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Cylon of Croton and Paul of Tarsus

Here is an interesting vignette:

Aristoxenus stated “Cylon of Croton was one of the leading men of his community, hanks to his birth reputation and wealth, but in other respects he was a cruel, brutal, disruptive, and tyrannical man. He expressed a heart-felt desire to join in the Pythagorean way of life and met with Pythagoras himself, who was then an old man, but was rejected because of the character flaws I have already mentioned. As a result of this he and his friends declared unrelenting war on Pythagoras and his companions…Nevertheless, for a while the true goodness of the Pythagoreans prevailed, along with the desire of the communities themselves to have their political affairs administered by them. But eventually the Cyclonians’ intrigues against the men reached such a pitch that when the Pythagoreans convened in Milo’s house in Croton to discuss political business, the Cyclonians set fire to the house and burnt to death all the men inside, except for the two youngest and strongest, Archippus and Lysis, who managed to break out. But the Italian communities ignored what had happened, and so the Pythagoreans abandoned their involvement in politics…The remaining Pythagoreans gathered in Rhegium and continued to associate with one another there, but as time went on and the political situation deteriorated they left Italy, with the exception of Archytas of Terentum.” The First Philosophers, Robin Waterfield p. 100.

I believe that this transcript is an example of the politics of “swallowing” up other people and groups in the quest for political power. The Herodians didn’t invent the process and they were not the only people to avail themselves of it. My feeling was that when Cylon attempted to join the Pythagoreans it was similar to Paul’s becoming a Pharisee. Cylon probably said that he wanted to become a Pythagorean but that he didn’t want to actually go through the initiation process – he wanted to be declared the “President!”

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Paul and Cylon