authors. On the other hand, after the death of Aristotle, his Athenian pupils, without the authority of the state, undertook to compile a history of philosophy, recognized at that time as the Sophia or Wisdom of the Egyptians, which had become current and traditional in the ancient world, which compilation, because it was produced by pupils who had belonged to Aristotle's school, later history has erroneously called Greek philosophy, in spite of the fact that the Greeks were its greatest enemies and persecutors, and had persistently treated it as a foreign innovation. For this reason, the so-called Greek philosophy is stolen Egyptian philosophy, which first spread to Ionia, thence to Italy and thence to Athens. And it must be remembered that at this remote period of Greek history, i.e., Thales to Aristotle 640 B.C.–322 B.C., the Ionians were not Greek citizens, but at first Egyptian subjects and later Persian subjects.
Zeller's Hist. of Phil.: p. 37; 46; 58; 66–83; 112; 127; 170172.
William Turner's Hist. of Phil.: p 34; 39; 45; 53.
Roger's Student Hist. of Phil.: p. 15.
B. D. Alexander's Hist. of Phil.: p. 13; 21.
Sandford's The Mediterranean World p. 157; 195–205.
A brief sketch of the ancient Egyptian Empire would also make it clear that Asia Minor or Ionia was the ancient land of
the Hittites, who were not known by any other name in ancient days.
According to Diodorus and Manetho, High Priest in Egypt, two columns were found at Nysa Arabia; one of the Goddess Isis and the other of the God Osiris, on the latter of which the God declared that he had led an army into India, to the sources of the Danube, and as far as the ocean. This means of course, that the Egyptian Empire, at a very early date, included not only the islands of the Aegean sea and Ionia, but also extended to the extremities of the East.
We are also informed that Senusert I, during the 12th Dynasty (i.e., about 1900 B.C.) conquered the whole sea coast of India, beyond the Ganges to the Eastern ocean. He is also said to have included the Cyclades and a great part of Europe in his conquests.
Secondly, the "Amarna Letters" found in the government offices of the Egyptian King, Iknaton, testify to the fact, that the Egyptian Empire had extended to western Asia, Syria and Palestine, and that for centuries Egyptian power had been supreme in the ancient world. This was in the 18th Dynasty i.e., about 1500 B.C.
We are also told that during the reign of Tuthmosis III, the dominion of Egypt extended not only along the coast of Palestine: but also from Nubia to Northern Asia.
(Breadsted's Conquest of Civilization p. 84; Diodorus 128; Manetho; Strabo; Dicaearchus; John Kendrick's Ancient Egypt vol. I).
As one attempts to read the history of Greek philosophy, one discovers a complete absence of essential information concerning the early life and training of the so-called Greek philosophers, from Thales to Aristotle. No writer or historian professes to know anything about their early education. All they tell us about them consists of (a) a doubtful date and
place of birth and (b) their doctrines; but the world is left to wonder who they were and from what source they got their early education, and would naturally expect that men who rose to the position of a Teacher among relatives, friends and associates, would be well-known, not only by them, but by the whole community.
On the contrary, men who might well be placed among the earliest Teachers in history, who had grown up from childhood to manhood, and had taught pupils, are represented as unknown, being without any domestic, social or early educational traces.
This is unbelievable, and yet it is a fact that the history of Greek philosophy has presented to the world a number of men whose lives it knows little or nothing about; but expects the world to accept them as the true authors of the doctrines which are alleged to be theirs.
In the absence of essential evidence, the world hesitates to recognise them as such, because the truth of this whole matter of Greek philosophy points to a very different direction.
The Book on nature entitled peri physeos was the common name under which Greek students interested in nature-study wrote. The earliest copy is said to date back to the sixth century B.C. and it is customary to refer to the remnants of peri physeos as the Fragments. (William Turner's History of Philosophy p. 62). We do not believe that genuine Initiates produced the Book on nature, since this was contrary to the rules of the Egyptian Mysteries, in connexion with which the Philosophical Schools conducted their work. Egypt was the centre of the body of ancient wisdom, and knowledge, religious, philosophical and scientific spread to other lands through student Initiates. Such teachings remained for generations and centuries in the form of tradition, until the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, and the movement of Aristotle and his school to compile Egyptian teaching and claim
it as Greek Philosophy. (Ancient Mysteries by C. H. Vail p. 16.)
Consequently, as a source of authority of authorships, peri physeos, is of little value, if any, since history mentions only four names as authors of it, namely, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras; and asks the world to accept their authorship of philosophy, because Theophrastus, Sextus, Proclus and Simplicius, of the school at Alexandria are said to have preserved small remnants of it (the Fragments). If peri physeos is the criterion to the authorship of Greek Philosophy, then it falls short in its purpose by a long way, since only four philosophers are alleged to have written this book, and to have remnants of their work. According to this idea all the other philosophers, who failed to write peri physeos and to have remnants of it, also failed to write Greek philosophy. This is the reductio ad absurdum to which peri physeos leads us.
