Samuel Croxall - The Secret History Of Pythagoras (8.6 MB)
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Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570-c. 495 BC) was an Ionian Greek philosopher and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of our information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, thus very little reliable information is known about him. He was born on the island of Samos, and may have travelled widely in his youth, visiting Egypt and other places seeking knowledge. Around 530 BC, he moved to Croton, a Greek colony in southern Italy, and there set up a religious sect. His followers pursued... More >>>
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Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570-c. 495 BC) was an Ionian Greek philosopher and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of our information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, thus very little reliable information is known about him. He was born on the island of Samos, and may have travelled widely in his youth, visiting Egypt and other places seeking knowledge. Around 530 BC, he moved to Croton, a Greek colony in southern Italy, and there set up a religious sect. His followers pursued the religious rites and practices developed by Pythagoras, and studied his philosophical theories. The society took an active role in the politics of Croton, but this eventually led to their downfall. The Pythagorean meeting-places were burned, and Pythagoras was forced to flee the city. He is said by some to have ended his days in Metapontum.
Pythagoras had undertaken extensive travels, and had visited not only Egypt, but Arabia, Phoenicia, Judaea, Babylon, and even India, for the purpose of collecting all available knowledge, and especially to learn information concerning the secret or mystic cults of the gods. The journey to Babylon is possible, and not very unlikely. That Pythagoras visited Egypt, may be more probable, and many ancient writers asserted this. Enough of Egypt was known to attract the curiosity of an inquiring Greek, and contact between Samos and other parts of Greece with Egypt is mentioned.
It is not easy to say how much Pythagoras learned from the Egyptian priests, or indeed, whether he learned anything at all from them. There was nothing in the symbolism which the Pythagoreans adopted which showed the distinct traces of Egypt. The secret religious rites of the Pythagoreans exhibited nothing but what might have been adopted in the spirit of Greek religion, by those who knew nothing of Egyptian mysteries. The philosophy and the institutions of Pythagoras might easily have been developed by a Greek mind exposed to the ordinary influences of the age. Even the ancient authorities note the similarities between the religious and ascetic peculiarities of Pythagoras with the Orphic or Cretan mysteries, or the Delphic oracle.
His followers established a select brotherhood or club for the purpose of pursuing the religious and ascetic practices developed by their master. The accounts agree that what was done and taught among the members was kept a profound secret. The esoteric teachings may have concerned the secret religious doctrines and usages, which were undoubtedly prominent in the Pythagorean system, and may have been connected with the worship of Apollo. Temperance of all kinds seems to have been strictly urged. There is disagreement among the biographers as to whether Pythagoras forbade all animal food, or only certain types. The club was in practice at once "a philosophical school, a religious brotherhood, and a political association.
As an active and organised brotherhood the Pythagorean order was everywhere suppressed, and did not again revive. Still the Pythagoreans continued to exist as a sect, the members of which kept up among themselves their religious observances and scientific pursuits, while individuals, as in the case of Archytas, acquired now and then great political influence. Concerning the fate of Pythagoras himself, the accounts varied. Some say that he perished in the temple with his disciples, others that he fled first to Tarentum, and that, being driven from there, he escaped to Metapontum, and there starved himself to death. His tomb was shown at Metapontum in the time of Cicero.
Pythagoras set up an organization which was in some ways a school, in some ways a brotherhood, and in some ways a monastery. It was based upon the religious teachings of Pythagoras and was very secretive. The adherents were bound by a vow to Pythagoras and each other, for the purpose of pursuing the religious and ascetic observances, and of studying his religious and philosophical theories. The claim that they put all their property into a common stock is perhaps only a later inference from certain Pythagorean maxims and practices. On the other hand, it seems certain that there were many women among the adherents of Pythagoras.
Pythagoras started a secret society called the Pythagorean brotherhood devoted to the study of mathematics. This had a great effect on future esoteric traditions, such as Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, both of which were occult groups dedicated to the study of mathematics and both of which claimed to have evolved out of the Pythagorean brotherhood. The mystical and occult qualities of Pythagorean mathematics are discussed in a chapter of Manly P. Hall's The Secret Teachings of All Ages entitled "Pythagorean Mathematics".
