A2Z April 2019 — Y — Pythagorean Y

The above graphic  of the Pythagorean Y was created by Geoffroy Tory born in Bourges around 1480 and died in Paris before 14 October 1533. He was a French humanist and an engraver, best known for adding accents on letters in French. His life’s work has heavily influenced French publishing to this day.

The Pythagorean Y represents the proverbial fork in the road, where the one fork is towards Virtue and one fork is towards Vice.  Above you will see that the “right” path is to Virtue, and the left  (vice) path leads to falling down into the flames (of hell?)  Both verses below say rocks, but it looks like flames to me.

From Gnostic Warrior:
Pythagoras his forked letter does
Of human life a scheme to us propose
For virtue’s path on the right hand doth lye
An hard ascent presenting to the eye;
But on the top with rest the wearied are
Refreshed; the broad way easier doth appear;
But from its summit the deluded fall;
And dashed among the rocks, find there a funerall

A similar verse, attributed to Virgil:
The right hand track to sacred Virtue tends,
Though steep and rough at first, in rest it ends;
The other broad and smooth, but from its Crown
On rocks the Traveller is tumbled down.
He who to Virtue by harsh toils aspires,
Subduing pains, worth and renown acquires;
But who seeks slothful luxury, and flies,
The labor of great acts, dishonored dies.

Y is called Upsilon, or Ypsilon and is derived from the Phoenecian waw letter.

phoenician waw letter

Phoenecian Alphabet

pythagorus bust


From The Basics of Philosophy

Pythagoras of Samos (c. 570 – 490 B.C.) was an early Greek Pre-Socratic philosopher and mathematician from the Greek island of Samos.

He was the founder of the influential philosophical and religious movement or cult called Pythagoreanism and allegedly exercised an important influence on the work of Plato.

Little is known for sure about him, (none of his original writings have survived, and his followers usually published their own works in his name) and he remains something of a mysterious figure. His secret society had a great effect on later esoteric traditions such as Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry.

According to some reports, as a young man he met Thales, who was impressed with his abilities and advised him to head to Memphis in Egypt and study mathematics and astronomy with the priests there, which he soon had the opportunity of. He also traveled to study at the temples of Tyre and Byblos in Phoenicia, as well as in Babylon. At some point he was also a student of Pherecydes of Syros and of Anaximander (who himself had been a student of Thales).

In Croton, Pythagoras established a secret religious society very similar to (and possibly influenced by) the earlier Orphic cult, in an attempt to reform the cultural life of Croton. He formed an elite circle of followers around himself, called Pythagoreans or the Mathematikoi (“learners”), subject to very strict rules of conduct, owning no personal possessions and assuming a largely vegetarian diet. They followed a structured life of religious teaching, common meals, exercise, music, poetry recitations, reading and philosophical study (very similar to later monastic life). The school (unusually for the time) was open to both male and female students uniformly (women were held to be different from men, but not necessarily inferior). The Mathematikoi extended and developed the more mathematical and scientific work Pythagoras began.

Other students, who lived in neighboring areas, were also permitted to attend some of Pythagoras’ lectures, although they were not taught the inner secrets of the cult. They were known as the Akousmatikoi (“listeners”), and they focused on the more religious and ritualistic aspects of Pythagoras’ teachings (and were permitted to eat meat and own personal belongings).


The Enigma of Pythagorus


12 Comments Add yours

  1. The Pythagoreans worshiped numbers and they killed Hippasus of Metapontum for his discovery of the square root of two which was the first number that could not be expressed as the ratio of two integers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Well how dare Hippasus of Metapontum square root their beloved numbers! I skipped the whole number thing with Pythagorus as it wasn’t pertinent to the “Y”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They took him out on a boat to the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and threw him overboard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Better than being drawn and quartered, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a dark day in the annuls of math.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Math seemed to make it through just fine, and it looks like they lifted his theory/discovery from him before tossing him overboard…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This has been an interesting discussion today and you are right that Hippasus did get the credit for discovering irrational numbers, but before this mathematicians were not considered to be killers. I propose that the Pythagoreans living in Croton Italy and being so secretive made up the first remnants of the mafia, thus making Pythagoras the original Godfather.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      You do have a rich imagination, that’s for sure. I think he was more like one of the first cult leaders who promoted a healthy lifestyle. I wonder how the killing — if he was really behind it — fit into his philosophy? I read again and again there isn’t a large amount of info on him.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jade,

    We all I’ve been in that fork in the road. Hopefully, most of us chose the right path. Dashing on rocks or the flames of hell doesn’t sound much fun to me. I much rather live a dull, straight life than to end up like that! 🙂

    A2Z Little Mermaid art sketch ‘Yazzy’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you for your comment, the choice seems so simple, but not for some… Have a wonderful Tuesday, Cathy!


  6. QP and Eye says:

    I didn’t know about Pythagoras’ other interests and activities, just his mathematical theory which was drummed into us at school. Some sagacious soul told me never to be afraid to return to the fork when I realise the path I’m on is not the correct one. It makes it easier to move forward knowing few things in life are undoable. Linda x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Ah yes so true. I learned so much doing the signs and symbols, it was amazing.


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