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Pythagoras - Iamblichus's Life - Adjusting the diet to help attain wisdom and prophesy



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Iamblichus – Life of Pythagoras [translated by Thomas Taylor]

Pythagoras ordered his disciples to abstain from such food as is reckoned sacred, as being worthy of honour, and not to be appropriated to common and human utility. He likewise exhorted them to abstain from such things as are an impediment to prophesy or to the purity and chastity of the soul, or to the habit of temperance, or of virtue. And lastly, he rejected all such things as are adverse to sanctity, and which obscure and disturb the other purities of the soul, and the phantasms which occur in sleep. These things therefore he instituted as laws in common about nutriment.

Separately, however, he forbade the most contemplative of philosophers, and who have arrived at the summit of philosophic attainments, the use of superfluous and unjust food, and ordered them never to eat anything animated, nor in short, to drink wine, nor to-sacrifice animals to the Gods, nor by any means to injure animals, but to preserve most solicitously justice towards them.

And he himself lived after this manner, abstaining from animal food, and adoring altars undefiled with blood.

He was likewise careful in preventing others from destroying animals that are of a kindred nature with us and rather corrected and instructed savage animals through words and deeds, than injured them through punishment.

And farther still, he also enjoined those-politicians that were legislators to abstain from animals. For as they wished to act in the highest degree justly, it is certainly necessary that they should not injure any kindred animal. Since, how could they persuade others to act justly if they themselves were defected in indulging an insatiable avidity by partaking of animals that are allied to us ?

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items





Science Items

Activities and commonsteps