The schools of philosophy, Chaldean, Greek and Persian, were part of the Ancient Mystery System of Egypt. They were conducted in secrecy according to the demands of the Osiriaca, whose teachings became common to all the schools. In keeping with the demands for secrecy, the writing and publication of teachings were strictly forbidden and consequently, Initiates who had developed satisfactorily in their training, and had been advanced to the rank of Master or Teacher, refrained from publishing the teachings of the Mysteries or philosophy.
Consequently any publication of philosophy could not have come from the pen of the original philosophers themselves, but either from their close friends who knew their views, as in the case of Pythagoras and Socrates, or from interested persons who made a record of those philosophical teachings that had become popular opinion and tradition. There is no wonder then, that in the absence of original authorship, history has had to resort to the strategy of accepting Aristotle's opinion as the sole authority in determining the authorship of Greek Philosophy (Introduction to Alfred Weber's History of Philosophy). It is for these reasons that great doubt surrounds the so-called
[paragraph continues] Greek authorship of philosophy. (William Turner's History of Philosophy p. 35; 39; 47; 53; 62; 79; 210–211; 627. Ancient Mysteries by C. H. Vail p. 16. Theophrastus: Fragment 2 apud Diels. Introduction to Alfred Weber's History of Philosophy.)
History knows nothing about the early life and training of the Greek philosophers and this is true not only of the pre-Socratic philosophers: but also of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, who appear in history about the age of eighteen and begin to teach at forty.
As a body of men they were undesirable to the state, (personae non gratae) and were consequently persecuted and driven into hiding and secrecy. Under such circumstances they kept no records of their activities and this was done in order to conceal their identity. After the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, and the seizure and looting of the Royal Library at Alexandria, Aristotle's plan to usurp Egyptian philosophy, was subsequently carried out by members of his school: Theophrastus, Andronicus of Rhodes and Eudemus, who soon found themselves confronted with the problem of a chronology for a history of philosophy. (Introduction of Zeller's Hist. of Phil. p. 13).
Throughout this effort there has been much speculation concerning the date of birth of philosophers, whom the public knew very little about. As early as the third century B.C. (274–194 B.C.) Eratosthenes, a Stoic drew up a chronology of Greek philosophers and in the second century B.C. (140) Apollodorus also drew up another. The effort continued, and in the first century B.C. (60–70 B.C.) Andronicus, the eleventh Head of the Peripatetic school, also drew up another.
This difficulty continued throughout the early centuries, and has come down to the present time for it appears that all modern writers on Greek Philosophy are unable to agree on
the dates that should be assigned to the nativity of the philosophers. The only exception appears to occur with reference to the three Athenian philosophers, i.e., Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the date of whose nativity is believed to be certain, and concerning which there is general agreement among historians.
However, when we come to deal with the pre-Socratic philosophers, we are confronted with confusion and uncertainty, and a few examples would serve to illustrate the untrustworthy nature of the chronology of Greek Philosophers.
(1) Diogenes Laertius places the birth of Thales at 640 B.C., while William Turner's History of Philosophy places it as 620 B.C.; that of Frank Thilly at 624 B.C.; that of A. K. Rogers at early in the sixth century B.C.; and that of W. G. Tennemann at 600 B.C.
(2) Diogenes Laertius places the birth of Anaximenes at 546 B.C.; while W. Windelbrand places it at the sixth century B.C.; that of Frank Thilly at 588 B.C.; that of B. D. Alexander at 560 B.C.; while that of A. K. Rogers at the sixth century B.C.
(3) Parmenides is credited by Diogenes as being born at 500 B.C.; while Fuller, Thilly and Rogers omit a date of birth, because they say it is unknown.
(4) Zeller places the birth of Xenophanes at 576 B.C.; while Diogenes gives 570 B C.; and the majority of the other historians declare that the date of birth is unknown.
(5) With reference to Xeno, Diogenes who does not know the date of his birth, says that he flourished between B.C. 464–460; while William Turner places it at 490 B.C.; like Frank Thilly and B. D. Alexander; while Fuller, A. K. Rogers and W. G. Tennemann declare it is unknown.
(6) With references to Heraclitus, Zeller makes the following suppositions: if he died in 475 B.C. and if he was sixty years old when he died, then he must have been born in 535 B.C.; similarly Diogenes supposes that he flourished between B.C. 504–500; and while William Turner places his birth at 530 B.C.; Windelbrand places it at 536 B.C.; and
[paragraph continues] Fuller and Tennemann declare that he flourished in 500 B.C.
(7) With reference to Pythagoras, Zeller who does not know the date of his birth supposes that it occurred between the years 580–570 B.C.; and while Diogenes also supposes that it occurred between the years 582–500 B.C.; William Turner, Fuller, Rogers, and Tennemann declare that it is unknown.
(8) With reference to Empedocles, while Diogenes places his birth at 484 B.C.; Turner, Windelbrand, Fuller, B. D. Alexander and Tennemann place it at 490 B.C.; while A. K. Rogers and others declare it is unknown.
