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Observations placeholder

Pythagoras - Iamblichus's Life - Communicating with ox and eagle



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Iamblichus – Life of Pythagoras [translated by Thomas Taylor]

Perceiving an ox at Tarentum feeding in a pasture, and eating among other things green beans, he advised the herdsman to tell the ox to abstain from the beans. The herdsman, however, laughed at him, and said that he did not understand the language of oxen, but if Pythagoras did, it was in vain to advise him to speak to the ox, but fit that he himself should advise the animal to abstain from such food.

Pythagoras therefore, approaching to the ear of the ox, and whispering in it for a long time, not only caused him then to refrain from beans, but it is said that he never after tasted them. This ox also lived for a long time at Tarentum near the temple of Juno, where it remained when it was old, and was called the sacred ox of Pythagoras. It was also fed by those that came to it with human food.

When likewise he happened to be conversing with his familiars about birds, symbols, and prodigies, and was observing that all these are the messengers of the Gods, sent by them to those men who are truly dear to the Gods, he is said to have brought down an eagle that was flying over Olympia, and after gently stroking, to have dismissed it. Through these things, therefore, and other things similar to these, he demonstrated that he possessed the same dominion as Orpheus, over savage animals, and that he allured and detained them by the power of voice proceeding from the mouth.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps