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Apollonius of Tyana ( c. 15?-c. 100? CE), one of the most important representatives of Neopythagoreanism Apollonius of Tyana.jpg
Apollonius of Tyana ( c. 15?–c. 100? CE), one of the most important representatives of Neopythagoreanism

Neopythagoreanism (or Neo-Pythagoreanism) was a school of Hellenistic philosophy which revived Pythagorean doctrines. Neopythagoreanism was influenced by Middle Platonism and in turn influenced Neoplatonism. It originated in the 1st century BCE and flourished during the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. The 1911 Britannica describes Neopythagoreanism as "a link in the chain between the old and the new" within Hellenistic philosophy. As such, it contributed to the doctrine of monotheism as it emerged during Late Antiquity (among other things influencing early Christianity). Central to Neopythagorean thought was the concept of a soul and its inherent desire for a unio mystica with the divine. [1]

Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy that was developed in the Hellenistic period following Aristotle and ending with the beginning of Neoplatonism.

Pythagoreanism system of esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers

Pythagoreanism originated in the 6th century BC, based on the teachings and beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans. Pythagoras established the first Pythagorean community in Crotone, Italy. Early-Pythagorean communities lived throughout Magna Graecia. Espousing a rigorous life of the intellect and strict rules on diet, clothing and behavior comprised a cult of following Pythagorean's Code. For example, the Code's diet prohibits the consumption or even touching any sort of bean or legume. Pythagoras’ death and disputes about his teachings led to the development of two philosophical traditions within Pythagoreanism. The practitioners of akousmatikoi were superseded in the 4th century BC as a significant mendicant school of philosophy by the Cynics. The Pythagorean mathēmatikoi philosophers were in the 4th century BC absorbed into the Platonic school.

Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC – when Antiochus of Ascalon rejected the scepticism of the New Academy – until the development of Neoplatonism under Plotinus in the 3rd century. Middle Platonism absorbed many doctrines from the rival Peripatetic and Stoic schools. The pre-eminent philosopher in this period, Plutarch, defended the freedom of the will and the immortality of the soul. He sought to show that God, in creating the world, had transformed matter, as the receptacle of evil, into the divine soul of the world, where it continued to operate as the source of all evil. God is a transcendent being, which operates through divine intermediaries, which are the gods and daemons of popular religion. Numenius of Apamea combined Platonism with Neopythagoreanism and other eastern philosophies, in a move which would prefigure the development of Neoplatonism.


The word "Neopythagoreanism" is a modern (19th century) term, [2] coined as a parallel of "Neoplatonism".


In the 1st century BCE Cicero's friend Nigidius Figulus made an attempt to revive Pythagorean doctrines, but the most important members of the school were Apollonius of Tyana and Moderatus of Gades in the 1st century CE. Other important Neopythagoreans include the mathematician Nicomachus of Gerasa (fl. 150 CE), who wrote about the mystical properties of numbers. In the 2nd century, Numenius of Apamea sought to fuse additional elements of Platonism into Neopythagoreanism, prefiguring the rise of Neoplatonism. (Iamblichus, in particular, was especially influenced by Neopythagoreanism).

Cicero 1st-century BC Roman philosopher and statesman

Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and is considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.

Publius Nigidius Figulus was a scholar of the Late Roman Republic and one of the praetors for 58 BC. He was a friend of Cicero, to whom he gave his support at the time of the Catilinarian conspiracy. Nigidius sided with the Optimates in the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompeius Magnus.

Apollonius of Tyana Ancient Greek philosopher

Apollonius of Tyana, sometimes also called Apollonios of Tyana, was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher from the town of Tyana in the Roman province of Cappadocia in Anatolia.

Neopythagoreanism was an attempt to re-introduce a mystical religious element into Hellenistic philosophy (dominated by the Stoics) in place of what had come to be regarded as an arid formalism. The founders of the school sought to invest their doctrines with the halo of tradition by ascribing them to Pythagoras and Plato. They went back to the later period of Plato's thought, the period when Plato endeavoured to combine his doctrine of Ideas with Pythagorean number theory, and identified the Good with the Monad (which would give rise to the Neoplatonic concept of the One ), the source of the duality of the Infinite and the Measured with the resultant scale of realities from the One down to the objects of the material world.

Stoicism School of Hellenistic Greek philosophy

Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. While Stoic physics are largely drawn from the teachings of the philosopher Heraclitus, they are heavily influenced by certain teachings of Socrates. Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.

Pythagoras ancient Greek philosopher and mystic

Pythagoras of Samos was an ancient Ionian Greek philosopher and the eponymous founder of Pythagoreanism. His political and religious teachings were well known in Magna Graecia and influenced the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and, through them, Western philosophy. Knowledge of his life is clouded by legend, but he appears to have been the son of Mnesarchus, a seal engraver on the island of Samos. Modern scholars disagree regarding Pythagoras's education and influences, but they do agree that, around 530 BC, he travelled to Croton, where he founded a school in which initiates were sworn to secrecy and lived a communal, ascetic lifestyle. This lifestyle entailed a number of dietary prohibitions, traditionally said to have included vegetarianism, although modern scholars doubt that he ever advocated for complete vegetarianism.

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

They emphasized the fundamental distinction between the soul and the body. God must be worshipped spiritually by prayer and the will to be good, not in outward action. The soul must be freed from its material surrounding, the "muddy vesture of decay," by an ascetic habit of life. Bodily pleasures and all sensuous impulses must be abandoned as detrimental to the spiritual purity of the soul. God is the principle of good, Matter the groundwork of Evil. In this system can be distinguished not only the asceticism of Pythagoras and the later mysticism of Plato, but also the influence of the Orphic mysteries and of Oriental philosophy. The Ideas of Plato are no longer self-subsistent entities but are the elements which constitute the content of spiritual activity. The non-material universe is regarded as the sphere of mind or spirit.

God Divine entity, supreme being and principal object of faith

In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith. The conceptions of God, as described by theologians, commonly include the attributes of omniscience (all-knowing), omnipotence (all-powerful), omnipresence (all-present), and as having an eternal and necessary existence. Depending on one's kind of theism, these attributes are used either in way of analogy, or in a literal sense as distinct properties. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). Incorporeality and corporeality of God are related to conceptions of transcendence and immanence of God, with positions of synthesis such as the "immanent transcendence". Psychoanalyst Carl Jung equated religious ideas of God with transcendental aspects of consciousness in his interpretation.

Prayer invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity

Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity, or a deified ancestor. More generally, prayer can also have the purpose of thanksgiving or praise, and in comparative religion is closely associated with more abstract forms of meditation and with charms or spells.

Matter substance that has rest mass and volume, or several other definitions

In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume. However it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound. Matter exists in various states. These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid, and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark–gluon plasma.

The Porta Maggiore Basilica where Neopythagoreans held their meetings in the 1st century, believed to have been constructed by the Statilus family [3] was found near Porta Maggiore on Via Praenestina in Rome (discovered 1915). [4] [5] [6]

Porta Maggiore Basilica

The Porta Maggiore Basilica is an underground basilica discovered in 1917 near Porta Maggiore in Rome. It is dated to the first century BC. It is believed to have been the meeting place of the neo-Pythagoreans, and is the only historical site that has been associated with the neo-Pythagorean movement. This school of mystical Hellenistic philosophy preached asceticism and was based on the works of Pythagoras and Plato. It was a precursor to the basilicas built during the Christian period, centuries later. It was opened to small groups of visitors only in April 2015.

Via Praenestina Roman consular road linking Rome and Praeneste

The Via Praenestina was an ancient Roman road in central Italy.

Rome Capital city and comune in Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

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Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas.

Plotinus Neoplatonist philosopher

Plotinus was a major Greek-speaking philosopher of the ancient world. In his philosophy, described in the Enneads, there are three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul. His teacher was Ammonius Saccas, who was of the Platonic tradition. Historians of the 19th century invented the term Neoplatonism and applied it to Plotinus and his philosophy, which was influential in Late Antiquity. Much of the biographical information about Plotinus comes from Porphyry's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads. His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of Pagan, Islamic, Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics.

