The Complete Pythagoras
A full-text, public domain editionfor the generalist & specialist
Edited by Patrick Rousell for the World Wide Web.
I first came across Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie’s edition of the
while researchinga book on Leonardo. I had been surfing these deep waters for a while and so the value of Guthrie’s publication was immediately apparent. As Guthrie explains in his own introduction, which is at the beginning of the second book (p 168), he was initially prompted to publish these writings in the1920’s for fear that this information would become lost. As it is, much of this information has since been published in fairly good modern editions. However, these are still hard to access and there isno current complete collection as presented by Guthrie. The advantage here is that we have a fairlycomprehensive collection of works on Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans, translated from the origin-al Greek into English, and presented as a unified, albeit electronic edition.
The Complete Pythagoras
is a compilation of two books. The first is entitled
The Life Of Py-thagoras
and contains the four biographies of Pythagoras that have survived from antiquity: that of Iamblichus (280-333 A.D.), Porphry (233-306 A.D.), Photius (ca 820- ca 891 A.D.) and DiogenesLaertius (180 A.D.). The second is entitled
and is a complete collection of thesurviving fragments from the Pythagoreans. The first book was published in 1920, the second a year later, and released together as a bound edition. The bound edition was produced inexpensively as amimeographed hand-typed manuscript that was rolled-off onto cheap stock. Consequently, only ahandful of copies of what must have been a very small edition are extant and were found to behighly deteriorated. Two copies were referenced for this edition.There has been no attempt on my part to modernize Guthrie’s original edition but rather to repro-duce a facsimile. The reason for this is two-fold: First, to add another voice (an uninformed one atthat, since I am not a classicist) would have distanced the reader yet further from the original.Second, while Guthrie’s translation may at times seem archaic and convoluted, as his English datesfrom the late 19
Century, it nevertheless seems to hug the original Greek texts best. It may best beunderstood as a transliteration, as opposed to a translation. It can therefore be used as another source to compare to modern editions.There is little that I would want to add to Guthrie’s introduction, except for this: there is one namethat stands out here. While Alexander and Einstein may be household names, let us consider Archytas, a master of both the active and the contemplative life. Archytas of Tarentum (ca 375B.C.) was not only a great general and friend of Plato’s, he was also a great mathematician and philosopher. Not only did he at one point save Plato from the Sicilian tyrant Diogenes (theyounger), he also had a profound influence on Plato’s thought. As a mathematician he is believed tohave solved the Delian problem (the doubling of the volume of the cube) and been responsible for most of what has come down to us as Book VIII of Euclid’s
. As a philosopher he was, I believe, the first to openly postulate a theory of infinity (see text) and extended the “theory of means” in music.Patrick Roussel, a.k.a. Patrick C, is an artist and writer who after living and working in NYC for 15
years, recently moved to southern France.Contact: