Judeans and Thracians: Hermippos of Smyrna on their influence on Pythagoras (early second century BCE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Judeans and Thracians: Hermippos of Smyrna on their influence on Pythagoras (early second century BCE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified February 6, 2023, https://philipharland.com/Blog/?p=9271.

Authors: Hermippos, On Pythagoras as cited in Josephos, Against Apion 1.161-171 (link to full translation on this site) and Hermippos, On Lawgivers as cited in Origen, Against Celsus 1.15 (link to larger passage on this site).

Comments: Both Josephos and Origen refer to writings of Hermippos in which that author from Smyrna (ca. 200 BCE) places Judeans and Thracians among wise barbarians and proposes that Pythagoras derived some of his ideas from them.

Source of the translation: H.S.J. Thackeray and R. Marcus, Josephus, volumes 1-7; LCL (Cambridge, MA: HUP, 1926-43), public domain (Thackeray passed away in 1930, Marcus passed away in 1956, and copyright not renewed); F. Crombie, The Writings of Origen (Ante-Nicene Christian Library, 23 (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1872), public domain, modernized and adapted by Harland.



Now, Pythagoras, that ancient sage of Samos, who for wisdom and piety is ranked above all the philosophers, evidently not only knew of our institutions, but was even in those distant ages an ardent admirer of them. Of the master himself we possess no authentic work, but his history has been told by many writers. The most distinguished of these is Hermippos, always a careful historian. Now, in the first book of his work on Pythagoras, this author states that the philosopher, on the death of one of his disciples, named Kalliphon, a native of Krotona, remarked that his pupil’s soul was with him night and day, and admonished him not to pass a certain spot on which an ass had collapsed, to abstain from thirst-producing water, and to avoid all slander. Then he proceeds as follows: “In practising and repeating these precepts he was imitating and appropriating the doctrines of Judeans and Thracians.” In fact, it is actually said that that great man introduced many points of Judean law into his philosophy.



Moreover, it is said that Hermippos has recorded in his first book, On Lawgivers, that Pythagoras derived the philosophy which he introduced among the Greeks from the Judeans.

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