The Pythagorean Order at Croton

* After investigating the government of Italy, he, with his mother and six hundred followers, prepared to the leave the country, thinking that men most inclined toward learning were to be found in greater number in that country. His adherents were chiefly of the noble and wealthy classes, not Samians but “the best of those in all Greece who philosophized” and who had come to Samos in order that they might participate of his erudition…. The date of his departure from Samos and his journey to Italy remains a matter of opinion amongst ancient writers, but they agree that Pythagoras was about sixty years of age. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 33]

* After a year at Delphi, Pythagoras proceeded to what was then known as Greater Greece, founding his own celebrated Order at Croton, a town at the extremity of the Gulf of Tarentum, in Southern Italy. Here, with his teaching of esoteric doctrine to a chosen band of disciples, and also applying his principles to the education of youth and the life of the State, he produced a vendible revolution, according to Porphyry and Iamblichus who depict the commencement of his life there as being rather that of a magician than of a philosopher. [Bernard H. Springett, Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Chapter XI: Pythagoras and His System, pp. 98-106]

* At Croton he founded a College for the initiation of the laity. Briefly, its aim was to make religion scientific and science religious. From a study of moral duties, and a study of the physical universe, Pythagoras led up to the secret of secrets, the study of the soul. Know yourself and you will know the universe of the gods, the secret of the wise Initiates. It is interesting to notice that Pythagoras took special pains to educate women for the important role which, owing to their greater psychic powers, they inevitably played in the religious rites of antiquity. He gave them not only a science of practical domestic and married life – from which some of us might benefit today – but instruction in all branches of physics, politics, science, and philosophy. [Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, Lives of 21 of the World’s Greatest Spiritual Teachers, p. 65]

* The final instructions were given at night, on the shores of the sea, or on the terraces of the temple of Ceres, or in the crypts of the Sanctuary, where the Egyptian naphtha lamp’s spread a soft and even light. Women Initiates assisted at these nocturnal reunions, and sometimes priests and priestesses from Delphi and from Eleusis came to confirm the teachings of the Master, by giving practical demonstrations of psychic phenomena, such as clairvoyance, etc., or by relating some of their own psychic experiences. [Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, Lives of 21 of the World’s Greatest Spiritual Teachers, p. 66

* With the ready aid of the wealthiest citizens he founded his Temple of the Muses, a home of initiation into the highest principles of education as well as of religion, with separate sections for the two sexes, though women were not admitted to the inner mysteries revealed to men, as unnecessary, according to Pythagoras, for their better accomplishment of their household duties. [Bernard H. Springett, Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Chapter XI: Pythagoras and His System, pp. 98-106]

* The Temples consisted of a circular colonnade, towering above the two wings of the main building, the whole surrounded by beautiful gardens. From the right wing came men clad in white robes entering the Temple of Apollo. From the left came the women, clad in divers colored robes, on their way to the Temple of Ceres, where they worshiped. The building contained a section for women, with disciplines and initiation more adapted to the duties of their sex. The gates of the garden of the Temple, or institute, were always open during the day, and were guarded by a statue of Hermes, with the inscription “Eskato Bebeloi” (No Entrance for the Profane), a commandment of the mysteries which was universally respected. His greater mission was to rouse to life the slumbering soul of the gods in the sanctuaries; to bring forth a philosophy which was to lay the foundations of the future scientific thought of Europe and the whole world; to found a school of life whence should come forth, not politicians and sophists but men and women, true mothers and true heroes. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 40-41]

* It was essential that two divisions be made of the classes, and these were called “Pythagoreans” and “Pythagorists.” With the first, the coenobitae ordered that all possessions should be contributed and shared in common…. Those who were attracted to the movement from the outside, and who really formed a greater part of his disciples, were auditors, called Acousmatics, and formed the list of Pythagorists…. With their wives and children, they gathered in a very large and common auditory, called the Homacoion, resembling first a city in size, but later with its increasing territory there was founded that part of Italy called Magna Graecia… [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 43-45]

* There were also two forms of philosophy, suited to the two genera of those who pursued it, the Acousmatici and the Mathematici. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 45]

* In a war with the Sybarites the city of Sybaris was captured and destroyed, and in the division of the land Pythagoras received a portion, to which he repaired with his esoteric school. This was the accomplishment of the Pythagorean Institute, together with the miniature model city, controlled by the great institute. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 46]

* Iamblichus tells us that Pythagoras required his disciples to undergo a probationary period of three years, during which they were under close and constant observation with regard to their manners of life and general characteristics. After this period they were ordered to observe a quinquennial silence in order that he might experimentally know how they were affected as to continuance of speech, subjugation of the tongue being the most difficult of all victories; as those have unfolded to us who instituted the Mysteries…. [Bernard H. Springett, Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Chapter XI: Pythagoras and His System, pp. 98-106]

* Iamblichus also tells us that a visitor to Pythagoras was Abaris the Hyperborean, who came to Crotona from a distant land in order that he might collect gold for his temple, and that Pythagoras learned much from him. Now this Abaris is considered by many distinguished writers on the Druids to have been identical with Abrams, who, according to ancient Irish legendary history, is stated to have travelled from Ireland to distant countries, and after a long time to have returned by way of Scotland, where he remained for seven years, bringing a new system of religion. From this Godfrey Higgins concludes that the Druids were Pythagoreans . [Bernard H. Springett, Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Chapter XI: Pythagoras and His System, pp. 98-106]

* “Pythagoras is said to have made three divisions of teaching-learning, knowledge, wisdom. Learning consists of things we memorize and are told by persons or books. Knowledge consists of the things we know, not the things we assume to believe. Wisdom is the distilled essence of what we have gained from experience; it is that which helps one to work and love, and makes life more worth living for all we meet.” Pythagoras secured teachings from many ancient countries and organized them into sciences. Music, medicine and divination were among these; also physics, ethical philosophy, logic, astronomy, political science, ethics, etc. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 58-59]

* It is stated that Pythagoras was sixty years old when he married, but a pure life kept him in perfect health and vigor. His wife was Theano, a young woman of great beauty and one of his disciples, the daughter of a Crotonian named Brontinos. Theano entered thoroughly into the life and work of her husband and, after his death, became a center for the Pythagorean Order and an authority on the doctrine of numbers. Stanley, in his History of Philosophy, states that to this union there were born three sons and four daughters. Theano, after the death of Pythagoras, married Aristaeus, who was thought worthy both to succeed to the position of teacher and to marry the wife and educate the children of his master. When Aristaeus became advanced in years, two of the sons of Pythagoras – Mnesarchus and Telanges – governed the school and (on the authority of Iamblichus and Laertius) became renowned teachers, counting as among their disciples the eminent Empedocles and Hippoborus. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 107]

* Accounts differ concerning the origin of the hostilities which arose against the Pythagoreans and also as to where Pythagoras was at the time stratagems were used to destroy him. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 109]

* Pythagoras did not establish something entirely new in Greece when he founded the famous school of Crotona; he developed something already existing, and when his original school was broken up and its members had to flee they sought refuge among the Orphics. The Pythagorean schools disappear into the Orphic communities…. [Bernard H. Springett, Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Chapter XI: Pythagoras and His System, pp. 98-106]

* Pythagoras returned in his old age to Samos and there died in 498 B.C…. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 13]

* The order of the Pythagoreans, although dispersed, lasted for 250 years, and his teaching lives on to-day, because the Torch of Truth which he upheld was handed on, as we shall see, to Plato, and to those who followed after. [Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, Lives of 21 of the World’s Greatest Spiritual Teachers, p. 67]

The teachings of Pythagoras were later found among the Essenes, a Jewish sect in Palestine in the time of Christ. Dr. Riggs, in his History of the Jewish People, says: The striking similarity of Pythagorean ideals with those of the Essenes, and the long-continued presence of Greek influences on the land, make this explanation plausible…. Diogenes says that in his time there were in existence three volumes written by Pythagoras; one on education, one on politics and one on natural philosophy, and that several other books had disappeared. [A Group of Students, Pythagoras: Greek Philosopher, Initiate Teacher, Founder of A Brotherhood at Crotona, p. 114]