Why, on the contrary, it
was full of real personages, of true sages to whom it seemed as if no
secrets of heaven or earth were past fathoming; far from being
legendary, the countryhad never attained a higher plane of intellectual
curiosity than when Pythagoras made his appearance. And it cannot be
gainsaid that he and his disciples gave the impetus away from these wise
and beneficial researches into the arid regions of metaphysics. It is so
much more gentlemanly (and so much easier) to talk bland balderdash
about soul-migrations than to calculate an eclipse of the moon or bother
about the circulation of the blood.
That a man of his speculative vigour, knowing so many extra-Hellenic
races, should have hit upon one or two good things adventitiously is
only to be expected. But they were mere by-products. One might as well
praise John Knox for creating the commons of Scotland with a view to the
future prosperity of that country - a consummation which his black
fanaticism assuredly never foresaw.
The chief practical doctrine of Pythagoras, that mankind are to be
governed on the principle of a community of eastern monks, makes for the
disintegration of rational civic life.
And his chief theoretical doctrines, of metempsychosis and the reduction
of everything to a system of numbers [Footnote: Vincenzo Dorsa, an
Albanian, has written two pamphlets on the survival of Greco-Roman
traditions in Calabria.