Political fragments of Archytas and other ancient Pythagoreans/On the reverence due to parents. From the apophthegms of Aristoxenus, the Tarentine

Extract from a work by Aristoxenus of Tarentum. Translated by Thomas Taylor, 1822.

On the reverence due to parents. From the apophthegms of Aristoxenus, the TarentineEdit

AFTER divinity and demons, the greatest attention should be paid to parents and the laws; not fictitiously, but in reality preparing ourselves to an observance of, and perseverance in, the manners and laws of our country, though they should be in a small degree worse than those of other countries.

And in the fourth book of the same work[1]Edit

BUT after these things follow the honours which should be paid to living parents, it being right to discharge the first, the greatest, and (p66) the most ancient of all debts. Every one, likewise, should think that all which he possesses belongs to those who begot and nurtured him, in order that he may be ministrant to their want to the utmost of his ability, beginning from his property; in the second place discharging his debt to them from things pertaining to his body ; and in the third place, from things pertaining to his soul; thus repaying with usury the cares and pains which his now very aged parents bestowed on him when he was young. Through the whole of life, likewise, it is requisite that he should particularly employ the most respectful language in speaking to his parents ; because there is a most severe punishment for light and winged words ; and Nemesis, the messenger of Justice, is appointed to be the inspector of every thing of this kind. When parents, therefore, are angry, it is requisite to yield to them, and to appease their anger, whether it is shown in words or in deeds; acknowledging that a father may reasonably be very much enraged with his son, when he thinks he has been injured by him, But on the death of parents, the most decent and beautiful monuments should be raised to them; not exceeding the usual magnitude, nor yet less than those which (p67) our ancestors erected for their parents. Every year, too, attention ought to be paid to the decoration of their tombs. They should, likewise, be continually remembered and reverenced, and this with a moderate and appropriate expense. By always acting, therefore, and living in this manner, we shall each of us be rewarded according to our deserts, both by the Gods and those natures that are superior to us, and shall pass the greatest part of our life in good hope.


  1. The whole of this extract is to be found in the fourth book of Plato's Laws. (See tom. viii. p. 187, and 188, of the Bipont edition.) But there is occasionally some little difference between the text of Plato and that of Aristoxenus, as the critical reader will easily discover. Neither Fabricius nor the editors of Stobaeus have noticed the source of this extract.