The Ancient Library

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On this page: Pygmalion – Pygme – Pylades – Pylagorae – Pyramus and Thisbe – Pyriphlegethon – Pyrrha – Pyrrhic Dance – Pyrrhon – Pythagoras



his ships. [In the ancient calendar of the Attic festivals built into the wall of the metropolitan church at Athens, the festival of the Pyanepsia is represented by a youth carrying the Eiresione, See cut in Miss Harrison's Mythology, tie., of Athena, p. 168; ib. cxxxv.] Besides Apollo, the Horce were worshipped at the Pyaiiepsia with offerings and invocations, as the goddesses of the blessings of the year.

Pygmalion. (1) In Greek mythology a I king of Cyprus, who became so enamoured of the statue of a maiden which he himself was carving in ivory that he implored Aphrodite to endue it with life. When the goddess granted his prayer, he married the maiden, and she bore to him a son named Paphos [Ovid, Met. x 243],

(2) See dido.

Pygme. Boxing. (See gymnastics.)

Pylades. Son of Strophius, king of Phanote, near Parnassus, and of Anaxibia, i a sister of Agamemnon ; famous on account of his faithful friendship with Orestes (q.v.). He was the husband of Electra.

Pylag<5rse. See amphictyons.

Pyramus and Thisbe. Two Babylonian lovers, the children of hostile neighbours. As their parents declined to sanction their marriage, they could only converse with one another through a crevice in a wall common to both houses. On one occasion they had agreed to meet at night at a mul­berry tree near the city. Thisbe arrived there first, but, while fleeing from a lion, stained with the blood of his prey, she dropped her veil; this the beast tore and befouled with blood. Pyramus, finding the veil, killed himself in despair at the sup­posed death of his beloved. When Thisbe, returning from her flight, found his corpse, she also killed herself with his sword. The fruit of the mulberry tree was coloured by their blood, and has ever since borne the same hue [Ovid, Met. iv 55].

PyrlphlegSthon. A river of the nether world. (See hades, realm of.)

Pyrrha. Daughter of Epimetheus, wife of Deucalion, with whom she alone escaped the flood which bears his name. (See j deucalion.) i

Pyrrhic Dance (Gr. Pyrrlche). A mimic j war-dance among the Greeks, representing attack and defence in battle. It originated : with the Dorians in Crete, who traced it back to the Curetes, and in Sparta, where ! it was traced to the Dioscuri. In Sparta, ! where boys of five years old were trained for it, it formed a chief part of the festival

of the Gymnfipa'dia. The war-dance per­formed at Athens at the Panathenaic fes­tival celebrated Athene as the victor over the Giants.

In the Roman imperial times the Pyrrhic dance was a kind of dramatic ballet, which was performed by dancers, mule and female, and represented (like the Roman pantomime) mythological subjects, taken frequently from the legend of Dionysus, such as the march of the god against the Indians, the doom of Pentheus, but also from other sources, such_ as the judgment of Paris and the fate of Icarus. For these performances the emperors frequently brought to Rome from Asia, the home of this dance, boys and girls of noble birth; but there wore also dancers, male and female, who were brought up to it as a regular trade. At times the Pyrrhic dance was performed in the amphitheatre by cri­minals especially trained for this purpose.

Pyrrhon. A Greek philosopher of Elis, who flourished about 365-275 B.C.; the founder of Scepticism. (See philosophy.)

PythagSras. (1) The Greek philosopher; born on the island of Samos about 580 b.c., son of Mnesarchus. He is said to have been the first man who called himself a " philo­sopher," or lover of wisdom. The certain facts about his life are extraordinarily few, since in the course of time his life became obscured by a web of legend and tradition, as is shown by the biographies of the Neoplatonists lamblichus and Porphyrius.

As the story goes, he was a disciple of Pherecydes of SyrSs, and spent a large part of his earlier life on journeys, during which he studied the civilization and the mystic lore of the East, and especially the wisdom of the Egyptians. When, on his return to Samos, he found his country under the yoke of the tyrant PSlycrates, he migrated to Lower Italy, and settled in 529 at Crfiton. Here, in order to bring about a political and social regeneration of the Lower Italian towns, which had been ruined by the strife of parties, he founded a society, whose members were pledged to a pure and devout life, to the closest friend­ship with each other, to united action in upholding morals and chastity, as well as order and harmony in the common weal The aristocratic tendency of this society caused a rising of the popular party in Croton, in which Pythagoras, with 3(30 of his adherents is supposed to have perished; according to other accounts, he marched with a few followers to Metapontum, where

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.