The Golden Verses of Pythagoras, by Fabre d'Olivet, , at sacred-texts.com
The source of all goodness is wisdom, and wisdom begins with the knowledge of oneself. Without this knowledge, one aspires in vain to real goodness. But how is it obtainable? If you interrogate Plato upon this important point, he will respond to you, that it is in going back to the essence of thingsthat is to say, in considering that which constitutes man in himself. "A workman, you will say to this philosopher, is not the same thing as the instrument which he uses; the one who plays the lyre differs from the lyre upon which he plays. You will readily agree to this, and the philosopher, pursuing his reasoning, will add: And the eyes with which this musician reads his music, and the hands with which he holds his lyre, are they not also instruments? Can you deny, if the eyes, if the hands are instruments, that the whole body may likewise be an instrument, different from the being who makes use of it and who commands?" Unquestionably no, and you will comprehend sufficiently that this being, by which man is really man, is the soul, the knowledge of which you ought to seek. "For, "Plato will also tell you, "he who knows his body, only knows that it is his, and is not himself. To know his body as a physician or as a sculptor, is an art, to know his soul, as a sage, is a science and the greatest of all sciences." b
From the knowledge of himself man passes to that of God; and it is in fixing this model of all perfection that he succeeds in delivering himself from the evils which he has attracted by his own choice. c His deliverance depends,
according to Pythagoras, upon virtue and upon truth. a The virtue, that he acquires by purification, tempers and directs the passions; the truth, which he attains by his union with the Being of beings, dissipates the darkness with which his intelligence is obsessed; and both of them, acting jointly in him, give him the divine form, according as he is disposed to receive it, and guide him to supreme felicity. b But how difficult to obtain this desired goal!
259:b Plato, In Alcibiad., ii.
259:c Hiérocl., Aur. Carm., v. 56.