Ancient Greek philosophy

Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC and continued throughout the Hellenistic period and the period in which Ancient Greece was part of the Roman Empire. Philosophy was used to make sense out of the world in a non-religious way. It dealt with a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy, mathematics, political philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, ontology, logic, biology, rhetoric and aesthetics.

Perennial philosophy, also referred to as perennialism and perennial wisdom, is a perspective in modern spirituality that views all of the world's religious traditions as sharing a single, metaphysical truth or origin from which all esoteric and exoteric knowledge and doctrine has grown.

Timaeus of Locri is a character in two of Plato's dialogues, Timaeus and Critias. In both, he appears as a philosopher of the Pythagorean school. If there ever existed a historical Timaeus of Locri, he would have lived in the fifth century BCE, but his historicity is dubious since he only appears as a literary figure in Plato; all other ancient sources are either based on Plato or are fictional accounts.

Platonism philosophical theory

Platonism, rendered as a proper noun, is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In narrower usage, platonism, rendered as a common noun, refers to the philosophy that affirms the existence of abstract objects, which are asserted to "exist" in a "third realm" distinct both from the sensible external world and from the internal world of consciousness, and is the opposite of nominalism. Lower case "platonists" need not accept any of the doctrines of Plato.

Numenius of Apamea was a Greek philosopher, who lived in Apamea in Syria and Rome, and flourished during the latter half of the 2nd century AD. He was a Neopythagorean and forerunner of the Neoplatonists.

The Alexandrian school is a collective designation for certain tendencies in literature, philosophy, medicine, and the sciences that developed in the Hellenistic cultural center of Alexandria, Egypt during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Neoplatonism and Gnosticism

Gnosticism refers to a collection of religious groups originating in Jewish religiosity in Alexandria in the first few centuries CE. Neoplatonism was a school of Hellenistic philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century, based on the teachings of Plato and some of his early followers. While Gnosticism was influenced by Middle Platonism, neo-Platonists from the third century onward rejected Gnosticism.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to classical studies:

Brontinus, or Brotinus of Metapontum, was a Pythagorean philosopher, and a friend and disciple of Pythagoras himself. Alcmaeon dedicated his works to Brontinus as well as to Leon and Bathyllus. Accounts vary as to whether he was the father or the husband of Theano.

Neoplatonism and Christianity

Neoplatonism was a major influence on Christian theology throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages in the West. This was due to St. Augustine of Hippo, who was influenced by the early Neoplatonists Plotinus and Porphyry, as well as the works of the Christian writer Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, who was influenced by later Neoplatonists, such as Proclus and Damascius.


Neoplatonism is a term used to designate a strand of Platonic philosophy that emerged in the third century AD against the background of Hellenistic philosophy and religion. The term does not encapsulate a set of ideas as much as it encapsulates a chain of thinkers which began with Ammonius Saccas and his student Plotinus and which stretches to the sixth century AD. Even though Neoplatonism primarily circumscribes the thinkers who are now labeled Neoplatonists and not their ideas, there are some ideas that are common to Neoplatonic systems, for example, the monistic idea that all of reality can be derived from a single principle, "the One".

Allegorical interpretations of Plato

Many Plato interpreters held that his writings contain passages with double meanings, called 'allegories' or 'symbols', that give the dialogues layers of figurative meaning in addition to their usual literal meaning. These allegorical interpretations of Plato were dominant for more than fifteen hundred years, from about the first century CE through the Renaissance and into the Eighteenth Century, and were advocated by major figures such as Plotinus, Proclus, and Ficino. Beginning with Philo of Alexandria, these views influenced Jewish, Christian and Islamic interpretation of their holy scriptures. They spread widely in the Renaissance and contributed to the fashion for allegory among poets such as Dante, Spenser, and Shakespeare.

Mathematicism is any opinion, viewpoint, school of thought, or philosophy that states that everything can be described/defined/modelled ultimately by mathematics, or that the universe and reality are fundamentally/fully/only mathematical, i.e. that 'everything is mathematics' necessitating the ideas of logic, reason, mind, and spirit.