The Golden Verses of Pythagoras, by Fabre d'Olivet, , at sacred-texts.com
Lysis, speaking always in the name of Pythagoras, addressed himself to those of the disciples of this theosophist,
who had reached the highest degree of perfection, or autopsy, and the felicity of their welfare. I have said often enough in the course of these Examinations, what should be understood by this last degree, so that I need not refer to it here. I shall not even pause upon what has reference to the symbolic teachings of Pythagoras, the formularies and dietetics that he gave to his disciples, and the abstinences that he prescribed for them, my design being to give incidentally a particular explanation of it, for the purpose of not further prolonging this volume. It is well known that all of the eminent men, as many among the ancients as among the moderns, all the savants commendable for their labours or their learning, are agreed in regarding the precepts of Pythagoras as symbolical, that is, as containing figuratively, a very different meaning from that which they would seem to offer literally. a It was the custom of the Egyptian priests from whom he had imbibed them, b to conceal their doctrine beneath an outer covering of parables and allegories. c The world was, in their eyes, a vast enigma, whose mysteries, clothed in a style equally enigmatical, ought never to be openly divulged. d These priests had three kinds of characters, and three ways of expressing and depicting their thoughts. The first manner of writing and of speaking was clear and simple; the second, figurative; and the third, symbolic. In the first, they employed characters used by all peoples and took the words in their literal meaning; in the second, they used hieroglyphic characters, and took the words in an indirect and metaphorical meaning; finally in the third, they made use of phrases with double meaning
of historic and astronomical fables, or of simple allegories. a The chef-duvre of the sacerdotal art was uniting these three ways, and enclosing under the appearance of a clear and simple style, the vulgar, figurative, and symbolic meaning. Pythagoras has sought this kind of perfection in his precepts and often he has succeeded; but the one of all the theosophists instructed in the sanctuaries of Thebes or of Memphis, who has pushed farthest this marvellous art, is beyond doubt Moses. The first part of his Sepher, vulgarly called Genesis, and that should be called by its original name of Bereshith, is in this style, the most admirable work, the most astounding feat of strength that is possible for a man to conceive and execute. This book, which contains all the science of the ancient Egyptians, is still to be translated and will only be translated when one will put oneself in a condition to understand the language in which it has primitively been composed.
275:a Cicer., De Finib., l. v., c. 5; Aul. Gell., l. xx., c. 5; Clem. Alex., Strom., l. v.; Hiérocl., Aur. Carm., v. 68; Lil. Gregor. Gyrald., Pythag. Symbol. Interpret.; Dacier, Vie de Pythag.; Barthelemi, Voyage du Jeune Anarch., t. vi., ch. 75, etc.
275:b Jambl., Vitâ Pythag., C. 29, 34, et 35.
275:c Porphyr. apud Euseb., Præp. Evang., l. iii., c. 7; ibid., De Abstinent., l. iv., p. 308; Jambl., De Myst. Egypt., c. 37.
275:d Clem. Alex., Stromat., l. v., p. 556.
276:a Hérod., l. ii., § 36; Clem. Alex., ut suprà; Dacier, Vie de Pythag.