Political fragments of Archytas and other ancient Pythagoreans/From the treatise of Perictyone on the harmony of a woman

Extract from the work On the Harmony of Women by Perictione, a pseudonymous Pythagorean work of the 4th or 3rd century BCE. Translated by Thomas Taylor, 1822.

1162622Political fragments of Archytas and other ancient Pythagoreans — From the treatise of Perictyone on the harmony of a womanThomas Taylor

From the treatise of Perictyone on the harmony of a woman[1]


PARENTS ought not to be injured either in word or deed; but it is requisite to be obedient to them, whether their rank in life is small or great. And in every allotted condition of soul and body, and of external circumstances, in peace, also, and war, in health [and sickness[2]], in riches and in poverty, in renown and ignominy, and whether they are of the same class with most of the community, or are magistrates, it is necessary to be present with, and never to forsake them, and almost to submit to them even when they are insane. For such conduct will be wisely and cheerfully adopted by those that are pious. But he who despises his parents will, both among the living and the dead, be condemned for this crime by the Gods, will be hated by men, and under the earth will, together with the impious, be eternally[3] punished in the same place by Justice, and the subterranean Gods, whose province it is to inspect things of this kind. For the aspect of parents is a thing divine and beautiful, and a diligent observance of them is attended with a delight such as neither the survey of the sun, nor of all the stars which dance round the illuminated heavens, is capable of producing, nor any other spectacle, should it even be greater than this. And, it appears to me, that the Gods are not envious[4] when they perceive that this takes place. Hence it is requisite to reverence parents both while they are living, and when they are dead, and never oppose them in any thing they may say or do. If also they are ignorant of any thing through deception or disease, their children should console and instruct, but by no means hate them on this account. For no greater error and injustice can be committed by men than to act impiously towards their parents.


  1. In this extract no mention whatever is made of the harmony of a woman; for it wholly consists of the duty of children to their parents.
  2. και νοσῳ is omitted in the original, but ought, as it appears to me, to be inserted.
  3. It is well observed by Olympiodorus, on the Phaedo of Plato, "that the soul is not punished by divinity through anger but medicinally; and that by eternity of punishment we must understand punishment commensurate with the soul's partial period; because souls that have committed the greatest offences cannot be sufficiently purified in one period."
  4. For φρονεειν in this place, which is evidently erroneous, I read φθονεειν.