Pythagorean theory was tremendously influential on later numerology, which was extremely popular throughout the Middle East in the ancient world. The 8th-century Muslim alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan grounded his work in an elaborate numerology greatly influenced by Pythagorean theory. Today, Pythagoras is revered as a prophet by the Ahl al-Tawhid or Druze faith along with his fellow Greek, Plato.
Croxall, Samuel (1688/9-1752), poet and Church of England clergyman. Samuel Croxall is a published translator. A published credit of Samuel Croxall is Fables of Aesop.
Samuel Croxall Religious career:
With royal patronage behind him, and having made judicious friendships in the Anglican hierarchy, Croxall began moving up the ecclesiastical ladder too. In 1727 he was made a prebendary of Hereford Cathedral and the following year he became a Doctor of Divinity. In 1732 he was made Archdeacon of Shropshire and in 1738 chancellor of Hereford. By this time Samuel's brother Rodney had followed him into the ministry and was living in Hereford. Samuel scandalised the citizens by demolishing an ancient chapel and using the stone to build Rodney a house.
His later publications were mainly religious. These include six of his sermons which comprise, as well as "Incendiaries no Christians": one preached in Lambeth Chapel at the consecration of the bishops of Hereford and of St. David's (1723); one preached before the Honourable House of Commons at St. Margaret's, Westminster on the anniversary of the beheading of Charles I (1729); and one on "The antiquity, dignity and advantages of music", delivered in the cathedral church of Hereford on the occasion of the Three Choirs Festival in 1741. He also wrote the voluminous Scripture Politics: Being a View of the Original Constitution, and Subsequent Revolutions, in the Government Religious and Civil, of that people out of whom the SAVIOUR of the WORLD was to arise, published in 1735 with "the design to make the Bible more easily understood". At the end of his life he brought out a final poem, "The Royal Manual" (1750), a moral prayer and meditation containing 22 sections of 16 lines each.
Croxall's anti-Catholic stance was part of the libertarian programme adopted by the Whig supporters of a Protestant succession and is manifested in a variety of ways. Unsurprisingly it is to be found in his political poetry, most notably in the portrait of the proud, triple-crowned Romania, the companion of the tyrannising Sir Burbon in stanzas 38-9 of the first Spenserian canto, and in the stanza devoted to the Roman Inquisition (12) in the second. Another unfavourable allusion to Catholic practice occurs in the second of his extracts from Ovid's Fasti where, following a reference to the naked priests of Faunus, Croxall departs from the original to observe that in place of outward observation of the naked truth, "modern Rome, to scour us all from sin,/ Appoints a prying Priest to peep within".
A more surprising context for the party line is in the preface to The Fables of Aesop. Here Croxall attacks the principles of interpretation of his immediate predecessor as fabulist, Sir Roger L'Estrange, as "coined and suited to promote the growth, and serve the ends, of Popery and arbitrary power....In every political touch he shows himself to be the tool and hirelling of the Popish faction". L'Estrange's versions are as lively and colloquial as Croxall's while his commentaries are shorter and, if anything, less political. In fact, the rival author's real crime was to be a supporter of the Stuart regime, for which at one time he acted as press censor.
Croxall was engaged in several literary ventures on his own account. In 1720 he edited A Select Collection of Novels written by the most celebrated authors in several languages. In its four volumes were eighteen complete or extracted works by such authors as Madame de la Fayette, Miguel de Cervantes, Nicolas Machiavelli, the Abbe de St. Real, and Paul Scarron. So successful was this that he extended it to six volumes containing nine new works in 1722. Further editions under different titles followed into which some English works were also introduced. But Croxall was to achieve even greater success with his other work of 1722, The Fables of Aesop and Others, which were told in an easy colloquial style and followed by 'instructive applications'. Aimed at children, each fable was accompanied by illustrations which were soon to find their way onto household crockery and tiles. Several more editions were published in his lifetime and the book was continuously in print until well into the second half of the 19th century.