(9) With reference to Anaxagoras, while Zeller and Diogenes place his birth at 500 B.C.; William Turner, A. G. Fuller, and Frank Thilly agree with them, while Alexander places it at 450 B.C. and A. K. Rogers and others declare it is unknown.
(10) With reference to Leucippus, all historians seem to be of the opinion that he has never existed.
(11) Socrates (469–399 B.C.), Plato (427–347 B.C.), and Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) are the only three philosophers the dates of whose nativity and death do not seem to have led to speculation among historians; but the reason for this uniformity is probably clue to the fact that they were Athenians and had been indicted by the Athenian Government who would naturally have investigated them and kept a record of their cases. (A. K. Roger's Hist. of Phil. p. 104).
It must be noted from the preceding comparative study of the chronology of Greek philosophers that (a) the variation in dates points to speculation (b) the pre-Socratic philosophers were unknown because they were foreigners to the Athenian Government and probably never existed (c) it follows that both the pre-Socratic philosophers together with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were persecuted by the Athenian Government tor introducing foreign doctrines into Athens. (d) In consequence of these facts, any subsequent claim by the
[paragraph continues] Greeks to the ownership or authorship of the same doctrines which they had rejected and persecuted, must be regarded as a usurpation.
When Aristotle decided to compile a history of Greek Philosophy he must have made known his wishes to his pupils Theophrastus and Eudemus: for no sooner did he produce his metaphysics, than Theophrastus followed him by publishing eighteen books on the doctrines of the physicists. Similarly, after Theophrastus had published his doctrines of the physicists, Eudemus produced separate histories of Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy and also theology. This was an amazing start, because of the large number of scientific books, and the wide range of subjects treated. This situation has rightly aroused the suspicion of the world, as it questions the source of these scientific works.
Since Theophrastus and Eudemus were students under Aristotle at the same time, and since the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, made the Egyptian Library at Alexandria available to the Greeks for research, then it must be expected that the three men, Aristotle who was a close friend of Alexander, Theophrastus and Eudemus not only did research at the Alexandrine Library at the sane time, but must also have helped themselves to books, which enabled them to follow each other so closely in the production of scientific works (William Turner's Hist. of Phil. p. 158–159), which were either a portion of the war booty taken from the Library or compilations from them. (Note that Aristotle's works reveal the signs of note taking and that Theophrastus and Eudemus were pupils attending Aristotle's school at the same time). William Turner's Hist. of Phil. p. 127.
Just here it might be as well to mention the names of Aristotle's pupils who took an active part in promoting the
movement towards the compilation of a history of Greek philosophy:
(a) Theophrastus of Lesbos 371–286 B.C., who succeeded Aristotle as head of the peripatetic school. As elsewhere mentioned, he is said to have produced eighteen books on the doctrines of physicists. Who were these physicists? Greek or Egyptians? Just think of it.
(b) Eudemus of Rhodes a contemporary of Theophrastus with whom he also attended Aristotle's school. He is said to have produced histories of Arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and theology, as elsewhere mentioned. What was the source of the data of the histories of these sciences, which must have taken any nation thousands of years to develop? Greece or Egypt? Just think of it.
(c) Andronicus of Rhodes, an Eclectic of Aristotle's school and editor of his works (B.C. 70).
These men's works together with Aristotle's metaphysics, which contained a critical summary of the doctrines of all preceding philosophers, seem to form the nucleus of a compilation of what has been called, the history of Greek philosophy (Zeller's Hist. of Greek Phil.: Introduction p. 7–14).
The next movement was the organization of an association called "The learned study of Aristotle's Writings", whose members were Theophrastus and Andronicus, who were both closely connected with the school of Aristotle. The function of this association was to identify the literature and doctrines of philosophy with their so-called respective authors, and in order to accomplish this the alumni of Aristotle's school and its friends were encouraged to enter upon a research for Aristotle's works and to write commentaries on them.
In addition to this, the Learned Association also encouraged research for the recovery of what has been named Fragments or remnants of a book, which is supposed to have once existed, and to have borne the common title "Peri Physeos", i.e., concerning nature.
Here again those who went out in search of "peri physeos"
or its remnants were the alumni of Aristotle's school and its friends: but their efforts to establish authorship was a failure.
(a) Theophrastus found only two lines of peri physeos, supposed to have been written by Anaximander.
(b) Sextus and Proclus of the fifth century A.D., and Simplicius of the sixth century A.D. are said to have found a copy of "peri physeos" supposed to have been produced by Parmenides.
(c) In addition, the name of Simplicius is also associated with a copy of "peri physeos", which is supposed to have been produced by Anaxagoras.
So much for "peri physeos and the Fragments," and so much for the attempt of "The Learned Association" for the study of Aristotle's works; which has failed because of lack of evidence, as has elsewhere been pointed out.
The recovery of two copies and two lines of "peri physeos" is not proof that all Greek Philosophers wrote "peri physeos", or even that the names assigned to them were their bona fide authors. It certainly would appear that the object of the Learned Association was to beat Aristotle's own drum and dance. It was Aristotle's idea to compile a history of philosophy, and it was Aristotle's school and its alumni that carried out the idea, we are told.