In the intrest of expanding the Everything Occult library, I have transcribed these verses, and the first chapter of the following Commentary, from "The Golden Verses of Pythagoras", written by Fabre D'Olivet and published by him in the year 1813, translated into English by Nayan Louise Redfield and published by her in October of 1916. The volume this is taken from was printed by Solar Press by special arrangement with Philosophers Stone Books, Inc, at an unspecified date.
Render to the Immortal Gods the consecrated cult;
Guard then thy faith: Revere the memory
Of the Illustrious Heroes, of Spirits demi-gods.
Be a good son, just brother, spouse tender and good father.
Choose for thy friend, the friend of virtue;
Yield to his gentle counsels, profit by his life,
And for a triflin grievance never leave him;
If thou canst at least: for a most rigid law
Binds Power to Necessity.
Still it is given thee to fight and overcome
Thy foolish passions: learn thou to subdue them.
Be sober, diligent, and chaste; avoid all wrath.
In public or in secret ne'er permit thou
Any evil; and above all else respect thyself.
Speak not nor act before thou hast reflected.
Be just. Remember that a power invincible
Ordains to die; that riches and the honours
Easily aquired, are easy thus to lose.
As to the evils which Destiny involves,
Judge them what they are: endure them all and strive,
As much as thou art able, to modify the traits:
The Gods, to the most cruel, have not exposed the Sage.
Even as Truth, does Error have its lovers:
With prudence the Philosopher approves or blames;
If Error triumph, he departs and waits.
Listen and in thine heart engrave my words;
Keep closed thine eye and ear 'gainst prejudice;
Of others the example fear; think always for thyself:
Consult, deliberate, and freely choose.
Let fools act aimlessly and without cause.
Thou shouldst, in the present, contemplate the future.
That which thou dost not know, pretend not that thou dost.
Instruct thyself: for time and patience favour all.
Neglect not thy health: dispense with moderation,
Food to the body and to the mind repose.
Too much attention or too little shun; for envy
Thus, to either excess is alike attached.
Luxury and avarice have similar results.
One must choose in all things a mean just and good.
Let not sleep e'er close thy tired eyes
Without thou ask thyself: What have I omitted and what done?
Abstain thou if 'tis evil; preserve if good.
Meditate upon my counsels; love them; follow them;
To the divine virtues will they know how to lead thee.
I swear it by the one who in out heats engraved
The sacred Tetrad, symbol immense and pure,
Source of Nature and model of the Gods.
But before all, thy soul to its faithful duty,
Invoke these Gods with fervour, they whose aid,
Thy work begun, alone can terminate.
Instructed by them, naught shall then deceive thee:
Of diverse beings thou shalt sound the essence;
And thou shalt know the principle and end of All.
If Heaven wills it, thou shalt know that Nature,
Alike in everything, is the same in every place:
So that, as to thy true rights enlightened,
Thine heart shall no more feed on vain desires.
Thou shalt see that the evils which devour men
Are of their choice the fruit; that these unfortunates
Seek afar the goodness whose source within they bear.
For few know happiness: playthings of the passions,
Hither, thither tossed by adverse waves,
Upon a shoreless sea, they blinded roll,
Unable to resist or to the tempest yeild.
God! Thou couldst save them by opening their eyes.
But no: 'tis for the humans of a race divine
To discern Error and to see the Truth.
Nature serves them. Thou who fathomed it,
O wise and happy man, rest in its haven.
But observe my laws, abstaining from the things
Which thy soul must fear, distinguishing them well;
Letting intelligence o'er th body reign;
So that, ascending into radiant Ether,
Midst the Immortals, thou shalt be thyself a God.
From the commentary by Fabre D'Olivet:
The ancients had the habit of comparing with gold all that they deemed without defects and pre-eminently beautiful: thus by the Golden Age they understood, the age of virtues and of happiness; and by the Golden Verses , the verses, wherein was concealed the most pure doctrine. They constantly attributed the Verses to Pythagoras, not that they believed that this philosopher had himself composed them, but because they knew that his disciple, whose work they were, had revealed the exact doctrine of his master and had based them all upon maxims issued from his mouth. This disciple, commendable through his learning, and especially through his devotion to the precepts of Pythagoras, was called Lysis. After the death of this philosopher and while his enemies, momentarily triumphant, had raised at Crotona and at Metaponte that terrible persecution which cost the lives of so great a number of Pythagoreans, crushed beneath the debris of their burned school, or constrained to die of hunger in the temple of the Muses, Lysis, happily escaped from these disasters, retired into Greece, where, wishing to spread the seft of Pythagoras, to whose principles calumnies had been attached, he felt it necessary to set up a sort of formulary which would contain the basis of morals and the principal rules of conduct given by this celebrated man. It is to this generous movement that we owe the philosophical verses that I have essayed to translate into French. These verses, called golden for the reasonI have given, contain the sentiments of Pythagoras and are all that remain to us, really authentic, concerning one of the greatest men of antiquity. Hierocles, who has transmitted them to us with a long and masterly Commentary, assures us that they do not contain, as one might believe, the sentiment of one in particular, but the doctrine of all the sacred corps of Pythagoreans and the voice of all the assemblies. He adds tht there existed a law which prescrbed that each one, every morning upon rising and every evening upon retiring, should read these verses as the oracles of the Pythagorean school. One sees, in reality, by many passages from Cicero, Horace, Senca, and other writers worthy of belief, that this law was still vigerously executed in their time. We know by the testimony of Galen in his treatise on The Understanding and the Cure of the Maladies of the Soul, that he himself read every day, morning and evening, the Verses of Pythagoras; and that, after having read them, he recited them by heart. However, I must not neglect to say that Lysis, who is the author of them, obtained so much celebrity in Greece that he was honored as the master and friend of Epaminondas. If his name has not been attached to this work, it is because at the epoch when he wrote it, the ancient custom still existed of considering things and not individuals; it was with the doctrine of Pythagoras that one was concerned, and not with the talent of Lysis which had made it known. The disciples of a great man had no other name than his. All their works were attributed to him. This is an observation sufficently important to make and which explains how Vyasa in India, Hermes in Egypt, Orpheus in Greece, have been the supposed authors of such a multitude of books that the lives of many men would not even suffice to read them.
In my translation, I have followed the Greek text, such as is cited at the head of the Commentary of Hierocles, commentted on by the son of Casaubon, and interpreted into Latin by J. Curterius; London edition, 1673. This work, like all those which remain to us of the ancients, has been the subject of a great many critical and grammatical discussions: in the first place one must efore everything else be assured of the material part. This part is today as authentic and correct as it is possible to be, and although there exists still sever different readings, they are of too little importance for me to dwell upon. It is not my affair and besides, chacun doit faire son metier. That of the grammarian has ended where it out to end. For how can man ever expect to advance if he never is willing to try some new thing which is offered. I shall not therefore make any criticizing remarks concerning the text, for I consider this text sufficently examined; neither will I make any notes concerning the Commentaries, properly so-called, on these seventy-one lines, for I think it is sufficent having those of Hierocles, of Vitus Amerbachius, Theodore Marcilius, Henri Brem, Michel Newnder, Jean Straselius, Guilhaume Dienzius, Magnus-Daniel Omeis, Andre Dacier, etc.