ABARIS THE SCYTHIAN
Generally, however, it should be known, that Pythagoras discovered many paths of erudition, but that he communicated to each only that part of wisdom which was appropriate to the recipient's nature and power, of which the following is an appropriate striking illustration. When Abaris the Scythian came from the Hyperboreans, he was already of an advanced age, and unskilled and uninitiated in the Greek learning. Pythagoras did not compel him to wade through introductory theorems, the period of silence, and long auscultation, not to mention other trials, but considered him to be fit for an immediate listener to his doctrines, and instructed him in the shortest way, in his treatise on Nature, and one On the God This Hyperborean Abaris was elderly, and most wise in sacred concerns, being a priest of the Apollo there worshipped. At that time he was returning from Greece to his country, in order to consecrate the gold which he had collected to the God in his temple among the Hyperboreans. As therefore he was passing through Italy, he saw Pythagoras, and identified him as the God of whom he was the priest.
Believing that Pythagoras resembled to no man, but was none other than the God himself, Apollo, both from the venerable associations he saw around him, and from those the priest already knew, he paid him homage by giving him a sacred dart. This dart he had taken with him when he had left his temple, as an implement that would stand him in good stead in the difficulties that might befall him in so long a journey. For in passing through inaccessible places, such as rivers, lakes, marshes, mountains and the like, it carried him, and by it he was said to have performed lustrations and expelled winds and pestilences from the cities that requested him to liberate from such evils. For instance, it was said that Lacedemon, after having been by him purified, was no longer infected with pestilence, which formerly had been endemic, through the miasmatic nature of the ground, in the suffocating heat produced by the overhanging mountain Taygetus, just as happens with Cnossus in Crete. Many other similar circumstances were reported of Abaris.
Pythagoras, however, accepted the dart, without expressing any amazement at the novelty of the thing, nor asking why the dart was presented to him, as if he really was a god. Then he took Abaris aside, and showed him his golden thigh, as an indication that he was not wholly mistaken (in his estimate of his real nature). Then Pythagoras described to him several details of his distant Hyperborean temple, as proof of deserving being considered divine. Pythagoras also added that he came (into the regions of mortality) to remedy and improve the condition of the human race, having assumed human form lest men disturbed by the novelty of his transcendency should avoid the discipline he advised. He advised Abaris to stay with him, to aid him in correcting (the manners and morals) of those they might meet, and to share the common resources of himself and associates, whose reason led them to practice the precept that the possessions of friends are common. So Abaris stayed with him, and was compendiously taught physiology and theology; and instead of living by the entrails of beasts, he revea1ed to him the art of prognosticating by numbers conceiving this to be a method purer, more divine and more kindred to the celestial numbers of the Gods. Also he taught Abaris other studies for which he was fit.
Returning however to the purpose of the present treatise, Pythagoras endeavored to correct and amend different persons according to their individual abilities. Unfortunately most of these particulars have neither been publicly transmitted nor is it easy to describe that which has been transmitted to us concerning him.