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The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library: An Anthology of Ancient Writings Which Relate to Pythagoras and Pythagorean Philosophy Paperback – July 1, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Phanes Press; New edition edition (July 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0933999518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0933999510
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #295,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

the material of this book is indispensable for anyone who wishes to understand the real spiritual roots of Western civilization.

Customer Reviews

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It is a very interesting book and well worth reading.
Elliot Malach
This book contains translations of all of Pythagoras' extant work, as well as many short essays by his contemporaries and students.
Joseph J. Thiebes
Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie excellent book brings the enormous range of Pythagoras' interests alive for the modern reader.
T. Dodge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Johannes Platonicus on August 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an invaluable and comprehensive collection of writings connected with Pythagoras and the Pythagorean tradition. The Sourcebook contains important historical material, along with philosophical/theological treatises dealing with ethics, cosmology, natural philosophy, theosophy, numerology, geometry, music and logic, all of which are integral for our understanding of Pythagoras, who alludes us because he left nothing written behind. Of particular merit is the lengthy Life of Pythagoras by Iamblichus, which is rich in detail and covers Pythagoras' life, work and legacy, while simaltaneously conveying tales pertaining to events sacred, miraculous and mundane. Also included in the Life are scrupulous descriptions of Pythagorean doctrine and ritual practice and as an epilogue, Iamblichus furnishes us with a list of those philosophers who followed the Pythagorean succession. Another noteworthy historical work on Pythagoras is the great platonic scholar Porphyry's Life of Pythagoras, which is much shorter than Iamblichus' but much more critical and academic, asserting itself as a veritable piece of historiography. The work of chronologists Diogenes Laertius and Byzantine Ecclesiastic Photius also are presented here to complement the former. Next comes the superabundance of philosophical treatises as varied in authorship as they are in subject. Writings from eminent Pythagorean sages like Philolaus, Archytas and Aristoxenus, are included and are just a mere fragment of the total litany of treatises to sample from in this Pythagoric Library. The introductory essay and glossary, the charts and diagrams, coupled with the informative appendix, are also a great help and add further value to this edition.Read more ›
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Marina E. Michaels on July 31, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although this book is excellent, it was billed as containing all existing fragments of ancient writings about Pythagoras, yet within the book itself, modern translations of ancient documents are mentioned that are not included. If something bills itself as complete, that is exactly what I expect. Nonetheless, I am glad I bought it, and would recommend it as one of the key works to own on Pythagoras.
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49 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J. Thiebes on March 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Pythagoras is arguably the father of western culture. Certainly his theories have had a profound effect on the development of mathematics, music, architecture, the visual arts, philosophy, qabalah, astrology, astronomy, and the list goes on. Much as today's fans of Plato refer to Aristotle as a mere shadow of the former great man, so too can fans of Pythagoras say the same of Plato. Pythagoras was the first man to call himself a philosopher -- a lover of wisdom.
This book contains translations of all of Pythagoras' extant work, as well as many short essays by his contemporaries and students. There are many diagrams and charts which serve to effectively clarify his ideas. Overall, this book is a must have for any who seek truth.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on December 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Why should the student of metaphysics be drawn to study Pythagoras? It is because his school represents the pre-Christian spiritual teachings of the West? Too many people dismiss the beliefs of the classical world as centering around idol worship of the Olympian pantheon. When you read of the One, you realise that there was much, much more to it than that. Also, if you accept that Plato was a major influence on Christian thought, it is interesting to see where Plato seems to have drawn so much of his metaphysical, political, and ethical foundation. Then there is the strange fact that these teachings come from a time before spirituality and science became mutually unintelligible. Heart and brain had not yet divorced in the West...

The first part of this work is an excellent introduction to the basic Pythagorean history and principles (Number, Kosmos, Harmonia, the Monocord, the Tetraktys, the Soul, etc.) I am usually annoyed by scholarly introductions but this one is useful, perceptive, and concise.

The second part is composed of translations of the classical biographies (Iamblichus, Porphyry, Photius, Diogenes Laertius.)

The third part (the Pythagorean Library) is a remarkable collection of works ranging from the Golden Verses and maxims to obscure fragments.

This is followed by a series of appendixes covering the Tetraktys, Titles of the First Ten Numbers, Formations and Ratios of the Pythagorean Scale, and Pythagorean Mathematical Discoveries.

The Contents are well broken down by title and subject, there is both a index of proper names and topics, and a bibliography of primary texts and secondary sources (no- this isn't truly a comprehensive reference of everything Pythagorean.) There are a number of relevent line drawings illustrating the text.

Read the entire introduction, then spend your time browsing the rest of the collection- or use it strictly as an excellent and accessible reference.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elliot Malach VINE VOICE on October 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pythagoras did not write anything down. Everything in his mystery schools was transmitted orally, and like all the mystery schools, the adepts did not give out any information to the unwashed hordes (people like you and me).

The book is a compilation of all the fragments written by Pythagorean heavyweights. The Introduction covers Pythagorean theory on math and harmonics, as does the Appendix. Not to worry - you can get by without any advanced knowledge of mathematics.

The fragments and writings cover both his life and his doctrines. Some of the fragments, from Archytas in particular, were not only hard to read but also hard to follow the logic. Some sections I read and re-read before finally moving on. I understood the concept, but the logic was way over my head. Other writings, about his views on women and marriage, were more than a little sexist and very entertaining.

It is a very interesting book and well worth reading.
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The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library: An Anthology of Ancient Writings Which Relate to Pythagoras and Pythagorean Philosophy
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