The Ancient Library

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On this page: Pythia – Python – Quadrans – Quadriga



he died goon afterwards (504). Pythagoras has left nothing of hia teaching in a writ­ten form. The Golden Sayings which bear his name are certainly not genuine, though they may have originated at an early date. They consist of seventy-one maxims written in hexameters, with little to commend them as poetry.

It follows then that there is as much un­certainty about the system of Pythagoras as about his life, for it is impossible to ascertain which of the precepts of the Pythagorean school are due to himself, and which are later additions by his disciples. We can only ascribe to him with certainty the doctrine (1) of the transmigration of souls, and (2) of number as the principle of the harmony of the universe and of moral life ; and, further, certain religious and moral precepts. The first disciple of Pythagoras who described his philosophical system in writing was PIMulaits, either of Croton or Tarentum, a contemporary of Socrates (about 430 b.c.). Of this document, which was written in the Doric dialect, we possess only a few fragments. Archytas of Taren­tum was another important follower of this school. He was a friend of Plato, and was distinguished as a general, statesman, and mathematician. He flourished about 400-365, but the fragments which bear his name are not genuine. The same^may be said of the writings attributed to Ocellus Lucanus and to Tlmwus of Locri, Concerning the Nature of the Universe and Concerning the Soul,and of the seven letters of Theano, the supposed wife of Pythagoras, Concerning the Education of Children, Jealousy, The Management of the Household, etc.

(2) A Greek sculptor of Ehegium in Lower Italy, who flourished in the second half of the 5th century B.C. He devoted himself exclusively to working in bronze. His favourite subjects were statues of heroes and of the victors in athletic games. Striving after an exact imitation of nature, he is said to have been the first to express the sinews and veins. He also rendered the hair of the head more carefully than his predecessors, and, in the pose of his statues, paid special attention to symmetry and rhythm. [Pliny, N. H. xxxiv 59, vii

152 ; Pausanias, vi 4 § 3, 6 § 1, 6 § 4, 7 § 10, 18 § 1.]

Pythla. (1) The prophetess of Apollo at Delphi. (Sec delphic oracle.)

(2) The Pythian games. Next to the Olympic games, the most important of the four Greek national festivals. From 586 B.C. they were held on the Crisssean plain below Delphi. They took place once in four years, in the third year of each Olympiad, in the Delphic month BucStius (the middle of August). Before this time (586 b.c.) there used to take place at Delphi itself, once in eight years, a great festival in honour of Apollo, in which the minstrels vied with one another in singing, to the accompaniment of the clthdra, a pgean in praise of the god, under the direction of the Delphic priests. After the first Sacred War, when the Crisssean plain be­came the property of the priesthood, the Amphictj'ons introduced festivals once in four years, at which gymnastic contests and foot-races took place, as well as the customary musical contest. This contest also was further developed. Besides minstrels who sang with the cithara, players on the flute, and singers to ac­companiment of the flute, took part in it (the last-named, however, for a short time only). The gymnastic and athletic con­tests, which were nearly the same as those held at Olympia, yielded in significance to the musical ceremonies, and of these the Pythian nomSs was the most important. It was a composition for the flute, worked out on a prescribed scheme, and celebrating the battle of Apollo with the dragon Python, and his triumph. At first the prize for the victor was of some substan­tial value, but at the second festival it took the form of a wreath from the sacred bay tree in the Vale of Tempe. The victor also received, as in the other contests, a palm-branch. The judges were chosen by the Amphictyons. The Pythian, like the Olympic games, were probably not discon­tinued till about 394 a.d.

Python. A monstrous serpent produced by Gsea, which haunted the caves of Par­nassus. It was slain by Apollo with his first arrows. (See apollo and delphic oracle.)

<<<?'ttnc?Ms). APioman copper coin, a quarter of an as = 3 uncloe. (See coinage, 2.) The quadrans was the usual

price paid for a bath. [It was equivalent to about half a farthing.]

Quadriga (Latin). A chariot drawn by

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