Political fragments of Archytas and other ancient Pythagoreans/From the treatise of Pempelus on parents

Extract from an ancient Pythagorean work by "Pempelus".

1162676Political fragments of Archytas and other ancient Pythagoreans — From the treatise of Pempelus on parents1822Thomas Taylor (1758-1835)

From the treatise of Pempelus on parents[1]


NEITHER divinity, nor any man who possesses the least wisdom, will ever advise any one to neglect his parents. Hence we cannot have any statue or temple which will be considered by divinity as more precious than our fathers and grandfathers when grown feeble with age. For God will recompense him with benefits who honours his parents with gifts; since if this is not done, divinity will not pay any attention to the prayers of such parents for their children. The images of our parents, indeed, and progenitors should be esteemed by us as far more venerable and divine than any inanimate images. For these animated images, when they are continually adorned and rendered splendid with honour by us, pray for us, and implore the gods to bestow on us the most excellent gifts: but the contrary when we despise them. Neither of these, however, is effected by inanimate images. Hence he who conducts himself in a becoming manner towards his parents and progenitors, and other relatives of this kind, will possess the most proper of all statues, and the best calculated to render him dear to divinity. Every one, therefore, endued with intellect should honour and venerate his parents, and should dread their execrations and [unfavourable] prayers, as knowing that many of them frequently take effect. These things, therefore, being thus disposed by nature, men that are prudent and modest will consider their living aged progenitors as a treasure, to the extremity of life; and if they die before they arrive at that period, they will be vehemently desired by them. On the contrary, progenitors will be terrible in the extreme to their depraved and stupid offspring. But he who, being profane, is deaf to these assertions, will be considered by all intelligent persons as odious both to Gods and men.


  1. The whole of this extract is taken from the eleventh book of Plato's Laws, but what is there said is here somewhat amplified.