The Golden Verses of Pythagoras, by Fabre d'Olivet, , at sacred-texts.com
Lysis terminates the purgative part of the doctrine of Pythagoras with the trait which characterizes it in general and in particular; he has shown the golden mean in virtue and in science; he has commended it in conduct, he states in full and says openly that extremes meet; that luxury and avarice differ not in their effects, and that philosophy consists in avoiding excess in everything. Hierocles adds that, to be happy, one must know how, where, when, and how much to take; and that he who is ignorant of these just limits is always unhappy and he proves it as follows:
Voluptuousness [he said] is necessarily the effect of an action: now, if the action is good the voluptuousness remains; if it is evil the voluptuousness passes and is corrupted. When one does a shameful thing with, pleasure, the pleasure passes and the shame remains. When one does an excellent thing with great trouble and labour the pain passes and the excellence alone remains. Whence it follows necessarily, that the evil life is also bitter and produces as much sorrow and chagrin as the good life is sweet and procures joy and contentment. d
"As the flame of a torch tends always upward whichever way one turns it," said the Indian sages, "thus the man whose heart is afire with virtue, whatever accident befalls him, directs himself always toward the end that wisdom indicates." a
"Misfortune follows vice, and happiness virtue," said the Chinese, "as the echo follows the voice and the shadow him who moves."' b
O virtue! divine virtue! [exclaims Kong-Tse c] a celestial power presents thee to us, an interior force conducts us toward thee; happy the mortal in whom thou dwellest! he strikes the goal without effort, a single glance suffices for him to penetrate the truth. His heart becomes the sanctuary of peace and his very inclinations protect his innocence. It is granted to the sage only, to attain to so desirable a state. He who aspires to this must resolve upon the good and attach himself strongly to it; he must apply himself to the study of himself, interrogate nature, examine all things carefully, meditate upon them and allow nothing to pass unfathomed. Let him develop the faculties of his soul, let him think with force, let him put energy and firmness into his actions. Alas! how many men there are who seek virtue and science, and who stop in the middle of their course, because the goal keeps them waiting! My studies, they say, leave me with all my ignorance, all my doubts; my efforts, my labours enlarge neither my views nor my sagacity; the same clouds hover over my understanding and obscure it; I feel my forces abandoning me and my will giving way beneath the weight of the obstacle. No matter; guard yourself against discouragement; that which others have been able to attain at the first attempt, you may be able at the hundredth; that which they have done at the hundredth, you will do at the thousandth. d
196:d Hiérocl., Aur. Carm., v. 32.
197:a Proverbes du Brahme Barthrovhari.
197:b Chou-King, ch. Yu-Mo.
197:c On trouve ce passages dans le Tchong-Yong, ou Livre du Juste-Milieu; ouvrage très célèbre parmi les Chinois.