Pythagoras by Henry Swinburne
By Gianluigi Filippelli on Thursday, August 23, 2012
This philosopher was one of the most exalted characters of antiquity; one of the few sages who did not confine their views to private and partial objects, but made their learning of use to nations at large, whom they instructed, enlightened and directed in the paths of moral virtue and real glory. Many ridiculous stories are related of his opinions and doctrines, which give us the idea of a visionary or impostor; but we should be cautious how we admit implicity anecdotes respecling the great men of distant ages, when we find them clash with what is allowed to have been their general line of conduct. Perhaps Pythagoras found it necessary, in order to captivate the veneration and confidence of a credulous superstitious people, that he should propagate strange and marvellous sigments, and thereby allure them to listen attentively to the lessons, and obey the injunctions of a lawgiver. He was the legislator, the reformer of Magna Graecia. To him and his disciples the little states that composed it owe a celebrity which they were not entitled to from extent of dominion or conquests. Their ruin may be attributed to the neglect of his precepts; or, indeed, in some shape to the very great successes attending his institutions, which rasfed those republics to such an uncommon pitch of prosperity, as intoxicated and finally corrupted their citizens.
Pythagoras, after his long peregrinations in search of knowledge, fixed his refidence in this place [Croton], which some authors think his native one, at least that of his parents, supposing him to have been born in the isle of Samos, and not at some town of that name in Italy. This incomparable sage spent the latter part of his life in training up disciples to the rigid exercise of sublime and moral virtue, and instructing the Crotoniates in the true arts of government, such as alone can insure happiness, glory, and independence.
(1) Some authors write that he died, and that the temple was dedicated at Croton.
(from Travels in the two Sicilies by Henry Swinburne - 1783-1790)