The Golden Verses of Pythagoras, by Fabre d'Olivet, , at sacred-texts.com
It is sufficiently known that Pythagoras was the first who used the word Philosopher to designate a friend of wisdom. b Before him, the word Sophos, sage, was used. It is therefore with intention that I have made it enter into my translation, although it may not be literally in the text. The portrayal that Lysis gives of the philosopher represents everything in moderation and in that just mean, where the celebrated Kong-Tse placed also the perfection of the sage. c He commended to him tolerance for the opinions of others, instilling in him that, as truth and error have likewise their followers, one must not be flattered into thinking that one can enlighten all men, nor bring them to accept the same sentiments and to profess the same doctrine. Pythagoras had, following his custom, expressed these same ideas by symbolic phrases: "Exceed not the balance," he had said, stir not the fire with the sword," "all materials are not fitting to make a statue of Mercury." That is to say, avoid all excess; depart not from the golden mean which is the appanage of the philosopher; propagate not your doctrine by violent means; use not the sword in the cause of God and the truth; confide not science to a corrupt soul; or as Jesus forcibly said: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine" d; for all men
are not equally fitted to receive science, to become models of wisdom, nor to reflect the image of God.
Pythagoras, it must be said, had not always entertained these sentiments. While he was young and while he still burned unconsciously with the fire of passions, he abandoned himself to a blind and vehement zeal. An excess of enthusiasm and of divine love had thrown him into intolerance and perhaps he would have become persecutor, if, like Mohammed, he had had the weapons at hand. An incident opened his eyes. As he had contracted the habit of treating his disciples very severely, and as he generally censured men for their vices with much asperity, it happened one day that a youth, whose mistakes he had publicly exposed and whom he had upbraided with bitterest reproaches, conceived such despair that he killed himself. The philosopher never thought of this evil of which he had been the cause without violent grief; he meditated deeply, and made from this incident reflections which served him the remainder of his life. He realized, as he energetically expressed it, that one must not stir the fire with the sword. One can, in this regard, compare him with Kong-Tse and Socrates. The other theosophists have not always shown the same moderation. Krishna, the most tolerant among them had nevertheless said, abandoning himself to thoughtless enthusiasm: "Wisdom consists in being wholly for Me . . . in freedom from love of self . . . in loosening all bonds of attachment for ones children, wife, and home . . . in rendering to God alone a steadfast cult . . . disdaining and fleeing from the society of men" a: words remarkable for the connection that they have with those of Jesus: "If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." b Zoroaster seemed to authorize persecution, saying in an outburst of indignation: "He who does evil, destroy him; rise up against
all those who are cruel. . . . Smite with strength the proud Turanian who afflicts and torments the just." a One knows to what pitch of wrath Moses was kindled against the Midianites and the other peoples who resisted him, b notwithstanding that he had announced, in a calmer moment, the God of Israel as a God merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth. c Mohammed, as passionate as Moses, and strongly resembling the legislator of the Hebrews by his ability and firmness, has fallen into the same excess. He has often depicted, as cruel and inexorable, this same God whom he invokes at the head of all of his writings, as very good, very just, and very clement. d This proves how rare a thing it is to remain in the golden mean so commended by Kong-Tse and Pythagoras, how difficult it is for any pupil to resist the lure of the passions to stifle utterly their voice, in order to hear only the voice of the divine inspiration. Reflecting upon the discrepancies of the great men whom I have just cited, one cannot refrain from thinking with Basil, that, in effect, there are no men on earth veritably wise and without sin e; above all when one considers that Jesus expressed himself in the same details as Krishna, Zoroaster, and Moses; and that he who had exhorted us in one passage to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray even for those who persecute and calumniate us, f menaces with fire from heaven the cities that recognize him not, g and elsewhere it is written: "Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword" h; "For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father,
the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother." a "He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth." b
174:a Clem. Alex., Strom., l. iv., p. 506; Beausobre, Hist. du Manich., t. ii., p. 28.
174:b This is the signification of the Greek word πιλόσοφος.
174:c Dans le Tchong-Yong, ou le Principe central, immuable, appelé Le Livre de la grande Science.
174:d Evan. S. Math., ch. vii., v. 6.
175:a Bhagavad-Gita, lect. 8 et 13.
175:b Evang. S. Luc., ch. xiv., v. 26.
176:a 50e hâ Zend-Avesta, p. 217; 45e hâ, ibid., p. 197.
176:b Nombres, ch. xxxi.; Deutéronome, ch. iii., xx., etc.
176:c Exode, ch. xxxiv., v. 6.
176:d Koran, i., ch. 4, 22, 23, 24, 25, 50, etc.
176:e Voyez la fin du dernier Examen.
176:f S. Math., ch. v., v. 44.
176:g Ibid., c. xii., v. 20, etc.
176:h Ibid., ch. x., v. 34.
177:a S. Luc, ch. xii., v. 52, 53.
177:b S. Math., ch. xii., v. 30.